Classification of Ragas in the Medieval Period

Hindustani Music
Hindustani Music

We’ll pick up this article from where we left the last one as this the 2nd part and is in continuation from the previous article. If you haven’t read the previous one then please follow the link and read it otherwise you won’t be able to understand this one. Just to summarize quickly the previous article was all about how raagas were classified in ancient times according to different the criteria and practises which were present at that time. Raagas in those days were categorised on the basis of Jaati, Gram Raaga, 10 Category rule and the Shudhh, Chhayalag and Sankeern. For further details please read the previous article. Now I’ll tell you about the categorisation of Raagas in the medieval period-

  1. Classification of Raagas on the basis of Shudhh, Chhayalag and Sankeern
  2. The Similar raaga classification
  3. Classification of Raagas based on Raagas-Raagini method

Classification of Raagas as Shudhh, Chhayalag and Sankeern

This method of classification started in the ancient period and was practised for some years in the medieval period also.

The similar raaga classification

This practise started in the medieval period and is practised till date. It is now known as the Thaat classification which was discussed in one of my previous articles. This practise was started in the medieval period by many scholars but officially it was written and promoted by Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. Under this practise raagas are classified as a single group on the basis of their characteristics, their singing styles, the moods, the timings, etc. etc.

Classification of Raagas based on Raagas-Ragini method

This was one of the concepts which began in the medieval period but gradually declined over a period of time. Some raagas were classified as males and others as females on the basis of their characteristics and they were classified as a single family. The male raaga was known as a “Raaga” and the female known as the “Ragini”. These male and female raagas were believed to have kids also known as the “Putra Raaga” (Putra as in son in Sanskrit). This classification on a broader level was made into 4 major families. The 1st two families had 6 Raagas and each had 6 Raginis and the latter two had 6 raagas where each had 5 Raginis. So after doing the maths we can summarize that 1st two families had 36 Raginis each and the remaining two had 30 Raginis each. Now the names of these families are-

1. Shiva and Someshwar Family

This family had 6 raagas namely- Shree, Basant, Bhairav, Pancham, Vrihnnat and Megh each having Raginis which are-

  1. Shree– Maalshree, Triveni, Gora, Kedari, Madhumadhvi and Pahadika
  2. Basant– Desi, Devgiri, Varaati, Todika, Lalita and Hindoli
  3. Bhairav– Bhairavi, Gujri, Ramkiri, Gunkiri, Bengali and Sanghvi
  4. Pancham– Vibhasha, Bhoopali, Karnati, Paalvi, Patmanjri and Nadhansika
  5. Vrihnnat– Kamodi, Kalyani, Amiri, Natika, Sarangi, and Nathambira
  6. Megh– Malari, Sorathi, Saveri, Kaoshiki, Gandhari and Harshringar

2. Krishna and Kaalinath Family

This family also had 6 raagas namely- Shree, Basant, Bhairav, Pancham, Nat Narayan and Megh but the Raginis according to this theory were different from the Raginis as per the Shiva Family.

  1. Shree– Gori, Kolahal, Dhaval, Varoraji, Malkauns and Devgandhaar
  2. Basant– Adhali, Gunkali, Patmanjri, Gaudgiri, Dhanki and Devsaag
  3. Bhairav– Bhairavi, Gujri, Bilawal, Bihag, Karnat and Kannada
  4. Pancham– Triveni, Hastretha, Ahiri, Kokam, Berari and Asavari
  5. Nat Narayan– Timbanki, Trilangi, Purvi, Gandhari, Rama, Sidhu and Mallari
  6. Megh– Bengali, Madhura, Kamodi, Dhanashri, Devtirthi and Diwali


3. Bharat Family

This family had 6 Raagas but the Raginis according to the theory are only 5 to each raaga. The Raagas and Raginis are-

  1. Malkauns– Gujri, Vidhavti, Todi, Khambavati and Kukubh
  2. Hindol– Ramkali, Vidhavati, Asavari, Devri and Koki
  3. Bhairav– Madhumadhvi, Lalita, Barori, Bhairavi, Bahuli
  4. Deepak– Kedari, Gori, Rudravati, Kamod and Gujri
  5. Shree– Sedhvi, Kaafi, Thumri, Vichitra and Sohini
  6. Megh– Mallari, Sarang, Desi, Ritvllabha and Kannada


4. Hanuman Family

This last family also had 6 raagas but the Raginis are only 5 to each raaga.

  1. Kaushik/ Malkauns-Todi, Khambavati, Gori, Gunkari and Kukubh
  2. Hindol– Bilawali, Ramkari, Deshataya, Pakhmanjri and Lalita
  3. Bhairav– Madhyamadi, Bhairavi, Bengali, Baratika and Sendhvi
  4. Deepak– Kedari, Kannada, Desi, Kamodi, Nataki
  5. Shree– Basanti, Maalvi, Maalshree, Dhansik and Asavari
  6. Megh– Mallari, Deshkari, Bhoopali, Gujri, Tanka

This was the Raaga-Ragini classification in brief. There were many theories regarding this Raaga-Ragini practise but I’ll discuss that in the next sub-part of this article.


Now I’ll tell you about Raag Vrindavani Sarang in this article.

Aaroh– ni Sa Re Ma Pa ni Sa

Avroh– Sa ni Pa Ma Re ni Sa

Pakad– ni Sa Re Ma Re, Re Ma Pa ni Pa Ma Re ni Sa

Thaat– Kaafi

Vadi Swara- Ma

Samvadi Swara– Pa

Jaati- Audhav-Audhav

Time of Singing- Afternoon

This is a very romantic raaga. Mostly all the bandishes of this raaga are based on the love between Meera Bai and Krishna. It is an Audhav-Audhav jaati raaga and is sung in the afternoon. It is regarded as a raaga of the rainy season. It creates a romantic and a mystic atmosphere when sung or played.

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

  1. Raaga Vrindavani Sarang by Ustad Rashid Khan (Vocal)-
  2. Raaga Vrindavani Sarang by Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnnai)-
  3. Raaga Vrindavani Sarang by Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia (Flute)-
  4. Raaga Vrindavani Sarang by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi (Vocal)-

This article was based on the classification of raagas as per the medieval time period. This article was a continuation of my previous article based on the classification of ragas as per the ancient time period and it has one more part which will based on the classification of raagas as per the modern period. Refer the flowchart below for a quick summary of the article.


Classification of Raagas- Medieval Period
Classification of Raagas- Medieval Period

I would love to write on any topic which any of you would suggest; so please read, share and comment on my articles. And thank you all for you wonderful responses on my articles.

Thank You

Shubham Mittal :-)


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