Know your raga: Kalyani – Queen among all ragas

Called the Queen of all ragas, Kalyani is sung quite early on in a concert. There are hundreds of compositions in Kalyani and it also has a number of very popular Janya ragas like Purvi Kalyani, Yaman Kalyani, Hameer Kalyani etc.

In the Hindustani, this raga is known by the name ‘Yaman’. In South Indian weddings, it is a very prominently played. The word Kalyani means she who causes auspicious things. Kalyani has scope for elaborate Alapana. This raga is very special because it is sung with all higher notes.

There are many krithis in Kalyani. Saint Thyagaraja’s Ethavunara, Vasudevayani, Nidhichala Sukama, Muthusamy Dikshitar’s Kamalambam Bhajare and Shyama Sastri’s Talli Ninnu Nera and Himadrisude Pahimam are popular. Some of the stalwarts who have adorned Kalyani with their music are Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, GNB, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer and Madurai Mani Iyer. Balamuralikrishna rendered a Thillana ‘Tanom nom tara tillana‘ in Kalyani, in the style called Thayam singing. D K Jayaraman’s soulful rendition of Papanasam Sivan’s Unnai Allal wooed listeners.

Sinthanai Sei Maname from Ambikapathy tuned by G Ramanathan is set on the raga. The evergreen hit Mannavan Vandanadi by K V Mahadevan and sung by P Suseela from Thiruvarutchelvar was one of the masterpiece. MS Viswanathan and T K Ramamurthy created a magic using Kalyani. Maduraiyil Paranda from Poova Thalaiya is admired even today. Ilayaraja’s love for Kalyani is widely known.

His devotional number Janani Janani from Thai Mookambikai gives goosebumps to listeners. Ammavendrazhaikkada from Mannan, sung by Dr K J Yesudas, is yet another magical work by Ilayaraja on Kalyani. Kalaivaniye from Sindhu Bhairavi and Kaatril Varum Geetame from Oru Naal Oru Kanavu are some soothing pieces on the raga. Even A R Rahman has come up with songs on this rage – Sakthi Kodu (Baba).