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The Concept and Evolution of Raga in Hindustani and Karnatic Music

  • By Dr (Smt) Geetha Ravikumar
  • April 4, 2024
  • This must read book tells about the history of ragas, “Raga” the pivotal concept of Indian Music, classification of Janya Ragas, Carnatic and Hindustani Ragas and its Laksanas.

This book explains “The concept and Evolution of Raga in Hindustani and Karnatic Music” and is intended to give the Raga Profile, its image, or Svarupa in detail.


This book consists of 4 chapters apart from the Introduction and Conclusion.


The first chapter deals with the general history of the Ragas starting from Sama Vedi, Marga Desi, Grama, Murchhana, Jatis, Pann system of Ancient Tamil Music and also Kudumiyamalai inscription.


First published in Journal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 2002.


The various concepts and evolution of Raga aspects have been discussed with references from various Sanskrit texts like Natya Sastra, Naradi Siksa, Brhaddesi, Sangita Sudha, Svaramelakalanidhi and Caturdandi Prakasika.


The Second Chapter deals with the “Raga” the pivotal concept of Indian Music, beginning with Bharata’s Natya Sastra on Jatis and its Dasa laksanas, Murcchanas and Raga definition given by different writers from the original source which have been explained in detai1.The evolution of Raga from the Jatis seems to have taken shape after Bharata. The Grama Murcchana Jati system continued even after the birth of Raga.


The Third Chapter deals with Mela Janya (Janka Janya) System and the classification of Janya Ragas in detail.


The fourth Chapter contains two sections. Section I deals with Karnatic Ragas and its Laksanas in detail with an analysis of each Raga namely Todi, Mayamalavagaula, Bhairavi, Mohanam, Kedaragaula, Kambhoji, Sankarabharanam, Arabhi, Suddha Saveri, Kalyani and Ritigaula.


Section II deals with Hindustani Ragas and its Laksanas in detail together with an analysis of each Ragas namely Kafi, Bhup, Alaihya Bilaval, Bhairav, Desh, Darbari Kanada, Durga, Kedar, Todi and Yaman.


This is followed by a general observation on the study of both the systems.


The book deserves 'to be in every library and studied by every music teacher and student.


Dr. (Smt) Geetha, B.Sc., M.A., Sangeet Acharya, employed with Reserve Bank of India, had her early training in Vocal Music (Kamatic) under her mother Smt. Mangalathammal and later in Vina under her sister Smt. Lakshmi Krishnaswamy, a reputed Vina player of long standing in A.I.R., Mumbai. She was a disciple of Shri Ramachandran for Vocal (Karnatic) and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Late Prof. K. S. Narayanaswamy Ravikumar, B.Sc., M.A., Principal, Sangeetha Vidyalaya of Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha Mumbai.


She had her initial training in Hindustani Music (Vocal) under Shri W. H. Ranade of Gwalior Gharana through B. R. Deodhar’s Indian School of Music, Mumbai. Later she completed M. A. (Vocal) in Hindustani Music under the able guidance of Dr. Prabha Atre and Smt. Meenakshi Mudbhidri of Kirana and Agra Gharana from S.N.D.T. University, Mumbai. 


She was groomed under the able guidance of three gurus of Agra Gharana viz., Smt. Meenakshi Mudbhidri, Pt. Yashwant Bua Joshi and Padma Bhushan late Pt. C. R. Vyas.


She has been awarded Doctorate in Music (Sangeetacharya) from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay, Mumbai.


A graded artist in All India Radio, Mumbai, she is an accomplished singer both in the Karnatic and Hindustani Styles and is gifted with a declarative but intensely musical voice, which is also marked by depth and range. She is also a musicologist and an instrumentalist (Vina).


She has given Two-in-One concerts, (Hindustani/ Karnatic) & lecture/ demonstrations and conducted Workshops in India and abroad. She has also participated in various Music conferences and Seminars.


She regularly contributes articles in the Bhavan’s Journal. Recently, she performed a novel two-in-one Concert (Karnatic/ Hindustani) in Chennai’s Music Festival.


Swami Dayanand Saraswati Arsha Vidya Ashram Coimbatore wrote, “This comparative study of “the Concept and Evolution of Raga in Hindustani and Karnatic Music” was based on a scrutiny of the relevant literature right from Bharata Natya Sastra, Sangita Ratnakara, Matangas, Brihaddesi. Sangita Sudh of Govinda Dikshitar (17th Century) Chaturvedi Prakashika, Sangita Saranasutra of Tulasi, Sangita Sudamani of Govinda. Her analysis on the concept of Raga and Evolution of Ragas and the study of Raga in Hindustani and Carnatic Section, was very informative and scholarly. This book deserves to be in every library and be studied by every student.”


To buy book online


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, December 31, 2002 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.


Also read

1. Introduction to Bharatanatyam

2. Bharata’s Natya Sastra

3. Significance of Mudras in Indian Classical Dance

4. Four Basic Elements of Carnatic Music

5.  What is a RAGA

6. Padma Shri Awardee, Vidushi Aruna Sairamji enlightens on key differences between Hindustani and Carnatic Classical Music. 

To read all articles on Indian Dance Forms

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