Rajan Parrikar Music Archive

On the Variants of Kedar

by Rajan P. Parrikar

First published on SAWF on April 26, 2001

Ali Akbar Khan, Rajan Parrikar

Mr. Ali Akbar Khan with Dr. Rajan Parrikar (California, 1995)
Photo: Rana Bose


A discourse on Raga Kedar was presented last year (2000) in Raga Kedar – A Perspective. We pick up the threads again and broaden that perspective, this time training our attention on Kedar’s liaisons. Familiarity on the part of the reader with the central themes embodied in the parent Raga Kedar will be assumed since such a background is essential for any intelligent appreciation of the derivates.

Traditionally, four prakars of Kedar are recognized (vide Bhatkhande’s Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati) and they are: Shuddha Kedar, Chandni Kedar, Maluha Kedar and Jaladhar Kedar. Over the course of the past 150 years or so, several new prakars have entered the fold, most of them jod-ragas, i.e. hybrids, formed by combining Kedar with other melodies. The first two of the traditional prakars – Shuddha Kedar and Chandni Kedar – have been addressed in the earlier Kedar feature. We shall presently address the unfinished business.

As usual, we declare M = shuddha madhyam and m = teevra madhyam.

Raga Maluha Kedar

Of all the variants of Kedar, Maluha Kedar is the most widely practiced. Its arresting tonal behaviour finds full expression in the mandra saptak. The Maluha concoction uses raw material provided by Kamod and Shyam Kalyan. It is a vakra raga and a set of tonal phrases are now suggested as a heuristic guideline:

S, R S (N’)D’ P’ M’, M’ P’ N’, (D’)N’ R S
The declination from rishab down to mandra madhyam is the lifeblood of this raga. The nyasa on M’ thus approached is exceedingly pleasing. Shades of Shyam Kalyan are observed as the movement repairs up towards shadaj.

S, R S (N’)D’ P’ D’, D’ M’, P’ N’ (D’)N’ S
A variation on the foregoing foray. The brightening of dhaivat and the meend from D’ to M’ are points of note, the latter, a recognizable Kedar germ. A powerful madhyam is a natural consequence of having Kedar for a parent; pancham, too, commands respect.

S M, M (G)P, P D M | G M P G M R S | M, M R S N’, (S)R S
This movement has been partitioned into three for purposes of discussion. The first third clearly betrays Kedar’s façade, the second third is the contribution from Kamod, and the final third packs both Kedar and Shyam Kalyan. It must be emphasized that in matters of implementation things are never quite as clear-cut. The disparate elements are to be fused together by appropriate punctuation and intonation (uccharana) to yield a seamless composite.

PDPP S”, M P N S”, S” R” S”, S” DPM, M P M, S R S
A sampler of the uttaranga launch, it mostly carries Kedar’s genetic material. The teevra madhyam is either absent or alpa (weak).

Despite its vakra build Maluha Kedar is highly rewarding to those who have mastered it. With its lumbering meend-laden gait in the mandra saptak, the raga is best savoured in vilambit laya.

Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” sets the tone with his khayal in vilambit Ektala: aba mori ma’i.

A 1959 mehfil of Gangubai Hangal finds her with the traditional composition attributed to “Sadarang”: mandara bajo re.

A Kirana votary from the years past, Ganpatrao Behre was known for his animated, propulsive gayaki. Behrebuwa brings freshness to his conception of Maluha Kedar, the presence of a Nand-like phrase adding to its charm.

C.R. Vyas presents a traditional composition favoured by the Gwalior musicians, set to the 16-beat Tilwada: achara mora.

D.V. Paluskar imparts a different spin to the same composition casting it in vilambit Ektala and re-orienting the melodic approach to the sam.

In this prized recording of Sarangi-nawaz Bundu Khan, the lovely mukhda is a standout.

We wrap up this section with an unpublished Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

There is a recent release of Bhimsen Joshi’s Maluha Kedar where he is completely out of his depth, alas.

Raga Jaladhar Kedar

This raga is almost extinct. The singular feature of Jaladhar Kedar is its retention of parental (Kedaric) characteristics even while sharing the scale – S R M P D – with two other pentatonic ragas, namely, Shuddha Malhar and the Bilawal-that Durga.  Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” shows how.

The alert reader may have noticed traces of the Malhar raganga (M R–P). Running over passages of Durga and fleshing out points of divergence is a profitable exercise.

The second selection in Jaladhar Kedar features the late Agra master Vilayat Hussain Khan.

Raga Deepak Kedar

This is an interesting variation on the parent Kedar where the shuddha madhyam is superseded by its teevra counterpart in arohi prayogas. That is to say, in lieu of the S M, M P opening in Kedar, we have here S m, m P.  This tweak gives rise to a peculiar swaroopa. The remainder of the story essentially hews to the Kedar line. The name is somewhat misleading since that there is neither hide nor hair of Raga Deepak in Deepak Kedar.

Let us inspect the theme as it unfolds in this old recording of Vilayat Hussain Khan.

Jagannathbuwa Purohit “Gunidas” has composed a beautiful bandish in this raga and his pupils, Jitendra Abhisekhi et al, have rendered it in mehfils.  Alas, we are here compelled to present faute de mieux the meagre talents of Shivanand Patil: bhavana bhanwara goonjata sanjha.

The rest of the discussion below is devoted to jod ragas, i.e. hybrids where two or more ragas are explicitly joined.

Raga Basanti Kedar

As the name suggests, this is a hybrid of Kedar and Basant and is especially dear to the Atrauli-Jaipur vocalists.  Their masterful design is a owed to Alladiya Khan who, it cannot be underscored, had no equal in this business of fashioning jod ragas. For it is not simply a matter of bundling together two ragas and praying for something worthwhile to come out of their congress. A judicious coupling requires forethought, a clear identification of the entry and exit points (known in the trade as nikaas), and the imagination to conjure special sancharis to tie it all together. All the while retaining a coherent aesthetic narrative.

The Atrauli-Jaipur Basanti Kedar retains the framework of Kedar and draws relatively sparingly on Basant. The latter is introduced typically at the tail end of the following sequence:

P S”, NDN D P, D M, G m D m G m G r S

The komal dhaivat of Basant is abandoned. Both rishabs are employed, the komal as shown above is the Basanti contribution, the shuddha, for the most part, in the tar saptak in Kedaric fashion. A recording Mallikarjun Mansur‘s mehfil illustrates these ideas in spectacular fashion: attara sugandha.

A musical spectacle of the iconic Atrauli-Jaipur ladies from Goa follows. Their cheek by jowl placement offers an instructive experience as they erect Alladiya Khan’s citadel from the ground up stamping it with the imprimatur of their own intensely individual personality.

Kesarbai Kerkar.

Mogubai Kurdikar – I.

Mogubai Kurdikar – II.

Kishori Amonkar.

Master Krishnarao is not a familiar name today to those living outside Maharashtra and Goa. Krishna Phulambrikar’s exceptional talents cut a wide range of artistic activity – a vocalist proficient in stage as well as classical music, a repository of ragas especially of the aprachalita kind, a composer for stage and film music, an actor, teacher and author. His primary guru in music was Bhaskarbuwa Bakhale.  Master Krishnarao’s recipe for Basanti Kedar shows the relative roles of Basant and Kedar reversed from the Atrauli-Jaipur conception. Here the Basant presence is significant and Kedar is injected via P D M, SR, S.

The formulation of Ramashreya Jha “Ramrang” carries poise and more than a hint of his formidable intellectual power. The druta bandish in Ektala is skillfully conceived: pavana sungandhana.

For an muddleheaded, terrible Basanti Kedar, to make the point that not everyone is an adept in this art of jod ragas, we bring in C.R. Vyas.

Incidentally, there is an illegitimate Kedar offspring called Kedar Bhankar mothered by Vilayat Khan (of the “Mommy-mommy-I-didn’t-get-the-Bharat-Ratna” fame). It is a measure of my humanity that I choose not to foist that atrocity on my dear readers.

Raga Nat Kedar

Elements of Nat – S R, R G, G M and RGMP M R M, (S)R S – are sewed onto the Kedar framework in the poorvanga territory. Ram Marathe sings a traditional bandish: aaja manavana.

The recently deceased Mogubai Kurdikar had withdrawn from the active performance circuit several years ago, ceding that department to her daughter Kishori Amonkar. Commercially available recordings of Mogubai’s artistry are extremely few in number and her private holdings are jealously guarded. We are fortunate to have on tap here one of her prized mehfil performances in Raga Nat Kedar where she is accompanied by Kishori. Once again, aaja manavana.

Raga Adambari Kedar

A key tonal molecule of Shankara – P (P)G P (R)G (R)S – intercepting an otherwise standard Kedar is all there is to the fancy-sounding Adambari Kedar. A bravura performance by Mallikarjun Mansur in this unpublished recording.

Raga Kedar-Bahar

It may come as a surprise to unusually retarded children that this melody is a combination of Ragas Kedar and Bahar. The union, however, is not straightforward; there are special prayogas tying the two strands. Conceived and delivered by the vidwan, S.N. Ratanjankar: madamate aaye ata alasaye.

Raga Tilak Kedar

Here Kedar finds itself paired with Tilak Kamod. The latter is primarily seen in the P S” P D M and an occasional uttaranga P N S” R” G” S” or its variant PP N S” R” G” S”. A peculiar tonal phrase MGRSR embedded in the mukhda during the approach to the sam constitutes a special sanchari.

Master Krishnarao.

Raga Shyam Kedar

Shyam Kalyan dominates the proceedings in both these instrumental sitar assays although its characteristic G M P G M R, S phrase is absent. The contribution of Kedar is represented by a bright, strong shuddha madhyam, allowing conclusion of a Shyam Kalyan pattern with the Kedaric (P)m P M, M (S)R, S.

First, Nikhil Banerjee.

Next, Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan.

In his book Aprakashita Ragas (1956) , J.D. Patki credits Shyam Kedar to Bhaskarrao Ghodke of Nasik, a disciple of Krishnarao Shankar Pandit. From the compositions given therein it is apparent that there is significant divergence in conception from the two instrumental pieces adduced here. That the same idea – of combining Shyam Kalyan and Kedar – resulted in two entirely different babies should hardly come as a surprise.

Raga Anandi Kedar

See On Raga Nand.