Natalie Savelyeva

Sangitaratnakara of Saringadeva, the date and composition

The Sangitaratnakara of Saringadeva is one of the most important works on music now available. It is one of the most comprehensive and long works on music in Sanskrit.

This work was written by Saringadeva in the end of 13th Century A.D. The author was attached to the court of Yadava King Singhana, whose capital was Devagiri ( the present Daulatabad, in the South Maharashtra).

Author of [1] mentions that Saringadeva gives some information about himself in the beginning of the work. He writes about his family, which traces its origin to Kashmere. The family goes back to the sage Vrsagana. In that family there was one Bhaskara, who migrated to the south. His son was Sodhala. He was patronised by King Sihghana. This is a king of the Yadava dynasty, who ruled in Deogiri (modern Doulatabad) from 1210 to 1247 A.D. Sarrigadeva was the son of this Sodhala.

Accordint to [2], the work deals with the subject of Sangita. Sangita is defined as a composite art consisting of Gita (melodic forms), Vadya (forms for drumming) and Nritta (dance literally movements of the limbs of the body). Sangita is of two kinds. Marga-Sangita and DeSi-Sangita. Marga-Sangita is nothing but the Natya (Drama) performed by Bharata and his disciples. This performance of Bharata also consists of Gita, Vadya and Nritta. DeSi-Sangita represented a tradition different from Marga and it varied from region to region. Saringadeva focus on DeSi-Sangita in his work. The aspects of Marga-Sangita are also described.

The work is divided into 7 chapters covering the aspects Gita, Vadya and Nritta.

The first chapter is Svaragatadhyaya, which is further divided into 8 Prakaranas or Sections.

The third section of the first chapter is Nada-Sthana-Sruti-Svara-Jati-Kula-Daivata-Risi-Chanda-Rasa-prakarana.

This prakarana describes how Nada arises in the human body and how the Nada manifesting in the three Sthanas or places in the human body (a) Hrid (heart region), (b) Kantha (throat) and (c) Murdha (head region) gives rise to Mandra, Madhya and Tara varieties. In each Sthana because of the presence of 22 Nad?is, 22 Srutis are produced.

Srutis are units of tonal interval with which the interval of a Svara is measured. Hence the Svaras are described next. After describing the intervals of the Suddha-svaras those of the Vikrita-svaras are given. Suddha-svaras are those which conform to the arrangements of the seven svaras of the Sadja-murcchana of Sadjagrama. Those which differ from this arrangements are the Vikrita-svara-s. There are 7 Suddha and 12 Vikrita-svaras.

Three Gramas are described - Sadja-grama, Madhyama-grama and Gandhara-grama. The names of the Seven Murcchanas in each Grama are also given.

Among the tanas there are 2 kinds, Suddha and Kuta. Suddha-tana is a Murcchana devoid of one or two svara-s. Kuta-tana-s are those varieties of Murcchanas in which the svaras occur in a disorderly way. Those varieties in which svaras are present in an order are called Kramas.

Sadharana is of two kinds (a) Svara-sadharana (b) Jati-sadharana. Sadharana means "being common to two or more elements". When an extra svara occurs within the region between two svaras then it is called sadharana svara. Such svaras are seen to occur in the region between Gandhara and Madhyama and between Nisada and Sadja. Jati-sadharana deals with two jatis belonging to the same grama and having the same amsa and which will consequently share similar scale formation.

The sixth prakarana is on Varna and Alankara. Varnas denote the different kinds of movements that a melodic line can take. There are four varnas, Sthayi, Arohi, Avarohi and Sancari. Alankara-s are ornamental patterns of svaras that decorate a melodic line. Alankaras are classified under the four Varnas.

The seventh prakarana is Jati-prakarana in which the laksana (characteristics) of 18 Jatis are given. Before the description of the individual jatis are furnished, the first 7 are classified into Suddha and Vikrita and the remaining 11 as "Samsaragaja". The characteristics or the laksana-s that are used for a describing a Jati are the same 10 as mentioned in BrihaddeSi.

The information given in Chapter I of Sangitaratnakara regarding svara, sruti, grama, murcana, and jati

The text below is given according to [3].

I. Svara

1. Grama is collection of svaras, which forms the basis for the murcana. Two of them exist in this world. There the first is Sadja Grama.

2. The second is Madhyama grama. Their description id now given. It is called Sadja grama when Pancama is placed in its fourth sruti.

3. When this pancama is placed in the sruti next (below) its last, it is accepted as Madhyama grama. Or, dha has three srutis in sadja but in madhyama it has four srutis.

4. If gandhara takes up one sruti of ri and ma, if dha takes up one sruti of pa, but nisada takes up one sruti of dha and one sruti of sa,

5. then the sage Narada calles it Gandhara grama. This grama is current if the Heaven, not on the earth.

Sadja grama: 4 3 2 4 4 3 2

sa (4) ri (7) ga (9) ma (13) pa (17) dha (20) ni (22)

Gandhara grama: 4 2 4 3 3 3 3

sa (4) ri (6) ga (10) ma (13) pa (16) dha (19) ni (22)

6. Sadja is the principal, since it is the first svara, similarly because it has more ministers. But madhyama is the first in the Grama in so far as it has no fail.

7. In so far as it is born in the same family as these two, Gandhara is the first (in a Grama) in the heaven. In the three Gramas, the Deities respectively are Brahma, Visne and Maheswara.

8. They are to be sung respectively in the Hemanta, Grisma and Varsa (seasons), also in the forenoon and in the afternoon by those who desire progress.

9. The recitation in ascending and descending order of seven svaras is called Murcana. These murchanas are seven in each of the two gramas.

10. But in sadja grama the first is Uttaramandira, them Ranjani and Uttarayata, Suddhasadja, Matsakriti, Asvakranta and Abhudagata.

11. But in madhyama grama they shall be Sauviri, Harinasva, after that shall be Kalopanata, Suddhamadhya, Margi and Pauravi.

12. and and Hrisayaka. Then on the other hand, their definition is delat with. The first murchana is started with sadja abiding in Madhya-sthana.

13. The other six murchanas are to be effected with nisada and others abiding in the lower grade in regular order. Sauviri murcana shall start beginning with madhyama of the Madhya sthana.

14. But the remaining six shall start with the svaras that come just below it and still below. Others understand the Ranjani, etc. as starting with ni, etc. taking the place of sadja (i.e. here the author implies that the tonic is shifted and renamed as Sadja).

15. and Harinasva, etc. as starting with Ga etc. taking the place of madhyama (i.e. the tonic is shifted, and renamed to madhyama). In these cases Sadja, etc. and Madhyama, etc. must be moved upwards in regular succession.

16. They are separately of four varieties, namely Suddha, similarly intermixed with Kakali, associated with Antara, united with these two: Thus, they are spoken of as fifty six.

(There are fourteen murchanas, in each of two gramas. Each murchana can be of four kinds: suddha, Suddha-kakali, suddha-antara, and kakali-antara, thus there are 56 varieties in total).

17. If nisada takes over two srutis of sadja, then that svara is kakali; but if gandhara so takes two srutis of madhyama, that svara is antara.

(For example, seven svaras of Uttaramandira take the following srutis: 4, 7, 9, 13, 17, 20. 22. If nisada becomes kakali, we have: 4, 7, 9, 13, 17, 20, 24 (or 2). If gandhara becomes antara, we have: 4, 7, 11, 13, 17, 20, 22; and if both nisada and gandhara become kakali and antara, we have: 4, 7, 11, 13, 17, 20, 24 (or 2). Thus, four variation of Uttaramandira murchana are possible.)

25-26. Nanda, Visala, Sumukhi, Citra, Citravati, Sukha, and Alapa: thus the seven Murcanas in Gandhara grama. And theses are to be employed in the Heaven. Therefore, they are not dealt with here in particular.

27. The Tanas are Suddha murchanas converted into Sadavas and Auduvas; when Sa, Ri, Pa and the seventh are taken away from the seven (murchanas) of sadja grama, in order

28. then there are twenty eight Tanas. When, Sa, Ri and Ga are taken away from seven murcanas of madhyama grama in order, then there are twenty one Tanas.

29. In the two gramas these are accepted as the forty nine Sadava Tanas. If Sa and Pa, the two bi-sruti svaras, and Ri and Pa are removed from the seven,

30-31. in sadja grama there are separately twenty one Auduva Tanas. But when from these (seven) in Madhyama grama are removed Ri and Dha, and the two bi-sruti svaras, there are just fourteen. They together form thirty five. All the Sadavas and Auduvas taken together form eighty four.

32. Murcanas both complete and incomplete having svaras song without any definite order, become Kutatanas.

V. Sadharana

1. Sadharana is of two kinds, in so far as it refers to Svara and Jati. Among them, svara-saddharana is described as of four kinds,

2. in so far as they refer to kakali, antara and sadja and to madhyama. Indeed, the kakali sadharana is between sadja and nisada.

3. The commonness therefore, of that kakali they understand as Saddharana. Similarly, the commonness between ga and Ma of Antara is also accepted as sadharana.

7. if nisada takes up the first sruti of sadja, and risabha takes up the last sruti, then it is called Sadja saddharana.

8. There will be sadharana also between madhyama on one side and Ga and Pa on the other. The sadharana of Madhyama surely abides in the Madhyama grama.

(Sa has normally the first four srutis. If the first is taken up by Ni and the fourth buy Ri, it is sadja-saddharana. Ma has four srutis normally (10 to 13). If Ga takes up 10th and if Pa takes up the 13th, it is Madhyama sadharana/ This madhyama sadharana is only in Madhyama grama, i.e. when Pa (being usually 16) takes up 13. Thereby it is to be understood that Sadja saddharana is only in Sadja grama).

VII. Jati

1. There are seven pure Jatis. They are called after sadja and the remaining svaras. They are Sadji and Arisabhi and Gandhari, Madhyama, similarly Pancami,

2. Dhaivati and then Naisadi. The definition of how they are pure is now given. They of which the designatory Svara appears as Nyasa, Apanyasa, Amsa, similarty Graha,

3. they, when complete (and) free from Taranyasa are accepted as being called pure. Those that are defective in elements other than (what is said about) are modifications.

8. There are eleven (varieties) accepted through the combination of the modifications. Ther are: Sadjakaisiki, Sadjodicyava, Sadjamadhyama,

9. Gandharodicyava, Raktagandhari, similarly Kaisiki, Madhyamodicyava, Karmaravi, Gandharapancami,

10. similarly Andhri, Nandayanti.

(Then the author lists combinations of suddha jati).

17. The four with the term Sadja in their names, Naisadi, similarly Dhaivati and Arisabhi, these seven are Jatis of Sadjagrama.

18. The rest are in Madhyama Grama.

31. There, the svara placed in the beginning of Gita is spoken of as Graha. Of this Graha and Amsa, when one is mentioned it comprehends both.

32. That which is the manifester of the aesthetic quality in a song, whose Samvadi and Anuvadi are profuse in Vidari, with reference to which Tara and Mandra are regulated,

33. which by itself (or) whose Samvadi and Anuvadi svara as another, becoming Nyasa, Apanyasa, Vinyasa, Samnyasa and Graha,

34. is profuse in handing, that Vadi is Amsa in virtue of its eligibility. But profusion in handling is the comprehensive of Amsa.

(The definition of Amsa is given in the three verses. The elements that constitute an Amsa are: (1) it manifests the aesthetic beauty of the song; (2) its Samvadi and Anuvadi are profuse in Vidari (part of song); (3) Tara and Mandra are regulated with reference to it; (4) it may itself be Nyasa, Apanyasa, Vinyasa, Samanyasa and Graha or its Samvadi and Anuvadi may be so; (5) it must be profuse in the song.)

Tara (upper limit of the songs) depends on amsa: of amsa belongs to madhya sthana, Upper limit is the svara in tara sthana, which is four svaras above corresponding tara sthana amsa, Taking into account even omitted svaras if any.

Mandra (lower limit) is not fixed. There are three opinions regarding mandra: (1) amsa of mandra sthana, grama-nyasa in mandra sthana (grama nyasa is the concluding svara of the grama, for example in case of Sadja grama grama-nyasa is Ni, and grama nyasa of madhyama grama is Ga) or Ri and Dha in mandra sthana; (3) Dha and Ri below nyasa svaras.

Nyasa: seven suddha jathi have nyasa corresponding to the name. Sadjamadhyama has Sa and Ma as Nyasas. The thee Udicyavas (Sadjo-, Gandharo-, Madhyamo-) have Ma at the end. Kaisiki has Ni, Pa, Ga at the end. Karmaravi has Pa at the end. The other five end in Ma.

41. Apanyasa shall be that svara which ends the Vidari (part of song).

47. What is not Vivadi with Amsa (and) comes at the end of the first Vidari in a Gita

48. is Samnyasa. But that itself not being Vivadi with Amsa is spoken of as Vinyasa when it comes at the end of the Pada of the form of a part of a Vidari.

49. Profusion (bahutva) is accepted as of two kinds (either) by non-Langana or similarly by repetition. And that rests in the Paryayamsa (amsa other then Vadi), also in Vadi and Samvadi.

(langana is passing over the svara lightly, "mere light touch", without accentuation).

50. And rarity (alpatva) is spoken of as of two kinds, by absence of repetition and by langana. But absence of repetition is in what are not Amsas and is accepted also in cases of omission.


  1. Sangitaratnakara of Saringadeva with Kalanidhi of Kallinatha and Sudhakara of Simhabhupala edited by Pandit S. Subrahmanya Sastri, vol. I Adhyaya, The Adyar Library, 1943
  2. Sangitaratnakara of Sarngadeva by N. Ramanathan
  3. Sangitaratnakara of Saringadeva translated into English with detailed notes by Dr. C. Kunhan Raja, Vol. I, Chapter I, The Adyar Library, 1945