Raga Arabhi dates back to the 7th century. Among the panns or ragas of ancient Tamil music, it corresponds to the pann, Pazhanthakka. Arabhi is an audava-sampoorna janya of Dheera Shankarabharanam,(the 29th Melakartha Ragam – the fifth Chakra in Music) and the third among the Ghana Pancharatna Ragas. A very auspicious raga, Arabhi predominantly conveys Veera rasa (valour) and at times, Roudra rasa (fury).When you listen to Arabhi, the atmosphere is charged with religious fervour – “Mangalakaramaana Isai” or “Auspicious Music”. Hence Arabhi also conveys the emotion of Devotion or Bhakthi. It is an energetic all-time raga just like its parent Raga Sankarabharanam. Tanam on Veena is particularly enjoyable in this raga.
In Mind, body and soul Chakra – Chakra 5 is the spirit Chakra : This chakra gets guidance from from the spiritual self and heavenly bodies. It is said that raga Arabhi is associated with the Shishir Rithu – the lovely cool winter season. Raga Arabhi has been in vogue for about 600-700 years and has retained its pristine purity.
The earliest tangible references about this raga is found in the Chaturdandi Prakasika:
Arabhihsarvadaa geya aarohe ga ni varjitaha
koachid aaroha samyukta nishaado nigraho bhavet
Reference found in the chronologically subsequent Sangraha Choodamani is thus:
Arabhi janitaa Dheerasankaraabharanaat tathaa
sanyaasam saamshakam chaiva sa shadja graham uchyate
aarohe ga ni varjya cha avaraohe samagrakam
From the above reference, following araohanam and avarohanam are accepted for Arabhi
Arohana : S R2 M1 P D2 S
Avarohana : S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S
(Shadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Panchamam, Chatusruti Dhaivata and Kakali Nishada )
Jeeva Swaras: R, M, D
Nyasa Swaras: R, P
Kampita Swaras: R, G
R – Abheri
M – Mohanakalyani
P – Kedaragaula
Special Considerations: Ghana Raga, Sung at the beginning of performances, best for elaborating Tanam rendition. Arabhi is usually sung/played in auspicious occasions like marriages, engagements or house warming.
Prayogas/Sancharas : A few signature phrases of the Raga include
RMPDSNDP – SSDP PMGR -MPD PMGR-SRMGRS -DSRSR – RMDR-SNDPM_GR-RRMMPPDDPPMGRSR-DGRSNS-DRSRSNDP-SSDDPPMGR – D,R-D,S-P,D-M,P-MGR..SRMP,,MGR,,
Arabhi is an upanga raga in which Ga and Ni are deleted in arohana. However Avarohanam does have G and N but are very weak. The swara G does not have its own existence or has a very weak Gandharam – Arabhi has an ‘alpa’ Gandhara. Its always supported by Madhyama. The same is case with Nishadam. It always live with the support of Shadjam. The geetham Rere Sreerama in Arabhi does not have the note Nishadam at all. At times Nishadam is completely omitted in some krithies. Tyagaraja himself has demonstrated this in his krithi Saadhinchane in the phrase SSDP..
Do’s and Don’ts : Its is a known fact that Arabhi is the janya of Sankarabharanam where Gandharam is the Jeeva Swaram. But in the janya raga Arabhi you should never show the existence of such a note though there is Gandharam. No janta prayoga of Gandharam. You should never show importance to Gandharam nor you should pause at Gandharam.
Madhyamakala sancharas, jantaswara prayogas, and dattu varisas adds charm and beauty to this raga. Swara sancharas can be brought out in all three octaves/sthayis.
Differences between Arabhi/Sama/Devagandhari-The Raga Cousins
Arohanam of Arabhi and Sama and Devagandhari – S R2 M1 P D2 S
Avarohanam : Arabhi- S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S
: Sama – S D2 P M1 G3 R2 S
: Devagandhari – S N3 D2 N2 D P M1 G3 R2 S R2 G3 SR2 S
A long elongation of Gandharam will change the colour of raga totally taking you to the world of Sama. Sri.S.Ramanathan, in one of his lec dem, demonstrates how Aarabi and Sama share the same notes and yet differ in the nyasa swara used. ‘Nyasa Swara’ is the landing note. An example of how different nyasa swaras characterize different ragas can be seen in the case of Sama and Arabhi. While both ragas have almost the same notes, if one halts at the gandhara, then it evokes Sama rather than Arabhi. Care must be taken to stick to the raga swaroopa while singing the aalapana in Sama as raga Arabhi is very close to this raga and there is a possibility of slipping into Arabhi. The speciality of Saamaa is the very soft rendering of ‘Ma’. This Raga gives us mental peace.It is not without reason that Saint Thaygaraja sang ‘Saanthamu Lekha Sowkhyamu Ledhu’(there is no happiness without Mental Peace) in Saama.
Arabhi and Devagandhari ragas are derived from the same Melakarta raga-Sankarabharanam with identical swaras but are aesthetically very different. Dr. V V Srivatsa stresses on the point that it would be more appropriate to call these two ragas as parsva ragas, since they are different in structure, scale, and aesthetic appeal The Rishabha handled in Devagandhari is more gamaka laiden when compared to Arabhi. Kaishika Nishadam appears in some prayogams in Devagandhari. Perhaps a few liberties were taken with Arabhi and Devagandhari resulted.
According to Dr.V.V.Srivastava Arabhi and Devagandhari are termed as parsva ragas. In a lec-dem he quoted an Upanishadic passage:
Dwaa suparnaah sayujaah sakhaayah samaanam
vruksham parishasva jaate, tayor ebhyah pippalah swaadayaswa..
Meaning, two birds, with beautiful wings, born at the same time were inseparable companions and they perched themselves on the same branch of a tree. However, only one bird tasted the Pippala fruit, while the other sat merely watching.
Such is the case of the pair of ragas, Arabhi and Devagandhari. They are derived from the same melakarta. Their superficial swara structure appears to be identical. Devagandhari is tainted with the absorption of an anya (extraneous) swara, like the Pippala fruit. Arabhi remains an Upanga raga and Devagandhari, a Bhashanga raga. The aesthetic values of these two ragas have distinct and salient differences.
The chief distinguishing features between Arabhi and Devagandhari are
- Arabhi is typically sung at a brisk or medium pace. Devagandhari is more suited for slow or vilamaba-kala kritis (Ksheera Sagara Sayana of Tyagaraja).
- Rishabha is an important swara in both ragas, yet with a difference. It shines in Arabhi when used in janta prayoga, and appears embellished in raga Devagandhari in the descending order in sancharas like “pa-ma-ga-ree”.
- The Gandhara note in Arabhi is an ‘alpa’ Gandhara, the same note is elongated in Devagandhari.
- Arabhi conveys Veera rasa (valour) and at times, Roudra rasa (fury) while Devagandhari gives the impressions of Santa (peace), Karuna (kindness) or Adbhuta (surprise or awe) rasa-s.
- The vakra sanchara “sa-ri-ga-Sa-ri-sa”(Devagandhari), is another safety factor, distinguishing Devagandhari from Arabhi. This particular phrase illustrates how much Arabhi is close or away from Devagandhari
- The sanchara of Arabhi ranges from Mandra Dhaivata to Tara Panchama swara. Devagandhari, normally, is not brought into the Mandra sthayi. It is preferable to limit Devagandhari to Tara sthayi Madhyama. But there is an exception in the line “Tharaka Nama” in the Krithi Ksheera Sagara by Tyagaraja.
- Arabhi is a raga which is oriented more towards swara and laya, whilst Devagandhari is highly bhava-oriented.
‘Re re Sri Rama Chandra’ is a popular geetham in this raga. Indisputedly it is the third pancharathna “Sadhinchane” that will remain the major composition in this raga. It is an exemplary exercise in grammer and construction in its purest form. The composition “Sadinchane” points out that none else but I am responsible both for my happiness and sorrow. We should learn to acquire the six righteous qualities of sama, dhana, titeeksha, uparati, sraddha and samadana – the ability to look away from the temptation; to do no evil; practice self-control; bear suffering without complaint and so on.
Tyagaraja has composed around 14 krithies in this Raga Arabhi. The krithi O Rajeevaksha of Tyagaraja is overflowing with spiritual ecstasy and emotional intensity mixed with moments of joy and bliss. The Saint conveys the message “Am I a stranger to you, O Lord with eyes as big as lotus? I am innocent but accused unjustly; I am lonely with none to protect me. Caught in the deceptive ways of this life, I might have lost the balance and might have erred. Believe me 0 Lord, I trust you completely; do not forget me”. says Tyagaraja. The krithi Nadhasudharasambilanu is ideally set for madhyamakala sanchara. The swara-s dhaivata and rishaba are dominant and provide the opportunity for the usage of janta and dhatu swara-s.
The Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini of Subbarama Diksitar lists the following pieces in Arabhi – a lakshya gitam in dhruva/roopaka tala, a sanchari in matya tala by Subbarama Diksitar and two krtis of Muttuswami Diksitar (Sri saraswati namostute and Marakoti lavanya).If we look to the raga-mudras found in Dikshitar’s compositions, we find that he has used the Raga mudra in two compositions “samsaara bheetyaapahe” in Sri Saraswati Namosthuthey” where he prays to Goddesss Saraswathi, consort of Lord Brahma,Goddess of learning, arts and music. Another raga mudra phrase is samsaarabheeti bhanjanaayai“ in Akhilandeswari.
Dr.V.V.Srivastava in a Lec-Dem states that “The Siva enshrined in the Tiruvottiyur temple, Adipureeswara is praised by Dikshitar in the kriti Adipureeswaram. Devi Tripurasundari of the same temple is extolled by Tyagaraja in the kriti Sundari ninnu karunimpa. Both these compositions are in Arabhi. No other temple can boast of Siva and Amba having been praised by Trinitarians through compositions in the same raga.”
Another grand krithi is “Sakalaloka nayike”- Navavarana Krithi set to Raga Arabhi by Sri UtthukkAdu Venkatasubbaiyar. Syama Sasthri’s Palayasumam paradevate set to Triputa talam is yet another grand composition. Swathi Thirunal’s Narasimha mamava /Khanda Chapu, Sriramana vibho/Adi and Pahi parvatanandini/Adi are favourite concert items. Arabhi definitely has every kind of musical form in it – Gitams, Varnams, Kritis, Tevarams,Divyanama keertanas,Thiruppavais and Ragamalikas.
There are innumerable krithis in Raga . Listing only a few here…
Re re sriramachandra -Triputa -Geetham
Sarasijamukhiro -Varnam-Adi-Pallavi Doraiswamy Iyer
Amba Gauri -Adi-Iriyaman Thampi
Anname- Adi -Tiger Varadachariar
Srisaraswati -Roopaka -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Adipureeswaram -Adi- Muthuswami Dikshitar
Gowrisaya namaste -Triputa -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Sivakameswarim -Adi -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Marakoti-Jhampa -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Ganarajena -Chapu -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Akhilanadeswaryai -Adi -Muthuswami Dikshitar
Swetaranyeswaram -Adi – Muthuswami Dikshitar
Sadhinchane -Adi -Tyagaraja
Sundari ninnu-Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
Chootamu ra re -Roopaka-Tyagaraja
O Rajeevaksha-Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
Adugu varamula -Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
Ipudaina nannu -Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
Patiki mangala harayite-Adi -Tyagaraja
Ninne nera namminanu -Misra Chapu -Tyagaraja
O Rama o rama -Adi -Tyagaraja
Sundara dasarathanandana-Adi -Tyagaraja
Palukavemina -Tisra Laghu -Tyagaraja
Jayatujayatu (Choornika) -Tyagaraja
Palayasumam paradevate -Triputa-Syama Sastri
Narasimha mamava -Khanda Chapu- Swati Tirunal
Sriramana vibho-Adi -Swati Tirunal
Pahi parvatanandini -Adi -Swati Tirunal
Vichintayanneva -Adi -Swati Tirunal
Madhu kaitabha- Roopaka-Muthaiah Bhagavatar
pasupatim ughram -Khanda Chapu- Muthaiah Bhagavatar
Ayyappanai panivom – Adi-Papanasam Sivan
Durgalakshmi Saraswati- Adi -Papanasam Sivan
Marakatamanimaya -Adi-Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Sakalalokanayike -Adi – Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Pranavakaram -Adi -Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi
Orarumukhane -Adi -Neelakanta Sivan
Kelada ravanane -Adi -Arunachala Kavi
Parilum arulvaye -Adi -Periyasami Tooran
Velava va adiyen -Roopaka-Koteeswara Iyer
Mrokkedani -Triputa -Mysore Sadasiva Rao
Maravanu ne ninne -Roopaka -G N Balasubramanyam
Gangadhara rama ni -Adi -Tulasivanam
Data hariye -Roopaka -Purandaradasa
Haridasara sanga -Roopaka -Purandaradasa
Papigalola gallu -Adi -Purandaradasa
Favourite Filmy Raga
‘Sandha kavigaL’ from ‘Metti’ is a beautiful Arabhi. In ‘AasaikkiLiye’ (Thambikku endha ooru)sung by Malaysia vasudavan, Illayaraja has used this raga in a funny situation without in any way spoiling the purity of raga. Hasya rasa is depicted beautifully in this song. It is a fantastic song, giving all the raga-lakshanam of Aarabi in a very pure form. Erikaraiyin Mele sung by TMS is Arabhi in its purest form.
A few film songs listed here…
02-MannavaneMannavane~Thanthuvitten Ennai-Illayaraja-Tamil-(Aesthetic Simplicity with Flashes of Brilliance)
04-Puthupatty Ponnuthayee Mathurai Vazhum Meenatchi-Tamil
05-Asai Kiliye-Thambikku Entha Ooru-Ilayaraja-Tamil
A few malayalam songs too..
01-kannum pootti uranguka
04-pudamuri kalyanam- chilambu
Featured Composition with Meaning
Ragam: Arabhi (29th Mela (shankarabharanam janya ragam)
ARO: S R2 M1 P D2 S ||
AVA: S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S ||
Composer: Muthuswami Dikshitar
Lyrics Courtesy: Lakshman Ragde
shrI sarasvati namOstutE varadE paradEvatE shrIpati gaurIpati guruguha vinutE vidhiyuvatE
vAsanA traya vivarjita varamuni bhAvita mUrttE vAsavAdyakhila
nirjara vara vitaraNa bahukIrttE dharahAsayuta mukhAmburuhE adbhuta
caraNAmburuhE samsAra bhItyApahE sakala mantrAkSara guhE
O Sri Saraswati, Supreme Goddess, I pray to you. You are adored by Lord Vishnu (“Sripati”), Lord Siva (“Gowripati”) and Lord Shanmukha (“guruguha”) and are the consort (“yuvatE”) of Lord Brahma (“vidhi-”).
You are the remover of three longing desires – to acquire land, wealth and women. You are the form worshipped by demigods and sages . You are the non-stop bestower of boons to all the gods and people including Lord Vishnu. You are of great fame and repute.
Your lotus-like face always wears a beautiful smile . Your feet are made from the beautiful lotus flower.
You remove fear of the cycle of birth and death (“samsAra”) and hold the secret (“guhE”) of all syllables (“-AkSara”) in hymns (“mantra-”).
I conclude this review with the words that Arabhi is very pleasing and haunting in nature. Once you start listening to this raga, we get hooked to its enchanting melody. It has a distinctive melody of its own, bringing in the mood of great emotional appeal.
Gather the sparkling Arabhi pearls from the ocean of Carnatic Music !! :)
There is 900Mb of Songs in the following Categories.
- Carnatic Vocal – 9 Volumes
- Carnatic Instrumental – 2 Volumes-
- RTP – 2 Volumes
- Raga Arabhi- Film Songs in Tamil & Malayalam