Kalyani – Kindness

The Raga Series Feb 2, 2020
(Read Charukesi – Surrender, the previous article in The Raga Series)

(Catch our exclusively curated playlist for Kalyani on Spotify and YouTube for an exquisite listening experience!)

Kindness – a simple, yet exquisite word. — A mother is kind to her child, a husband to his wife, a brother to his sister; a man to an animal, a stranger to a pauper. In a world where brutality has become normal, ordinary, and implicit, an act of kindness, as inconsequential as it may seem, makes one appreciate life and soul for its delicate and benign nature. It may stem from mere words, sizable gestures, everyday deeds or a simple glance  bearing a veritable smile.

When you give up a seat in a crowded bus to an elderly woman, When you offer to share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day;

When the fruit vendor drops in extra apples because you gave him a smile and asked him about his day;

When you hurriedly press the open button of the elevator for someone as he tries to enter;

When you hold your friend’s hand as he cries;

When you manifest kindness in such tiny doses to the world around you, happiness entailed from fulfillment makes life worth living.

It is impossible for any listener, even one with no prior knowledge on the technicality of ragas, to escape from this kindness of Kalyani. The kindness rendered is so deep, profound and impactful that without realization, one yearns for more.

Kalyani, meaning auspicious and beautiful, is the 65th melakartha raga in Carnatic music. Being a sampoorna raga (with all 7 swaras being present), it has prodigious scope for alapana. Kalyani branches out into various forms as Yaman Kalyani, Sudha Kalyani, Hameer Kalyani, Mohana Kalyani etc., all supported by her fundamental structure.

The raga is possibly one of the most familiar and predominantly wielded raga in Carnatic music, with all popular composers having employed Kalyani in their compositions. Listening to Kalyani brings about a sense of empathy, gentleness and understanding, making one feel light as a feather. The raga also extends sentiments of vatsalyam (maternal love) and shrngaram (romantic love), with very slight swara pattern variations and permutations.

The implementation of Kalyani is significantly huge in cinema music. Very popular Tamil cinema music numbers including Kaatril varum geethame from Oru naal oru kanavu, Janani Janani from Thai Mugambikai, Mannavan vandhanadi from Thiruvarutchelvar, Amma endrazhaikadha uyirillaye from Mannan are songs that distinctly deliver Kalyani’s rasa. Shades of Kalyani are also observed in songs like Laal ishq from Goliyon ki Rasleela Ramleela, Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei from Kabhi kabhi, Yamunai aatrile and Sundari kannal oru seithi from Thalapathy. They do not fail in making an elegant impression of the familiarity of Kalyani in the listener’s hearts. Kalaivaniye from Sindhu Bhairavi is an experimental song playing with only the aarohanam of Kalyani. The raga deliquesces feelings with her very intricate, yet simple patterns, even those repeated multiply. 

In Carnatic music, numerous compositions in Kalyani render the depth of kindness bestowed on us by the Supreme, making the listener’s heart fill up with intense gratitude and reverence, and eyes with tears. Unnai allal by Papanasam Shivan, Kamalam bhajare by Muthuswami Diskhitar, Nambi kettavarillavo by Purandara dasa are suitable illustrations of this aspect. Furthermore, popular compositions like Sundari ni divya rupamu and Vasudevanyani by Thyagaraja, Krishna nee begane (in Yamuna Kalyani) by Vyasatirtha, Daya mado ranga by Purandara dasa exercise Kalyani in her purest guise. These compositions follow a very elaborate alapana in most concerts, owing to the ardour of emotions that Kalyani is capable of professing.

Kindness is the primal trait of a mother and Kalyani, when she endows us with such brimming affection, incarnates and takes form as an altruistic mother. Simplicity is her nature, yet Kalyani stands analogous to how complicated and beautiful simplicity can be. When we acknowledge this and when we truly listen to her – that is when we get to experience  warmth to the fullest. 

The Raga Series intends to elucidate on the Raga-Rasa relationship to make your listening experience more enjoyable. The series is based on the author’s views and is purely subjective. Music tracks are shared for your quick reference and their rights belong to their respective owners.


Sandhya Ramesh

If you want to know where to find her, try the best chaat or ice cream place in town.