March 2, 2020

Socio-cultural Background of Kanada Ragini

Indigenous Art & Culture

—Anindya Banerjee

Ragas and Ragini’s are cultural constructs, having deep roots in the totality of human life. To understand fully we are forced to view them from the human perspective. In analyzing the historical background of Ragini linguistic, geographic and social that will enable us to estimate properly its stream of Indian Classical Music.

 Our first point of discussion will be the origin and semantic aspect of the word ‘Kanada’. The word ‘Kanada’ seems to have originated in different stages of evolution from the word ‘Karnata’ and in most of the ancient texts, we find the name Ragini Karnata or Karnati. Sometimes the word ‘Karnataka’ is also used, but this is not significant. The question that naturally arises is how was ‘Karnata’ transformed into the word ‘Kanada’? This will be one of the most important aspects of our present study. As a concurrence, we have to stress the. structure and roots of language formation, the evolution and involution of the word, During the post-Vedic period, the so-called Aryan language was replaced by Pali and Prakrit. In South India ‘Tamil’ ‘Malavali’, ‘Kanada’ and ‘Telegu’ were the four main languages. After the fail of Buddhist culture, Pally gradually disappeared, but the Prakrit remained in medieval India as an incidental language that was used in literature and drama.

Today, ‘Kanada’ constitutes a ‘Raga-Varga’, the essence of which lies hidden in the very meaning ‘Kanada’. This hidden meaning seems to be rooted in the language, community and the regional influence marked by the aesthetic and social approach to music current in that age.

The transformation of ‘Karnata’ into ‘Kanada’ follows the laws of consonantal change. One notes here the influence of Aryan and non-aryan language tools. Even though the meaning Karnataka diversifies in interesting note common features in the various meanings. The word that ‘Karnata’ or ‘Karnataka’ various means a beautiful woman, a plant, and a musical mode. The sense of tenderness, delicacy, and beauty seems to be common two all three meanings.

Keeping in view the linguistic interpretation and analysis of the term Karnata’, let us now try to see it in the context of the country so-named ‘Karnataka’ and ‘Kanada’ are collateral a  province in South India or a dialect which was used by local people or even to denote a Ragini. It should be mentioned here however that ‘Karnata’ as Ragini is no longer in existence now.

To turn back to the social and cultural history of the people of Karnata one should lay proper emphasis upon the religious outlook because of religious faith of religious performance from a vital part of the socio-cultural pattern of the race of community.

used either to denoteS used by local people or ned here, however, that history of the people of ‘Karnata’, the religious Outlook, because religious faith or religious performances form a vital part of the socio-cultural pattern of a race or community. Of the different shades of meaning of ‘Karnata’in accordance with phonetic overtones and change of pronunciation, the comparatively new words, which are the main offshoots, makes us focus on several concepts which could possibly help us to evaluate the socio-cultural outlook with its necessary

religious background. These are:

a) The concept of Naga-‘Karnata’being used as the name of a serpent;

b) The concept of a lotus;

c) The concept of Kadamba;

d) The concept of one eye (Kan);

e) The concept of Kuntala or style of hairdressing prevalent in the country called by the name Kuntala Desa. Of these, the concepts of ‘serpent’ and ‘lots are especially relevant to the raga the notion of a serpent as the very name ‘Karnata’ suggests, occupies an important position in the religious outlook of the people of Karnataka. It influences their social outlook since the name ‘Karnata’ also suggests a hairstyle in the shape of a serpent used by the womenfolk of Karnataka.

If the discussion hitherto has tried to ascertain the linguistic and geographic roots of ARNATA/KANADA, it is equally important to widen our perspective. To treat it merely as a melody confined to a particular region is not right.

As a matter of fact, the Ragini’ Karnata’ is not specifically South Indian having no influence upon the music of North India. Rather it is a Ragini of India as a whole and the cultural unity of greater India alone is made it possible. The close alliance and affinity of the emotional and spiritual aspect of the Raginis  ‘Karnata’ and’Kanada’the former being practiced mainly in South in ancient times and the latter in North India since the Muslim period prove that in culture or in religion the South was ‘never a separate closed nit from the North. On the contrary, we see that there was always a cultural oscillation and feedback between the South and the North and India witnessed this ‘Oneness’ always.

Culture, civilization, religion, etc. are the inner principles of man through which the wants to overcome the barters and to comprehend the components of music in a greater and richer framework, the apprehension is always alive in the human mind as man proceeds in his quest to be spiritually perfect Indian Music though moves within a limited number of notes, represents the infinite within the finite Indian Music is not and was never confined to any particular region or religion. In music, there is, and should be an exchange of cultures and interplay of different religious ideas current in different parts of India. This cultural exchange and religious interplay manifest themselves in different Ragas and Raginis as exemplified here in the raga Kanada, which makes Indian Music so powerful and moving.