suruTTi is an ancient raga. It is a highly classic melody and is referred to as a scholarly raga. It is a janya of the 28th mELakarta harikAmbOji.
The ArOhaNa/avarOhaNa is: SRMPNS/SNDPMGPMRS
ArOhaNa : S, catushruti R, shuddha M, P kaishiki N,S
avarOhaNa :S, kaishiki N, chatusruti D, P, M, antara G, R, S
Subbarama Dikshitar classifies this a bhAShAnga raga and cites certain phrases in the higher octave where sAdhAraNa gAndhAra makes its appearance. The beauty of suruTTi lies in long kArvais on the pancama, extended long kArvais on the niShAda and the nyAsa on the riShabha. The phrase MGPMR is a characteristically beautiful one and brings out the deep beauty of the raga. Some of the other characteristic phrases of this raga are MPP,MR, DPMGPMR, SNDPNNS, NSRM,GR etc.
suruTTi is considered an auspicious raga and therefore joins the league of ragas such as madhyamAvati, shri, vasanta and saurAShTram and there are a number of mangaLam songs in this raga.
Tyagaraja has composed a few masterpieces in this raga. Among these are gItArthamu, bhajana parula and patiki hArati. An astonishing blend of the best in music and the highest in esoteric poesy, gItArthamu is one of the Tiruvaiyyaru bard’s excellent compositions. The song says that Lord Anjaneya knew the true meaning of the Bhagavad Gita (as he was present on the flag atop Arjuna’s chariot and hence privy to the upadEsha given by Lord Krishna). Anjaneya was also considered to be an authority on music and hence Tyagaraja says that Anjaneya knew what sangItAnandamu (the joy from music) was.
Muttuswami Dikshitar’s most important song in suruTTi is angArakam, the song on the planet Mars. This song reveals the mastery and scholarship of Dikshitar. Gopalakrishna Bharati’s kanakasabhApati is another masterpiece in suruTTi. Other composers have also left behind songs in this raga. kONDEkAdu and IndEndu vaccitira are the two shringAra padams that are popular.
suruTTi is not a popular raga in that, it is not rendered often by musicians. A certain amount of musical scholarship coupled with creative imagination alone can do proper justice to it. Of course, angArakam, gItArthamu and bhajana parula have rendered by musicians over the years.
The Dhanammal family musicians have done full justice to this raga. Their rendition of angArakam is unique and the version is different from those rendered by other schools. bhajana parula also was their favorite. The story of how Dhanammal, at the request of the famed Hindustani musician Gauhar Jan, taught her bhajana parula does regular rounds in their family. Gauhar Jan learned the piece all right but sang it with a pronounced Hindustani flavour. The Dhanammal family ladies would reproduce the way Gauhar Jan sang the song, provoking laughter among all. The scions of the family Brinda-Muktha used to sing the padams kONDEkAdu and Indendu exceptionally well in their inimitable style prompting rasikas to express their vociferous praise.
Nedunuri Krishnamurti was adept at singing AlApana followed by gItArthamu. He possessed a fertile imagination which enabled him to bring out the beauty of suruTTi.
Calcutta K. S. Krishnamurti it was, who brought new dimensions to the singing of suruTTi. With his in-depth knowledge and creative imagination he wove scintillating phrases, sometimes unimaginable, and left the rasikas wondering whether as to what greater treasures did this raga possess. Such was KSK’s prowess in suruTTi.
In recent years, artistes have experimented with rendering rAgam tAnam pallavis in this raga. It speaks volumes of the versatility of the raga that despite seeming a fairly limited one in scope it can lend itself to extensive delineation. Truly it is a proud representative of the Carnatic genre.