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Punnagavarali raaga

11:29 PM Posted by Vijayasri


Punnagavarali raaga is a janya of Hanumathodi which is the 8th melakarta raaga in the 72 melakartha system.

The raaga punnagavarali was born out of a traditional folk tune used by the snake charmers. The 'naga' in the name of this raaga is a reference to a serpent(snake). The composers of classical music such as Saint TyAgarAja, MuthusvAmi DIkShitar, ShyAmA ShAstri, SvAti TirunAL, GopAlakRShNa BhArati and others have expertly used the punnAgavarALi rAga in their compositions. "Tava dasoham (Tyagaraja)", "Ninnu Juchi", "sivaganga nagaraa", "kanakashaila", "Gandahamu Puyaruga" are some of the famous krithis in this raaga.

There is a belief among many Hindus, that if songs in the snake-charming tunes such as the punnAgavarALi rAga are played around the dusk or late night could invite snakes to the place. A Tamil siddhar named 'PAmbATTi siddhar' has composed over 120 verses on the relationship of the snakes with God Shiva.

The famous 'nAdar muDI mElirukkum'--adoring the NAtha--Shiva's head, snake song is popular, occasionally sung in karnAtik music concerts. The famous Tamizh film 'TiruvaruTselvar' on the Shaivite saint Appar SvAmigaL (staring SivAji GaNesan in his role) has a filmy version of this song that can be downloaded here:
http://music.cooltoad.com/music/song.php?id=476102

As everyone knows, snakes are sacred in the Hindu tradition. Spiritually they symbolize the kuNDalinI shakti. Listening repeatedly and with meditative concentration to songs set in the punnAgavaraLi rAga, like the 'shyAmala komala kRShNA murAri', might charm and stir the listener's kuNDalinI snake.

Here is an interesting note on the snake charming instrument called 'maguDi' in Tamil and 'punji' in Hindi:

(MaguDi is) A musical instrument used by snake charmers. It is called Punji in North India. This instrument is polyphonous. A bottle gourd attached to a double cane pipe is cut in reeds. While one of the pipes gives the basic tonic, which it produces in a constant drone, the other pipe is able to play the tune. This pipe has finger holes that can be stopped just as in a flute. The wind that enters is blown out through the other end of the bottle gourd. Its sound is melancholy and is normally tuned to the scale of the South Indian Punnagavarali, a kind of Mishra Bilaskhani Todi of Hindustani music. This scale is said to attract serpents. The southern Magudi is unable to produce the Shadja of the higher octave. The North Indian Punji, being longer, is able to produce the upper Shadja. Ref: http://www.carnatica.net/onlinedictionary/dicm.htm

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