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Ramanathan, N The Concept of rutijti-s, Journal of the Music Academy, Madras

1980. Vol.LI,No.1, pp.99-112.

The Concept of rutijti-s

The term rutijti refers to the five jti-s (classes) of ruti-s spoken of by
rgadva in his work Sagtaratnkara (S.R. 1,3,27cd-28a ). He states that there
are five rutijti-s namely, dpt, yat, karu, mdu and madhy, and then goes on
to enumerate the varieties, tvr, kumudvati, etc., which result from their allocation to
the seven svara-s. In this paper an attempt will be made to clarify the concept of
rutijti and to determine the nature of the ruti-s which come under these classes.

The tradition of the five rutijti-s and their twenty-two varieties does not appear
to be very old . Very early texts like the Nyastra, Dattila and Bhadd do not
make any mention of them. It is in the Bharatabhya, that we first come across the
classes dpt, yat, etc. Nnyadva calls them "ruti-s", not rutijti-s, and states
that these five ruti-s expand into the twenty-two ruti-s.(See B.B. 3,83-113). This
text seems to have been the source for rgadva while the term rutijti could have
been coined by rgadva himself.

The names of the rutijti-s, dpt, yat, etc., have a very ancient tradition going
back to smagna and are mentioned in the Nradya ik. Narada calls these
ruti-s and says that one who does not have a knowledge of dpt, yat, karu,
mdu and madhy does not deserve to be called a teacher.

|||||| +||-|| | ||||| |||
| ||-|| || :||| |-|| -| | ~|||| ||
N. Sik. 1,7,9.

From Narada's description of the function of these ruti-s in smagna and from
the commentary ikvivaraa of Bhaa bhakara, it is clear that these ruti-s are
not tonal measures, while the well-known twenty-two ruti-s are tonal measures. The
terms dpt, etc. appear to refer to the quality of the sound which constitutes the
svara and not to its measure. The terms are vividly descriptive, dpt meaning brilliant,
yat expansive, mdu soft, madhy moderate, and karu languid. Nrada generally
prescribes the 'ruti' that should characterise each svara of smagna. The seven
svara-s of smagna are krua, prathama, dvitya, tritya, caturtha, mandra and
atisvrya. Mandra, dvitya, prathama and caturtha are assigned dpt ruti, while
atisvrya, tritya and krua are to be characterised by karu ruti.

||| |-- |,||| | .||| | || | |
~|||| | ||| | + | +|| | ||
N.sik. 1,7,10.

(According to the commentator prathama is to be of mdu ruti, and saptama
(krua) of karu, while the other five svara-s are dpt in character.) This means that
the normal character of svara like mandra is brightness and thatof a svara like krua
is languidness. However, allowance is made in singing for a svara to change its quality
ruti depending on the svara which follows it. For instance, the svarsa normally dpt
in quality, but when it is followed by a lower svara (tritya?), it is characterised by
yat ruti and not dpt. If dvitya is followed by the svara above itself (prathama?) it
is mdu in quality. If dvitya is followed by itself, it is of madhy ruti. Only when
dvitya is followed by krua does it have its normal quality of dpt. And under
different conditions the samesvara, dvitya, can reflect the different qualities, mdu,
madhy andyat.

| ||| :-|| |,|||| | |||||| | ||
||||||| | |-|||| -|-||||-| | |+| |+
~|||| || ||| | | | |||| |
| | |||| | ||||-|.||| || |
|,||| |||| || | +| ||| || |
||| || | ||||-||||| ..............
N.Sik. 1,7,11-13c

Again if the prathama svara is rendered in mdu ruti, it is rendered in the same
ruti if the following svara is caturtha, and in the dpt ruti if the following svara is
mandra. At the conclusion of the sman, the last note should be rendered in dpt
. . . . . . . . .||| -| | | ||
~~| | |||| || | || | -| .||| |
||| |-- || ||| ||-|| | ||||-|
N. Sik. 1,7,13d-14

Bharata also lists the conditions under which the rules of ruti qualification do not
apply to the svara-s (N.Sik. 1,3,15,17) when a svara has not come to an end (perhaps
meaning that it is oscillating and not still), it is not characterised by the ruti-s. Even in
the case of a svara being stable, if the song is being sung without a break, the ruti-s
are not to be employed in between the svara-s.

| ||||||||||||| ||-| ||| -|| -| || -| +|||
ikvivaraa on N.Sik.1,7,15

Nrada however points out that even when the ruti-s are not applicable, the
svara-s should conform to the ruti prescriptions, in a general way. (N.Sik. 1,7,17).

Thus it appears that in the context of smagna, dpt, yat, etc. were
inflections in tone which endowed svara-s with different qualities. Abhinavagupta, the
commentator on Bharata's Nyastra, notes the mention of dpt, etc., in the
Nradya-ik and points out that these five ruti-s were special ways of rendering
svara-s, different (pthak) from the other kind of ruti-s (tonal measures).

||||||n|| ||| || | |+|||-|| .|| |-||| ||||| -|
A.B. Vol.IV,p.12,line 16

Dpt and mdu seem to represent two extremes in quality between which fall
yat, madhy and karu. The two extremes, dpt and mdu are prescribed in
gvedic and other chants also, dpt in udtta and svarita svara-s, and mdu in
anudtta. (N.Sik. 1,3,18-19)

In one recension of the Nyastra, which is followed by Abhinavagupta, we find
a few verses which are very similar to the ones in Nradya-ik. These occur in the
course of the description of the alakra-s (svara patterns). After listing all the
alakra-s, Bharata points out that not all of them are suitable for dhruv songs and
so proceeds to describe only those which can be employed in the dhruv songs sung
in nya. When he comes to the rm alakra, he quotes two verses which are found
in the Nradya-ik ,N.Sik 1,3,11-12 quoted above). Abhinava applies the ruti
prescription of the svara-s of smagna to the svara-s of gndharva, obviously
equating prathama to madhy, dvitiya to gndhra, ttya to abha, caturtha to
aja, mandra to dhaivata, aha(atisvarya) to nida, and saptama(krua) to
pacama (as in N.Sik. 1,5,12). He lays down the general rule that nida, abha and
pacama have karu-ruti while the remaining four svara-s have dpt ruti.

+|| | |||-|||| |||||-|| ||| ||| +| ||| |
A.B. on N.S.29,37

It is interesting to note that Nnyadva, who has a different reading of Nradya-
ik equates nida with mandra and dhaivata with atisvara. (See B.B. 2,88-89).
Hence in allocating ruti-s to the seven svara-s he assigns dpt to nida and
karu to dhaivata.

~-| -| | |-|||||-||||
|| | ||| | ||| |||| | +||
B.B. 3,90

While applying the ruti prescriptions to the svara-s of gndharva, Abhinava
follows Nradya-ik in applying both the general rule and the particular rules for
particular cases. Taking the same example, the dvitya svara (gndhra in
gndharva), Abhinava explains "If gndhra is followed by abha, abha is of yat
ruti. If madhyama is next to it, it is mdu ruti. And if another gndhra follows it, it is
of madhy ruti."
||-||| +|-|||| -||| ~|| | ~|||| | || +||| ||| | | ,| ||-|| | | |||
A.B. on N.S. 29,37

The fact that these ruti-s are discussed in the context of the alakra-s suitable
for dhruv singing in nya clearly suggests their qualitative character. Abhinava's
words give the impression that the ruti-s are special ways of rendering svara-s in
dhruv songs to heighten the given rasa situation in nya.

~|| || || -|| |-|||-|| -|+|-||-|-|-||-|-||-|+||| |||| ||||| | ||||||-|
||||||| || || ||| |........
A.B. on N.S. 29,42

We observe that Abhinava refers to these ruti-s only while describing the
alakra-s suitable for dhruv-gna. While describing the alakra-s of "gndharva",
he does not mention dpt and other ruti-s. Further, from Abhinava's words, it
apprars that these ruti-s were also temporally determined. He states that the ruti-s
dpt, yat, etc., and the mandra-tra aspects of alakra-s dealing with kampa in
various sthna-s (N.S.29,38) were defined with respect to time duration also.

|~| ||||||| |--||||+ || +|||||-|| |-|| |-||| -||| +|-||| |||||
~-||+||||| |||||||
A.B. on N.S.29,43

Abhinava also refers to the use of the term 'ruti' to denote the time unit which
measures the extent of an alakra. Explaining the prescription of a kampa or shake
for three kal-s in the alakra, rcita, he says that the three kal-s are referred to as
three ruti-s by some. He goes on to say that 'kal' here refers to the kal of time and
not to ruti. ,A.B. on N.S. 29,43). In his discussion of svara, in an earlier part of his
work, Abhinava mentions the prevalence of the conception of ruti as the duration
aspect of sound (cf. A.B. Vol.IV,p.19,line 11).

It is interesting to note that Nnyadva attributes the expansion of the five ruti-s
into twenty-two to variation in the time measure (kal-kla) of the ruti-s.

||| ||+-||+|-|.|||| -| ||| |||
,||||||||| ||||||
B.B. 3,92

And we are given to understand by Mahr Kumbha, the author of Sagtarja
that ruti was defined both with respect to its tonal aspect as well as its temporal
aspect, by some scholars. ruti had the duration equal to the time taken to pierce a
pile of thirty-two lotus leaves with a needle. Kumbha himself adds that the time taken
for an increase or decrease of one ruti in pitch is the measure of ruti (in the lines of
Bharata's definition of ruti as a tonal concept N S 28,26-27)

,||~||||~|||| | || | ||| -|
| +|-| | | | || -|| - +||,|-||
~|||| ||| | | | +|| |+| |
| +|-| | | | || -|||||+| | |||
S.Raj, 2,1, 1,87-88

Putting all these pieces of information together it happens that the five ruti-s
dpt, etc., gave rise to many varieties by a change in their ruti or time measure.

Dpt has four varieties, yat five, karu three, mdu four and madhy six
varieties. rgadva does not mention the basis on which the expansion of the five
ruti-s into twenty-two takes place. In fact, as we have seen earlier, he does not refer
to dpt, etc., as ruti-s but calls them rutijti-s. He makes no reference to the
function of the rutijti-s, nor does he allude to the time aspect. In fact, rgadva's
treatment of rutijti-s is purely enumerative and not in the least descriptive. After
listing the five rutijti-s, he enumerates the rutijti-s of each svara.

aja, -- dpt, yat, mdu, madhy
abha -- karu, madhy, mdu
Gndhra -- dpt, yat
Madhyama -- dpt, yat, mdu and madhy
Pacama -- mdu, madhy, yat, karu
Dhaivata -- karu, yat, madhy
Nida -- dpt, madhy
S.R. 1,3,28cd-31ab

He then gives the names of the varieties of dpt, etc. The varieties arise from the
different svara-s which are characterised by the rutijti-s. Dpt characterises four
svara-s, aja, gndhra, madhyama and nida, and is referred to as tvr, raudr,
varjik, ugr respectively. yata characterises five svara-s aja, gndhra,
madhyama, pacama and nida and its five varieties are respectively, kumudvat,
krdh, prasri, sandpan and rhi. The three varieties of karu are dayvati
lpani and madantik. The four mdus are called mand, raktik, prti and kiti.
And the six madhy-s are termed chandvati, rajani, mrjani, rakt, ramy and
kbhini. (S.R. 1,3,31,35a)

Having given the names of the varieties of rutijtis, rgadva lists them in the
order of their occurrence in the svara-s.
aja : tvr (dpt), kumudvat (yat), mand (mdu), chandvati (madhy)
abha : dayvati (karu), rajani (madhy), raktik (mdu)
Gndhra : raudr (dpt), krdh (yat)
Madhyama : varjik(dpt), prasri (yat), prti (mdu), mrjani (madhy)
Pacama : kiti (mdu), rakt (madhy), sandpan (yat), lpani (karu)
Dhaivata : madanti (karu), rhi (yat), ramy(madhy)
Nida : ugr (dpt), kbhini (madhy) - S.R. 1,3,35b-38

Although rgadva does not give any hint regarding the function of dpt, etc.,
we may surmise that these rutijtis were different ways of intoning svara-s. This
inference is based on earlier works including the Bharatabhya, and is supported by
the later pronouncement of Rkumbha to the effect that rutijtis cause variety in
the rendering of svara-s (obviously echoing Abhinava's words quoted above. (A.B.
Vol.IV, p.12, line 16)

|| |-||-| | | ||||||| | |
S.Raj, 2,1,1,74

As a consequence it may not be wrong to further infer that these twenty-two
varieties of rutijti-s, tvr, etc., are not the twenty-two ruti-s (graded pitches)
illustrated by rgadva in the sraa process with the help of the dhruva and cala
v-s. As we have already seen, the rutijti-s dpt, etc., are purely qualitative
concepts referring to the character of sound, and their varieties, tvr, etc. which
number twenty-two are also qualitative concepts as their names themselves signify.
They have nothing to do with the twenty two ruti-s or graded pitches. There is no
reference in the earlier texts linking the two together.

Later works like the Kalnidhi commentary, of Kallintha, on the Sagtaratnkara,
Sagtaprijta (1,43-48) and Rasakaumudi (1,42-45) directly list tvr, kumudvati,
etc. as the names of the twenty-two ruti-s (graded pitches). For instance, when
rgadva points out the difference between ajagrma and Madhyamagrma,
which lies in pacama being situated on its fourth ruti on the former, and on its
penultimate ruti in the latter, Kallinatha comments "When (pacama) is situated on its
fourth ruti, i.e., the seventeenth one, lpini, which is a variety of karu jti, it
belongs to madhyamagrma. When (pacama) is situated on its penultimate ruti of
yat variety, i.e., the sixteenth ruti, sandpan... (it belongs to madhyamagrma)."

|+|||| | | || +||||||| ~|-||||-|||||| |.||| ||| ||| |||||
|| ||-|||| ~||||| |-||-|| || || ||-|| ,|| .............
Kalnidhi on S.R. 1,4,2cd-3ab, (p.124)

Kallinatha here identifies the rutijti varieties sandpan and lpini with the
sixteenth and seventeenth pitch positions, and seems to assume that the twenty-two
varieties of rutijti-s, tvr, etc. correspond to the twenty-two ruti(pitch) positions.
Such an inference is not warranted by descriptions in the earlier texts. If rgadva
had intended to state that tvr, kumudvati etc. are names of the twenty-two ruti-s
(pitch positions) he would have listed them directly after establishing the twenty-two
ruti-s on the v.

Names for the twenty-two pitches seem to have been subsequently coined . They
are not found in texts prior to the Sagtasamayasra. In this text Prvadva lists the
names of all sixty-six ruti-s covering the three sthna-s mandra, madhya and tra.
These names are mandra, atimandra, etc.(S.S.S 1,19 27cd). While describing the
rutimaala, i.e., the arrangement of the twenty-two pitches among the svara-s,
Kumbha gives their names. These are kanta, prabhavati, etc., quite different from the
names tvr, kumudvati, etc. given to the varieties of the rutijti-s. Kumbha also
mentions tvr, etc., but does not connect them with the twenty-two pitches. (See
S.Raj 2,1,1,70-73.)

The confusion is perpetrated by the fact that there are twenty-two ruti-s (pitches),
and twenty-two varieties of rutijti-s, and further by the fact that the same number of
ruti-s(pitches) and rutijti-s are assigned to a svara. Thus it appears that tvr,
kumudvati, manda and chandovati are the names of the four ruti-s (pitch positions)
implicit in the svara, aja, which is sounded on the last of these. But this is not really
the case. The four names only indicate the svara aja, being qualified respectively by
the rutijti-s dpt, yat, mdu and madhy, i.e., the svara aja which
encompasses four pitch positions sounding on the last, is as a whole characterises by
a brilliant or soft or expansive, or moderate quality which is dependent, not on any
pitch position, but on a special ways of intoning the svara.

The two kinds of ruti-s are clearly seen to differ when we study the description of
kkali and antara svara-s in the Bharatabhya. Nnyadva's definition of kkali and
antara is different from rgadva's . He describes kkali as the nida which takes
one ruti of aja. This means that nida which is normally sounded on the pitch just
below the first ruti of aja, is now sounded on the first ruti of aja. Nnyadva
adds that the ruti mdu-manda leaves aja and attains nida, and the nida is
called kkali.

||| |||| | ||+| || :|| |
| |-||| | || +|+-|||||||||
|| | |||| | | -|:|||| :|| |
| |-||| | || +|+-|||||||||
B.B. 3,136 & 138

If we take tvr, etc., to be the twenty-two pitches, the ruti going into nida
should be tvr, not mandra. But Nnyadva clearly says that nida is established
on the first ruti of aja, and also that it acquires the character of manda. Having
gone up by one ruti, nida acquires one more quality, mdu, besides its normal
characteristics of dpt and madhy.

Similarly Nnyadva speaks of svara acquiring one ruti from madhyama svara, to
become antara. the rutijti it acquires by being located on the first ruti of madhyama
is mdu (prt)

||| |||| | ||+| || :|| |
||-|| | || |-| -|| ||
||| | |||| | .||||||| ||
||-||| || | || ||-| | ||
B.B. 3,137 & 140

If we were to relate the ruti-s (pitches) implicit in madhyama with the names
vajrik etc. then the first ruti of madhyama which is acquired by gndhra would be
vajrik (dpt). But it is clearly stated that gndhra is situated on the first ruti(pitch)
of madhyama and that it acquires the ruti (quality) of prt (mdu). Similarly, in the
derivation of gndhra-grma from aja-grma, it is clear that while ruti-s (pitches)
get added to a particular svara, it also acquires new ruti-s(qualities). The two things,
ruti as pitch and ruti as the quality of sound, are kept apart, the latter alone being
given names in the Bharatabhya. ,B.B. 3,63-66)

While describing the distinction between ajagrma and Madhyamagrama,
Nnyadva states that the yat ruti called sandpan attains dhaivata and pacama
becomes trirutika, and thus Madhyamagrama is formed. (B.B. 3,61-62). If the
names, dpt, etc. corresponded to the twenty-two pitch positions, then it should be
the karu ruti, lpin, that should go to dhaivata. There appears to be a
discrepancy here. Since dhaivata in its normal state is already characterised by yat,
why it should be characterised by yat again, when it has gained a ruti from
pacama, is incomprehensible. However, from the printed text of Bharatabhya it
appears that the reading is slightly corrupt here. The new character acquired by
dhaivata should be mdu (kiti).

We may sum up by saying that dpt, etc. indicated, from very early times, ruti, in
the sense of a distinct character or colour qualifying the sound of a svara. Five such
distinct ruti-s were originally recognised. These distinct ruti-s were said to
characterise the svara-s of Smagna in the Nradya-ik. And these some ruti-s
were applied to the svara-s of gndharva, as we have seen explained in the
Abhinavabhrat. None of the earlier works except Abhinava's recension of the
Nyastra and his own commentary mention these five ruti-s.

The author of Sagtasudh ,dated around 1600 A.D.) describes the five rutijti-
s and names rdla, Kayapa, Yika and Durgakti as the authorities on the
subject. (S.Sud. 1,119-140) One does not know how seriously to take this statement.
For we know that there is at least one erroneous statement on the same subject in
this work. While assigning the rutijti varieties tvr, etc. to the svara-s, the author
mentions the names of Bharata and Dattila. We know that these two authorities have
not mentioned the allocation of rutijti varieties to the svara-s. Besides, the names of
Yika, Kayapa, etc. have not been mentioned by Nnyadva, rgadva or
Kumbha in this context. And although the author does not mention Sagtaratnkara
in this context, it is evident that the account of rutijti-s in the Sagtasudh is based
mainly on the Sagtaratnkara, for the term rutijti' has not been used by any writer
before rgadva. So we may safely conclude that the reference to rdla, and
others need not be given credence.

It appears that when the concept of ruti as a tonal measure or pitch position
gained currency, there was an attempt to bring about a correspondence between the
two different senses of the term ruti. Mataga (Br.D.p.4-5) mentions nine views
regarding the number of ruti-s, and here one comes across the term ruti being used
in different senses. Nnyadva brings in yet another meaning of the term ruti. The
revival of the five ruti concept in the Bharatabhya seems to be due to the strong
leaning towards the ik school felt by Nnyadva. He has even included a full
chapter on the ik aspects in his work. Other texts like the Bhhadd seem to
have been more influenced by Tantrika and Ygika thought, and so probably did not
pay attention to the five-ruti concept. Nnyadva has not only quoted Nrada, but
has also tried to expand the five rutis into twenty-two to correspond to the then
popular twenty-ruti concept. Originally, a svara could have one of the five different
qualities, dpt, yat, madhy, karu and mdu. And under different conditions, the
ruti characterising it would change. Taking all the different ruti-s that could
characterise a svara (or all the svara-s which a ruti could characterise), names were
given to all these ruti-svara combinations. The same number of rutijti-s were
assigned to a svara as there were ruti-s in it. For instance, aja was assigned four
rutijti-s because it was constituted by four ruti-s. This assignment is quite arbitrary.
For we have seen in Abhinava's commentary, that gndhra, which is normally
characterised by dpt, can, under different conditions be characterised by yat,
mdu and madhy ruti-s, i.e., four ruti-s in all. But here it is assigned only two ruti-
s in all, in an attempt to conform to the twenty-two ruti scheme where gndhra is a
dvirutika svara. Again there is no reason why abha be characterisd by only three
rutijti-s just because it is a trirutikasvara. It is evident that the total number and
distribution of ruti-s (qualities) among svara-s is arrived at by conforming to the
scheme of twenty-two ruti-s (pitches). But unfortunately, the twenty-two names
given to the qualitative ruti-s have been taken by certain post-ratnkara writers to
stand for the twenty-two graded pitches. The latter are merely quantitative concepts
unlike the rutijti and its varieties. The varieties of rutijti-s cannot be applied to the
twenty-two graded pitches since the former refer to the character of a sound and all
the graded pitches are not sounded in melody, but only those on which the svara so
to speak falls. The other constituent ruti-s are present only by implication in the
svara. The whole svara is characterised by a rutijti, not its individual constituent
ruti-s. Thus ruti as pitch is constitutive of svara while ruti as quality is only
characteristic of a svara.


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commentary on
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BB Bharatabhasya of
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SSud Sangitasudha of
King Raghunatha
ed. by P.S. Sundaram Aiyar and Pandit S. Subrahmanya Sastri, pub. by
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Minat Terkait