Natalie Savelyeva

Gandharva tradition of music: definition of saddharana

The term "Sadharana" means "being common to two or more elements".

Sadhara?a is of two kinds:

  • (a) Svara sadharana denotes an extra svara which occurs within the region between two svaras (called "sadhara?a svara"). Such svaras are seen to occur in the region between gandhara and madhyama and between nisada and sadja.
  • (b) Jati sadharana deals with two jatis belonging to the same grama and having the same amsa and which will consequently share similar scale formation.

In the ancient musical practice only two of the seven basic notes could be altered, i.e. the minor third (ga) and the minor seventh (ni), which could respectively be changed into the major third (antara ga) and the major seventh (kakali ni). The altered notes were used as passing or alternating notes. They figured in modes (jati) in which the notes ga and ni did not function as a dominant (amsa).

For example, in Sadjagrama murchana, in the four sruti interval existing between sadja and nisada, the additional svara, kakali nisada can occur. The position of kakali nisada would be two srutis higher than the sadjagrama-nisada and two srutis lesser than the position of sadja.

It is considered as a variety of nisada and not sadja because kakali nisada occurs only when the grama nisada is a weak note.

  • suddha ni (2) kakali ni (2) suddha sa

In the same way, another sadharana svara called "antara gandhara" occurs in between gandhara and madhyama. This gandhara is two srutis higher than the grama gandhara and two srutis less than madhyama.

  • suddha ga (2) antara ga (2) suddha ma

The two Sadharana svaras kakali nisada and antara gandhara occur in both the gramas.

According to Natyasastra these two cases of overlapping may also be regarded as one case, if madhyamagrama is construed by renaming the notes of sadjagrama. Antara ga of the transposed madhyamagrama may be called kakali ni in sadjagrama.

Since this overlapping of intervals (svara sadharana) could be explained in two basic scales (grama), it was also regarded as grama sadharana.

According to Abhinavagupta the sadharana procedure also called kaisika, involved the following notes:

sruti 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
suddha svara ni sa ri ga ma pa dha
vikrita svara ni sa ri ga ma pa dha

Sadharana Svara in Sangitaratnakara

In the first chapter "Svaragatadhyaya" of the Sangitaratnakara, after discussing sruti, the author speaks of svaras and lists suddha (literary "pure") and vikrita (literary "modified") svaras.

The suddha and vikrita svaras mentioned in Sangitaratnakara (I.3.39-46) are listed below:

  1. kaisika-nisada
  2. kakali-nisada
  3. cyuta-sadja
  4. acyuta-sadja
  5. suddha-sadja
  6. suddha-risabha
  7. vikrita-(chatusruti) risabha
  8. suddha-gandhara
  9. saddharana-gandhara
  10. antara-gandhara
  11. cyuta madhyama
  12. acyuta madhyama
  13. suddha madhyama
  14. madhyamagrama-trisutika panchama
  15. madhyamagrama-vijrita-catursrutika panchama
  16. suddha panchama
  17. suddha dhaivata
  18. vikrita-catusruti-dhaivata
  19. suddha-nisada

The svaras are shown below in accordance with the positions they occupy in the 22-sruti-scale:

sruti 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Suddha svara Suddha sadja Suddha risabha Suddha gandhara
Vikrita svara Kaisika nisada Kakali nisada Cyuta sadja Acyuta sadja Vikrita-catusruti risabha Sadharana gandhara Antara gandhara
sruti 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Suddha svara Suddha madhyama Suddha panchama Suddha dhaivata Suddha nisada
Vikrita svara Cyuta Madhyama Acyuta Madhyama

Madhyamagrama-trisrutika panchama

Madhyamagrama-catusrutika panchama

Madhyamagrama-catusrutika dhaivata

In the above list we see that the suddha-svaras are those which are located on the positions occupied by the svaras of the sadjagrama.

We also infer that those svaras which differ from the sadjagrama svaras with regard to either their positions of interval are termed vikrita svaras.

The following points are to be noted regarding these.

  1. The number of svara-s that should normally occur in a murchana is seven. Those svara-s that occur in addition to these seven are the sadharanasvaras.
  2. The sadharanasvara-s are not individual svara-s, but are assigned names from the seven svara-s only. That is kakali nisada is a variety of nisada and antara gandhara is a variety of gandhara.
  3. A Sadharanasvara occurs in a murchana only when the respective grama svara is weak.
  4. The Sadharanasvara is a weaker note that than the grama svara; hence it cannot become the commencing svara of a murchana.


  1. The Natyasastra. English translation with critical Notes by Adya Rangacharya, Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2010
  2. Dattilam by Mukund Lath, Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd., 1990
  3. Saringadeva. Sangitaratnakara. English & Sanskrit. English translation by R. K. Shringy, under the supervision of Prem Lata Sharma, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1978
  4. Sangitasiromani. A Medieval Handbook of Indian Music edited by Emmie Te Nijenhuis, E.J.Brill, Netherlands, 1992
  5. Grama Murcchana Jati by Premalatha Nagarajan
  6. The Traditional Indian Theory and Practice of Music and Dance By Jonathan Katz (Editor), Publisher: brill academic publishers (Sep 1992)
  7. Influence of Sastra on prayoga: the svara system in the post-Sangitaratnakara period with special reference to south Indian music By N. Ramanathan