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A Short Introduction to Hindustani Ragas:

"A raga composition is a collection of musical notes arranged in such an order that it touches our heart and mesmerizes us."

Every raga has a sequence of ascending (Aaroh) and descending (Avroh) notes.Also every raga has a prescribed time slot during the 24 hours day-night cycle (which was divided into 8 'prahars' of 3 hours each).It has the maximum effect when sung during its prescribed hours.In classical music the moods of the twilight hours have been specially recognized and ragas were specially developed for morning and evening twilight times.These are known as 'Sandhiprakash' ragas.Examples are :

1. Bairagi Bhairav : Morning

2. Puria : Evening

Raga Samay Chakra

As we know, a musical 'saptak' has 7 'shuddha' and 5 'vikrita' swaras.Every raga has a minimum of 5 out of these 12 swaras.Based on this ragas are classified as follows:

1. Ragas containing 5 swaras (Oudav)

2. Ragas containing 6 swaras (Shadav)

3. Ragas containing 7 swaras (Sampoorna)

Ragas are very close to nature as each of the musical notes is derived from the sounds of animals and birds as follows :

Sa From Peacock
Re From Ox
Ga From Goat
Ma From Crane
Pa From Cuckoo
Dha From Frog
Ni From Elephant

Also each note is associated with one of the seven colours of nature.

In Hindustani Classical music there are 6 main ragas :


These ragas are based on the 6 seasons in nature as shown in above table.For example : Raga 'Megh' is associated with the Rainy season and 'Deepak' with Summer.

Each raga has its own 6 raginis. All other ragas are branches of the above 6 main ragas.

There are many legends about the effects of music on all living beings,the most famous one about Tansen,the court musician of the great king Akbar.Tansen was very much liked by Akbar and most of the court members were jealous of him.To finish him off they requested Akbar to ask Tansen to sing raga Deepak.Akbar ordered Tansen to do so.Tansen could not refuse but he sought some time to prepare.During that time he taught raga 'Megh Malhar' to his daughters.On the predecided date the music maestro started singing raga 'Deepak'.So great was his music that the whole atmosphere was heated up due to the heat effect of the notes of raga 'Deepak' .As the notes of the raga flowed, lamps got lit automatically.Tansen's body became red with heat. Meanwhile as instructed by Tansen his daughters started singing raga 'Megh Malhar'.This countered the heat effect of raga 'Deepak' and brought clouds and rains.Thus Tansen was saved by the cooling effect of raga "Megh Malhar'.This is why we never come across any modern classical music exponent singing raga 'Deepak' in any of the music concerts.

I could not find the notes of raga 'Deepak' in any book.Even internet searches drew a blank on this.Can someone educate me on this ?

In modern times Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande classified all the ragas on the basis of the following 10 'Thats' :

Sl No Thaat Swaras
1 Bilawal S R G M P D N
2 Khamaj S R G M P D N
3 Kafi S R G M P D N
4 Asawari S R G M P D N
5 Bhairav S R G M P D N
6 Bhairavi S R G M P D N
7 Kalyan S R G M' P D N
8 Marwa S R G M' P D N
9 Purvi S R G M' P D N
10 Todi S R G M' P D N

Hindi films have contributed a lot to Hindustani Classical music.The older generaion of music directors were quite well versed in classical music and have given us many immortal songs based on various ragas.

Click on any link to go to the raga of your choice.

Bhairavi | Kafi | Yaman | Malkauns | Mian Ki Malhar

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