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    Classification of Raagas in the Ancient Period

    By

    October 20, 2014

    Hindustani Music

    Hindustani Music

    Hey guys, I hope that you liked my article on the technicalities of naad. In this article I’ll be talking about the classification of Raagas as per the ancient system of music and how it has changed over a period of time. Now, this is also a very long and informative topic, so I’ll break my article into sub-articles.

    I’ll divide this article into 2 more sub-articles; writing on the method of classification of Raagas in the ancient, medieval, and the modern period.

    This article will be based on the classification of Raagas in the ancient period.

    In the ancient period, Raagas were classified on the basis of following criteria-

    1. Classification of Raagas on the basis of Jaati
    2. Classification of Raagas on the basis of Gram Raaga
    3. Classification of Raagas on the basis of the 10 Category Rule
    4. Classification of Raagas as Shudhh, Chhayalag and Sankeern

    Classification of Raagas on the basis of Jaati

    The concept of Gram as told earlier will be explained in detail a bit later, till then I’ll just a refer to it for some explaining some other short points. There were 3 grams and these grams gave birth to 18 Jaatis. Each raaga as told before also, each raaga has a Nyaas Sur (on which the singer sustains his voice), Ansh Sur (over which the singer just glides over) and some Grah Sur (on which the singer returns to after each taan). Now, each raaga was classified upon these 3 basic swaras in that period. If any of these swaras were changed then the whole raaga changes and a new form of raaga is formed, which is quite different from the raaga which was being sung or played initially. Nowadays, Raaga singing is famous, similarly in those days Jaati singing was famous wherein the singer used to sing the Jaati based on the characteristics of the Jaati. This is was one method of classifying raagas.

    Classification of Raagas on the basis of Gram Raaga

    The concept of Gram gives rise to another interesting concept of Moorchhana which in turn gives rise to Jaatis. Jaatis further, gives rise to Gram Raagas. The 18 jaatis which are told above give rise to 30 Gram Raagas. These Gram Raagas are sung according to their characteristics and are further divided in to 5 categories which are- Shudhh, Bhinn, Gaud, Besar and Sadharan Reeti. Gram Raaga are the ones which nowadays known as raagas and are very popular in singing and in instruments.

    Classification of Raagas on the basis of the 10 Category Rule

    The famous book Sangeet Ratnakar by Pt. Sharangdev clearly mentions the categorisation of raagas on the basis of the following 10 points-

    1. Classification of Raagas as Gram Raaga, Raag and Upraag
    2. Classification of Raagas as Bhaasha, Vibhaasha and Antarbhaasha
    3. Classification of Raagas as Bhaashang, Raagang, Kriyang and Upaang

    Gram Raaga, Raaga and Upraaga

    Graam Raagas as told above are derived from Jaatis. Further these, Gram Raagas are also classified as Raaga and Upraaga. As per Sangeet Ratnakar there are 30 Gram Raagas, 20 Raagas and 8 Upraagas.

    Bhaasha, Vibhaasha and Antarbhaasha

    The gram raaga are further divided into different on the basis of Bhaasha, Vibhaasha and Antarbhaasha. The raagas in ancient times was sung without any words but only in Aakars. But after this distribution words were introduced into raagas and raagas then the raaga vistaar was done with the help of words. But this categorisation was slowly discarded as gradually, words were introduced in each raaga.

    Bhaash-ang, Raag-ang, Kriyang and Upaang

    Raagas having some characteristics of Gram Raagas are known as Raagang, those having characteristics of Bhaasha Raaga are Bhaashang, those having very few features of any single but having features of many raagas are Upaang and those who are known to be very cheerful in nature or those which give a pleasant feeling to the listener are known as Kriyang.

    Classification of Raagas as Shudhh, Chhayalag and Sankeern

    This categorisation was only practised for some time on the ancient times; nowadays it is not practised and is not known to many also. Raagas which are complete and pure in themselves and do not show any feature of any other raaga while being sung or played are Shudhh Raagas. Raagas showing features of any other (but one) raaga while being played or sung are Chhayalag raagas and raagas showing features of more than one other raaga is a Sankeern Raaga. For e.g. Yaman and Todi are Shudhh, Chhayanat and Tilak Kamod are Chhayalang and Pilu and Bhairavi are Sankeern Raagas.

    This was all about the categorisation of raagas on the basis of different criteria.

    Now I’ll explain a little about Raaga Durga-

    Raag Durga-

    Aaroh– Sa Re Ma Pa Dha Sa

    Avroh– Sa Dha Pa Ma Re Sa

    Pakad– Re Ma Pa Dha Ma Pa Dha Ma Re Sa

    Thaat– Bilawal

    Vadi Swara- Dha

    Samvadi Swara– Re

    Jaati- Audhav-Audhav

    Time of Singing- Late night Raaga

    This is a raaga derives its name from the Hindu goddess Durga. Generally all the bandishes in this raaga are prayerful and the lyrics are dedicated to goddess Durga. This is an Audhav-Audhav jaati raaga meaning only 5 swaras are used in this raaga; Ga and Ni are not at all used in this raga. This raaga is a late night raaga and is generally sung in very low notes.

    You can listen to this raaga as rendered by great artists by following the below links.

    1. Raaga Durga by Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzE8dtRm1YI
    2. Raaga Durga by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktSRfm9GSJg
    3. Raaga Durga by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvkQweUvkQI
    4. Raaga Durga by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9j399wXc68

    To sum up, this article was based on the classification of raagas as per the ancient time period. This article has been further divided into 2 sub articles describing the classification of raagas as per the medieval and the modern period. My next article will be based on the classification of raagas as per the medieval period. Have a look at the flowchart below for a brief summary.

    Classification of Ragas in the Ancient Period

    Classification of Ragas in the Ancient Period

     

     

    I would love to write on any topic which any of you would suggest; so please read, share and comment on my articles.

    Thank You

    Shubham Mittal :-)

    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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