Varjya and vakra raga-s

Janya raga-s can be classified into varjya raga-s, vakra raga-s, upanga raga-s and bhashanga raga-s. In this instalment of Ask SRJ, we deal with varjya and vakra raga-s.

Varjya raga-s

Janya raga-s need not be sampoorna either in the arohana or avarohana or both taken together. One or two or sometimes even three swara-s may be absent or deleted. This aspect is technically known as varjya. Varjya raga-s are of three varieties: arohana varjya, avarohana varjya and ubhaya varjya – with both arohana and avarohana varjya. Besides these three, there are also krama varjya and vakra varjya raga-s.

Krama varjya raga-s can be sampoorna, shadava, audava, or swarantara.

In a sampoorna raga all the seven notes are present in both arohana and avarohana. If only six swara-s are present either in the arohana or avarohana, it is described as a shadava raga. A raga with only five swara-s in the ascent and descent is described as an audava raga. Curiously a raga with four notes is known as swarantara.

The arohana and avarohana should individually be described if the number of swara-s present is different in each one of them.

A minimum of four swara-s is required individually both in the arohana and the avarohana to constitute a raga.

We deal with varjya and vakra raga-s in this instalment. Only five examples have been given for each category. The number given within brackets against each raga indicates the serial number of the mela varga to which the raga belongs.

Arohana varjya raga-s

Saveri (15) s r m p d S S n d p m g r s

Arabhi (29) s r m p d S S n d p m g r s

Bilahari (29) s r g p d S S n d p m g r s

Dhanyasi (8) s g m p n S S n d p m g r s

Salagabhairavi (22) s r m p d S S n d p m g r s

Avarohana varjya raga-s

Saramati (20) s r g m p d n S S n d m g s

Kaikavasi (60) s r g m p d n S S n p m g r s

Dundubhi (48) s r g m p d n S S n p m g r s

Chaturangini (66) s r g m p d n S S n p m g r s

Garudadhwani (29) s r g m p d n S S d p g r s

Ubhaya varjya raga-s Mohanam (28) s r g p d S S d p g r s

Hamsadhwani (65) s r g p n S S n p g r s

Suddha Saveri (28) s r m p d S S d p m r s

Madhyamavati (22) s r m p n S S n p m r s

Nagaswaravali (28) s g m p d S S d p m g s

The eight varieties of varjya raga-s are:

Sampoorna shadava:

Bhairavam (17) s r g m p d n S S d p m g r s

Shadava sampoorna:

Kambhoji (28) s r g m p d S S n d p m g r s

Sampoorna audava: Saramati (see above)

Audava sampoorna

Kedaragaula (28) s r m p n S S n d p m g r s

Shadava shadava

Malayamarutam (16) s r g p d S S n d p m g s

Shadava audava

Kapinarayani (28) s r m p d n S S n d p m g s

Audava shadava

Bauli (15) s r g p d S S n d p g r s

Audava audava

Varada (59) s r m p n S S n p m r s

Vakra raga-s

If in a janya raga, the inherent swara-s do not progress in the regular order of arohana avarohana krama but with an interrupted course of progression, it is known as a vakra raga. We may say that in a vakra raga we find a swara or two or even three repeated in the arohana avarohana krama. Thus Begada is a vakra raga. Its arohana is s g r g m p d p S. Here we find the swara-s ga and pa repeated twice. So it is known to have a vakra arohana. Similarly in Reetigaula: s g r g m n d m n n S. Here we find ga, ma and ni repeated. In the avarohana also we find vakratva (S n d m g m p m g r s). We find ma and ga repeated.

But there are also vakra raga-s with no repetition of swara-s as mentioned above but still having vakratva. For example:

Kuntalavarali — arohana s m p n d S

Nalinakanti — arohana s g r m p n S

Kathanakutoohalam — arohana s r m d n g p S

Saraswatimanohari — avarohana S d n p m g r s

Thus, it is not the repetition of swara-s that marks out a vakra raga but also the interrupted progression of the swara-s in the arohana or avarohana.

Like varjya raga-s, vakra raga-s also may be arohana vakra, avarohana vakra, ubhaya vakra (both vakra).

Arohana vakra raga-s

1. Poorvikalyani (53) s r g m p d p S S n d p m g r s

2. Anandabhairavi (22 or 20) s g r g m p d p S S n d p m g r s

3. Manjari (22) s g r g m p n d n S S n d p m g r s

4. Devamritavarshini (22) s r g m n d n S S n d p m g r s

5. Janaranjani (29) s r g m p d p n S S d p m r s

Avarohana vakra raga-s

Gaula (15) s r m p n S S n p m g m r g m r s

Darbar (22) s r m p d n S S N d p m r G G r s

Umabharanam (28) s r g m p d n S S n p m g m r s

Suddha Bangala (22) s r m p d S S d p m r G r s

Sree (22) s r m p n S S n p d n p m r g r s

Ubhaya vakra raga-s

Reetigaula (22) s g r g m n d m n n S S n d m g m p M g r s

Sahana (28) s r g m p m D n S S N d p m G m R g r s

Deepakam (51) s g m p d p S S n d n p m g r s

Kokilavarali (20) s r g r m p d n d S S d n d p m r g r s

Kannada (29) s m g m p m D n S S n s D p g m d p g m R s

Natakurinji (28)* s r g m n d n p d n S S n d m g m p g r s

* Note: Though the panchama figures in the scale format, it must be put to spare usage (alpatva).

Vakra raga-s and varjya raga-s can be intermingled. That means a vakra raga can be varjya or sampoorna either in the arohana or avarohana or both and vice versa. Examples are:

Sahana – vakra sampoorna in both the arohana and avarohana

Reetigaula – vakra shadava arohana and vakra sampoorna avarohana

Anandabhairavi – vakra shadava arohana and krama sampoorna avarohana

Bangala - vakra audava arohana and vakra shadava avarohana

(Aro: s r g m p m r p S Ava: S n p m r g r s)

The classification of janya raga-s into vakra and varjya raga-s is purely theoretical in scope.

Vakra swara and vakrantya swara in vakra raga-s

In a vakra raga, the swara at which the regular course of arohana and avarohana gets interrupted is the vakra swara and the swara where the vakratva ends is the vakrantya swara. For example, in Poorvikalyani, the arohana is s r g m p d p S. Here the second panchama is where the interruption takes place. So it is the vakra swara. The next swara, tara shadja is where the vakratva ends. So it is the vakrantya swara. It may be noted that the vakra and vakrantya swara-s are placed adjacent to each other in the above example. Sometimes they may be away from each other. For example in Anandabhairavi, the arohana is s g r g m p d p s. Here ri is one vakra swara. Its vakrantya swara is dha and again pa is the vakra swara and tara shadja is the vakrantya swara.

Ekaswara, dviswara and triswara vakra raga-s

Vakra raga-s are classified into ekaswara vakra raga-s, dviswara vakra raga-s and triswara vakra raga-s.

The arohana and avarohana of vakra ragas may be individually one of the three types mentioned above. For example,

Sahana S r g m p m D n S S N d p m G m R g r s

Here the arohana is ekaswara vakra and the avarohana is dviswara vakra.

Reetigaula S g r g m n d m n n S S n d m g m p M g r s

In this example, the arohana and avarohana are both dviswara vakra. How a vakra raga is reckoned as ekaswara, dviswara or triswara has reference to the number of swara-s repeated as explained above.

There are only a few swarantara raga-s in vogue. A swarantara raga with only four swara-s in the arohana and avarohana individually can hardly have a melodic stature. A raga like Mohanadham, s g p d S - S d p g s with antara gandhara and chatusruti dhaivata can be just about tolerable. Similar is the case with a swarantara raga with sadharana gandhara and suddha dhaivata. All such raga-s would be swarasthana pradhana raga-s with little melody. Swarantara raga-s in combination with shadava, audava or sampooma (in the arohana or avarohana):

Navarasakannada (28) s g m p S S n d m g r s

Vivardhani (28) S r m p S S n d p m g r s

The possible number of varjya and vakra raga-s

Varjya raga-s of the eight kinds of shadava, audava and sampoorna varieties could be calculated as follows:

Sampoorna sampoorna – 72 mela raga-s

Sampoorna shadava – 6 (from every mela)

Shadava sampoorna – 6 (from every mela)

Sampoorna audava – 15 (from every mela)

Audava sampoorna – 15 (from every mela)

Shadava shadava – 36 (from every mela)

Shadava audava – 90 (from every mela)

Audava shadava – 90 (from every mela)

Audava audava – 225 (from every mela)

But it may be found that a major number of the above types are repeated under more than one mela, for example, raga-s with arohana-avarohana like Mohanam, Suddha Saveri, Suddha Dhanyasi, Amritavarshini, Hamsadhwani, Hindolam, Madhyamavati and Revati.

The swarantara combination mixed with audava, shadava and sampoorna varieties can be worked out as follows:

Sampoorna swarantara – 20

Swarantara sampoorna – 20

Shadava swarantara – 120

Swarantara shadava – 120

Audava swarantara – 300

Swarantara audava – 300

Swarantara swarantara – 400

Totally, the swarantara, audava, shadava, and sampoorna varieties of varjya (krama) will run to some thousands. All this is only of academic interest. Survival of the fittest is always the governing principle in practice.

Only raga-s with melody survive in practice. The same theory holds good in the case of vakra raga-s too. Only certain aesthetically beautiful vakra patterns like s m g m, s g r g, s p m p, m n d n, p n d n, m d p d, S p d p, g d p d, p d m p, s r g r, p d p S, S d n d, m r g r would stay. The remaining possible vakra patterns would not sound melodious. The possible number of vakra raga-s is infinite.

S.R. Janakiraman

Renowned musicologist