On Raga Bhatiyar

by Rajan P. Parrikar
First published on SAWF on February 5, 2001

Rajan P. Parrikar at the birthplace of Mahavira in Vaishali, Bihar

Rajan P. Parrikar at the birthplace of Mahavira
in Vaishali, Bihar (1996)

Namashkar.

 

Raga Bhatiyar

Raga Bhatiyar is heard at the crack of dawn, attendant with the quotidian, crepuscular rite where Indian ladies armed with state-of-the-art spices take control of their sovereign space to negotiate the day’s culinary projects. The name of this old raga is said to derive from King Bhartrhari; this may well be a good example of inventive etymology.

Throughout the following discussion M = shuddha madhyam and m = teevra madhyam.

Bhatiyar’s attractive façade belies its complexity. It exhibits bi-directional (i.e. arohi and avarohi) assymetry in tonal construction and punctuation. The seed capital is supplied by Ragas Mand and Marwa, the seemingly disparate strands harmoniously bridged by special swara-sangatis. Bhatiyar is of ‘abstract’ type, where the whole is not the sum of the parts. While the latter comment may be generally true of every raga, the gaps to be filled in the ‘abstract’ melodies require internalization of the underlying aesthetic spirit and raga dharma.

The marker in Raga Bhatiyar is the propulsive leap S–>D, an artifact of its Marwa heritage. The dhaivat thus approached is rendered deergha (elongated) and followed up by a Mand-inspired (N)D N P, D M, culminating with a repose on madhyam. The melodic development is then concluded on the shadaj via P G, P G r, S – where the second (P G) subgroup ‘looks’ towards rishab. The key point here is the avarohi nyasa on madhyam, that swara being of utmost value to Bhatiyar. A pause on pancham following S–>D would violate the raga spirit.

The S–>M launch is just as frequent. The madhyam is elongated but not accorded full nyasa in the arohi direction.

A typical foray may assume the form: S M, M P, M D P M, P G, P G r, S

Or, when the avarohi nyasa on madhyam is effected:

S D, D N P D M, M (P)D P, P g r S

The uttaranga traffic originates from teevra madhyam in Marwa-like fashion (m D S”).

For instance: m D S”, N r” G” r” S”, r” N D P D N (D)P D (P)M

Caveat: careless handling may invite unwanted memories of Marwa.

To get the gestalt of Bhatiyar we must turn to the supporting audio clips. Only the ‘big picture’ has been outlined above, the auxiliary details of interest to the advanced reader have been skimped. The following chalan sketched by Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” holds Bhatiyar’s concentrate.  Notice the special treatment of the swaras enclosed in square brackets.

S M, M M P [P] G, G M P G r, S

S M M P P D D [N] P [D] M M M (P)D P, M P G P G r S

S D, D [N] [N] P, m D S”, N r”, N P D [N] P [D] M M M (P)D P, P G P G r, S

The key ingredients that make for Bhatiyar’s design are common to almost all renditions as will be evident from the clipfest.

We kick off the proceedings with a bhajan by Lata Mangeshkar from the movie GHAR GHAR KI KAHANI (1970). The composers are Kalyanji-Anandji: jaya Nandlala.

Ramrang‘s compositions are splendidly conceived. First, a sparkling bandish in Jhaptala delivered with customary verve.

mero bane nahia tero krupa bina
kaise karun main vighana hain ghanero

natha tu anathana ke deenana ke ho data
“Ramrang” ke sakala karaja sudharo

Another handsome Ramrang composition in vilambit Ektala by his pupil Shubha Mudgal: sajana bina.

Bhatiyar’s robust design readily submits itself to dhrupad treatment. N. Aminuddin Dagar‘s nomtom alap and the dhrupad, Shiva Shiva Shiva, are a class act.

Among the finest Bhatiyars around, this recording of Laxmanprasad Jaipurwale features the traditional tero guna ga’oon as well as his own druta composition.

Amir Khan, a perpetual delight, sings a traditional khayal: barani na jaaya.

The same khayal, fluently developed by Basavraj Rajguru.

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande‘s creative yen is evident in his compositions. One such, nisadinana bismarata, finds an ally in K.G. Ginde.

Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze and his bag of quirks.

A tarana by Nissar Hussain Khan of the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana brings us to the final item in our Bhatiyar catalogue.

For completeness I should mention that some Agra singers render a Lalit-anga Bhatiyar that employs komal dhaivat (for instance, Babanrao Haldankar‘s recording). Also, versions of Bhatiyar of the Bilawal and Khamaj extraction are now mostly out of circulation.  For the Khamaj-anga Bhatiyar, see In the Khamaj Orchard.

Bhatiyar forms a triad with two other ragas, namely, Bhankar and Pancham. My intent here is to only introduce the reader to these uncommon melodies. In the interest of brevity this will be a quick, drive-by excursion.

 

Raga Bhankar

There are at least three versions of this Bhatiyar affiliate. In the type purveyed by Jha-sahab, the accent is transferred to pancham (recall the dominant madhyam in Bhatiyar). The teevra madhyam appears in a peculiar avarohi passage. An altogether independent swaroopa accrues with these alterations. Ratanjankar’s school shares this view in large measure.

Ramrang outlines the chalan.

Ramrang‘s bandish.

Aftab-e-Mausiqui Faiyyaz Khan‘s Bhankar is an odd one. He does not much appeal to Bhatiyar’s dhatu. Instead, one finds chhayas of Poorvi – in the poorvanga molecule G r M G – and of Bhairav. Of the two dhaivats pressed into service the komal is by far the dominant. The huge meend from tara saptaka komal rishab back down to base shadaj is striking. All this and more parlayed in the famous E karatara jaga nistarana.

Now for the pièce de résistance of this article: the Atrauli-Jaipur design of Bhankar conceived by Alladiya Khan. That he could fashion something so complex without compromising on melodic and aesthetic content shows him for the extraordinary genius that he was. That in our time we had a vehicle in Mallikarjun Mansur to instantiate Khansahib’s ideas marks us out as a singularly fortunate generation.

Alladiya Khan has re-worked both the composition E karatara jaga nistarana and as well as the raga itself. A Lalitanga (anga of Raga Lalit)  is inducted via the downward chromatic use of the two madhyamsd m M. The melodic ‘centre’ alternates between M and P. The antara is launched with m D S” à la Bhatiyar, and is resolved via a huge declining meend along the r”–N–d–m–M locus.

If this rendition doesn’t move you to tears you have no soul. These are only seven minutes of Mansur’s tour de force from an old All India Radio recording.

 

Raga Pancham

This raga comes in multiple versions. The common Marwa-that type, in fact, eschews the pancham swara. In the first clip Ramrang talks briefly of the raga’s antecedents beginning with Bhookosh and its morphing over time. His lakshana-geet is featured in the second.

Ramrang, chalan of Pancham.

Ramrang, Pancham bandish.

K.G. Ginde‘s interpretation through Ratanjankar‘s composition has much in common with Ramrang’s but there’s an additional bite of Lalitanga off the two madhyams: aaja gaa’o, gaa’o rijhavo.

Vestiges of the earlier Bhookosh (resurrected now as Bhinna Shadaj) alluded to by Ramrang are observed in the Rampur-Sahaswan script for Pancham. The subtle touches of komal rishab and pancham in avarohi mode induce pleasing flavours. Allauddin Khan of Maihar perhaps derived some inspiration for his Hemant (with R replacing r) from this melody.

Mashqoor Ali Khan.

A beautiful rendition on the sarangi by Sabri Khan.

For the concluding item we have Faiyyaz Khan.  He extends the Rampur conception. The arohi prayoga assumes the S G M D N contour. In descent, both pancham and shuddha rishab are taken in vakra clusters, and a strong madhyam attends the development. The recurring P G R S reins in and terminates a melodic foray. Also notice the occasional komal rishab.

 

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Anita Thakur of SAWF for initiating this series of features, and for the push to keep it going.