Significance of Division Of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charana in Musical Compositions. [Sourced from:]

Prof. S R Janakiraman

All music falls under two broad divisions, creative and recitative. Creative music is Manodharma Sangita and recitative music is ‘Kalpita Sangita. Manodharma Sangita consists of singing music extempore; while Kalpita Sangita consists of singing music a1ready composed and kept under one’s disposal. The art of composing certainly demands creative faculty of no mean calibre. The only difference between them rests in the. fact that in the creative type the music flows out spontaneously without any previous thought or preparation while in the kalpita sangita or the recitative type of music the composer has ample time at his disposal and ,also liberty to mould and perfect the composuition he attempts. Whatever be the type of music contemplated, it is conceived as a definite and distinct unit by itself, having a jurisdiction of its own. Every piece of music falls within the limits of a pre-defined frame-work.

A raga may be dealt with at length but it not only has its own paces of development but also the method of elaboration and its defined frontiers at every stage. Sections like Akshiptika, Ragavardhani, Vidari, Makarini, Vartani, Sthayi and Mukthayi have been mentioned for Ragalapti in classical works on music. Further mention has been made of Rupakalapti which later on blossomed into the art of rendering Pallavi and niraval. Rupakalapti is alapti put into a regular form with the confluence of pada and laya. The method of development of Swarakalpana could be procedural with regard to the movement of the patterns of combination in the different registers.

Kapalas and Kambalas are mentioned as modification of jatis which are the precursors of ragas. Kapalas have been mentioned only for Suddha jatis and not for vikruta jatis as latter themselves are modified forms. It is mentioned that the singing of these Shadjadi kapalas with the padas and swaras uttered by Brahma on the occasion of the worship of the consort of Parvati will be auspicious. The process of singing these padas with layas adorned with the elements of Varna. Alankara etc was called Giti. Four such Gitis are mentioned, Magadhi, Ardhamagadhi, Sambhavita and Pruthula. After singing the first padas with slow tempo·in the first kala , that along with other padas with medium tempo in the second kala and then along with a third pada in fast tempo in the third kala, thus where the padas are taken up three times they speak of it as Magadhi. Ardhamagadhi varies slightly. Sambhavita is accepted as what has condensed padas with many Gurus. When the padas have a majority of laghus that was referred to Pruthula.

Bharata wrote his treatise Natya Sastra designing it primarily as a work on dramaturgy but gave us a mine of information on associated topics of gita and vadya and thus fully justified the conception of ” Tauryatrika” bhava of music. Drama has itself been defined as a representation of flavors of passions and feelings accompanied by vocal and instrumental music. In most old indigenous dramas this musical element predominates. Such stage songs are furnished by the class of songs known as Dhruvas. The Natya Sastra of Bharata devotes a whole chapter describing and illustrating: different classes, divisions and subdivisions of dhruvas and their uses. Without an actual familiarity with these practical illustrations it -is difficult to gather from these elaborate textual description the nature of their musical worth and characteristics. They appear to have been a class of versified musical compositions.

The treatment of Dhruva by Sarngadeva is somewhat meagre. Referring to the two classifications of Suddha and Chayalaga, he assigns dhruva to the latter class ie chayalaga and emphasizes their musical and rhythmical qualities treating them as exemplifications of talas. He names and describes 16 kinds of dhruvas. Much prior to Sarangadeva, Matanga of the 5th century A.D., makes mentions of 75 desi Prabandhas. He refers to Alikrama and Vikprakeerna Prabandhas.

Venkatamakhin most significantly named his treatise as “Chaturdandi Prakasika”. Chaturdandi is the conception of Gopala Naik as recognised by Venkatamakhi. The four-fold channel of all musical expression is Gita, Alapa, Thaya and Prabandha. Venkatamakhi poses a question and also gives the answer himself. He clearly distinguishes between Gita and Prabandha.He defines Gita as “Geeyate iti·gitah”. According to the aphorism any composition or mode of singing could be a gita. It is not so. He defines Prabhand as “Prabhadyate iti Prabandhah”. That which is composed is a Prabandha. Then any composition could be a Prabandha. It is not so. Only that composition reckoned as Suda is gita.Only that composition which is made up of the six angas and four dhatus is alone entitled to be called a Prabandha. If this distinction is not maintained then the accredited conception of Chaturdandi of Gopala Naik will not be an established fact.He further says that the Gita is of two kinds, Suddha suda and salaga suda. Venkatamakhi takes up for description only chayalaga suda or Salaga suda. Salaga is the Apabhramsa for chayalaga. The salaga suda is of seven kinds namely Dhruva, Matta, Pratimatta, Nissamka, Adda, Rasa and Eka Tali. Dhruva has two sections. The dhatu – the musical setting – is the same for both the sections – the sahitya being different in both. Both the sections constitute udgraha. This is followed by the third section. The dhatu of this part employs swaras of higher pitches i.e., the tessitura rising up.According to some, this section itself constitutes the Abhoga. The conclusion of the udgraha is reckoned as Dhruva which is again of 16 kinds.

Thus the Prabandhas have been the prototypes of the musical compositions in vogue.
The six angas of a Prabhandha are swara, Biruda, Pada, Tala, Pata and Tenaka. Prabandhas are of different types in accordance with the number of angas present in them. The Medini jati Prabandha has all the six angas. The Anandini Jati has only five angas, the Dipani jati four angas, Bhavani jati three and Taravali two. No Prabandha could be conceived with only one anga. Which angas are present and which deleted should be known only by an individual study of the different Prabandhas namely Sriranga, Srivilasa, Uma Tilaka, Panchataleswaram etc.Excepting one “Tenaka” derived from “Tena”, the rest five angas are found in the present day musical compositions in some form or other. Swara and Tala are the minimum requirements of a Taravali jati Prabandha. The Swara Pallavi of the present day known also as jatiswaram is an example. A Tana Varna of the type “Kanakangi” of Pallavi Gopalayya is a parallel for Dipanijati Prabandhas. A kriti with the Pallavi, Anupallavi , Charana with a Chittaswara of the type of “Nidumurti” of Pallavi Gopalayya is of the type of Bhavani jati Prabandha. In the same manner, we can correlate anyone of the present day musical compositions with the parallel types of Prabandhas. Pata or Tala mnemonics or jati syllables are found in the Tillana of the present. day. Swarartha was a prabandha where in Swaraksharasandhi figured (Sri Rama Padama of Tyagaraja, Padasaroja of Navaragama-. lika Varna). Thus, the different parallels of medieval prabandhas could be found in the musical compositions. So it is erroneous to think that the medieval prabandhas have become obsolete.

Now the dhatus could be taken for treatment. Lochana kavi gave the precise definitions of the terms dhatu and matu as follows : “Dhatu matu samayuktam gita mityuchyate budhaih: Tatrah Nadatmako dhata maturakshara sambhavat”. Dhatu is understood to be the bare musical setting “Nadatmaka” and the matu is “akshara” either it be solfa syllables, Padas, or tala mnemonics There is a common impression that the swara part of a musical composition is dhatu and the sahitya part matu. This is far from correct. Lochana Kavi’s standpoint is most laconic. The four sections or dhatus of a Prabandha are the natural result of the different sections having different musical settings-

Otherwise there arises no necessity for any musical composition baying different sections at all. Herein lies the real significance of the divisions of pallavi, anupallavi and charana in musical compositions. Of the four dhatus, udgraha dhruva, melapaka and abhoga, udgraha starts the compositions and hence the name udgraha. It corresponds to what is now known as pallavi. Dhruva is the constant part of a composition. Dhruva means constancy. Dhruva stands as the charana in a musical composition. The charana constitutes the cream of the theme of a musical composition. The theme could be reckoned as having full reference both to the dhatu and matu.

Melapaka is that connecting the udgraha and dhruva and naturally it fits in with the Anupallavi in modern terminology. Abhoga is the fourth section again with two parts Alapa and Analapa Khandas, In between Dhruva and Abhoga there was Antara. Prabandhas were chaturdhatu, tridhatu and dvidhatu Prabandhas and eka Dhatu Prabandhas too as will be explained presently. We shall notice the description of one Prabandha for, example a Medini Jati prabandha which Sriranga Prabandha, has four sections each set in different raga and tala. The first of each section is udgraha and the second one dhruva. The compelled necessity of the incorporation of pada prayoga is an essential feature. The other angas can occur anywhere. Though there is no Abhoga still at the end of the fourth section through the medium of padaprayoga the name of the author, the person on whom the Prabandha is sung and the name of the prabandha must be specified. This is a dvidhatu prabandha (udgraha and dhruva) and an anirkyukta Prabandha. Now of these four dhatus udgraha and Dhruva are the two essential and indispensable angas. Among the other two, Melapaka and Abhoga , which is to be dispensed with is the question. Our lakshanakaras are of the view that the sacrifice of Melapaka is to be advocated as much as the dvidhatu prabhandas then in vogue were found to have dispensed with Melapaka.That could be easily corroborated with the fact that we have now the Divyanama and Utsava Sampradaya Kirtanas of Tyagaraja and prior to that the Adhyatma Samkirtanas of Tallapaka Annamacharya, and the soul-stirring compositions of sweetness, simplicity and sublimity, those of Sadasiva Brahman, The devotional songs of Bhadrachala Ramadasa are twofold in character. Some have the three sections pallavi, anupallavi and charana while some with pallavi and charana only.

Gitas have no sections in them. They consist of something like stanzas though sung to the same dhatu. The Janakaraga Lakshana Gitas have the different sections Sutra Khanda, Upanga Khanda and Bhashanga Khanda. No doubt the different sections are set in different dhatu. It some time happens that in some Janakaraga Lakshana Gitas, not claiming a large number of upanga and bhashanga janyas, the sections are amalgamated into one. The tana and padavarnas have the sections pallavi, anupallavi and charana the last to be known not as charana but as Ettugada. The anupallavi is followed by a muktayi swara of suitable length. The Ettugada was followed by an anubandha after singing which the Pallavi was taken up and sung and the composition was concluded. The famous Ata Tala Tana Varna in Bhairavi begining with the words “Viriboni” had one such Anubandha now gone into the oblivion. Subsequent composers of Tanavarna gave up the practice of adding this Anubandha. Some Pada varnas have more than one Ettugada Pallavi followed with Ettugada swaras. The compositions Kriti, Pada, Javali and Tillana and sometimes Ragamalikas too have normally the divisions Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charana in them. The darus figuring in the Nritya and Geya Natakas mostly have only Pallavi and a number of charanas the latter all being sung to the same dhatu. Some Dikhbitar kritis stand on a peculiar footing. They have only two sections. The first is surely the Pallavi. The second one stands as Anupallavi from the point of view of prosodical requirement. But according to the requirements of a prabandha it should end with Melapaka. A Prabandha can be terminated only with Dhruva and Abhoga. That should connect the udgraha with Dhruva. The second section of such Dikshitar kritis is now popularly known as” Samashti Charana”. This term is not found anywbere in the available text of Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini of Subbarama Dikshitar belonging to the accredited parampara of Dikshitar. In all fitness it should be taken only as Dhruva or AbhOga (charana).

First we shall proceed frrm Jatiswaram. A natural course of movement of the musical theme is found in the Todi Jatiswaram of Swati Tirunal. This particular Jatiswaram has the sections pallavi, anupallavi and charana. Similarly in the Swarajati in Mohana. The Tana and Pada varnas offer an interesting study in this connection. The development of the musical theme is even and smooth, flowing and well balanced taking up the moulding of the raga gradually from depth to height. The sahitya is after all quite an insignificant factor. The dhatu alone marks the dominating element in a tana varna.

“Evari Bodha” (Abhogi)
“Jalajakshi” (Hamsadhvani)
“Sarasijanabha” (Kambhoji)

The padavarna offers a different structure.

“Entani” (Khamas)

Generally the procedure should be that in the pallavi the musical theme must be initiated from whatever angle it may be but developed a little further in the anupallavi and further enlarged in the charana maintaining of course a balanced sequence, one built upon the other. The charana must be the sum total. The same thing holds good with regard to the manners of development of the contents of Sahitya as well. An idea is thrown in the pallavi, a little amplified in the anupallavi and substantitated in the charana. That is what Tyagaraja invariably does. Even with regard to the movement of the musical theme Tyagaraja does not usually shoot at a tangent. He works up the theme gradually with a balanced sequence, Examples to illustrate the above:

“Endudaginado” (Todi)
“Chakkaniraja (Kharaharapriya)
“Ramabana” (Saveri)

“Mari Mari Ninne” (Kambhoji)
“Karuvelpulu” (Kalyani)

Certain kritis of Tyagaraja set particularly in Adi Tala Chitra tama Marga contain the beautiful sequence of development of musical theme. In most of them the phenomenon of the uttarardha of the charana being repeated to the dhatu of the anupallavi could well be noticed.

“Enta vedukondu.’ (Saraswati manohari)
“Makelara” (Ravi Chandrika)
“Bantu riti” (Hamsana

The Divyanama kitanas and utsava sampradaya kirtanas of Tyagaraja present proto types of Eka Dhatu’ and Dvidhatu Prabandhas.

Illustrations :

“Sri Rama Sri Rama” (Sahana)
“Pahiramaehandra” (Sankarabharana)
“Nagumomu” (Madhyamavati)

The entire composition is a unit by itself. Herein does not arise the elaboration of the musical theme. The Sahitya is mostly an invocation. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s compositions offer a shining contrast to those of Tyagaraja. Dikshitar was an epic composer. His mode of presentation was subdued and undemonstrative. Tyagaraja was chiefly an emotional composer. His bent of mind was diverse in character. He was at times overjoyed, at times deeply sorrowful, sometimes disgusted sometimes disappointed and so on. The mould of his dhatu and matu varied like quick moving scenes of panorama. The divisions of pallavi. anupallavi and charana are apparently clear and distinct in scope and conception.


” Intakannananda” (Bilahari)
” Entabhagyamu” (Saranga)
“ Epapamu ” (Athana)

Dikshitar’s kritis are in effect dhyana sloka hymns of praise. invocations to some deity or other, visualising some deity or other and shrouding the song with attributes, with epithets finding expression the local deity of some shrine or other incorporating in loving details the local customs and traditions of the shrine as well. Hence his kritis have a ponderous length with “linked sweetness, long drawn out, except a few stray kritis with pallavi and charana (Illustration).

” Kamalambike” (Todi)
” Balagopala” (Bhairavi)
” Bhajare” (Kalyani)
” Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste” (Kambhoji)
” Kasi Visveswara” (Kambhoji)

In the case of Dikshitar’s kriti only from the point of view of the movement of Dhatu the different sections cannot be tampered with. The section can be reshuffled and no harm will be done if the sequence of Sahitya in general. Of course the progression of the content may be there. Tyagaraja’s kritis do not admit of such treatment. The sections naturally follow one another.


” Mari Mari Ninne ” (Kambhoji)
” Chakkani Raja” (Kharaharapriya)
“ Dorakuna ” (Bilahari)

In Thyagaraja’s krities the anupallavi marks a perceivable development upon the Pallavi with regard to both music and sahithya. It is straight away taken in higher tessitura. In Dikshitar’s case only the latter half of the Anupallavi brings in the difference in treatment of the musical theme.


“ Majanaki ” (Kambhoji)
” Sri Subrahmanyaya ” (Kambhoji)

The dhatu of the song never repeats anywhere in the kritis of Dikshitar. That is a marked feature.


“Vatapiganapatim” (Hamsadhwani)

Syama Sastri’s krities are much less complex in character in the discussion of the present issue. They are less elaborate in scope and structure. What has been said above with regard to Dikshitar’s kritis of Syama Sastry with regard to the sangeetha and sahitya in the different sections of the song.

Illustration :

” Ninuvenagamari” (Purva kalyani)
” Ninnenamminanu” (Todi)

Bhairavi Swarajati though designated as Swarajati works out a beautiful and ideal development of musical theme (illusrations)

A word about the interchange of sections in a musical composition in gana krama. Tradition has recognized the taking up of anupallavi first in most of the padas of Kshetragna. Not only the musical setting but also the theme of sahithya bas favoured such a procedure evidenty so designed by the composer himself


“Gaddari Vagala” (Kalyani)
“Kontegadu” (Surati)

Some of the kritis of Thyagaraja too has warranted such a treatment


“Elanidaya Radu” (Atana)
“Mokshamu” (Saramathi)
“Theliyaleru” (Dhenuka)

Lastly the different sections have got a definite bearing one upon the other. Usually the Pallavi and Anupallavi are of the same length and charana double in size. Rarely compositions have uniform length of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charana.


“Sarojadalanetri” (Sankarabharana)

“Santhamulekha” (Sama)
“Entharani” (Hari Kambhoji)

Only in the krities of Dikshitar and the Padas of Kshetragna the anupallavi is twice the Pallavi and charana four times.


“Vatapiganapatim” (Hamsadhwani)
“Gaddari Vagala” (Kalyani)


About Prof. S R Janakiraman

Prof. S R Janakiraman, currently the Principal of Music Academy’s Teacher’s College of Music in Chennai, was born on July 12, 1928, in South India. He started learning Carnatic music in 1938, and received training under several great masters. The year 1945 was a landmark year in his career when he got the opportunity to learn from great doyens such as Tiger Varadachari, Budalur Krishnamurti Sastri, T K Ramasami Ayyangar and Kalpagam Swaminathan at Kalakshetra, and Musiri Subramanya Ayyar, Tiruppambaram Swaminatha Pillai, Mayavaram V V Krishna Ayyar and T Brinda at the Central College of Carnatic Music. Janakiraman’s excellence in the theoretical and practical aspects of music earned him the titles of Sangita Siromani and Sangita Vidwan.

He was initiated into musicology by Profs. P Sambamurti and Balakrishna Ayya. This was further strengthened under P K Rajagopala Ayyar. In addition to his gurus’ immense knowledge and wisdom, Janakiraman also imbibed a style of presentation with powerful delivery, expression, and diction. His method of analysing original treatise and of evolving one’s own ideals and concepts soon placed him high in the annals of musicology in India.

Janakiraman has taught musicology at various levels, including advanced, graduate and post-graduate courses for over 30 years. He had a brilliant career as the Head of the Dept. of Musicology at Sri Venkateswara College of Music, Tirupati. After his stint at Tirupati, he was associated with The Music Academy, Madras in various capacities such as Research scholar and Advisory Member of the Experts Committee.

Not surprisingly, Janakiraman has annexed several titles in music, notably, Sangita Kala Acharya (The Music Academy), Sangita Kala Sagaram (Bhairavi Fine Arts Association of North America), Kalaimamani (Tamilnadu State Govt.), Sangita Kala Jyoti, Ganamruta Kala Ratna and Isai Kalai Chelvar. Recently, he was also the recipient of the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the Government of India.

He is the author of a two-volume book, “Sangita Sastra Saramu” in Telugu. During his tenure as a Research Scholar at The Music Academy, he authored three comprehensive volumes of the book “Raga Lakshanas” in Tamil and co-authored a book in English titled “Ragas of Saramrta”, which is a commentary on the Raga Chapter of King Tulaja’s treatise, Sangita Saramrta. He has presented a 3-hour video documentary titled “Varna through the Ages” and an audio-visual dissertation on the 72 melakartas with reference to the 72 mela-ragamalika of Maha Vaidyanatha Ayyar under the auspices of Saraswati Vaggeyakara Trust, Madras in 1991 and 1995 respectively.

A performing musician with a strong academic background, Janakiraman has been recognised as a top-ranking artiste by the All India Radio and Doordarshan. His lecture-demonstrations are not only instructive but also inspiring, and have drawn august audiences from all over the world. His contributions to Carnatic music and musicology over the last fifty years have left a lasting impression.