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Ragas

What is a raga?

Raga in carnatic music refers to a series of music notes that are used to construct a melody.  In carnatic music, ragas can convey different moods. The word ‘raga’ literally means color or hue. Hence ragas can be associated with different contexts like seasons, time, activities, feeling or passion. For instance, the ‘bhoopalam’ raga is associated with sun-rise or motivation.

What is a Swaram?

The tones that a raga can have in its underlying scale are called swarams. A raga can usually have five, six or seven tones which are categorised as audava (five), shaadava (six) and sampoorna (seven) respectively. A raga that can does not strictly follow the ascending or descending order of swarams is categorised as a vakra raga.

The swarams in a raga can be s,r,g,m,p,d,n,S,S,n,d,p,m,g,r,s. The swarams s and p do not exhibit a variation in frequency with the top S being the harmonic of the lower s. The swarams r,g,d and n have 3 variations of frequencies each and the swara m has 2 variations of frequencies. The complete list of swaras is as follows:

S

Shadjam

r1

Suddha Rishabham

r2 (g1)

Chatusruthi Rishabham

r3 (g2)

Shatsruthi Rishabham

g1 (r2)

Suddha Gandharam

g2 (r3)

Sadharana Gandharam

g3

Anthara Gandharam

m1

Suddha Madhyamam

m2

Prathi Madhyamam

P

Panchamam

d1

Suddha Dhaivatham

d2(n1)

Chatusruthi Dhaivatham

d3(n2)

Shatsruthi Dhaivatham

n1(d2)

Suddha Nishadham

n2(d3)

Kaisiki Nishadham

n3

Kakali Nishadham

S

Shadjam

 

What are Melakartha Ragas?

Melakartha ragas have swarams in a regular ascent and descent called arohanam and avarohanam. There are totally 72 melakartha ragas. The melakartha ragas have been arrived at based on a logical grouping of swarams.

The swarams r and g can be combined in 6 different ways – r1 g1, r1 g2, r1 g3, r2 g2, r2 g3 and r3 g3. The swarams d and n can be combined in 6 different ways – d1 n1, d1 n2, d1 n3, d2 n2, d2 n3 and d3 n3. Put together the swarams r,g,d and n can be combined in 36 different ways. This combined with the 2 variations of m (m1 and m2) gives 72 different combinations. These 72 different combinations are the melakartha ragas.

What is a chakra?

The 72 melakartha ragas are divided into 12 logical groups of 6 ragas each. These groups are called chakras. The list of chakras include:

Chakra Name

r & g swaram combination

d & n swaram combination for each raga in the group

m swaram combination

Indu Chakra

r1, g1

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Netra Chakra

r1, g2

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Agni Chakra

r1, g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Veda Chakra

r2, g2

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Bana Chakra

r2, g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Ruthu Chakra

r3,g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m1

Risi Chakra

r1, g1

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

Vasu Chakra

r1, g2

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

Brahma Chakra

r1, g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

Disi Chakra

r2, g2

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

Rudra Chakra

r2, g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

Adiya Chakra

r3,g3

d1n1, d1n2,d1n3, d2n2,d2n3,d3n3

m2

 

Based on this classification chart, the 3rd raga in the Agni Chakra can be arrived at as follows – combination r1 g3, d1 n3 and m1. Therefore the swarams in this raga are : s,r1,g3,m1,p,d1,n3,S,S,n3,d1,p,m1,g3,r1,s. This raga is the mayamalavagowla raga.

Similarly all the melakartha ragas can be arrived at as follows:

Kanakangi

sr1g1m1pd1n1S

Salakam

sr1g1m2pd1n1S

Ratnangi

sr1g1m1pd1n2S

Jalarnavam

sr1g1m2pd1n2S

Ganamurthi

sr1g1m1pd1n3S

Jhalavarali

sr1g1m2pd1n3S

Vanaspathi

sr1g1m1pd2n2S

Navaneetham

sr1g1m2pd2n2S

Manavathi

sr1g1m1pd2n3S

Pavani

sr1g1m2pd2n3S

Tanarupi

sr1g1m1pd3n3S

Raghupriya

sr1g1m2pd3n3S

Senavathi

sr1g2m1pd1n1S

Gavambodhi

sr1g2m2pd1n1S

Hanumathodi

sr1g2m1pd1n2S

Bhavapriya

sr1g2m2pd1n2S

Dhenuka

sr1g2m1pd1n3S

Subhapanthuvarali

sr1g2m2pd1n3S

Nataka Priya

sr1g2m1pd2n2S

Shadvidhamargini

sr1g2m2pd2n2S

Kokila Priya

sr1g2m1pd2n3S

Suvarnangi

sr1g2m2pd2n3S

Rupavathi

sr1g2m1pd3n3S

Diyamani

sr1g2m2pd3n3S

Gayaka Priya

sr1g3m1pd1n1S

Dhavalambari

sr1g3m2pd1n1S

Vahula Bharanam

sr1g3m1pd1n2S

Namanarayani

sr1g3m2pd1n2S

Maya malava gowla

sr1g3m1pd1n3S

Kamavardhini

sr1g3m2pd1n3S

Chakravakam

sr1g3m1pd2n2S

Rama Priya

sr1g3m2pd2n2S

Suryakantham

sr1g3m1pd2n3S

Gamanasrama

sr1g3m2pd2n3S

Hatakambari

sr1g3m1pd3n3S

Visvambari

sr1g3m2pd3n3S

Janakaradhwani

sr2g2m1pd1n1S

Syamalangi

sr2g2m2pd1n1S

Natabhairavi

sr2g2m1pd1n2S

Shanmukha Priya

sr2g2m2pd1n2S

Keeravani

sr2g2m1pd1n3S

Simhendra Madhyamam

sr2g2m2pd1n3S

Karaharapriya

sr2g2m1pd2n2S

Hemavathi

sr2g2m2pd2n2S

Gauri Manohari

sr2g2m1pd2n3S

Dharmavathi

sr2g2m2pd2n3S

Varuna Priya

sr2g2m1pd3n3S

Neethimathi

sr2g2m2pd3n3S

Mararanjani

sr2g3m1pd1n1S

Kanthimani

sr2g3m2pd1n1S

Charukesi

sr2g3m1pd1n2S

Rishabhapriya

sr2g3m2pd1n2S

Sarasangi

sr2g3m1pd1n3S

Lathangi

sr2g3m2pd1n3S

Harikambothi

sr2g3m1pd2n2S

Vachaspathi

sr2g3m2pd2n2S

Dheera Shankarabharanam

sr2g3m1pd2n3S

Mechakalyani

sr2g3m2pd2n3S

Naganandhini

sr2g3m1pd3n3S

Chitrambari

sr2g3m2pd3n3S

Yagapriya

sr3g3m1pd1n1S

Sucharitra

sr3g3m2pd1n1S

Ragavardhini

sr3g3m1pd1n2S

Jyothiswarupini

sr3g3m2pd1n2S

Gangeya Bhushani

sr3g3m1pd1n3S

Dhatuvardhini

sr3g3m2pd1n3S

Vagadheeswari

sr3g3m1pd2n2S

Nasika Bhushani

sr3g3m2pd2n2S

Sulini

sr3g3m1pd2n3S

Kosalam

sr3g3m2pd2n3S

Chalanata

sr3g3m1pd3n3S

Rasika Priya

sr3g3m2pd3n3S

 

What are janya ragas?

Janya ragas are created by dropping one or two swarams from the melakartha ragas in different combinations – either from the arohanam and retaining the entire avarohanam or vice versa. For example from Mayamalavagowla,  if g3 and n3 are dropped in the arohanam and n3 in the avarohanam, a combination is arrived at as follows : s,r1, m1,p,d1,S, S, d1, p, m1, g3, r1,s. This derived raga, a janya of mayamalavagowla is called Malahari. Some of the janya ragas are:

Ahiri Ananda Bhairavi Athana Bhairavi
Dhanyasi Khambhoji Kapi Kedaragowla
Khamas Madhyamavathi Mohanam Mukhari
Nadanamakriya Naatai Sahana Saurashtram
Saveri Sindhu Bhairavi Yadukula Kambhoji  

 

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