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Introduction and Historical Background (Dr. V V Srivatsa): Dr. V V Srivatsa stressed on the point that it would be more appropriate to call these two ragas as parsva ragas, since they had different structures, scales, aesthetic appeal and musical values. While Arabhi is an Audava-Sampoorna raga that has been in existence for more than 1,200 years, Devagandhari, a janya of the 29th mela, Dheerasankarabharanam is a bhashanga (since it has two varieties of Nishada - Kaisika and Kakali), desya raga. References to Arabhi are found in various musicological texts like Ramamatya's Swara-mela kalanidhi, Venkatamakhi's Chaturdandi Prakasika, Shahji's Raga Lakshana, Tulajaji's Sangeeta Saramrita and Govindhacharya's Sangraha Choodamani. The Pann Pazhantakka of Tevaram music, which is of great antiquity is the counterpart of  raga Arabhi. Stating that many verses of Tiruchaazhal and Tiruvachakam were rendered by Oduvars traditionally in Arabhi, Dr. Srivatsa rendered a verse from Tiruchaazhal. Popular Tevaram verses like Marai udaya and Maadarpirabani were usually rendered in raga Arabhi, he added.

Dr. Srivatsa further stated that raga Arabhi appears to have preceded raga Devagandhari. Subbarama Dikshitar has termed Devagandhari as a Desya raga. However, the absence of a Lakshana sloka for raga Devagandhari in the Sampradaya Pradarsini is noteworthy. It would not be correct to construe Devagandhari as the folk version of Arabhi.

The prime differentiating factor would be in the Gandhara note - whereas Arabhi has an 'alpa' Gandhara, the same note is elongated in Devagandhari. The Nishada note is also alpa in Arabhi, where one can even exclude it in phrases like SSdpmgr, e.g., Tyagaraja's well-known Pancharatna, Sadhinchane. Also, the former seems to have more of middle tempo or madhyama-kala compositions, while Devagandhari is more suited for slow or vilamaba-kala kritis. These ragas attained importance by virtue of the profusion of compositions in them. Nevertheless, Arabhi had a special status as one of the first five ghana ragas and is well-suited for rendition of Gadya, Padya, Choornika, Dandaka etc. Both ragas are outfaced in Ragamalika pieces.

Manodharma (V Subramanyam): Concurring with Dr. Srivatsa, V Subramanyam pointed out that the subtle distinction between ragas Arabhi and Devagandhari warranted honing of one's manodharma skills. Alapana of Arabhi can be done to a reasonable extent. However, the effervescence of Arabhi comes out better in jested swara passages, especially in datu and janta forms. Swara singing in Arabhi has to be punctiliously phrased, duly bearing some statutory phrases.

V Subramanyam highlighted his points with appropriate illustrations of the ragas, mostly showing how to avoid the pitfalls of ending up in the other while singing one. His illustrations included a raga alapana, and swara rendition of Arabhi, an alapana of Devagandhari, followed by Tyagaraja's masterpiece, Karuna samudra in the latter. At the end of this, Dr. V V Srivatsa added that Arabhi conveys Veera rasa (valour) and at times, Roudra rasa (fury) while Devagandhari gives the impressions of Santa (peace), Karuna (kindness) or Adbhuta (surprise or awe) rasa-s.

Compositions (Dr. Ritha Rajan): Dr. Ritha Rajan commenced her presentation with excerpts from the Lakshana Gitam, followed by a broad based presentation of passages from the Tana Varnam, Sarasijamukhiro. Talking about the melodic aspects with particular emphasis on the compositions in both these ragas, Dr. Ritha Rajan said that variety-wise, Arabhi definitely had more to offer as there is almost every kind of musical form in it - Gitams, Divyanama keertanas, Varnams, Kritis, Tevarams and Geyanatakas. She sang passages from Tyagaraja's Ipudaina nannu, Amba Nannu, O! Rajeevaksha and Tsalakalla, Dikshitar's Sri Saraswati and Swati Tirunal's Pahi parvata. Emphasizing the roles of Rishabha, Madhyama and Panchama swaras, she cited passages with these as graha swaras.

On the other hand, she said that one finds that Devagandhari has been predominantly used for Kritis, Geyanatakas, Padams and Viruttams. One also finds abundant usage of Janta swara patterns in the compositions in Arabhi, but the same is not very suitable for Devagandhari. A very valid and important point that Dr. Rajan made was that although Devagandhari is labeled a vilamba-kala raga, Tyagaraja, the great composer, has composed two madhyama-kala kritis, Karuna samudra and Vinarada naa manavi. Similarly, he has gone off the beaten track with Namoralanuvini, in Arabhi, which is usually rendered in vilamba-kala. Her points gained weight when she substantiated them with appropiate illustrations.

Utilitarian values (Prof. S R Janakiraman): Prof S R Janakiraman gave a very well-informed and authoritative presentation, quoting from several well-known musicological texts like Govinda's Sangraha Choodamani and Subbarama Dikshitar's Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini. He said that Arabhi being a very old raga and having roots in Tamil music (where it was called Pazhamtakka Pann), one had the advantage of finding several old folk tunes in it. Many subsequent composers have adopted several phrases from these tunes. He felt that although one found different scales for Devagandhari in different treatises, it is a raga that does not rest much on scales. It is a very emotive raga that required bhava. 

Prof. Janakiraman mentioned the weak usage of Gandhara in Arabhi and the emphatic usage of the same in Devagandhari. Citing the emphasis on "ma-ga- ri", he dealt in a dilative manner, the phrasal difference between ragas Sama and Arabhi. He also referred to the means to distinguish between Suddhasaveri and Arabhi. 

The educative panel discussion concluded delightfully with two thematic concerts - one on Arabhi by young Palghat Ramprasad and the other on Devagandhari by Vasundhara Rajagopal. Accompaniment for Ramprasad was provided by V V Ravi (violin) and Palghat Suresh (mridangam), while R Hemalatha (violin) and B Ganapathyraman (mridangam) supported Vasundhara. All the artistes acquitted themselves very well.


Cognizance of unity in diversity and diversity in unity is integral to Indian ethos. This dictum prevails even in the realm of classical music. Carnatic music is enriched by this facet. We have proximate or highly proximate ragas which are bound by the aforesaid rule. They can be termed as parsva ragas. The similarities and differences in a pair of parsva ragas is more akin to differential valencies of the same element, as in Chemistry, rather than face-centered or body-centered crystalline characteristics of Physics. It would be apt, at this juncture, to quote  an Upanishadic passage:

Dwaa suparnaah sayujaah sakhaayah samaanam
vruksham parishasva jaate, tayor ebhyah pippalah swaadayaswa..

Meaning, two birds, with beautiful wings, born at the same time were inseparable companions and they perched themselves on the same branch of a tree. However, only one bird  tasted the Pippala fruit, while the other sat merely watching.

Such is the case  of the pair of ragas, Arabhi and Devagandhari. They are derived from the same melakarta. Their superficial swara structure appears to be identical. Devagandhari is tainted with the absorption of an anya (extraneous) swara, like the Pippala fruit. Arabhi remains an Upanga raga and Devagandhari, a Bhashanga raga. The aesthetic values of these two ragas have distinct and salient differences. 

Raga Arabhi has been in vogue for about 600-700 years  and has retained its pristine purity. The earliest tangible references is found in the Chaturdandi Prakasika:

Arabhihsarvadaa geya aarohe ga ni varjitaha
koachid aaroha samyukta nishaado nigraho bhavet

Reference found in the chronologically subsequent Sangraha Choodamani is thus:

Arabhi janitaa Dheerasankaraabharanaat tathaa
sanyaasam saamshakam chaiva sa shadja graham uchyate
aarohe ga ni varjya cha avaraohe samagrakam
sa-ri-ma-pa-dha-Sa, Sa-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri-sa-ni-sa

The Chaturdandi Prakasika names the raga a Arabhi with a hrasva (short) end. The Sangraha Choodamani calls it "Aarabhee", with a deergha (elongated) end. Which is the correct nomenclature? If we look to the raga-mudras found in Dikshitar's compositions, we find that he has used the name with the deergha end in two compositions and the name with the hrasva end in one composition:

"samsaara bheetyaapahe" in Sri Saraswati 
"samsaara bheeti bhanjanaayai" in Akhilandeswari
"mohaakaara bhikshaadana vesha" in Marakoti Lavanya

Emulating Dikshitar, let us accept both names. What is there in a name? Arabhi is Aarabhi is Aarabhee!

It is interesting to note that a highly generalized observation, "Kvachid aaroha samyukta nishaado" (there is occasional usage of the Nishaada in the ascending scale) is made in the Chaturdandi Prakasika. The Sangraha Choodamani is more specific on this issue, referring only to "Sa-ni-Sa". As both texts agree that Gandhara and Dhaivata swara are absent in the Arohana, it is inferred that "dha-ni-sa" is not permitted in raga Arabhi. So, this raga assumes an audava-sampoorna form. The constituent swaras (other than Shadja and Panchama) are Chatusruti Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Chatusruti Dhaivata and Kakali Nishada. As all these swaras are found in the derivative melakarta Sankarabharanam, Arabhi is duly classified as an Upanga raga.

Many ragas prescribe the same scale as Arabhi for Devagandhari as well, with the qualification that traces of Kaisiki Nishada are found in the sanchara "dha-nee-dha-pa", wherefore, Devagandhari becomes a Bhashanga raga. Some musicologists do not agree with this postulation and state that if rendition is "dha-ni-dhaa-pa" with an elongated Dhaivata and a short Nishada instead of "dha-nee-dha-pa" with a short Dhaivata and an elongated Nishada, there would be no scope for the introduction of Kaisiki Nishada in raga Devagandhari. Does this imply identity? No. Subbarama Dikshitar does make a distinction and has laid down the swara scales for Devagandhari as follows:

Arohana: sa-ri-ma-pa-dha-Sa
Avarohana: Sa-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri-sa-ri-ga-ri-sa

The vakra sanchara "sa-ri-ga-ri-sa", is another safety factor, distinguishing Devagandhari from Arabhi. Some musicologists move a step further and define Devagandhari as an Ubhaya-vakra raga with the understated swara-scale, to significantly segregate it from Arabhi:

Arohana: sa-ri-ma-pa-ma-dhaa-ni-Sa
Avarohana: Sa-ni-dha-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-maa-ga-ri-sa

This version does not accept the "dha-ni-sa" taboo in raga Devagandhari and uses it as a feature to distinguish Devagandhari from Arabhi.

There are other terrestrial and subterranean differences  between these ragas. The Gandhara is a very weak, alpa swara in Arabhi. Hearing the Gandhara in conjunction with the deergha Madhyama swara in Arabhi makes one wonder whether the Antara Gandhara is present at all! In Arabhi, the Gandhara cannot be used as a nyasa, amsa or graha swara. Devagandhari affords more scope for the Gandhara swara. Look to the flight from Madhyama to Gandhara  in Devagandhari without jaru but with odukku. What we hear in Devagandhari is the version of Teevra Antara Gandhara swara. If Gandhara had no value will the raga  have the suffix "Gandhara"? The importance given to the Dhaivata swara in raga Devagandhari is reduced when coming to raga Arabhi. Rishabha is an important swara in both ragas, yet with a difference. It shines  in Arabhi when used in janta prayoga, and appears embellished in raga Devagandhari in the descending order in sancharas like "pa-ma-ga-ree". Note the state of the Gandhara and Nishada swaras in the descending order, Avarohana krama, in raga Arabhi. They are always used without "irakku-jaaru" and only with "odukkal". This is a regulation in Arabhi. This limitation is not found in Devagandhari. Arabhi sparkles  with usage of datu and janta swaras. Devagandhari does not. Arabhi affords ample scope for rendition of Tanam whereas it is anathema in raga Devagandhari. Arabhi is a raga which is vivante and ebullient in medium or fast tempo compositions and is unsuited for slow tempo. Devagandhari is ideally suited for vilamba kala, slow -tempo.

Arabhi presents a deceptive appearance, it appears to afford  ample scope but in reality, is barred by limitations. For example, swara sancharas like "pa-pa-ma-ga-ri" or "dha-dha-pa-pa-ma-ga-ri" or "ree-ma-ga-ree" are usually rendered and appreciated . However, in Arabhi, you cannot render sancharas like "pa-pa-ma-ma-ga-ga-ri-ri" or "ma-ga-ga-ri-ri-sa". The Nishada swara is elusive in Arabhi and some musicians avoid it. Mention has to be made of the fact that one version of the Pancharatna kriti Sadhinchane does not have any Nishada usage. Sancharas like "Sa-Sa-dha-dha-pa-pa-ma-ga-ri" or "dha-Sa-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri" are hallmarks of Arabhi. However, note the "ma-ga-ri" limitation. Indeed, Rishabha, Madhyama and Dhaivata are the raga-chaya swaras of Arabhi. Normally, Rishabha is used as nyasa in the Avarohana krama in Arabhi. Yet we do have Rishabha as nyasa in Arohana sancharas too. Examples, "ma-ga-ri-sa-ri", "ri-pa-ma-ga-ri-sa-ri" or "dha-pa-ma-ga-ri-sa-ri". The interesting feature is that in all cases where Rishabha nyasa in Arohana Krama is found, it is preceded by an Avarohana krama. 

Arabhi is raga with a wide range from Mandra Dhaivata to Tara Panchama swara. Yet one has to be very careful in alapana, if repetitive phrases are to be avoided. Devagandhari, normally, is not brought into the Mandra sthayi. It is preferable to limit Devagandhari to Tara sthayi Madhyama. Some may be quick to point out that audiences were regaled when the Tara Panchama at "Taaraka Naama" (Ksheerasagara sayana) was touched in a yesteryear 78 rpm gramophone record. This indeed is a point of view, with divergence. Arabhi is a raga which is oriented more towards swara and laya, whilst Devagandhari is highly bhava-oriented.

An important factor is rasanubhava. Arabhi suits veera (valour), roudra (anger), and bheebhatsa (disgust) rasa-s, while Devagandhari fosters karuna (kindness), adbhuta (surprise), and santa (peace) rasa-s. This is indeed amazing!

The repertoire available in raga Arabhi is vast and multi-dimensional. Of the three Tana Varnas, Sarasijamukhiro by Pallavi Doraiswamy Iyer is a masterpiece and Anname by Tiger Varadhachariar is well-known. Arabhi is one of the select 28 ragas in which there is at least one composition by each member of the Carnatic music Trinity. Of the dozen compositions by Tyagaraja, Sadhinchane, Nadasudharasam, Chootamu ra re and Tsalagalla are frequently rendered; lovely songs like O! Rajeevaksha and Ipudaina nannu are seldom heard. There are eight compositions by Dikshitar in Arabhi. Majestic songs like Marakoti lavanya, Akhilandeswaryai and Sivakameswaram are regrettably sidelined, Sri Saraswati and Ganarajena are infrequently rendered. Very few know, much less are conversant with the crisp and short composition by Syama Sastri Palayasumam Paradevate.

Swati Tirunal's Pahi Parvatanandini and Narasimhamamava are popular. Orukkal sivachidambaram is of pre-Trinity vintage, while Sesha Iyer's Palimpa ravadela is  post-Trinity fare. Papanasam Sivan  has composed a quartet in Arabhi. Oothukaadu Kavi's Marakatamanimaya has a place of pride in Kuchipudi. Other composers who have used raga Arabhi are Narayana Teertha, Muthaiah Bhagavatar, Neelakanta Sivan, Balamuralikrishna, Ramraj, G S Mani and Sundararaja.

There are just about 20 compositions in Devagandhari, compared to seventy plus in Arabhi. As usual, ten of these are by Tyagaraja, including compositions like Namoralagimpavemi, Karuna samudra, Seetavara ,Vinaradana manavi and of course, Ksheera sagara sayana. Mention has to be made of Koluvaiyunnade and Tulasamma. Dikshitar's four kritis in Devagandhari include Kshitijaramanam and Vadanyeswaram. Gopalakrishna Bharati's Enneramum and Papanasam Sivan's "Sarade vina vadana" are excellent pieces. Mention must be made of Mysore Sadasiva Rao's Dorekanu nedu and Vedanayakam Pillai's Ekkalavum.

Arabhi-Devagandhari are only a set of parsva ragas and belong to the genre of Janaranjani-Poornachandrika, Kurinji-Navaroze, Manji-Bhairavi, Dwijavanti-Sahana, Ghanta-Dhanyasi etc. Carnatic music is great if not divine. Structural similarity is of secondary importance - a small difference can bring about variegated and ethereal aesthetic hues and different musical strokes. If this difference was not perceived, codified and exploited, how many ragas would have been missed? Just imagine! Vive la difference!


  • The sahitya of the Tyagaraja kriti O! Rajeevaksha includes a passage "Ma vara suguna Uma vara sannuta". Ma refers to Laksmi and Uma to Parvati. This passage has been emulated  by Papanasam Sivan in the composition 'Ma ramanan uma ramanan' (Hindolam).
  • Many are aware of Tyagaraja's ghana raga Pancharatna kritis, including Sadhinchane in raga Arabhi. However very few are aware of the fact that Muthuswami Dikshitar has composed five songs on Ganesha in the five ghana ragas (of the first list) collectively called as the Ganesha ghana raga Panchaka. They are Maha Ganapatim (Nata), Sri Mahaganapati (Gowla), Lambodaraya (Varali), Mooladharachakra (Sriragam) and Ganarajena samrakshitoham (Arabhi). Ganesha is portrayed in the Arabhi song as a Brahmachari.
  • Once upon a time, Tiruvenkkadu, in Nagapattinam district was a famous centre of music and boasted of many top-rank Nagaswara vidwans. Renditional rules were laid down  and strictly observed in this temple. Tiruvenkkadu or Swetaaranya {sweta - ven - white; aranya - kaadu - forest} is one of the 64 pilgrimage centres praised by Dikshitar. The kriti Swetaaranyeswaram is in raga Arabhi.
  • The seven swaras seem to be the bells tied to a bow called the raga. Musical types ghana, naya, desya are the strings of that bow. Arrows used are the gati-s of the tala. This is a beautiful allegory portrayed by the nadopasaka, Tyagaraja, in the charana passage of the kriti Nada sudharasam in raga Arabhi.
  • Tyagaraja calls Lord Rama as a liar in his kriti Tsalakallaladu konna sowkhyam emiraa (what comfort do you get by uttering lies?). This Arabhi kriti is one of his  ninda stuti-s.
  • Chootamu ra re is indeed a song about Lord Ranganatha. However, the sahitya indicates that it could have been rendered outside Srirangam. It is only by virtue  of  award of benefit of doubt that this song can be classified under the head Sriranga Pancharatnam. The mystery of this song is that Tyagaraja calls only on beautiful ladies, that too young (tarunulara) to accompany him to Srirangam. It would be blasphemous to attribute dishonourable intentions to a saint. If so, is this a case of  nayaki bhava?
  • Devi  is described as "Kaala kaala vallabhe" - the consort of the Lord who turned out to be kaala (killer ) of kaala (lord of Death). This delectable expression is found in Syama Sastri's kriti, Palayasumaam in Arabhi.
  • There are some nice compositions in raga Arabhi, where composers are not identified beyond doubt. They are, Ati madhura, Saranam sriguru, Gananatham and Eppadi senru. Information and feedback from readers would be very welcome.
  • There are only four shrines which are credited with compositions by all three members of the Carnatic music Trinity. Similarly, there are four shrines to which both Tyagaraja and Dikshitar have dedicated  compositions - Tirupati, Srirangam, Tiruvayyar temple (Pranatarti hara sannidhi) and Tiruvottiyur. The Siva enshrined in the Tiruvottiyur temple, Adipureeswara is praised  by Dikshitar in the kriti Adipureeswaram. Devi Tripurasundari of the same temple is extolled by Tyagaraja in the kriti Sundari ninnu karunimpa. Both these compositions are in Arabhi. No other temple can boast of Siva and Amba having been praised by Trinitarians through  compositions in the same raga.
  • The famous Tiruppavai  verse Ongi ulagalanda is usually rendered in Arabhi.


  • One of the three references to Bhadrachala Ramdas by Tyagaraja is found in the composition Ksheerasagara sayana in raga Devagandhari.
  • Rama is described as Manmatha among Manmathas. Recall the sloka describing Vishnu as "Saakshaat manmatha manmatha"? The lovely sahitya is found in the Tyagaraja kriti "Sri Raghuvara karunakara" in raga Devagandhari.
  • Astrologers talk about "udu-dasa". What is this? We know of the town called Udupi with the famous temple. Where did it get its name from? What does the word "udu" mean? Tyagaraja uses the expression "udu raaja mukhudu" in a composition, Koluvaiyunnade in Devagandhari. Rama is described as moon faced. The moon is the Lord of the stars, 'Uduraja'. (Udu means star).
  • Seetavara sangeeta was a favourite kriti of the maestro, Naina Pillai. regrettably this lovely kriti in raga Devagandhari is slowly fading into oblivion. Lovely renditions thereof by Madurai Mani Iyer and D K Pattammal are still ringing in the hearts of rasikas. Some scholars disagree with Tyagaraja's expression, "Geeta aadi akhila upanishad", stating that the Bhagavat Gita is a part of Mahabharata and is ithihasa (history), not an Upanishad (scripture). Supporters of Tyagaraja cite the sloka "Sarva upanishad gaavo, doghda gopala handana, partho vatsaha sudhee bhokta, dugdhana geeta amrutam mahat". The inference is left to the readers.
  • Tyagaraja has visited Srirangam twice, once during the Adhyayana utsava in Marghazhi and once on Vijayadasami, when Lord Ranganatha's Utsava moorti is mounted on the aswa (kudirai) vahana. In the Devagandhari kriti, Vinarada na manavi, he describes the Vijayadasami procession as "Teji nekki baaga teruvunna raaga" - meaning, "How beautifully the procession with the Lord mounted on a horse, winds through the street!". Similar sentiments are expressed in the Todi kriti, Rajuvedala, where you have the passage "Teji nekki samasta raajulu".
  • The months of Aani and Aadi form the greeshma ritu (mid-June to mid-August in summer) when temperatures soar. Weather conditions in these months are uncomfortable and many temples avoid festive processions to best possible extent. However, there are a few exceptions. Avudaiyar Kovil is one, mainly because Manikkavachakar's birthday is Aani makham. One temple which knowingly celebrates the annual festival, the Brahmotsava in the month of Aani is the Salivatiswara (Nellai appar) temple at Tirunelveli. With his penchant for fine details, Dikshitar has not missed this fact. He sang "Vali poojitagreeshma mahotsavam", in the kriti Salivateeswaram bhajeham in raga Devagandhari.

Arabhi and Devagandhari:

  • The term Kovil connotes ko-il - the residence of the Supreme Lord. To Vaishnavaites, the word kovil relates to the town of Srirangam. To Saivaites it means Chidambaram. The Vaishnavaite and Saivaite koils have the honour of having a kriti each in ragas Arabhi and Devagandhari. The Srirangam kritis are Chootama ra re and Vinarada,  in ragas Arabhi and Devagandhari respectively. The songs dedicated to Chidambaram are Orukkal Siva Chidambaram (Arabhi) and Enneramum (Devagandhari). Is this the exclusive privilege of these two kovils? Curiously, both Srirangam kritis are in Telugu and both Chidambaram kritis are in Tamil.
  • Traditional rendition of Gnanasambandar's Tevaram verse Maadar piraik kanniyaanai by Oduvars, in the Pann, Pazhanthakkam starts in chaste Arabhi and as passages towards the end, with finite nuances of Devagandhari. How should we call this? Fusion music?


Definition given by Venkatamakhin: ArabhI sarvadA geya Arohe ga ni varjitah kvacidAroha samyukta nisado nigraho bhavet 

Arohanam: sa ri ma pa dha sa 
Avarohanam: sa ni dha pa ma ga ri sa 

Notes: Arabhi is the third among the five ghana ragas. It is derived from the 29th mela, Dheerasankarabharanam and is an Upanga or homogenous raga. The notes taken are: Shadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Suddha Madhyama, Panchama and Chatusruti Dhaivata in the ascent. The Avarohana or descent is sampoorna with all the notes including Antara Gandhara and Kakali nishada. Thus Arabhi is an Audava-Sampoorna raga.

The chaya swaras are Ri, Ma and Dha. The swaras Ri and Pa are nyasa swaras; Ga is a durbala or weak swara; and Ri and Dha are kampita swaras. The graha swaras are Sa, Ri, Pa and Dha. The note Ri being the jeeva or life-giving swara, phrases endings on Ri sound very nice. The phrase mgrsr is a ranjaka or pleasing one. Compositions usually begin on the notes Ri, Pa and Dha. The Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini places raga Arabhi as the third janya (upanga raga) derived from the asampoorna mela 29, Dheerasankarabharanam. 

This raga is highly suitable for madhyama kala singing of alapana and tanam. Madhyama kala sancharas, janta (rr mm pp dd pp mgrs R) and datu swara prayogas add charm and beauty to this raga. So are the "ni" varjya prayogas in the avarohanam. Arabhi is suitable for singing at all times of the day (sarvakalika raga) and can be rendered in all three sthayis. It is considered an auspicious raga. 

It was known as Pazhamtakka Pann in ancient Tamil music. Some people refer to Arabhi as Patakambhavati. The musical treatise Chaturdandi Prakasika refers to Arabhi as belonging to the Shadja grama group of ragas. Arabhi renders itself to graha bhedam (modal shift of tonic). It is a moorchanakaraka raga. Ri, Ma and Pa of Arabhi taken as Shadja results in the ragas Abheri, Mohanakalyani, and Kedaragowla respectively. The third of Tyagaraja's five gems (Pancaratna), Sadhinchane is in Arabhi. The Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini of Subbarama Diksitar lists the following pieces in Arabhi - a lakshya gitam in dhruva/roopaka tala, a sanchari in matya tala by Subbarama Diksitar and two krtis of Muttuswami Diksitar (Sri saraswati namostute and Marakoti lavanya). 

Some Compositions in Arabhi


Song Tala Composer
Re re sriramachandra Triputa -


Sarasijamukhiro Adi Pallavi Doraiswamy Iyer
Amba Gauri Adi Iriyaman Thampi
Anname Adi Tiger Varadachariar


Srisaraswati Roopaka Muthuswami Dikshitar
Adipureeswaram Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Gowrisaya namaste Triputa Muthuswami Dikshitar
Sivakameswarim Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Marakoti Jhampa Muthuswami Dikshitar
Ganarajena Chapu Muthuswami Dikshitar
Akhilanadeswaryai Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Swetaranyeswaram Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Sadhinchane Adi Tyagaraja
Ambaninnu Adi Tyagaraja
Sundari ninnu Misra Chapu Tyagaraja
Namoralanu Adi Tyagaraja
Tsalakalla Adi Tyagaraja
Chootamu ra re Roopaka Tyagaraja
Nadasudharasambilanu Roopaka Tyagaraja
O Rajeevaksha Misra Chapu Tyagaraja
Adugu varamula Misra Chapu Tyagaraja
Ipudaina nannu Misra Chapu Tyagaraja
Patiki mangala harayite Adi Tyagaraja
Ninne nera namminanu Misra Chapu Tyagaraja
O Rama o rama Adi Tyagaraja
Sundara dasarathanandana Adi Tyagaraja
Palukavemina Tisra Laghu Tyagaraja
Palayasumam paradevate Triputa  Syama Sastri
Narasimha mamava Khanda Chapu Swati Tirunal
Sriramana vibho Adi Swati Tirunal
Pahi parvatanandini Adi Swati Tirunal
Vichintayanneva Adi Swati Tirunal
Madhu kaitabha Roopaka Muthaiah Bhagavatar
pasupatim ughram Khanda Chapu Muthaiah Bhagavatar
Ayyappanai panivom Adi Papanasam Sivan
Durgalakshmi Saraswati Adi Papanasam Sivan
Marakatamanimaya Adi Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Sakalalokanayike Adi Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Pranavakaram Adi Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Orarumukhane Adi Neelakanta Sivan
Kelada ravanane Adi Arunachala Kavi
Parilum arulvaye Adi Periyasami Tooran
Velava va adiyen Roopaka Koteeswara Iyer
Mrokkedani Triputa Mysore Sadasiva Rao
Maravanu ne ninne Roopaka G N Balasubramanyam
Gangadhara rama ni Adi Tulasivanam
Vighneswara Roopaka Tulasivanam
Data hariye Roopaka Purandaradasa
Haridasara sanga Roopaka Purandaradasa
Papigalola gallu Adi Purandaradasa
Jayatujayatu (Choornika) - Tyagaraja

Additional notes: Arabhi also appears in the ragamalika swara segments in Pallavis or more often in the tanam portion, when all the five ghana ragams are rendered. There doesn't seem to be any Tillana or Javali in the same. This may be due to the fact that Arabhi is more appropriate as an opening or middle order raga in a concert and does not feature in kritis rendered during the post-main segment. Arabhi is also featured in several Ragamalikas. Muthuswami Diksitar has skillfully employed the raga mudra (name of the raga) in his compositions. For example, in the kriti 'Srisaraswati namostute', we fine the word "Arabhi" hidden between the words "samsara-bhityapahe". He uses "samsara-bhitibanjanayai" in the song 'Akhilandeswaryai'. In the kriti 'Marakoti lavanya', we find Arabhi concealed in the phrase "mohakara-bhikshatana". The famous ragamalika, 'Arabhimanam by Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer appropriately begins with Arabhi, with the raga mudra in the opening phrase itself. 


An audava - sampoorna raga, janya of the 29th mela, Dheerasankarabharanam. Kaishika Nishada occurs as a Bhashanga swara. Singing in chowka kala (slow tempo) brings out the beauty of this raga. The chaya swaras are Dha, Ga and Ni. This raga evokes veera rasa (valour) and portrays heroic deeds. The kampita swaras are Ri and Dha. Teevra or very sharp Antara Gandhara or Chyuta Madhyama (Pythegorian major third) and Teevra Kakali Nishada or Chyuta Shadja (Pythegorian major 7th) occur in the phrases: 'ma-ga-ri' and 'sa-ni-dha' when sung in vilambita kala. A sarvakalika gamaka pradhana raga mentioned in Narada's Sangeeta Makaranda. Janta swara prayogas are absent. Both Trisruti Dha (5/3) and Chatusruti Dha (27/16) figure. 

Devagandhari has practically the same swaras as Arabhi, the diffference being the occurrence of Kaishika Nishada. In contrast with Arabhi, chowka kala prayogas are characteristic to Devagandhari. Greater stress is given to Gandharam and Kakali Nishada. 

In the Asampoorna paddhati, Devagandhari is classified as janya number 8 of Dheerasankarabharanam (29). 

Arohanam: Sa Ri Ma Pa Dha Dha Sa 
Avarohanam: Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa Ri Ga Ri 

A sampoorna bhasanga raga, shadja graha, Kaishika Ni appears in some prayogams. The Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini gives the following compositions: Gopikaramanam, Adi (Krishnaswami Ayya), Kshitijaramanam, Adi (Muthuswami Dikshitar), a sanchari in Matya tala by Subbarama Dikshitar. No Lakshana or Lakshya Gitam by Venkatamakhin is provided! Devagandharam (Karnataka Devagandhari) is entirely different from Devagandhari. 

Compositions in Devagandhari


Song Tala Composer
Kshitijaramanam Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Sri Meenambikayah Roopaka Muthuswami Dikshitar
Shalivateeswaram Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Vadanyeswaram Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Gopikaramanam Adi Krishnaswami Ayya
Ramarama pahi Roopaka Swati Tirunal
Jayajaya rama Jhampa Swati Tirunal
Swamiki sari Adi Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayyar
Ksheerasagara Adi Tyagaraja
Koluvaiyunnade Adi Tyagaraja
Vinarada na manavi Adi Tyagaraja
Karuna samudra Adi Tyagaraja
Seetavara Adi Tyagaraja
Maravakara  Adi Tyagaraja
Namoralagimpa Roopaka Tyagaraja
Evarumanaku Adi Tyagaraja
Palaya sriraghuveera Adi Tyagaraja
Tulasamma Adi Tyagaraja
Tanaloni dayaninche Adi Tyagaraja
Sri Vasudeva srikanta Roopaka Mysore Vasudevachar
Sarade vinavadana Adi Papanasam Sivan
Dorakenu nedu - Mysore Sadasiva Rao
Idu ennadi Adi Kavikunjara Bharati
Enna taruvan Misra Chapu Kavikunjara Bharati
Ekkalavum Adi Vedanayakam Pillai
Isainda erungari (Tiruppugazh) Adi Arunagirinathar
Ulagil kankanda Misra Chapu Muthuswami Kavi
Ento anandamugalguna Adi Ambujam Krishna
Ambe maikinra Adi T Lakshmanan Pillai


Vedukato nadachukonna Adi Kshetragna
Sacchidananda vigrahe Chapu Muthaiah Bhagavatar
Enneramum Adi Gopalakrishna Bharati
Aranaporule Adi Papanasam Sivan
Inda viduntran Adi Periyasami Tooran
Ni sahayamuleni Adi Vina Kuppayyar
Talli namuda Adi Vina Kuppayyar

Note: Both lists compiled by Dr. P P Narayanaswami.    

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