Natalie Savelyeva

Melakarta Ragas

Basic Principles

There are seven svaras, including Sa, Pa, two varieties of Ma and three varieties of Ri, Ga, Da, and Ni which are used to explain Melakarta systematization. The names of those varieties are as follows:

  • S - Shadja is the base note of the octave, the tonic. The name Shad-ja means “giving birth to next 6 notes”.
  • R1 - Suddha Rishabham(or pure Ri)
  • R2 - Chatusruti Rishabham (four sruti Ri)
  • R3 - Shatsruti Rishabham (six sruti Ri)
  • G1 - Suddha Gandharam (pure Ga)
  • G2 - Sadharana Gandharam (intermediate Ga, i.e. between pure Ga and pure Ma)
  • G3 - Antara Gandharam (upper Ga)
  • M1 - Suddha Madhyamam (pure Ma)
  • M2 - Prati Madhyamam (senior Ma)
  • P - Panchamam
  • D1 - Suddha Daivatam (pure Da)
  • D2 - Chatusruti Daivatam (four sruti Da)
  • D3 - Shatsruti Daivatam (six sruti Da)
  • N1 - Suddha Nishadam (pure Ni)
  • N2 - Kaisiki Nishadam (refined Ni)
  • N3 - Kakali Nishadam (Ni of highest pitch, as the voice of Kokila, a parrot)

Scale comprises seven svaras (notes). One Sa (tonic), one Pa (perfectfifth), two Ma (perfect fourth and its variety), and two varieties of Ri, Ga, Da and Ni. Total number of svarasthanas is twelve.

In Melakarta three variety of Ri, Ga, Da and Ni overlap, i.e. R2=G1, R3=G2, D2=N1, and D3=N2. This artificial technique is employed in order to simplify the scheme.

Sixteen varieties, but twelve svarasthanas are distributed in the scale according to their sruti numbers as follows:

Sruti number   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
  S   R1   R2   R3     M1     M2 P   D1   D2   D3      
          G1   G2   G3                 N1   N2   N3  

Each raga (mode) here should include all seven svaras (sampurna), in proper ascending and descending order (krama). As the same svara (for ex. Ri) cannot be included twice, it was suggested to introduce overlapping G1, G2 (the same as R2, R3) and overlapping D2, D3 (the same as N1, N2) to avoid such confusion, when two varieties of the same svara present in a scale.

The scale comprising seven svaras is divided into two tetrachords (combinations), i.e. Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma (lower tetrachord) and Pa-Da-Ni-Sa (upper tetrachord), if we use Greek terms.

As there are two variations of Ma, M1 and M2, Melakarta is divided into two halves: the first 6 chakras (groups of 6 ragas) contain M1 and the second 6 chakras (from 7 to 12) contain M2.

Lower tetrachord is changing Chakra-wise. Upper tetrachord is changed inside each chakra, according to the number of raga inside the chakra (from 1 to 6).

The lower tetrachord is changed chakra-wise in Suddha Madhyama half (1-6 chakras):

Veda Netra Agni Veda Bana Ritu
S R1 G1 M1 S R1 G2 M1 S R1 G3 M1 S R2 G2 M1 S R2 G3 M1 S R3 G3 M1

The similar way it comes in Prati Madhyama half (7-12 chakras), only Ma is a different one:

Risi Vasu Brahma Disi Rudra Aditya
S R1 G1 M2 S R1 G2 M2 S R1 G3 M2 S R2 G2 M2 S R2 G3 M2 S R3 G3 M2

The upper tetrachord is changed number-wise inside each chakra:

1 2 3 4 5 6
P D1 N1 S P D1 N2 S P D1 N3 S P D2 N2 S P D2 N3 S P D3 N3 S

Indu and Rishi Chakras

Indu means the moon, the moon is the one only. Thus, number of Indu chakra is 1.

Rishi is a sage. According to Puranas, there were seven famous sages in this wolrd in the Golden Age, thus, number of Rishi chakra is 7.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
1. Indu 1 1 Kanakangi R1G1 D1N1 Salagam 1 37 7. Rishi
- 2 2 Rathnangi R1G1 D1N2 Jalarnavam 2 38 -
- 3 3 Ganamurthii R1G1 D1N3 Jalavarali 3 39 -
- 4 4 Vanaspatii R1G1 D2N2 Navaneetam 4 40 -
- 5 5 Manavati R1G1 D2N3 Pavani 5 41 -
- 6 6 Tanaroopi R1G1 D3N3 Raghupriya 6 42 -

Netra and Vasu Chakra

Netra means the eyes, there are two eyes. Thus, number of Netra chakra is 2.

Eight Vasus were heavenly beings, which according to the legend were cursed to be born in this world. Goddess Ganga descended to this world and took human form. She married the King and gave birth to eight children. She drawned seven of them, but the eigth one. This last child became Bhishma, great warrior and granfather of Pandavas, according to Mahabharata. Thus, Vasu chakra got number 8.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
2. Netra 7 1 Senavati R1G2 D1N1 Gavambodhi 1 43 8. Vasu
- 8 2 Hanumatodi R1G2 D1N2 Bavapriya 2 44 -
- 9 3 Dhenuka R1G2 D1N3 Subapantuvarali 3 45 -
- 10 4 Natakapriya R1G2 D2N2 Shadvidamargini 4 46 -
- 11 5 Kokilapriya R1G2 D2N3 Suvarnangi 5 47 -
- 12 6 Rupavati R1G2 D3N3 Divyamani 6 48 -

Agni and Brahma Chakra

Agni means fire, sacrificial fire and name of the God of sacrificial fire as well. As there are three sacrificial fires, Agni chakra number is 3.

Brahma is the creator of this Universe. He is also the protector of all nine directions (eight sides of the world plus upper direction) Thus, Brahma chakra number is 9.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
3. Agni 13 1 Gayakapriya R1G3 D1N1 Dhavalambari 1 49 9. Brahma
- 14 2 Vakulabharanam R1G3 D1N2 Namanarayani 2 50 -
- 15 3 Mayamalavagowla R1G3 D1N3 Kamavardini 3 51 -
- 16 4 Chakravaham R1G3 D2N2 Ramapriya 4 52 -
- 17 5 Suryakantam R1G3 D2N3 Gamansrama 5 53 -
- 18 6 Hatakambari R1G3 D3N3 Viswambari 6 54 -

Veda and Disi Chakra

Vedas are four in number, thus Veda chakra number is 4.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
4. Veda 19 1 Jhankaravardini R2G2 D1N1 Shyamalangisi 1 55 10. Disi
- 20 2 Natabhairavi R2G2 D1N2 Shanmugapriya 2 56 -
- 21 3 Keeravani R2G2 D1N3 Simhendramadyama 3 57 -
- 22 4 Karaharapriya R2G2 D2N2 Hemavathi 4 58 -
- 23 5 Gowrimanohari R2G2 D2N3 Dharmavathi 5 59 -
- 24 6 Varunapriya R2G2 D3N3 Neethimati 6 60 -

Bana and Rudra Chakra

Bana means an arrow, here the flower arrows of Manmada (Kama or god of Love) are suggested, which are five in number. Thus Bana chakra number is 5.

Rudra is collective name of fearsome deities of thunderstorm, dwelling in mountains. As there are eleven such Rudras, this chakra got numner 11.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
5. Bana 25 1 Mararanjani R2G3 D1N1 Kanthamani 1 61 11. Rudra
- 26 2 Charukesi R2G3 D1N2 Rishabhapriya 2 62 -
- 27 3 Sarasangi R2G3 D1N3 Lathangi 3 63 -
- 28 4 Harikamboji R2G3 D2N2 Vachaspati 4 64 -
- 29 5 Sankarabaranam R2G3 D2N3 Meccakalyani 5 65 -
- 30 6 Naganandini R2G3 D3N3 Chitrambari 6 66 -

Ritu and Aditya Chakra

Ritu means the season. There are six seasons in India, thus Ritu chakra number is 6.

Aditya means the sun. According to Puranas, there are twelve suns, or twelve deities representing the solar forces. Thus, Aditya chakra got number 12.

Suddha Madhyama (S R*G* M1 P D*N* S) Prati Madhyama (S R*G* M2 P D*N* S)
Chakra No. in
Melakarta
No. in
Chakra
Name R*G* D*N* Name No. in
Chakra
No. in
Melakarta
Chakra
6. Ritu 31 1 Yagapriya R3G3 D1N1 Sucharita 1 67 12. Aditya
- 32 2 Ragavardhini R3G3 D1N2 Jothiswaroopini 2 68 -
- 33 3 Gangeyabhushani R3G3 D1N3 Dhatuvardhani 3 69 -
- 34 4 Vagadeeswari R3G3 D2N2 Nasikabhusani 4 70 -
- 35 5 Sulini R3G3 D2N3 Kolasam 5 71 -
- 36 6 Chalanata R3G3 D3N3 Rasikapriya 6 72 -
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