| PRESENT FORM
| COMPOSITION | MELARAGAS
The systematised and developed form of music which has been sung
in the world famous temple of the Lord Jagannath at the sacred Puri-Dhama in
its different festive occasions as a part of the temple services, and
cultured in the ‘Jaga-Akhadas’ of Puri and 16 Sasanas, 36 Karavada
(Brahmin villages) as well as other rural areas in the district, is known as
Traditional Odissi Music. This tradition is also having a long and glorious
history of its own for more then 2500 years. It is performed deftly in the
shape of Raga-Ksydrageeta-Prabandha-Gana a form of Indian classical music by
the illustrious and celebrated poet Sri Jayadeva in Orissa.
Like Hindustani and Carnatic systems, Odissi music is a separate system of
Indian classical music and is having all the essential as well as potential
ingredients of Indian Classical form. But it has not come to limelight due
to apathy from the time of British rule in Orissa, want of its proper study,
revival, propagation, etc. Despite the fact, the traditional music form
could be saved and maintained in its pristine form. Thanks to the musicians
particularly of Jaga Akhadas of Puri district, who could develop and
maintain the music. The music movement of Orissa, however, took a different
turn after independence.
Like other aspects of her culture, music of the sacred land (Orissa) is
charming, colourful, variegated encompassing various types. The existing
musical tradition of Orissa, the cumulative experience of the last two
thousand five hundred years if not more, can broadly be grouped under five categories
such as : (1) Tribal Music, (2) Folk Music, (3) Light Music, (4)
Light-Classical Music, (5) Classical Music, which need a short elucidations
for better understanding the subject in all India context.
The tribal music as the title signifies is confined to the tribals living
mainly in the hilly and jungle regions and sparsely in the coastal belt of
Orissa. It is interesting to note that Orissa has the third largest
concentration of tribes constituting about one fourth of the total
population. They are distributed over 62 tribal communities.
Orissa is the treasure house of Folk Songs which are sung on different
festivals and specific occasions in their own enjoyment. Folk music in
general is the expression of the ethos and mores of the folk communities. Of
the bewildering variety of folk music of Orissa, mention may be made of
Geeta, Balipuja Geeta, Kela Keluni Geeta, Dalkhai Geeta, Kendra Geeta,
Jaiphula Geeta, Ghumura Geeta, Ghoda Nacha and Danda Nacha Geeta, Gopal
Ugala and Osa-Parva-Geeta etc.
Bhajan, Janan, Oriya songs based on ragas, Rangila Chaupadi etc. are grouped
under Light classical music, which forms an important segment of Orissan
music. Sri Geetagovinda, Anirjukta Pravadha, Divya Manusi Prabandha,
Chautisa, Chhanda, Chaupadi (now known as Odissi), Champu, Malasri, Sariman,
Vyanjani, Chaturang, Tribhang, Kuduka Geeta, Laxana and Swaramalika are the
various sub-forms, which individually or collectively constitute the
traditional Odissi music. These sub-forms of the traditional Odissi music,
can be categorised under the classical music of Orissa.
Music by nature is illusive and changeable. So far as Indian classical music
is concerned, it has from its inception assumed the following changing forms
such as: (i) Vedic-music (Sama Gana), (ii) Gandharva Gana (iii) Jati-Gana,
(iv) Raga-Pravandha-Gana, (v) Raga-Sangeeta or classical music.
The present form of traditional
Odissi music is no doubt the out-come of the continuous evolution of the
earliest Indian classical music. Orissa could imbibe all the waves of
classical music beginning from Sama-Gana to Raga prabandha Gana, but finally
it assumed the present form of "Ragaksyudra-Geeta-Pravandha-Gana".
This system is popularly styled as traditional Odissi music.
Since, there is the dearth of recorded evidence to prove the exact time of
the advent of the earliest form of the Indian Classical Music into this
land, we may reasonably believe its inflow during the period of Aryanisation
of this land. Possibly Aryan culture crept into this land during the Age of
Brahmans when bulk of Indian peninsula came under the Aryan influence.
The Sovaneswara inscription and the Brahmeswara inscription and also the
inscription from Madhukeswar temple reveal that dance and music was
introduced in the temples as a part of daily rituals. Music tinged with
religion, attained mass appeal and royal patronage. As such the royal
patronization of Art and Culture made the Orissan music so developed and
enchanting for enjoyment of both Gods and Goddesses and human beings as
well. This tradition still continuous in its different manifestations.
The Odissi Sangita (music) was composed following
the styles (Riti) of four classes of music like Dhrubapada, Chitrapada,
Chitrakala and Panchali:
The Dhrupada or Ghosha (The first line
or lines to be cited repeatedly) has importance in Odissi music. The use of
art in music is called Chitrakala. Its use in Odissi seems
very prominent and "Badhila jani kshama kara nohile Rama" etc. of
Kavisurya is the beautiful example of this style. Chitrapada
means the arrangement of words. Generally, Odissi music is highly ornamented
with "Yamaka" like "Shrimati Shripati Brundabane keli rachile;
Brundabana shobhataru tarutale Kalpataru taruni ratana taru taralakshi
matile" etc. Panchali
means multi-lined lyric (Bahupadayukta gita). It is divided into two types -
Adhruva and Sadhruva. In Sadhruva Panchali there is a Ghosha. Odissi
Choupadis (Quadrants) are the best examples of Sadhruva Panchali. Choutisha
belongs to the category of Adhruva Panchali. After all Chhanda (rhetoric
section) is the originality of Odissi music. Chhandas are included in
Adhruva Panchali. It is deceptive to trace the origin of Chhanda from the
word Skandha. Practically, it is derived from the Sanskrit word "Chhadha".
A large number of Chhandas are composed in accordance with the Sanskrit
Brutta, "Pancha Chamara". The "Chokhi" is formed by the
introduction of tune (Swara) and rhythm (Tala) into the letters of the
Sanskrit Chhanda, like "Chinta Bhairavi". Quite a large number of
Chhandas were composed with theme (Bhava), time (Kala) and tune (Swara). It
is another unique and special aspect of Chhanda. Chinta Bhairava is used in
context of a dream sequence of Ravana in "Vaidehisha Vilasha".
Ravana dreamt at dawn that Ramachandra had detected imprisoned Sita in
Ashoka-Vana for which he was going to Ashoka-Vana in thoughtful and pensive
mood. The Chhanda, narrating this enchanting dream, is composed in the
Bhairava Raga. Both the tunes, Rushabha and Dhaivata, have a soft and
melodious use in this Raga. Reflecting the thoughtfulness of Ravana, the
Chhanda is directed to be sung in Chinta Bhairava.
The Choutisha Section represents the originality of Odissi. Using all the
thirty-four letters from "ka" to "Ksha" at the beginning
of each line (Pada) the Choutisha is completed in thirty-four lines as
In Odissi, the words used in Drutatala (speedy rhythm) are called "Padi".
Its use is the special feature of Odissi. Use of "Navatala"
(Nine rhythms) is famous in Odissi music. Besides, Dashatala (Ten rhythms)
and Egaratala (Eleven rhythms) etc. are used in the music of Orissa as
"Kuduka" and "Upadu". "Jhula", commonly known
in Orissa as the "Traimatrikatala" (Three-lettered rhythm) is used
as a speedy tala. So also speedy "Chaturmatrikatala" is known as
According to tuning the "Melaragas"
were composed and their names are completely different from the Ragas of
"Hindustani" and "Carnatac" music. The names are
(1)Kalyana (2)Nata (3)Shriraga (4)Gouree (5)Varadi (6)Panchama (7)Dhanshri
(8)Karnata (9)Bhairavee and (10)Shokavaradi.
The centres for physical education and music were called "Jagas".
In all the festivals the members of a "Jaga" arrange feasts.
"Hazura", the chief member of the "Jaga" arranges the
competitions of gymnasiums (Kusti pratiyogita) and Music concert (Sangeet
Asara). Among the singers one group was meant for singing in high pitch and
the other group in low pitch. In the Sangeet Asara singers were presenting
different "Prabahdhas" (compositions) of Odissi music such as Shri
Geeta Govinda; Odissi with and without Padi; champu, Chhanda, Malasri,
Sarimama, Chaturanga, Tribhanga, Bhajana, Janana. The singers were well
conversant with "Raga" and "Tala" the techniques of
"Kala-Amsa-Mana Proyoga", "Vasti-Proyoga" and "Saudha-Proyoga"
in Odissi Sangeet were known to the singers and drummers (Gayaka and Bayaka)
of these "Jagas and Akhadas" very well. The seasonal songs were
also sung during the different seasons.
The "Jaga Akhada" system, the core of Odissi music promoted the
music and was responsible for maintaining the tradition for centuries. The
culture of music in all the Jagas continued till the independence. But
unfortunately these centres were shrouded in oblivion for the reasons such
as: Spread of mass media of communication, cheap and commercial music; lack
of knowledge in theory and practice of traditional Odissi music; want of
practice, want of textbooks and proper schooling, apathy towards this art
and its artists, misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the original
form, apathy in recognition of this art as a discipline in academic level,
and lack of patronisation.
In Orissa, original Indian classical music in the form of "Raga-Pravandha-Gana"
was transformed to Raga-Ksyudra-Geeta Pravandha Gana by Sri Jayadeva, the
great composer, illustrious musician, a saint poet of Orissa as well as
great devotee of Lord Jagannath. He was born in the first half of the 13th
century A.D. in the village Kenduli on the sacred river Prachi in the
district of Puri and gave new shape, new taste and colour to Indian
Classical music through his ever glittering and uncomparable compositions of
Sri Geeta Govinda. Ingredients of classical music like Raga-Tala-Geeta-Chhandas
etc. of Sri Geeta Govinda were introduced in the services of the temple of
the Lord Jagannath and was accepted as the temple music of Orissa. The
musical and poetic potentialities of the compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda
were so rich and superb that it had a perpetual influence on the composers
of Orissa of the mediaeval and the modern periods. In this regard the
Sanskrit compositions of Abhinaba Geeta Govinda of Jayadeva ushered a new
era in the history of Indian music which can be rightly identified as
Jayadevic-music. This Jayadevic music had paved the way for development and
establishment of separate system of Indian classical music in Orissa in the
form of Raga Khurda-Geeta-Pravandha-Gana. This music from its beginning had
been in practice in the temple of Lord Jagannath as the part of the temple
services but it is not the fact, that only the compositions of Sri Geeta
Govinda were sung in the Jagannath temple. The Sanskrit compositions of the
above composers including the compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda were also
sung in the said temple and this practice continued till the beginning of
the rule of Pratap Rudra Deva (1497 to 1541 A.D.). From the period of Pratap
Rudra Deva only Jayadevic music was resumed in the Jagannath Temple. It is
clearly mentioned that no compositions except Geeta Govinda would be sung in
The discussion on the traditional
Odissi music will not be complete without the reference to its practical
aspects. Similar to Hindustani and Carnatic music, traditional Odissi music
has its own Melas, Ragas, Talas, Aravandhas, which are rendered in a
different style. Such characteristic features are
illustrated below for understanding traditional Odissi music, in relation to
its theoretical aspects.
1. Saras and the Shuddha-Swara-Saptaka: The tonal
arrangement of the ‘Nishada-Murchhana’ of the ‘Saraj-Grama’ is
accepted the Sudha-Swara-Saptak or the natural scale comprising 22 srutis
(microtones) set in ascending form. Among these 22 srutis the seven suddha
swaras namely Saraj, Rishav, Gandhara, mahyama, Panchama, Dhaibata and
Nishada which are practically used as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni are placed
on the 22nd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 13th, 17th and 20th srutis. Besides these seven
Suddha swaras there are also five vikrita swaras. Except Saraj and Pancham,
the rest five notes Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Dhaibat, Nisad when placed
on the 2nd, 6th, 11th, 15th and 19th srutis respectively are known as Vikrit
Rishbha, Vikrit Gandhar etc. The 7 notes in ascending form are known as
Saptak (octave). Three saptakas-Mandra, Madhya, Tara (Lower Octave, middle
Octave and Higher Octave) are generally used in this system for practical
2. Melas: Thirtytwo Melas have been introduced in
this system for classification of the Ragas, which are as the follows. :
(1) Sankarabharana (2) Nata-Gauri (3) Nata Nilambari (4) Deva Gandhari (5)
Sree (6) Todee Nata (7) Gouri (8) Salanga (9) Abhirika (10) Nilambari (11)
Nata Bhairavi (12) Uttara Gujjari (13) Todisree (14) Bhairavi (15) Mala
Bhairavi (16) Todi (17) Kalyana (18) Vasanta Varadi (19) Punnag Varadi
(20)Nata Varadi (21) Kalyanagauda (22) Todi Kalyana (23)Varadi (24) Salag
Kalyan (25) Kalyana Abhiri (26) Naga Samanta (27) Kalyan Bhairavi (28)
Vaijayanti (29) Vijaya Samanta (30) Naga Varadi (31) Varadi Bhairavi (32)
3. Ragas: The Ragas of this system are divided into
five groups such as :
The Ragas of this group are not found either in their names or in their
melodic structures in Hindustani and Carnatic Paddhatis, such as; ‘Kumbha
Kamodi’, ‘Kedara kamodi’, ‘Karanata Abhirika’, etc.
The Ragas of this group have certain similarities with those of Hindusthani
and Carnatic Padhatis not in names, but in their tonal arrangements.
The ragas of this group are having certain similarities with those of Hindustani and
Carnatic paddhati is not in total structures but in their names only.
Some Ragas of this system are categorised under this group thus the tonal arrangements of
which are found only in Carnatic system but with different names.
Some Ragas of this system are categorised under thsi group whose tonal arrangements are
found only in Hindustani system, but in different names.
Nearly 150 Ragas are found to be in vogue in this system. But we expect more Ragas which
can be explored from various traditional compositions of this system;
4. Talas: Already twenty Talas are found to be in vogue in this system
and most of them are having similarities in their Matras with those of Hindustani and
Carnatic Talas, but having difference in their rhythmic structures or compositions and
names. Some examples in this regard are given below:
"udra paddhati carnatic paddhati hindustani paddhati"
1. Ektali Mana Tala Kaharwa
2. Kuduka Tala Lekha Tala Chautal
3. Nishari Tala Bhoga Tala Fardast Tala
4. Jhula Tala Patti Tala Dadra Tala
5. Rupak Tala Chakra Tala Nirdosa Tala
The melodic structures and characteristics of the Ragas, tonal arrangements of the Melas
and the rhythmic structures of Talas of this system are given in the books namely
Kishore Chandrananda Champu Lahari and Udra Paddhatiya
Mela-Raga P -
Tala-Laxan published by the Odissi Vikash Pratisthan Puri.
5. Pravandhas: Compositions used in classical music particularly in vocal
music are known as Pravandhas. We have already come across eighteen varieties
of compositions in this Paddhati which are known as (i) Sri Geeta Govinda and other
Sanskrit compositions (ii) Anirjukta Pravandha (iii) Divya Manusi Pravandha (iv)
(v) Chautisa, (vi)Chaupadi (now known as Odissi) (vii) Champu (viii) Malasree (ix)
Sarimana (x) Kuduka Geeta (xi) Chaturanga (xii) Tribhanga, (xiii) Vyanjani, (xiv)
Swara-Malika (xv) Laxana (xvi) Bhajan (xvii) Janana, (xviii) Vandana. The compositions of
Shree Geeta Govinda and other Sanskrit works are categorised under two types
of Pravandhas such as :- (i) Divya Alikrama-Chitrapada-Ksyudrageeta
composition which is not set to any Tala is known as Aniryukta Pravandha.
Chhandas are two types which are categorised under (i)
Sundhruva-Panchali-Ksyudra Geeta-Pravandha and (ii) Adhruva-Panchali Ksyudra
Geeta-pravandha. Chautisa are categorised under Adhruva-Panchali Ksyudra Geeta
Pravandha. Chaupadi compositions are mainly of two types such as :- Chaupadi
with Padi and without Padi which are categorised under four types
of Pravandhas - (i) Chitrapada, Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha (ii) Chitrakala Ksyudra Geeta
Pravandha, (iii) Dhruvapada Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, (iv) Vastu Pravandha
Champu compositions are categorised as Divya-Manusi-Alikrama Ksyudra Geeta
Pravandha, Malasree compositions are categorised as Divya-Manusi-Alikrama
Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, Malasree compositions are categorised under two types
of Pravandhas (a) Chitapada-Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha and (b) Chitakala Ksyudra Geeta
Pravandha. Sarimana compositions are also grouped under Ksyudra Geeta
Geeta compositions are also grouped under Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha. Chaturanga
compositions are grouped under Dipini-Manusi-Pravandha. Tribhanga,
compositions are grouped under Pavini-Rupaka-pravandha. Vyanjani,
compositions come under Manusi-Matruka-Pravandha. Bhajana and Janana are the light
classical compositions. Vandanas are Ksyudra Geeta Pravandhas.
Though, like Carnatic and Hindustani systems, the establishment of Ragas and Talas through
their improvisations are also done in traditional Odissi music but due importance is given
in this system to the text of the song composition in the Nibadha portion while improving
Ragas and the Talas. Many types of rhythmic improvisations which are done in the Nivadha
portion of the compositions of Hindustani and Carnatic systems, are totally absent in the
traditional Odissi system. The performers enjoy only those rhythmic improvisations, whose
implementations in the Nivadha portion never affect the theme of the song, text of the
compositions of traditional Odissi music.
Besides these aforesaid difference, the process of phonation of Jamak and
Tana (practical techniques) of Odissi music are also different form those of
Carnatic and Hindustani music. The phonation process of Jamak and Tana in traditional
Odissi music are just in between the two process of Hindustani and Carnatic music, which
can be identified as curling Jamakas and Tanas. This particular style of Jamak and Tana
adds distictive melodic structure to the musical entity of this system.
The sound produced from the Pakhauz (Percussuin instrument for accompaniment) in Udra
Paddhati differs from that of Hindustani Mridang and Carnatic Mridangam due to difference
in their costruction. The elaborated exposition of the standard compositions of Talas of
this system which are played in Pakhauz through improvisations and expanded compositions
are done with the strictly maintenance of the meters of the Talas which are not maintained
in the improvisations of Talas in Carnatic music and to a title extent is maintained in
The improvisations of the Ragas in Ahivaddha-portion in Odissi music is done
with the help of meaning less syllabus like Aa, Ta,
Tun, Ri, De, Na, etc. in slow, middle and
fast tempo, with the use of Jamak and Tan, which are markedly different from
those of Carnatic and Hindusthani music.