Dasavidha raga navati kusuma manjari is a musical work in which Pandit Adibhatla Narayana Das exhibited his monumental skill in literary craftsmanship and musical composition. It is a raga malika comprising ninety ragas in ten categories and nine ragas in each category. The ten categories are: (1) Sarva-sampurna ragas (2) Shadava-oudava ragas (3) Oudava-shadava ragas (4) Sampurna-oudava ragas (5) Oudava-sampurna ragas (6) Suddha-shadava ragas (7) Sampurna-shadava ragas (8) Shadava-sampurna ragas (9) Suddha-oudava ragas & (10) Vakra ragas. As the ninety ragas are woven as flowers in a garland, it is named dasavidha raga navati kusuma manjari.
The raga malika is a prayer to goddess Kanyakumari and is in two parts, the first half in Samskrit and the second in Telugu. The names of the ragas are used as a part of the prayer in each line of the first part. Thus the composer dictated the ragas in which each line should be sung. The same ragas are repeated in the inverse order in the second half. The raga malika can be sung in all talas evolving from the five jatis of eka-tala.
Another important feature of this raga malika is this: while a vocalist sings it, and five musicians keep time each with a different eka-tala, by the time the raga-malika is completely sung all the eka-talas could be concluded and not in between.
If a musician can accomplish singing the raga malika to five different talas it would be a great achievement. Pandit Narayana Das used to perform such a feat which he called Panchamukhi, after the five facets of Paramasiva. The five facets of Paramasiva are Sadyojatha, Vamadeva, Eesana, Tatpurusha and Aghora. The performance of Panchamukhi earned Pandit Narayana Das the title of Panchamuki-Parameswara. The five talas he used to perform were trisragati with the right hand; chaturasragati with the left hand; khanda with the right shoulder; misra with the left shoulder and sankeerna with the head. He also performed Shanmukhi (i.e singing to six talas) in which, he performed all the five talas mentioned above while singing the kriti to a different tala. The performance of five and six talas earned him the title, Layabrahma.
‘Mahamahopadhyaya’, ‘Sangeethasekhara’ Nookala Chinasatyanarayana has this to say of the Sangeetha Prabandham: “A student of this prabandham who begins his musical education with the first line becomes a vidwan by the time he accomplishes singing the 180th line or aavartham. If a music vidwan practises this Prabandham daily, there would be nothing beyond his capability with regard to performance of music or tala.”