Hindustani Music….Time Theory of Raagas


Hey Guys, hoped you liked the previous article and were interested in knowing about the great legends of Hindustani Music; Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar and Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. In this article I’ll be coming back to Raagas and talk about the time theory of Raagas. I’ll use a little bit of Hindi also in this article for your better understanding. As told before; each raag has a specific time of singing and some have a particular season too. For e.g. Raag Megh is sung in the monsoon season, Raag Deepak in summer season which depicts the scorching heat of the season, Raag Hindol best known for its romantic mood is sung in the spring season and so on there are many seasonal raagas. The 24 hours of the day are divided into two parts; i.e. from 12pm to 12am is known as the Poorvang (पूर्वांग) and from 12am to 12pm is known as the Uttrang(उत्तरांग). Similarly the Saptak or the octave is also divided into two halves; the Poorvang (from Sa to Pa) and the Uttrang (from Ma to Sa`). As told previously every raag is classified under a thaat and there are 10 thaats in our music namely Bhairav, Bhairavi, Bilawal, Kaafi, Todi, Khamaaj, Kalyan, Marva, Purvi and Asavari. The common belief that raagas are divided in these 10 thaats is wrong, in fact raagas with common characteristics were clubbed together to form a thaat. And the raaga which is the base raaga of a thaat after which the thaat is named is known as the Aashreya Raaga (आश्रय राग)Vadi and Samvadi are the two most important swaras of the raaga. The time theory of raagas is totally based on the types of swaras in the raaga, the Vadi and the Samvadi swara of the raaga. This was a short recap of certain terms and a heads-up that the part of the article which is coming further will be a bit technical and you need to understand the meaning of each and every word in order to understand the whole article.

The time theory of Raagas can be explained under following sub categories-

  1. Adhvdarshaq Swara (अध्वदर्शवक स्वर)
  2. Vadi-Samvadi Swara
  3. Poorvang and Uttrang Swara
  4. Re, Dha Komal & Shudhh Swara and Ga Ni Komal Swara


Adhvdarshaq Swara (अध्वदर्शवक स्वर)

The Madhyam or the Ma is known as the Adhvdarshaq swara in our music. Madhyam is one of the most important swaras in the Saptak as it determines the time of the raaga. Generally raagas sung with a tivra Madhyam are sung in the Poorvang (12pm to 12am) and raagas with shudhh Madhyam are sung in the Uttrang (12am to 12pm). Now, let us apply this theory to any Raaga say raaga Bhairav; it is sung with a shudhh madhyam thus its singing time should ideally be in the Uttrang i.e. between 12am to 12pm and actually its singing time is in the 1st prahar of the day i.e. around 4am which is practically the sunrise time. Similarly Raaga Yaman is sung with a tivra madhyam which places its ideal time in the Poorvang i.e. 12pm to 12am thus showing the transition from evening to night. But there are several contradictory raagas which do not follow this rule, e.g. Raaga Basant is sung with both madhayms and some sing it only with the tivra madhyam, according to the rule above its singing time should be in the Poorvang but it is sung in the last hour of the night which falls in the Uttrang. Thus there are many contradictions to this rule, but it is always true for those raagas which are sung at the transitional times of the day i.e. at sunrise or at sunset.

Vadi-Samvadi Swara (वादीसंवादी स्वर)

Vadi as you know is the most important swara of the raaga and Samvadi is the second most important swara of the raaga. If the vadi swara of the raaga falls in the Poorvang then the Samvadi swara of that raaga will always fall in the Uttrang and vice-versa. A raaga having its vadi swara in the Uttrang is sung in the Uttrang portion of the time period (12am to 12pm) and vadi in Poorvang is sung in the Poorvang time period (12pm to 12 am).

Poorvang and Uttrang Swara (पूर्वांगउत्तरांग स्वर)

A raaga having a prominent or a strong Poorvang is sung in the Poorvang time and a raaga having a prominent or a strong Uttrang is sung in the Uttrang time. E.g. Bhimpalasi and Darbari have a strong Poorvang and are thus sung in the Poorvang time period. Similarly Bhairav and Bhairavi having a strong Uttrang are sung in the Uttrang time period.

Re, Dha Komal & Shudhh Swara and Ga Ni Komal Swara

This is the last and a bit technical part, so pay a little attention while reading this part.

First I would like to define a term before explaining this concept, Sandhiprakash Raaga (सन्धिप्रकाश राग); these raagas are known to be sung at the transitional time of the day i.e. the time when night transforms into day in the morning and the time when the evening transforms into night.

Re and Dha Komal- Raagas having komal Re and Dha are known as Sandhiprakash Raagas and are generally sung early morning at around 4am or 7am which is the normal sunrise time. As we know that the time of sunrise changes with the season, similarly the time of these raagas changes according to them. The raagas which fall under this category are of thaat Bhairav, Purvi and Marva namely, Raaga Bhairav, Raaga Lalit, Raaga Shree, Raaga Ramkali, Raaga Jogiya, Raaga Poorvi etc. etc.

Re and Dha Shudhh- Raagas having shudhh Re and Dha are known to be sung after those category of raagas which have Re komal and Ga shudhh raagas. The raagas which fall under this category are- Raaga Khamaaj, Raaga Bilawal, Raaga Desh, Raaga Bhoopali, Raaga Bihag, Raaga Kalyan, and Raaga Kedar etc. etc. The tentative time of singing these raagas are 7-10 in the morning and evening but some scholars believe that this time is 7-12 and not 7-10 so it is bit difficult to tell the exact timing of these raagas.

Ga and Ni Komal- Raagas having komal Ga and Ni are known to be sung after all the other categories of raagas. These raagas are known to be sung from 10-4 in the morning and in the night but because of the above mentioned contradictions in Re, Dha Shudhh category of raaga the timings of these raagas is also known to be from 12-4 in afternoon and in the night. But due to majority votes towards 10-4 it is known to be sung in the 10-4 slot only. The raagas which fall under this category are of thaat Bhairavi, Todi, Asavari and Kafi.

In each of the category mentioned above a raaga can be found which is sung at a particular time but it contradicts the characteristics of other raagas sung at that time only, but I think we should not get into that as this much information is only very difficult to digest.

One last definition while closing the topic- Time Theory of Raagas, Some raagas are known to have characteristics of two thaats and show the transition from one thaat to other, these raagas are known as Parmel Praveshik Raaga (परमेलप्रवेशिक राग). Raaga Jaijaivanti is one such raaga which is known to have characteristics of both thaat Khamaaj and thaat Kaafi.

With this I would like to end this article, please do read, share and comment on this article. Do tell if you wish to know about a particular topic and want me to write on it.

Thank You

Shubham Mittal


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