#13–Bowli-The Meditative Morning Raga

Bowli, a janya of 15th mela Mayamalavagowla, is a morning / purvodaya raga with a calm,pious and deep meditative quality. I think this is the main reason for choosing this particular raga for Suprabhathams. The word Suprabhatham itself means Auspicious Morning and Raga Bowli -a  Bakthi Rasa  pradhana raga is chosen for tuning most of the Suprabathams. Listening to Raga Bowli in the dawn transforms the  morning mood to be one of serenity and sacredness. Bowli calms the turbulent mind and  promotes relaxation and prevents the effects of chronic stress, promotes emotional well being and  maintains positive mental health to begin the day. Bowli has the following Arohana and Avarohana.

Arohana: S R1 G3 P D1 S

Avarohana: S N3 D1 P G3 R1 S

(Shadjam, Shuddha Rishabham, Anthara Gandharam, Panchamam, Shuddha Dhaivatham, Kakali Nishadam).

Note that the Arohanam of Bowli does not have the Nishadha (N) which is left out making it a nishaada-varjaya in the arohana scaling.

Jiva/Amsa Swara : R , D (The note which reveals the melodic entity or the Swaroopa of the Raga; (Soul of the raga). To show the Swaroopa of the Raga in an Alapana or sangathi, this note is sung repeatedly, very often. This can be considered as the Main swara of the raga. There can be one or more Hamsa swaras in a raga.)


Prayogams of the type of “Janta”(dual swaras like GGPPDD) and “Datu”(skipping of a swara in between like GDPD DRSR ) lend great enchantment to the raga and make it very captivating.  Bowli, a morning raga finds a natural place at the beginning of concerts. If I associate Raga Shanmukhapriya to Lord Subramanya, I will connect Raga Bowli to Lord Narayana. Raga Bowli immediately makes me think of Guruvayoour Suprabhatham by Smt.P.Leela and Sriman Narayan sung by M.S.Amma.

Immortal Compositions

The masterpiece song in this raga is none other than Sriman Narayana composed by the saint poet Sri. Annamacharya. M.S.Amma has sung this song in her mellifluous voice soaked in Bhakthi. Who else other than M.S.Amma can render this more soulfully? This Annamacharya song was greatly popularised by Smt.M.S.Amma. The rendition of M.S.Amma with finesse has brought immense recognition to the saint-poet who had attained immortality through his songs. Prolonged exposure to the divine verses in this song can bring oneself and Lord Narayana very close. In the fast paced Brahmam Okate by the same composer Annamacharya, he declares that there is only one God, and that He is present in each one of us. A 15th century composition which is truly meaningful even today as it was then. “Karunanidhye Thaye” by Papansam Sivan is another brilliant piece in this raga on Mylai Karpagambika.

Tyagarajar’s Melukovayya

This krithi is marked by sobreity,love and above all concern.Tyagaraja believes that it is his duty to wake up the Lord in a befitting way.  And listen to the lyrics. “The entire world is waiting for your presence”. The scenario the Saint creates is highly picturesque. “Celestial Damsels are singing Your praises ready to serve You. Lamps studded with gems have started unfolding themselves in white radiance”.

He could not have chosen a better raga. Between Bowli and Bhupalam, he preferred apparently Bowli, because the prayoga of nishada(N) in the raga, unlike Bhupalam has the cool as well as the warmth of early hours of morning. While coming down from Shadja to Dhaivatha, the swara Nishada acts a pleasant jaru gamaka(Jaru/Ullasita Slides).

Major Krithis

Ekkadi Manusha-annamacharya
Sriman Narayana-annamacharya
parama purusha nirupamAna-annamacharya
Karunanidhiye Thaye-Papanasam Sivan
Yogini Ganasevithe- H.N. Muttayyah Bhaagavatar
anantAya sarvAya-H.N. Muttayyah Bhaagavatar
tappulanniyu – H.N. Muttayyah Bhaagavatar
dhina janaavana-Tyagarajar
melukOvayya – Tyagrajar
shambhO mahAdEva-Neelakanta Sivan

Favourite Filmy Raga

Only one or two film songs I have heard in this raga. Senthalam Poovil a song in the movie Mullum Malarum composed by Illyaraja has some shades of Bowli. Mostly devotional songs/Suprabhatams are composed in Bowli.

Allied Ragas:  The two early morning raagas Bowli and Bhupalam sounds similar though they have the difference in their parent raaga. Bhupalam is a janya of 8th mela Hanumathodi and has the arohanam and avarohanam as follows : (The gandharam is sadharana gandharam for this raaga).

Aaro : S R1 G2 P D1 S
Avaro: S D1 P G2 R1 S

Bowli , a janya of 15th mela Mayamalavagowla, (Bowli is Mayamalava Gowlai Janyam employs the antara gandharam Ga3 instead of Ga2 in Boopalam.) Bowli and Boopalam  sound so similar, yet the Rishabham in Bowli has to be given a special ear to catch the subtleties. Actually the main differences between Bowli and Bhupalam is the use of nishadam note in the former and the gandaram that is employed in both raagas.

I have made a humble attempt to compose Chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita in Raga Bowli. I have included this too in the zipped files. This is a very minor contribution from me which is aimed to bring down Chronic Stress.

I conclude this review by saying that listening to Bowli early morning is just like the touch of a  gentle breeze  with its deep meditative quality elevating you to a higher spiritual plane and maintaining positive mental health to begin the day.

Featured Composition with Meaning

Sriman Narayana (Popularised by M.S.Amma)

Taalam: Adi
Composer: Annamaachaarya


shrIman nArAyaNa shrIman nArAyaNa
shrIman nArAyaNa nI shrIpAdame sharaNu

Meaning : Oh SrImannArayaNa, SrImannArayaNa, SrImannArayaNa ! I surrender only to your divine feet.


kamalAsati mukhakamala kamalahita
kamalapriya kamalekShaNA
kamalAsanahita garu.dagamana shrI
kamalanAbha nI padakamalame sharaNu

Meaning: The Lord is praised as the Sun very dear to the lotus faced consort kamala of the Lord. He is dear to kamala with His eyes resembling lotus petals. The Lord, whose vehicle is garuDa the great bird and also whose lotus like naval has brahma the creator, is the supreme one. SrI annamAcArya surrenders to such Lord’s lotus feet.


parama yogijana bhAgadheya shrI
paramapuruShA parAtparA
paramAtmA paramANurUpa shrI
tiruveN^kaTagiridevA sharaNu

Meaning: Sri  Annamacharya praises the Lord, the supreme all pervading soul, as the ultimate destination for all the supreme sages. The Lord of the holy Sri Venkatachalam manifests everywhere even in the tiniest atom. SrI Annamacharya surrenders to such supreme Lord.

Enjoy the M.S.S. rendition of Sriman Narayana in raagam ‘Bowli’


Attain Spiritual Enlightenment with Bowli ! 🙂

Bowli-Vocal – 2 Volumes
Bowli – Instrumental

Click Here to Download

5 thoughts on “#13–Bowli-The Meditative Morning Raga

  1. I really never feel bored reading your articles. You are always to the point, cut and clear. Very gem of an information. not easy to write with accuracy. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

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