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Janya ragas are scales derived from the melakarta ragas.

Previous: Intro to Raaga
Next: Identifying Raagas

The melakarta ragas have 7 notes, sa ri ga ma pa da ni, in both the ascending and descending scales. Janya ragas, however, are raagas that do not necessarily have all these notes. They may be missing the notes from their "parent" melakarta, have added notes from another melakarta, have some variations in the order of the notes, or some combination of all these factors. These are divided into a few categories:

  • upaanga or bhaashaanga
  • varja or sampoorna
  • vakra or non-vakra

Upaanga or bhaashaanga - This refers the using notes from the parent melakarta. Upanga raagas use only the notes from their parent melakarta (for example, aabhOgi uses only notes from melakarta 22, kharaharapriyaa). Bhaashaanga raagas, on the other hand, use what are called anya swaras, notes from a different melakarta. Thus, aahiri uses swaras from melakartas 8, 14, and 20. A raaga may use up to 3 swaras from an outside melakarta, but no more.

Varja or sampoorna - Varja means that the raaga is missing some swaras. rEvati is missing a G and D, so it is an audava varja raaga. Swarantara refers to having only 4 swaras (this is rare, for example S R P N), audava refers to having 5 swaras, shaadava refers to 6 (for example, S R G M P N), and raagas with no missing swaras, having all seven S R G M P D N are sampoorna raagas.

Vakra or non-vakra - Vakra means "crooked." Thus these raagas have crooked scales, with the order being changed. Raagas like kaanaDaa are often considered vakra when they have scales such as S R G M P M D N S instead of simply S R G M P D N S, which is non-vakra (even though it is sampoorna, having all the swaras).

Combinations - Raagas may also have combinations of the above, so raagas such as aahiri again are sampoorna (have all the swaras) but are vakra (S R S G ...) and bhaashaanga (with anya swaras). In addition to these nuances, raagas can also have changes in the stressing of notes and the decorations (gamakas) they are given to give rise to an even wider variety of raagas. These changes can give rise to hundreds of thousands of raagas based simply on the 72 melakarta raagas.


Next: Identifying Ragas

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updated on 03/20/2009