Ashwath Narayanan painted myriad shades of Dhanyasi

According to Prof. Sambamurthy, one of the greatest musicologists, a raga is a musical organism that keeps evolving. As a raga is nourished by legendary musicians, it gradually attains its full stature. They ensure that only the rakti prayogas are retained. Many composers, musicians and scholars have contributed to establishing a raga in the musical firmament.

There are specific moods and rasas that a raga creates in a listener. Certain ragas by their very nature allow you to experience multiple rasas. Dhanyasi is one such. Though bhakti rasa is predominant, the raga also creates pathos and compassion. ARTery presented an exploration of Dhanyasi in the seventh episode of Magnum Opus, dedicated to the late T.N. Krishnan with Ashwath Narayanan as the artiste. Ashwath meticulously follows the footsteps of his guru K.V. Narayanaswamy, and now, Padma Narayanaswamy. While talking about Dhanyasi, who can forget KVN’s special, ‘Balakrishnan Padamalar’ (Papanasam Sivan).

Dhanyasi is a janya ragam of the eighth Melakarta, Hanumathodi. It is an Audava-Sampurna raga, having five notes in arohanam and all the seven in avarohanam. Ashwath effortlessly traversed across octaves in his 15-minute alapana.

He presented a judicious blend of vilamba, madhyama and dhuritha kala prayogas, strengthened by sturdy pidis, to bring out the raga’s many hues. The rich timbre of his voice stood him in good stead. The elucidation was handled with imagination, style and lucid phrases. L. Ramakrishnan, disciple of senior violinist A. Kanyakumari, stayed within the contours of Ashwath’s delineation, even while revealing his own ingenuity.

After the sumptuous alapana, Ashwath rendered a tanam, well-conceived and brilliantly executed. Ramakrishnan in his playing brought out Dhanyasi’s unique nuances. By now, along with the artistes, the virtual audience was also deeply immersed in Dhanyasi and its unparalleled charm.

Thereafter, Ashwath rendered ‘Meena Lochana Brova’, the sole Dhanyasi kriti by Syama Sastri in a soothing pace set to Misra Chapu tala, a favourite of the composer.

Extensive niraval was at the third charanam, ‘Samaja Gamana’. The all-embracing swaraprastara concluded with a mix of melodic phrases and rhythmic patterns. In the rhythm section, Sumesh Narayanan (mridangam) and V. Anirudh Athreya (kanjira) enriched the kriti with their support. Their thani in Misra Chapu, with tisra nadai as well was as eloquent as it was aesthetic.

The concert is available in The Artery Records YouTube Channel.

The Chennai-based writer specialises in Carnatic music.

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