Have you heard the story of Tansen, the legendary classical singer and one of the Navratnas in the royal court of Badshah Akbar? The story goes like this. Jealous of the growing fondness of Akbar for the singing of Tansen, other court members hatched a conspiracy against the singer. Tansen was asked to sing Raag Deepak in the court. The assumption was that the Raag when sung by Tansen will invoke fire and burn the maestro himself. Accordingly, they convinced the king to ask Tansen to sing raag Deepak. Tansen was aware of the consequences but couldn’t say no to the emperor. He asked for some time to prepare himself for the performance. During this time, he trained his daughter and her friend to sing raag Megh Malhar. On the day of the event as Tansen started singing raag Deepak, the temperature in the court began to rise. Soon all the lamps in the area lit up, a fire broke out around Tansen and started to engulf him. At that very moment, Tansen’s daughter and her friend began to sing raag Megh Malhar and rains started pouring which extinguished the fire. Thus, Tansen’s life was saved. Symbolic or true, the story illustrates the power of raags to change the atmosphere dramatically. Scientists have also confirmed the ability of raags to impact mood and emotions.
Raag is one of the key components and characteristics of Indian Classical Music. Raag is a Sanskrit word meaning colour, dye. In Music, the word represents a combination of musical notes (Swaras) used to express a feeling. As each colour is unique so is each raag. Every raag has its own unique nature that invokes specific feelings, therefore, different raags are associated with different times of the day, night and season. Though raag is formed of notes, it is not a random combination of notes. There are certain rules about the formation of raags and they must be followed by an artist while singing a particular raag.
Indian classical music has 7 Shuddha Swaras - Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, also called Sargam. A raag is a set of some of these swaras arranged in ascending and descending order. The ascending order is called Aaroha while the descending order is called Avaroha. Each raag must have minimum 5 swaras and maximum 9 swaras in Aaroha and Avroha. Depending on the type (Jaati) of a raag, it can have the same number of swaras or different combinations of swaras. While singing a raag, an artist must not use a swara beyond these sets.
Looking at the strict rules about the formation of raags, one might think that there must be very a limited number of raags. However, this is not the case. Though a raag is formed of swaras, it is not a forging of plain swaras. A raag also has a Chalan, the way in which the swaras are sung. In a raag, different swaras are pronounced (or not pronounced) in a different manner and with different levels of emphasis. Moreover, the transition from one swara to another, the subtle impression of other swaras on primary swaras also bring in a lot of variety in the raags. There could be so many permutations and combinations of swaras and each of them can form a raag. Therefore, two raags that have the same number of swaras in Aaroha and Avroha can differ hugely depending on their Chalan.
The exact number of raags in Indian Classical Music is not known. Some raags are created by eminent artists, e.g. Raag Todi, Multani, Darbari Kanada etc. are said to be formed by Tansen. Raag Nat Narayan is created by Pandit Jasraj. However, there are so many raags that all these music maestros have been singing for a long time and no one knows who created them! Raags are in existence from a very ancient time. The study of raags, their subtilities and their unique characteristics is very interesting, the more one learns about them, the more one falls in love with Indian Classical Music.
Learning about raags is a prerequisite for learning Indian Classical Music. And one of the ideal places to do so is MAHAGAMI GURUKUL, Aurangabad. Established in 1996 with an aim to promote Indian Classical Arts and facilitate research activities in the marginalized Marathwada region of Maharashtra, MAHAGAMI (Mahatma Gandhi Mission Sangeet Academy, Aurangabad), trains students in music, dance, Indology, Sanskrit, art appreciation and other subjects associated with Indian Classical Arts. MAHAGAMI is the first arts organization in the world to be awarded an ISO certificate. It is also a member of the International Dance Council, UNESCO.
MAHAGAMI offers training in Music which also includes the study of raags through different programs, some of which are listed below:
Master of Arts in Musicology
MA. in Musicology at MAHAGAMI is a unique opportunity to learn about different types of music, music theories, history and origins including raags and their distinct characteristics. The 2-year program provides a sound foundation for the learner to build a career in the creative space. In addition to theory and practice of different forms of music, many generic subjects like Epigraphy, Ancient languages, Treatises, Technology, Music in other forms, Indology, Ancient History and elective subjects like western music, recording, music laws, music writing are also taught to the students in this program.
For more information about M.A. in Musicology at MAAHGAMI,
please visit: https://mgmu.ac.in/admissions/faculty/MAHAGAMI.html/
Diploma in Dhrupad Music:
Kalā Udayan Dhrupad | कला उदयन ध्रुपद is a 2-year part-time diploma program at MAHAGAMI in Dhrupad, a style of Indian Classical Music. The program helps the learner develop a good understanding of Dhrupad tradition and its technical aspects. The learner is encouraged to understand the Dhrupad philosophy and create short music pieces based on the training given during the program.
For more information about Diploma in Dhrupad Music program at Mahagami,
please visit: https://mgmu.ac.in/admissions/faculty/MAHAGAMI.html
Certificate in Music:
Kalā Ādhār | कला आधार is a 2-year part-time certificate program in music at MAHAGAMI. It is ideal for those who are interested in learning about Indian Classical music including Dhrupad tradition. The learner is introduced to history, heritage and fundamental concepts of Indian Classical music. They are also trained to understand the salient features of Dhrupad music and recognize the rendition in vocal and instrumental music.
For more information about Certificate in Music program at Mahagami,
please visit: https://mgmu.ac.in/admissions/faculty/MAHAGAMI.html
Learning at MAHAGAMI is a life-enriching experience in itself. The serene ambiance of the institution, the natural surroundings, learning under the ancient Guru-Shishya Parampara under the noble guidance of Parwati Dutta, an internationally acclaimed artiste of Kathak and Odissi, Guru and Founder-Director of MAHAGAMI, makes it sought after place for the learner of Indian Classical Arts.
To know more about MAHAGAMI GURUKUL, please visit: https://www.mahagami.com