Seasonal Ragas

Written by Snigdha Prakash on 29 January 2019

Music has the power to convey even the strongest of emotions. We often find ourselves in tears at the end of a song, and it makes us wonder – what makes us develop an emotional connection with music?

One of the answers is more obvious than it seems – nature. It is said that the very origins of the seven notes themselves are from nature. Shadaj came from the peacock, Rishabh from the bull, Gandhar from the goat, Madhyam from the heron/crane, Pancham from the Koyal, Dhaivat from the neighing of a horse and Nishad from the elephant’s trumpet.

Since Shastriya Sangeet is Raga – based, what better way to admire the beauty of nature than through seasonal Ragas? Raag Basant, for example, evokes the beauty of the arrival of spring. With the application of both the Tivra and Shuddha variants of Madhyam, this raag gives the listener a feeling of the sharp, chilly breeze and of flowers in bloom.

Raga Bahar is another Raga that brings to mind  the gentle warmth of late spring. This Raga uses both Shuddha and Komal variants of Nishad, giving it a rather pleasing effect.

Raga Deepak is said to ignite fires. Legend has it, that  Emperor Akbar requested his royal musician, Miyan Tansen to sing this Raga in his court and to put its power to test. As Tansen begins to sing Raga Deepak, the lamps in the palace begin to light up. However, the Raga also burns Tansen up from the inside, and he runs outside to find his sisters singing Raga Malhar to bring down rain, thus drenching Tansen and dowsing the fire.

Raga Miyan Malhar is one of the most beautiful Ragas, which has the mythical quality of bringing rain from the heavens. This is a monsoon raga, and Miyan Tansen had supposedly presented this Raga to Emperor Akbar in his court. The consecutive application of both the Shuddha and Komal variants of Nishad coupled with the sway of the Komal Gandhar make this raga pleasant on the ears

Many other Ragas have been associated with seasons -these are just few that have been known to evoke the changing moods of Mother Nature. There may be millions of others that will continue to evoke those feelings in the future….