#19-Arabhi – The Raga with a Pleasing and Haunting Melody

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:

अरभिःसर्वदा गेय आरोहे ग नि वर्जितह
कॉचिद् आरोह संयुक्त निषादो निग्रहो भवेत्

Arabhihsarvadaa geya aarohe ga ni varjitaha
koachid aaroha samyukta nishaado nigraho bhavet

Reference found in the chronologically subsequent Sangraha Choodamani is thus:

आरभि जनिता धीरसन्कराभरनात तथा
सन्यासम् सांषकं चैव स षड्ज ग्रहम् उच्यते
आरोहे ग नि वर्ज्य च अवरओहे समग्रकम्
स-रि-म -प -ध -स, स -नि -ध -प -म -ग -रि -स -नि -स

Arabhi janitaa Dheerasankaraabharanaat tathaa
sanyaasam saamshakam chaiva sa shadja graham uchyate
aarohe ga ni varjya cha avaraohe samagrakam
sa-ri-ma-pa-dha-Sa, Sa-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri-sa-ni-sa

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


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 DevagandhariS 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.

Immortal Compositions

‘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.

Major Krithis

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
Ambaninnu-Adi -Tyagaraja
Sundari ninnu-Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
Tsalakalla-Adi -Tyagaraja
Chootamu ra re -Roopaka-Tyagaraja
Nadasudharasambilanu-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
Vighneswara-Roopaka -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…

01-Erikaraiyin Mele-Tamil
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
02-ksheera sAgaran-Devotional-
03-PonnambalaNada-Sree Guruvayoorappan
04-pudamuri kalyanam- chilambu

Featured Composition with Meaning

shrI sarasvati
Ragam: Arabhi (29th Mela (shankarabharanam janya ragam)
ARO: S R2 M1 P D2 S ||
AVA: S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S ||
Talam: rUpaka
Composer: Muthuswami Dikshitar
Lyrics Courtesy: Lakshman Ragde

shrI sarasvati namOstutE varadE paradEvatE shrIpati gaurIpati guruguha vinutE vidhiyuvatE

Samashti Charanam:

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-”).

Samashti Charanam

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

Click Here to Download

38 thoughts on “#19-Arabhi – The Raga with a Pleasing and Haunting Melody

  1. Madam

    Thanks for your special efforts for the knowledge of music loving people. It seems arabi film songs not downloadable as it says permission denied. I shall be more thankful if you will please look into it.
    or else please send me the link to “aslesha1956@yahoo.co.in”.

    Sorry to bother you.

    once again our sincere thanks to you

    Subramanian B

  2. Hello maa,
    may be Subramaniam was not logged into mediafire, that is the reason why he get denied. I can able to download the files after logging into mediafire. Thanks for sharing this great knowledge to us.

  3. Madam

    One of our friends suggested to download files after logging into mediafire. But for quite a long time I am downloading lot of files directly only. Hence please advise whether it is a must to login in to mediafire for downloading.

    Subramanian B

    • Hello Sri.Subramaniam

      I dont think its absolutely essential to login to download from mediafire. Because i have directly downloaded files from mediafire. But sometimes MF gives such headaches and this has become the order of the day now a days. I would suggest to delete the cookies and restart the system and try downloading it again.

      • Hello visitors

        I have given the link for Film Songs in a totally different server (Dropbox). Please update if this is working fine. I cannot check this because I am able to access whatever I upload. If this is working fine, I have to transfer all the Arabhi files to this server. I have been reuploading this again and again and now it is the third time.. I am getting frustrated as i think whatever I do is not reaching the end user…All my efforts to share good music is going in vain..?

        Anuradha Mahesh

  4. Hello Anuradha,
    Pls note that the download links of Arabhi-RTP Vol.2 and Arabhi-Vocal Vol.2 are same and pointing to Arabhi-RTP Vol.2 only and there is no link to Arabhi-Vocal Vol.2. Pls. check it.



      • Anuradhaji,

        Thanks for your reply. But now, while trying to download,the site returns an error message: “The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”



  5. Awesome!!! Your website is one of the oases left for us. I repeat the 1st one’s words. No words to thank you.
    Arabhi floods the heart with freshness,love & many unnamed feelings.

  6. Hi , Iam looking to download a song – vendinendrane velava , Arabhi ragam,Adi thalam and the composer is Papanasam Sivam.

    Iam unable to trace that song in the net. Can someone please help !

  7. Great article. I appreciate how generous you are with your time and knowledge, sharing your knowlege with the world.

    Would you have the notation of the Varnam Anname- -Tiger Varadachariar? if yes could you please send me or post.


  8. I have sent the notation to you both.
    Anuradha: In response to saiba’s post of September 12th, I could not find any song with the starting words vendi ninrene by Papanasham Shivan. There is n o such song in my Index list. Is it a film song?

  9. Vazhga valamudan. Am mala. my friend is having fibroids so which raga for this ailment please tell me madam. Thank you

    vazhga valamudan

  10. Hello ma’am,
    Thank you for the excellent work you have been doing on carnatic songs.
    I try to play Telugu ,Tamil songs on my guitar and first practice the aarohana avarohana of a raga many times over before I play the song (if I know what raga it is in). Most ilayaraja songs are raga based.
    Could you please let me know what is the raga for “maate mantramu Telugu song ..it is the same song as ” kaadhal oviyam – alaigal oivathillai movie” by ilayaraja Sir.
    Thank you,

    • Hello Abhishek

      My focus is mainly carnatic and I very rarely hear film songs. So do not know about the above mentioned songs. Secondly, though Raja Sir’s songs are raga based, most of them are a mix of ragas. You can contact Mr. Raj @ rajamanjari.blogspot as he is an expert in Raja Sir’s music.

  11. I would like to share another Song In Aarabhi Raga. My all time Favorite too. “Navakabhishekam” from the Malayalam Movie “Guruvayur Kesavan [1977]” . Request you all to listen and enjoy.

  12. Dear maam, Thanks for your wordless efforts……… becaus ei submit my all assignment with the help of your blog. maam, i have a request you to add ragalakshana of sama. once again thank you so much……………..

  13. Dear Madam, When I click the link saying click here to download, it mentions server error 404. i.e Requested URL is not found on the server.

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