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The melakarta raagas

Previous: Swaras
Next: Janya raagas

The mElakartaa ragas of Carnatic music come from the 12 basic notes: sa (shadjamam), 2 types of ri (rishabam), 2 types of ga (gaandaaram), 2 types of ma (madyamam), pa (pancamam), 2 types of da (daivatam), and 2 types of ni (nishaadam), all of which are found on the typical piano or keyboard and consist of one octave. If you include further, subtler notes found in-between these notes, one each for ri, ga, da, and ni, you have 16 notes: sa (shadjamam), 3 types of ri (rishabam), 2 types of ma (madyamam), pa (pancamam), 3 types of ga (gaandaaram), 3 types of da (daivatam), and 3 types of ni (nishaadam). These are numbered and named as follows (names in parentheses are alternate designations sometimes used):

swara sa ri ga ma pa da ni
types S = shadjam
R1 = shuddha (ra)
R2 = catshruti (ri)
R3 = satshruti (ru)
G1 = shuddha (ga)
G2 = saadhaaraNa (gi)
G3 = antara (gu)
M1 = shuddha (ma)
M2 = prati (mi)
P = pancamam
D1 = shuddha (dha)
D2 = catshruti (dhi)
D3 = satshruti (dhu)
N1 = shuddha (na)
N2 = kaisiki (ni)
N3 = kaakali (nu)
ancient Tamil kural (ku,S) kural tutam (ku-tu,R1)
nirai tutam (ni-tu,R2)
kural kaikilai (ku-kai,G2)
nirai kaikilai (ni-kai,G3)
kural uzhai (ku-u,M1)
nirai uzhai (ni-u,M2)
ili (yi,P)
kural vilari (ku-vi,D1)
nirai vilari (ni-vi,D2)
kural taram (ku-ta,N2)
nirai taram (ni-ta,N3)

The mElakartaa ragas are formed from combinations of these 16 notes, 7 in the ascending, 7 descending, giving 72 ragas. From these are derived janya ragas, which may combine different melakartas in ascending and descending scales, add or remove some notes in either scale, and have variations in the notes, mood, gamaka (shaking of the note), emotions, or other aspects of raga. These are nearly innumerable, but a select number are used in practice.

All the melakartas in the table below begin with sa and end in high sa, with the order sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa. These are sampoorna ragas, containing all the notes in the ascending and descending scales. They also contain the SAME notes in both scales. They are divided into 2 groups, by the type of ma they possess. Every group of six ragas (total 12 groups) comprises one cakraa.

Interestingly, the naming of the ragas has also been systematized. The first 2 letters of each raga give the number of the raga according to this table, which gives the kaTapayadi formula:

12345 67890
kakhagaghanga cachajajhanya
TaThaDaDhaNa tathadadhana
paphababha ma
yaralavasha shhasaha

Thus, a raga (see below) like ramapriya begins with ra (2) and ma (5). 25 in reverse gives the number of the melakarta, 52!

The mElakarta raagaas and their swaras, divided by their ma follow. They are also separated into 12 groups of six, called cakras, and all the ragas in the cakra have the same ri, ga, and ma. You can download a copy of the melakarta chart here.

Shudda madyama M1 Prati madyama M2
1 Indu Cakra 7 Rishi Cakra
1 kanakaangi (kanakaambari) R1 G1 D1 N1 37 saalagam (sowgandini)
2 ratnaangi (phEnadhyuti) R1 G1 D1 N2 38 jalaarnavam (jaganmOhinam)
3 gaanamoorti (gaanasaamavaraaLi) R1 G1 D1 N3 39 jhaalavaraaLi (dhaalivaraaLi)
4 vanaspati (bhaanumati) R1 G1 D2 N2 40 navaneetam (nabhOmaNi)
5 maanavati (manOranjani) R1 G1 D2 N3 41 paavani (kumbhini)
6 taanaroopi (tanukeerti) R1 G1 D3 N3 42 raghupriyaa (ravikriyaa)
2 NEtra Cakra 8 Vaasu Cakra
7 sEnaavati (sEnaagraNi) R1 G2 D1 N1 43 ghavaambhodi (geervaaNi)
8 hanumatODi (janatODi) R1 G2 D1 N2 44 bhaavapriya (bhavaani)
9 dhEnukaa (dhunibhinnashadjam) R1 G2 D1 N3 45 shubhapantuvaraaLi (shivapantuvaraaLi)
10 naaTakapriyaa (naTabharaNam) R1 G2 D2 N2 46 shhadvidamaargini (stavaraajam)
11 kOkilapriyaa (kOkilaaravam) R1 G2 D2 N3 47 suvarnaangi (sowveeram)
12 roopavati R1 G2 D3 N3 48 divyamaNi (jeevantikaa)
3 Agni Cakra 9 Brahma Cakra
13 gaayakapriyaa (geya hejjajji) R1 G3 D1 N1 49 dhavalaambari (dhavalaangam)
14 vakulaabharaNam (vaaTee vasantabhairavi) R1 G3 D1 N2 50 naamanaaraayaNi (naamadEshi)
15 maayamaaLava gowLa R1 G3 D1 N3 51 kAmavardhini
pantuvaraaLi (kaashiraamakriyaa)
16 cakravaakam (tOyavEgavaahini) R1 G3 D2 N2 52 raamapriyaa (ramaamanOhari)
17 sooryakaantam (chaayaavati) R1 G3 D2 N3 53 gamanashramaa (gamakakriyaa)
18 haaTakaambari (jayashuddhamaaLavi) R1 G3 D3 N3 54 vishvaambhari (vamshavati)
4 VEda Cakra 10 Disi Cakra
19 jhankaaradhwani (jhankaarabhramari) R2 G2 D1 N1 55 shyaamaLaangi (shyaamaLam)
20 naTabhairavi (naareereetigowLa) R2 G2 D1 N2 56 shhanmugapriyaa (caamaram)
21 keeravaaNi (keeraNaavaLi) R2 G2 D1 N3 57 simhEndra madhyamam (sumadyuti)
22 kharaharapriya (shreeraagam) R2 G2 D2 N2 58 hEmaavati (dEshisimhaaravam)
23 gowri manOhari (gowrivElaavaLi) R2 G2 D2 N3 59 dharmaavati (dhaamavati)
24 varuNapriyaa (veeravasantam) R2 G2 D3 N3 60 neetimati (nishhadam)
5 Bana Cakra 11 Rudra Cakra
25 maararanjani (sharaavati) R2 G3 D1 N1 61 kaantaamaNi (kuntaLam)
26 caarukEshi (tarangini) R2 G3 D1 N2 62 rishhabapriyaa (ratipriyaa)
27 sarasaangi (sowrasEnaa) R2 G3 D1 N3 63 lataangi (geetapriyaa)
28 harikaambhOji (harikEdaaragowLa) R2 G3 D2 N2 64 vaacaspati (bhooshaavati)
29 dheera shankaraabharaNam R2 G3 D2 N3 65 mEcakalyaaNi (shaantakalyaaNi)
30 naagaanandini (naagaabharaNam) R2 G3 D3 N3 66 citraambari (caturaaNgiNi)
6 Rutu Cakra 12 Aaditya Cakra
31 yaagapriyaa (kalaavati) R3 G3 D1 N1 67 sucaritra (santaana manjari)
32 raagavardhani (raagacooDaamaNi) R3 G3 D1 N2 68 jyOtiswaroopini (jyOti raaga)
33 gangayabhooshhani (gangaatarangini) R3 G3 D1 N3 69 dhaatuvardani (dhowta pancamam)
34 vaagadeeshwari (bhOgachaayaa naaTTai) R3 G3 D2 N2 70 naasikabhooshhaNi (naasaamaNi)
35 shoolini (shailadEshaakshhi) R3 G3 D2 N3 71 kosalam (kusumaakaram)
36 calanaaTTai R3 G3 D3 N3 72 rasikapriyaa (rasamanjari)

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updated on 07/21/2011