Though Ragas can be classified under several heads like Shadava, Audava, Sampoorna, Swarantara, Bhashanga, Upanga, Vakra etc, this particular post lays emphasis on the aspect of classifying ragas according to gender-male, female and neuter ragas.
Narada was the first to introduce the concept of classifying ragas according to masculine(male), feminine(female) and neuter(Napumsaka) groups.Damodara Mishra, the author of Sangeetha Darpana used qualifying terms like Yoshitha (Wife), Angina(Daughter) and Vanangana(Son) in respect of melodies. In Lochana Kavi’s Raga Tarangini, there are 6 principal ragas and 36 raginees believed to be their wives(6 each ). So here we can identify that there is a classification as Ragas and Raginees and this system is followed in Hindustani Music.
According to Sangeetha Makaranda of Narada, Ragas are masucline depicting courage, wonder, power, drive and anger while Raginees are feminine expressing delicate or lighter feelings of love, laughter, sorrow, joy, compassion etc. The neuter ragas called as Napumsaka ragas are considered to be an outcome of the fusion between the above two classification. Putra Ragas(Sangeetha Makaranda of Narada) express the sentiments of love, fear, passion, disgust and peace.
The Purusha (Male) Ragas as per Narada are Bhairav, Megha,Panchama, Narayana, Sriraga and Vasantha and they are intended to be sung at 6 different seasons of the year as follows. Bhairav at Summer, Megha in Rainy Season, Panchama in Autumn, Narayana in Early Winter, Sriraga in Winter and Vasantha in Spring. Each of above raga reflects the mood, feeings and qualities of the season there by invoking the Rithu Devatha (Goddess of the Season) to shower their blessings abundantly on our life.
It can be noted that some of the Indian melodies or ragas have masculine names and some others have feminine names. The same can also be seen when we closely observe the feel they evoke. They either manifest a bold and forceful expression of manliness or a tender and soft feeling of warmth, grace, love for the offspring (a motherly touch) etc which are typically feminine in character.
Gender of Swaras
Regarding the swaras, Shadjam or Sa is considered to be the mother of all Swaras and Panchamam or Pa , exactly the fifth note, the note of greater stability and balance, located at the center of the octave is considered as the father. But the octave itself has the beginning and ending notes as Sa denoting the ancient supremacy of Shadjam called as Adhaara Shadjam- The Base of all Notes !..All other notes R,G,M,D, and N are cosidered to be the offspring of these two parent notes Sa and Pa.
Indian music requires concentrated meditation on ragas which are known to give energy, remove stress and tension, bestows motherly comfort, increases confidence, help a person deal with anger, pain , jealousy, frustration or emptiness to name a few. The Raga devathas are the vehicles of emotions with the power of infinite expressions. To enjoy their bliss and blessings, one should have absolute concentration of the mind, body and soul while listening to them.