#18-Sahana – The Raga that kindles Subtle Emotions portraying Unconditional Surrender

Sahana is a very popular Carnatic raga,  janya of 28th Melakarta Harikambhoji(5th Chakra). The word Sahana is another  name for Goddess Lakshmi/ Maa Durga. It also means ‘”Pure and Blissfully Happy”. In Kannada the meaning is – a person who have a great knowledge about all things present, past and future ……. Sahana is referred to as ”ranjakatva ubhaya vakra raga which means that the raga is very aesthetic and pleasing.Ubhaya Vakra means that the notes in both ascent and descent follow a zig zag pattern. The vakra phrases lends a unique beauty to this raga.  It is also classifed as a rakti raga – raga with high melodic content. Sahana is predominantly aKaruna Rasa Pradhaana Raga  the raga that reflects a mood of pathos.This raga is an exemplary illustration of Daasya  Bhakti Bhava-(there are nine ways of serving God..). Compassion due to overflowing love is also represented by this raga.  Raga Sahana helps maintain emotional coolness and balance and controls anger and brings down violence.

In Mind, Body and Soul Chakra – Chakra 5 is the spirit Chakra: This chakra is located between the solar plexus and the Heart and is the energy center that contacts, and gets guidance from heavenly bodies.

According to the Dikshitar school Sahana is a janya of 22nd Melakrta Kharaharapriya. Hence the Sahana of Dikshitar school uses Sadharana Gandhara. Nowadays Sahana is rendered only with Antara Gandharam, firmly making it a janya of 28th Melakarta Harikhambhoji.

Sahana has the following Arohana and Avarohanam.
Arohana: S R2 G3 M1 P M1 D2 N2 S
Avarohana: S  N2 D2 P M1 G3 M1 R2 G3 R2 S

[Shadjam,Chathusruthi Rishabham, Antara Gandharam, Suddha Madhyamam, Chathusruthi Dhaivatham, Kaisiki Nishadham]
Jiva Swara/Raga Chaaya Swaras : R,N
Nyasa Swara :R,N,D,P
Dheerga Swaram: D, M


The signature phrases of Sahana include  RGMPMGMR…DPMG..MR – PMDNS..P….R..- PMGMR…DPMGMR..- RR…NDP..- DPMGMRGRS..etc.

Sahana has a distinct mood due to these phrases and characteristic gamakams. The raga alapana starting with an elongated Rishabham in Madhya sthaayee is very effective and immediately establishes the raga swaroopa. The raga aalapana is built up on melodious prayogas of this raga. Sahana calls only for short aalapana. Unnecessary lengthening of raga aalapana results in repetition of phrases and loses its beauty. This raga relies heavily on the gamakas and cannot be sung with out gamakas. Special mention is needed regarding the oscillations in the Rishabha, the long pauses/kaarvais in the Gandhara. The melodious glides from the Shadjam to Panchamam and then to Rishabha, gives an unparalleled majestic touch to Sahana.In aarohanam Dhaivatham is sung with a elongated oscillations/karvai. In avarohanam N G and R takes the role of elongated prayogasKarunimpa Varnam depicts lot of signature phrases of this raga. Experts say that the Gandharam in this raga is specially named as Trisanku Gandharam, which is neither sadharana gandaram nor anthara gandaram. Rishabham & Nishadham are used with oscillations/gamakams while rendering. If you closely watch experts singing Sahana, you can understand that they pause on each note giving gamakas and the raga rendtion rather moves in a slow pace. If the raga alapana is done using lots of brisk sancharas, the raga loses its charm and fails to impress.

Sahana is an all time favourite of most of the musicians. They sing atleast one song in this raga either a krithi or a Ragamalika or a viruttam taking the listener to a state of pure bliss!!  The raga has unique, slow and meandering movements, a variety of gamakas including the use of janta swaras, and the thri-stayi advantage. These features highlights its melody taking the singer and the listener to extreme bliss.

Difference between Sahana and Dwijavanthi

Sahana a derivative of Harikamboji uses antara gandharam whereas dwijavanthi uses both the gandharam . In Dwijavanthi, in a phrase we use both the gandharams like P M G M R G R S .. then the first G should be antara gandharam and the second one should be sadharana gandharam. Note that Sahana should use only the Antara Gandharam in both the places.

Immortal Compositions

The krithies by Saint Tyagaraja are excellent musical tabloids that will never age and on the  contrary, they mature with age. Tyagaraja had got a vision of Rama who promised him salvation in 10 days. This Tyagaraja reminds Rama (kaluvarinchagani padipUTalapai, gaachEdanani). ‘You promised me salvation in 10 days.’ The same sentiment is echoed in his other last song paritApamu (manOhari) In the kriti ‘ paritaapamu ‘ , it is ” karuNinchedananuchu”. The saint has composed 10 krithis in this raga. Songs like Vandhanamu, Giripai,Ee Vasudha are evergreen favourites of musicians.

Muthuswami Dikshitar’s compositions like Sri Kamalambikayam, Abhayambayam are great numbers to listen. Dikshithar surrenders and sings “shrI kamalAmbikAyAM bhaktiM karomi”. I have not acome across a song in this raga by the great composer Syama sasthri. Papanasam Sivan has done Sri Vathapi Gananapathiye which is a notable number to start the concert with. Some musicians also start the concert with the famous Varnam “karunimpa”. Except ‘Giripai’ in Aadi tala of Thyagaraja and ‘Sri Kamalambikayam’ of Dikshitar, all other kritis are medium paced.

M.D.Ramanathan’s Sahana takes one to the heights of inner peace and tranquility. His slow paced singing matches well with the raga and its swaying oscillations. There are soulful renderings of this raga by the great GNB, Semmangudi and KVN. Among the new generation singers, Sanjay Subramaniam’s Sahana truly impresses and brings out the raga bhava in its entirety. I think he chooses this raga in most of his concerts.

Tyagaraja Krithi – A brief Commentary

The krithi Emanadichevo begins with the note Rishabham with  its characteristic intense gamaka. Similar is the case with the swaras M  and D  in Anupallavi.The liberty to apply gamakas to all the swaras in the raga evokes profound emotion of karuna rasa. The janta prayogas of the swaras nishada and gandhara and the extended note – Rishabham necessarily becomes the jiva swaras of the ragaThe Saint appeals with all earnestness for HIS Grace ” Can’t you listen to me ? Is it my destiny to be so treated? Without Your grace, one cannot aspire for fame, longevity, good health and wisdom”.

Similary, another song Vandanamu Raghunandana is known for its lyrical excellence.The choice of words and their masterly combination, not to mention the raga bhava, makes the krithi one of the finest in this raga. It is said that there are nine charanas for this song. There is a repetition of constant rythm, but there is no tedium. In repeated polite interrogations, the Saint asks the Lord why he is not responding.  In his krithi Urake Galguna the Saint gives an unbeatable message.”How can devotion spring from indulging in sensual life, wealth and pomp ?  It is service to man of sterling character that is ideal and it is in the following of these ideals, that one can guide the other. Hypocrytical worship can never help.(Courtesy: Raga Sudhalu)

Personally I feel that Sahana sounds very good on instruments like veena ,flute and violin .

Major Krithis

Everemi bodhana [Varnam]- Ata -Patnam Subramonia Iyer
Karunaimpa [Varnam] Adi- Tiruvottiyur Tyagayya
Balumo samayannu [Varnam] -K.Chapu- Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Vanajakshi [Varnam] Ata- Subbarama Dikshithar
Giripaai nela -Adi -Thyagaraja
Rama ik nannu- Rupaka -Patnam Subramonia Iyer
Vandanamu -Adi- Thyagaraja
Manamu kavalannu- Rupaka- Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Srikamalambikaya -Triputa- Muthuswamy Dikshitar
Ishanedi- Triputa- Muthuswamy- Dikshitar
Abhayam bhayam- Triputa -Muthuswamy Dikshitar
Vashivashi- Adi- Ramaswamy Dikshithar
Ramanee indakopam- Adi -Arunachalakavi
Enniya dinam -K.Chapu -Ambujam Krishna
Inke varunaru- Adi -Annaswamy Sastri
Karunjudarada- Adi- G.N.Balasubramoniam
Koncham kelamma- Rupaka- Muthuswamy Kavi
Chithamirangudenayya -Triputa -Papanasam Sivan
Piraviyedanal payanam- Adi- Papanasam Sivan
Keliyugamuna -M.Chapu- Ponnayya Pillai
Yedum ariyene- Jhampa- Koteeswara Iyer
Jagathalu sukham -Adi -Lakshmanan Pillai
Kandenkali- Adi -Nilakanta Sivan
Innamum avar manam -Adi- Nilakanta Sivan
Gati Niye nayen -Adi -Papanasam Sivan
Idaiyaratum -Adi- Papanasam Sivan
Govindadhyanana -M.Chapu- Purandaradasa
Jayajaya raghu rama -Chapu -Swati Tirunal
Devi thava padha bhakthum- Adi -Thyagaraja
Yemendichevo -Rupaka- Thyagaraja
Nijamukha ni mahimaru -Adi- Thyagaraja
Dehi thava padabakthu- Adi- Thyagaraja
Ivasudha neevanti- Adi -Thyagaraja
Raghupathirama -Rupaka- Thyagaraja
Rama rama ramulu- M.Chapu- Thyagaraja
Srirama srirama- Adi- Thyagaraja
Urake kalguna- M.Chapu -Thyagaraja
Sevin tamuraramma- Adi -Vina kuppayyar
Nannubrova jagadara -Rupaka- Vina kuppayyar
Sivanthamuraramma -Adi- Vina kuppayyar
Anthakasura subane -Rupaka -Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Arya Devi- Adi -Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Innamum avar manam -Adi– Periyaswamy Thooran
Saravanabhava Adi Tanjore Sankara Iyer
Sri evvare -M.Chapu -Tirupati Narayanaswami
Taramu Gadura- Adi- Vasudevachar
Budhiyedu Magala -Adi- Vedanayakom Pillai
Inda velayil Adi -Vedanayakom- Pillai
Karuna ni seyyanAdi -Vedanayakom- Pillai
Udaviseyya -Rupaka- Vedanayakom Pillai
Meragudu Rammanave [Padam] M.Chapu -Kshetragna

Favourite Filmy Raga

This raga is quite popular with the film world. Music Directors like MS Viswanathan and KV Mahadevan has come out with beautiful numbers in this raga. There is so much beauty and emotion in the song Indha Veenaikku Theriyathu-from the movie Rayil Sneham. The song Paarthen Sirithen from Veera Abhimanyu(K.V.Mahadevan-Susheela, P.B.Srinivas-is a pleasant hit. This is music which gives pure pleasure. New generation music director AR Rahman has come out  with the song Anbe Sugama from the movie Parthale Paravasam is a listening pleasure..

A few songs are listed here

pArthEn siriththEn – PBS and SJ – KV Mahadevan
AdinAthan kEtkindrAn – TMS and SJ – MSV
eNNamellAm Or idaththayE nAduthE- TMS –
Poonthena-Eera Nilam-Sirpi-Chinmayee
Rukku Rukku-Avvai Shanmugi-Deva-Kamal,Sujatha
Thiruvaranmula Krishna-Thulasi Theertham-Chitra-Malayalam Devotional …

Featured Composition with Meaning

Ragam: Sahana (28th mela janyam)
Talam: Thrisra Triputa
Composer: Muthuswami Dikshitar

The krithi, composed exclusively in the seventh case(“sapthami vibhakthi/locative case”) is yet another masterpiece from the grandmaster of all composers. Dikshithar seems to emphasize his devotion to the Goddess in this krithi with the central idea being “ahaM kamalAmbikAyAm bhakthim karomi”(I offer my devotion to Goddess kamalAmbA”). The seventh Avarana is called sarva roga hara chakra, the remover of all diseases. It is an eight-cornered figure. The deity presiding over this chakra is Tripurasiddha and the yoginis are collectively called rahasya yogini. Ignorance of one’s true self is the greatest disease that can afflict man. This, the 7th chakra, destroys the greatest disease, i.e., ignorance, hence sarva roga hara chakra.


Shree Kamalaambikaayaam Bhaktim Karomi
Shritakalpa Vaatikaayaam
Chandikaayaam Jagadambikaayaam


Raakaachandra Vadanaayaam Raajiva-nayanaayaam
Paakaarinuta Charanaayaam Aakaashaadi Kiranaayaam Hrimkaara Vipina-harinyaam Hrimkaara-Susharirinyaam
Hrimkaara Taru Manjaryaam Hrimkaareshvaryaam Gauryaam


Sharira-traya Vilakshana Sukhatara Svaatmaanu Bhoginyaam
Virinci Harishaana Harihaya Vedita Rahasyayoginyaam
Paraadi Vaagdevataa-rupa-vashinyaadi Vibhaaginyaam
Charaatmaka Sarva-roga-hara Niraamaya Raaja-yoginyaam
Karadhruta Vinaa Vaadinyaam Kamalaanagara Vinodinyaam

Meaning (From Todd Mc Comb’s web page – Original: T.K. Govinda Rao’s book):

I offer (“karomi”) my devotion (“bhaktim”) to my mother (“ambika”), Shri Kamalambika.

She who resides in the garden (“vaatikayaam”) palace of the wish-fulfilling (“srita-kalpa”) gem Kalpavatika, and to Chandika, the mother (“ambika”) of the universe  (“jagad”).

She who has a lovely moon-like (“raaka-chandra”) face (“vadanaayaam”).

Her eyes (“nayanaayaam”) are like the lotus bud (“rajeeva”).

Her feet (“charanaayaam”) are praised (“nuta”) by Indra (“paakaa-aari”).

Her rays (“kiranaayaam”) are the five elements such as sky (“akaasha”) etc (“aadi”).

She is the gazelle-eyed (“harinyaam”) in the forest (“vipina”) of Hrim (“hreem-kaara”).

She who is the embodiment (“su-shareerinyaam” or “Taru manjaryaam”) of Hrim.

She is the presiding deity (“eeshvaryaam”)  for the Mantra (“kaara”) Hrim.

She is Gauri.

She rejoices (“bhoginyaam”) in Her own (“swa”) self (“aatmaanu”) of supreme bliss (“sukhatara”), the self which transcends (“vi-lakshana”) the three (“traya”) states of existence (“shareera”): the casual, the subtle, and the gross.

She who is the mystic (“rahasya”) Yogini (“yoginyaam”), known only (“vedita”) to Brahma (“virinchi”), Vishnu (“hari”), Rudra (“haya”), and Hayagriva (“harishaana”).

She is differentiated (“vibhaaginyaam”) as the Shakti Vasini, etc (“para-aadi”). and as the four states of development, the deity (“devata-rupa”) of speech (“vaag”).

She is the healing Raja Yogini, who removes (“hara”) all (“sarva”) illness (“roga”), which is essentially transient (“niraamaya”).

She who plays (“vaadhinyaam”) the Vina, which She holds (“druta”) in Her hands (“kara”).

She who delights (“vinodinyaam”) in Kamalanagara.

She charms (“modhinyaam”) the Gods (“sura”), men (“nara”) and sages (“munijana”).

She grants Guruguha the boon (“prasaadhinyaam”) of Her grace (“vara”).

I conclude this review with the words that Sahana is one of the most enchanting and soft raga and suggests implicit surrender or saranaagathi.The listener will be hooked to this lilting and soothing raga when he/she starts listening to it. Sahana induces a soft mood but kindles deep rooted subtle emotions inciting the feelings of pathos and Dasya Bhakthi Bhava..More than anything Sahana is pure bliss elevating us to a spiritual plane..

Please your heart and mind with the soothing touch of Sahana…………:)

Carnatic Vocal – 6 Volumes

Carnatic Instrumental – 3 Volumes

RTP in Sahana – 2 Volumes

Sahana– Film Songs in  Malayalam & Tamil

Click Here to Download

#8-Ubhaya Vakra Raga Sahana- Analysis of Giripai Nelakonna Ramuni

Controls Anger and brings down violence

23 thoughts on “#18-Sahana – The Raga that kindles Subtle Emotions portraying Unconditional Surrender

  1. Madam Anuradha garu,
    I am very happy to see such a voluminous work on Carnatic Music with so much material more than a Doctorate Phd. done so called Musicians. Your work on Medical connection is very lauduable. May Lord Murugan/ Ganesh bestow on you Health Knowledge and wealth. I am Uma Devi from Hyderabad daughter Late Vainika Siromani Pappu Someswara Rao, (Vainik from Vizianagaram Sampradyam). He got many music veen recitals to his credit. many RTPs played in AIR India / Delhi. In future I will maintain communications with you. my spouse is a great KP Astrologer of Krishnamurthy Padhathi at Hyderabad he is also engaged in Medical Astrology work from the last 5 years and contributed many article for nearly about 64 diseases. Now your Music connection to Therapy is a wonderful topic to write articles connected with Navagraphas and Natal chart relatinship. my email : ovnmurthy@gmail.com
    With best wishes, Uma

    • Hello Uma

      Thank you very much for the compliments and postive remarks. I am happy that people find this blog useful and atleast make an attempt to appreciate Carnatic Music. Happy to know that you are daughter of Late Vainika Siromani Pappu Someswara Rao. Please visit often and pen your suggestions/comments

  2. The Veena concerts played in AIR Hyd and other Sabhas were recorded and kept in cd fomat. Many RTPs were to his credit in this instrument we can share with you these things once the communication is established.

      • Hello Sri.Venkateswaran

        May I very humbly ask you the purpose of contacting Sangeethapriya. Sangeethapriya a treasure chest of concerts of various vidwans of yester years and also the upcoming talents. My collection is too small and Sangeethapriya may be already having these old concerts that I have. I have tried with all the free servers and fed up of getting error messages/copyright messages etc. I used to upload files with Mediafire, Dropbox, 4Shared etc and has repeatedly uploaded the same files several times due to various error messages. It was an exercise of sheer waste of precious time and money too(my broadband charges and electricity bills !! ).

        Now I am uploading all the files in a paid server(where I pay annually). Now I don’t get any error messages or complaints that visitors could not download. Perfectly at peace. I learned a good lesson that nothing works for free permanently. I believe that you won’t be getting any error messages while downloading.


  3. Madam

    Thanks a lot for your valuable contribution to music.

    Here also most of the files are not downloadable and the message is permission denied. Please forward me the link to my email id if possible.

    Subramanian B

  4. Madam

    While I was able to download arabi collections thro drop box with a little difficulty, still I am not able to download sahana collections. Please provide the link if possible. Sorry to bother you


    Subramanian b

  5. Madam

    Now thanks for your efforts thro new web. However in this after 52nd songs we get only 61st song and same songs are in zip 7 and 8 it seems. Could you please look into it and let me have your views.


    B Subramanian

    • Dear Subramanian,

      my email is ovnmurthy@gmail.com if you feel any of the music items are not downloadable then inform me so that I can give send you the same from data base where I have downloaded all the renderings of Smt. Anuradhamahesh.
      with reards
      ovn murthy

    • Hello Subramaniam

      My database backup on the server shows that Vol-7 starts with song number 53-Unnarulai – by Aruna Sairam and ends with song 60-Vandanamu Raghunandana by- Nithyasree. Vol 8 begins with Song 61-Vandanamu Raghunandana by Nedunery Krishnamoorthy and ends with song no 66-Velavane by MDR.

      May be you have downloaded the same vol and saved it as Vol 7 and Vol 8.

  6. Sometime in 2012 or 2013, while I was browsing this wiki, someone has posted a virutham in sahana raga of vallar song petrathai thanai magan maranthalum sung by Sanjay Subramanian.
    Oh waht a rendtion, what a aalabhana, what a soul serching virutham by Sanjay. I failed to copy then. But it is deleted by someone now. I beg to one and all to please provide that virutham in SAHARA raga ONLY by SANJAY SUBRAMANIAN ONLY. Please please help.. OR give mem reference where I would get. I want to hear that as mnay times before i die.

  7. B.Rajam Iyer sir has rendered Sri kamalambikayam with predominantly G2.. only in RGMP phrase, it’s G3. All RGR phrases uses G2.

  8. Usually Deekshadar kritis contain name of the Raga and “Guru guha” but this one does not have ” Sahana” in i. Is it called by another name?

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