The hamsa / hansa and hamsaa / hansaa, commonly heard names for male and female swans in India, have found mention in Indian mythology and spirituality. They are described as messengers, as a symbol of the individual spirit, and as a vehicle for Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge.
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Notably, however, there are names of some ragas that carry reference to the bird. Of these, the more popularly heard is Hamsadhvani / Hansadhvani (literally, the sound of the hamsa / hansa), an import from the Carnatic or South Indian art music tradition. It is an audav raga. It is a janya raga of the Melakartha raga, Sankarabharanam (29th) but according to Hamsadhvani's prayoga or the way it is sung it is said to be the janya of Kalyani (65th).
Hamsadhwani raga is bright and auspicious, one that is most suited for commencing a Carnatic concert. That probably explains why kritis in Lord Ganesha abound in this raga. This raga is well-loved and easily identified due to its distinctive charm that gets better when sung in Madhyamakala (medium-fast tempo). Hamsadhwani is a pentatonic scale ( audava raga) and the notes it houses include Shadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Pancama and Kakali Nishada.
It was created by the Carnatic composer Ramaswami Dikshitar (1735–1817), father of Muthuswami Dikshitar (one of the musical trinity of Carnatic music), and brought into Hindustani music by Aman Ali Khan of the Bhendibazaar gharana. It has become popular due to Amir Khan. Nonetheless, it is a raga many musicians use in Hindustani music using Hindustani methods of rendering a raga.
Popular kritis in Hamsadhwani include ‘Vatapi Ganapatim’ and ‘Parvati Patim’ of Dikshitar, ‘Sri Raghukula’ and ‘Raghunayaka’ of Tyagaraja. ‘Vinayaka’ of Veeva Kuppier and ‘Vara Vallabha’ of G.N. Balasubramaniam have colourful sangatis that enthuse one and all. ‘Karunai Seivaai’ of Papanasam Sivan and ‘Gam Ganapathe’ of Muthiah Bhagavatar deserve mention.
Ilaiyaraaja’s liking for this raga is evident from the way he has handled ‘Sri Ranga Ranga’ from Mahanadhi.
Film songs in Raga Hansadhwani
1) Ja Tose Nahin Bolun Kanhaiya
2) Karam Ki Gati Nyari
3) O Chaand Jahaan Woh Jaaye
4) Ali Hasat Pahili Raat
5) Aas Ahe Antari ya
6) Jayostute shri
7) Yuvatimana Darun Ran
8) Shur Amhi Sardar
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