Dissecting Raga Natabhairavi

The 20th melakarta ragam of the Carnatic genre Natabhairavi finds its counterpart in Asaavari, the sixth thaat (parent raga) in Hindustani music scheme. Occurring in the second place in the Veda chakram (fourth corresponding to chaturveda), the Natabhairavi in the Muthuswami Dikshitar school was referred to as Nariritigowla (which was classified as asampoorna melakarta). It corresponds to the natural minor scale of the western music system. Like all parent ragas, it carries the sapthaswara in the following mode: shadjam (sa), chathusruti rishabam (ri2), sadharana gandharam (ga2), shuddha madhyamam (ma1), shuddha daivatam (dha1) and kaisika nishadam (ni2) and of course Sa. Despite its placement in the melakarta chart and uniformly spaced out swara sthanams, Natabhairavi hardly finds a place of import in concert singing as a center-piece unlike its prati madhyama (ma2) equivalent Shanmukhapriya (56 melakarta). The ragam as such evokes grandeur and devotion.

In fact, the offshoot ragams of this melakarta are more popular and carry an import like for instance the Bhairavi, Anandabhairavi, Saramati, Jaunpuri and Jayanthasri. A few kritis in Natabhairavi have however attained popularity like Dikshitar's Neelothpalambam, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar's Parulaseva and Sri Valli Devasenapathe (Papanasam Sivan). There are a number of old Telugu film hits based on Natabhairavi like Kanupaapu karuvaina brathukenduko, Chakkanayya chandamama ekkadunnavu and Edo oka ragam palikindeevela to name a few.

On the other hand, Asaavari is a popular thaat raag in Hindustani concerts and comes under the ragini(female) section. It corresponds to the Aeolian mode (one of the seven Greek modes) which accounts for its popularity in Western music too. The aaroh goes thus: Sa, Re, ma, Pa, dha, Sa while the avaroh is Sa, ne, dha, Pa, ma, ga, Re, Sa. The Vadi note is the komal dhaivath (flat sixth) while the Samvadi is komal gaandhar (flat third). The raag belongs to the audav-sampoorn jathi (five notes in the ascent and seven in the descent). While the gaandhar, dhaivath and nishaadh are komal or flat swar, the other notes are full or shuddh swar. This rather melancholic raag sets in a mood of love (yearning) and consequent anguish and is placed in the mid-morning prahaar. Derivative raags of Asaavari thaat are Jaunpuri and what is called ‘komal rishabh Asavari as well as Darbari Kanada (also in Carnatic). A few Hindi hits from films based on Asaavari or mishr Asaavari are Lo aa gayi unki yaad (Do badan) and more recently Jaadoo teri nazar (Darr).

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:36:06 AM |

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