How to name Melakarta(janaka) Scale

With the 16 Swaras (s,r1,r2,r3,g1,g2,g3,m1,m2,p,d1,d2,d3,n1,n2,n3),there is no magic done in carnatic music to classify the ragas.Years ago ,from 14th to 17th century many scholars put a great effort in developing a base for classical music Raga Classification.THAT, is the sole source for all the other scholars in developing and enhancing the Raga patterns,both parent(janaka or melakarta) and child (janya) ragas.Melakarta or janaka ragas are classified based on Katapayadi Scheme or Ka-Ta-Pa-Ya Sankhya(numbering) system.

Ragas are classified ,in simpler terms as parent and child ragas,i.,e

  1. Melakarta or Janaka Ragas (Parent)
  2. Janya Ragas (Child).
Janya Raga scale is a subset of its parent raga,whereas Melakarta Ragas are classified based on Katapayadi system.

First 36 Ragas have Shudha Madhyamam (ma1) and next 36 Ragas have Prati Madhyamam(ma2).So the first division in 72 melakarta katapayadi system is based on Ma.

Next,72 ragas are divided into 6 Ragas per Chakra ,that will be 12 chakras(12 x 6 Melas).Each Chakra in sequence has a meaningful positioning,example,2nd chakra being netra(2 eyes) and 4th Chakra being Veda(4 vedas).

Melakarta Scale-Katapayadi system
Melakarta Scale-Katapayadi system

1st chakra - Indu
2nd chakra - netra
3rd chakra - agni
4th chakra - netra
5th chakra - baana
6th chakra - ruthu
7th chakra - rushi
8th chakra - vasu
9th chakra - brahma
10th chakra - disi
11th chakra - rudra
12th chakra - aditya

Scale in each chakra is differentiated with Rishabham and Gandharam (Ri and Ga).Example:

1st chakra - s, r1, g1 , m1, p , d , n , S

2nd chakra - s, r1 , g2 m1, p , d , n , S and so on.Hence for each chakra in a sequence the swara sthanas of ri and ga will be as follows :
In the above,as mentioned, first 6 chakras have m1 so the example chakra shows m1.Next, s, p needn't be discussed.Next swara sthana d and n will be discussed in detail in next paragraph

r1 g1 , r1 g2 , r1 g3 , r2 g2 , r2 g3 , r3 g3 .

As you know, we can not put r2 g1 or r3 g2 because those swara sthanas are similar i.e., r2=g1 (Chathusruthi rishabham=Shudha gandharam) When I say similar, the swara sthanam or the tone of the swara is same hence they cant be differentiated.

Scales for Ragas are differentiated by Madhyamam(m) for 36-36 and rishabham and gandharam(r and g) for 6 each.Now how is each raga in a chakra classified .It is with daivatham and nishadam (d and n).Example :

1st chakra - s, r1, g1 , m1, p , d1 , n1 , S

2nd chakra - s, r1 , g2 ,  m1, p , d1 , n2 , S and so on.Hence, the order of d and n combination for every 6 ragas in sequence will be ,

d1 n1, d1 n2 , d1 n3 , d2 n2 , d2 n3, d3 n3.

Scales for Ragas are defined ,now How are the Ragas Named? Katapayadi Scheme ,needless to say,as in figure gives all the 72 ragas ,their swara sthanas and names.

1  2  3   4   5   6   7   8   9            

ఖ గ ఘ ఙ్ చ ఛ జ ఝ ఞ్

ఠ డ ఢ ణ త థ ద ధ న

ఫ బ భ  మ

ర ల వ శ ష స హ ళ క్ష ఱ్

In English :

1    2     3   4      5    6   7     8   9    0
ka kha ga gha ~m cha Cha ja Jha ~n

Ta Tha Da Dha Na ta tha da dha na

pa pha ba bha ma

ya ra la va Sa sha sa ha La ksha ~r

Raga Numbering is matched with the Ka-Ta-Pa-Ya scheme as written in the above pattern.For example, Raga 15  has 1 and 5 in the number.According to katapaya scheme, forming letters in the group 1 and 5 ,we get Ya and ma.Scholars followed left to right system and reversed the letter in number ,forming the first 2 letters of Raga 15 as ma and ya,hence the name mayamalawagowla ragam.

Captivating Mohana Raga

Very often many people ask me , if western music tunes also are defined by Ragas, just like every tune or song of Indian music is called by a particular ragam(s).The answer is 'Yes'.I would also take this question as valid from others perspective.For example National anthem of Thailand is in Mohana Raga.Every tune falls under one of the classification of ragas.In this post,I will be writing a brief of the most captivating raga,mohana raga of carnatic ragas.

I see a lot of young talent these days with good understanding of Manodharma Sangeetam.It takes effort,interest and practice to be one among them.Great scholar Venkatamakhin of 17th century has proposed the Melakarta scheme taking into consideration,the swaras-ragas permutation in future centuries and also counting the past definitions.This Melakarta and
Janya ragas classification proposed by our great prominent scholars has huge science and calculations from which our Indian music has evolved big.

Mohana Ragam
Mohana Ragam

Mohana Raga,in ancient times called as 'Raghupati' is a Janya Raga of 28th Melakarta Raga,Harikambhoji.It is a audava raga,meaning,raga with five swaras in aarohana and avarohana.Nannu palimpa is a tyagaraja swamy vari kriti also set in mohana raga.This kriti being one of my guru's favourite,I began to understand the meaning of kirtana and explore about murccana or modulation.Tyagaraja, in the occasion of his daughter's marriage ,awaited long for arrival of his favourite disciple when he suddenly felt his presence give him a warmth feeling.Lord Rama's picture in his student's hand is what made tyagaraja sing the kirtana "nannu palimpa nadachi vachithivo" :).Through this kirtana his pure intention of communicating to Lord Rama that the Lord has come all the way to him understanding his faith in him ,clearly can be felt in the mohana raga composition.

In this context,let me mention an important concept of melakarta.Melakarta or parent ragas have saptaswara ragas but every saptaswara raga need not be a parent ragas.They might as well fall under a list of janya ragas. 
Raga version of Mohanam is Bhopali.Vara veena mrudu pani is 
a geetham praising Lord Lakshmi.

Ragam : Mohanam
Tala : Rupaka
Chatushra jathi

s R2 G2 P2 D2 S

S D2 P2 G2 R2 s

Vara veena mrudu pani
Vanaruha lochana rani

suruchira bambara veni
suranutha kalyani

nirupama subha gunalola
niratajaya pradaseela

varadapriya ranganayaki
vaanchithaphala dayaki

sarasija sanujanani
jaya jaya jaya aa...aa..aa ||

Carnatic Music and Meaning

We initiated exploring what music is and now lets continue to understand some of the basic terms in Music and their meaning.

Dwadasa Swara Sthanas:

As discussed here ,sa,re,ga,ma,pa,da,ni are called Saptaswaras.These swaras excluding sa and pa (shadjamam and panchamam) in turn have 2 more swaras each as detailed in Shruthi.


Singing or playing swaras in an ascending order with any swara as reference is called Aarohana.

Example : sa,re,ga,ma


Singing or playing swaras in descending order with any swara as reference is called Avarohana.

Example : Sa,ni,da,pa


Tone of swara is Sthayi,divided as below:
  1. Madrasthayi 
  2. Madhyasthayi
  3. tharasthayi
  4. anumandrasthayi
  5. athitharasthayi

When number of beats in a particular tala is followed from start to end in one cycle,it is said one aavarthamu is completed.

Example : tisra jathi triputa talam
 Laghuvu-1 drutam-1 drutsm-1
  s  r   g      |       s   r     |       g   m  ||


Swara aavarthamu in a Raga is called Dhathuvu .

Example m p | d S S R ||          (sri gananadha geetham)


Sahithya of above music is called Mathuvu.

Example : Sri gananadha

Prathama,dwithiya,tritiya Kalam (first,second,third speeds) :

    1. Prathama kalam(first speed)  : Singing one swara for one beat ,ex: sa
    2. Dwitiya kalam(second speed) : Singing two swaras for one beat , ex: sa re
    3. thritiya kalam(third speed)     : Singing four swaras for one beat , ex: sa re ga ma

Tala shows the rhythm or pace of Musical writings.

Ta - Tandavam (Lord Siva)
La - Lasyam       (Power)


Divisions of Tala is Talangamu
Talangamu also represents the gap between letters or swaras.They are-

  1. Anudrutham - represented as U ( 1 beat )
  2. Drutham - represented as o ( 2 beats )
  3. Laghuvu - represented as I ( 4 beats for chatusrajathi laghuvu)
Sapta Tala:

Druva Tala IOII
Matya Tala IOI
Rupaka Tala OI
Jhampa Tala IUO
Triputa Tala IOO
Ata Tala IIOO
Eka Tala I

Pancha Jathi:

'Jathi' is represented by number of 'letters of laghuvu'.
  1. Chathusra jathi - I4
  2. Tisra jathi - I3
  3. Misra jathi - I7
  4. Khanda jathi - I5
  5. Sankeerna jathi - I9

What is Music

We often hear that Raga,Tala,Swara are important in 'Music'.But What exactly is Raga? Tala? Swara?Does the meaning change from one form of music to another? Oh, and What is Music?


"Geetham vadhyamcha nruthyamcha trayam sangeetha muchyathe"

Song,Rhythm,Expression(through dance also) when combines ,is called Music(Sangeetham).


"RaagaSwarascha Talascha Thribhi Sangeetha muchyathe"

Raga,Swara,Tala together is called Music(Sangeetham)

Sruthi :

"Sruyantha ithi sruthayah"

Sthaayi or tone or notes (without highs-lows) that are soothing to ear is called Sruthi.

Example : sa - Pa - Sa   ( where sa represent lower shadjamam and 'Sa' ,higher)


"Swathoramjayati srothu chitham suswara vuchyathe"

And this is beauty --> Swa              - ram
                                        swayamuga  ranjimpachesedi is Swaram .

musical note
Musical note

7 swaras which are sa,re,ga,ma,pa,da,ni are called Sapthaswara.Each Swara has a name as discussed HERE

This isn't everything.There are some more carnatic music terms which explain the actual meaning of 'Music'.We will explore more in the next post. :)

Sri Rama Chandra Krupal-Tulasidas

Sri rama chandra krupalu bhajumana haran bhavabhaya darunam is a Tulasidas kriti.Why I am writing now is because,remembering this kirtana gives me relief :) My Guru taught me this kirtana in Sindhu bhairavi raga.I can never forget how happy my teacher used to be when I sing the phrase, bhavabhaya dArunam.May my Guru and all the Gurus who left us be blessed with peace.

Sri Ram
Sri Ram

Pallavi:Sri Ramachandra krupalu bhajumana harana bhavabhaya darunam

Charanam1:Kandarpa aganitha amitha bhavi nava nila nirajasundaram
Pata Peet manav tadit ruchi suchi navmi galada suthaparam

Charanam2:Bhajudina bhandu dinesha danava daityavamsanikandanam
Raghunanda anandakanda kosqala chanda dsaratha nandanam

Charanam3:Siramukuta kundala tilaka char udaru angavibhushanam
Ajanubhuja sar chapadhar sangram dish kar dushanam

Charanam4:Ithivadathi tulasidaa sankara shesha munimana ranjanam
mama hridaya kunj nivas kuruka madikhala dal ganjanam

I will soon upload this Sri rama chandra krupalu kriti by tulasi das in sindhubhairavi :)

Image:Above images are part of our trip to Karnataka,Halebidu and Beluru.Found the Sqirrel image apt to discussion on Lord Rama :)

Prince rama varma

Some years back when I was searching for tutorials on Thillanas ,I found Prince Rama Varma's Videos,disciple of Balamuralikrishna .I opened a video where he explains some voice tips based on gamakas,referring prathama dwithiya,thrithiya kalam(speed) practice of janta swaralu(janta varisai) and alamkarams.There is so much devotion in his voice that I continued listening to his other videos.I say devotion because whoever listens to his swara singing will not stop repeating those swaras with hi in whichever speed or how long the swaram is.At the end I realized how easier Prince Rama Varma makes classical music learning.Person with hardly any grip into Manodharma Sangeetham feels relieved after listening to his way of explaining.

I liked this article where he explains 'Why Music? Why Music by Prince Rama Varma
Music is divine
In relation to what I said ,here is the video,say sample of my description :)

Carnatic Music Idol

Having interest towards Music reality shows of good standard(not participating though ;)),I have been browsing for some gamaka janta swara on Youtube and was awestruck coming across these videos.Since my mother tongue is telugu,I hardly watched any shows in other languages.But by this,I learnt once again that ,in art, you should explore widely.Classical music reminds us everytime from every composition to understand and experiment each Raga,understand it more deeply.

I just want all the Carnatic music lovers not to miss such good videos available on web.