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Manasurada – Samakadambari

Samakadambari is a ragam that was created by GNB. I had learnt this song when I sang a GNB day concert for the Indian Fine Arts Society sometime in 1989/90.

The ragam is a janyam of Sankarabharanam with the following scale

Aro: S M G M P D S

Ava: S N D M G R S

My guru, Shri KSK, when teaching me this, pointed out that a refrain of SMGM was essential to distinguish this from Gaudamalhar. GNB was known to have sung Gaudamalhar a lot and that could have been a source of inspiration to create Samakdambari. There was this GNB day concert (late eighties) at the Sastri hall, where V Sethuramiah the violinist, who accompanied Trichur Ramachandran that day, spoke about GNB. He specifically mentioned a concert sung in the presence of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, where GNB elaborated Gaudamalhar and the Bhagavatar (who had created the ragam) was most impressed! Tyagaraja was one of the earliest of the modern composers to use/create such scales in his songs. They have become hugely popular in the modern concert repertoire and offer lots of material for trivia enthusiasts! Following in this tradition, other composers have added their own creations, and thanks to GNB, we have ragams like Samakadambari. The first line of the chittaswaram bears a striking resemblance to the chittaswaram in Senchu kambhoji that GNB had sung for Vara raga laya. However, I think this particular chittaswaram in Samakadambari could be my own guru’s creation. Just a hunch, because I have seen some of these musical patterns in my guru’s other works also. This song does not find a place in the published first editions of GNB’s compositions. My Guru told me that this was unpublished at that time. I remember Shri Trichur V Ramachandran attending my concert when I sang this for the first time. He acknowledged that the song was not published and my Guru knew a few of those rare unpublished songs. A few years later, I found that the recording of my singing this song was already in the hands of some of the die hard GNB fans, as they did not have a copy of any of the GNB disciples singing it at that time. I also remember listening to a live radio program of my guru where he had beautifully rendered an elaborate alapana of this ragam. He told me that when he came home after the broadcast, his daughter, Raji retorted, “If you sing ragams like this that no one knows, who will listen to you?”


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