Sama – Raga Ruminations

It’s not often that I think about what a raga makes me feel. Yet to explain to someone else the feeling of tranquillity that arises within me when I listen to raga Sama is not easy. When I’m stressed I find myself humming a few notes of the raga in my head. Raga Sama is meditative, devoid of fireworks and helps me calm down.  The raga is usually presented at a gentle pace without much fanfare and shorn of embellishments such as gamaka. The beauty of the raga is embellished by the use of long pauses and appropriate turn of phrases by experienced performers and allows the listener to easily experience the essence of this melody.

Carnatic songs in this raga include Annapurna Vishalakshi (Dikshithar), Santamu lekha (Tyagaraja), Manasa Sancharare (Sadashiva Brahmendra), Narayana Nalinayatha lochana (Papanasam Sivan).

For those of you, who like details –Raga Sama is a janya of the raga Shankarabharanam, the 29th mela (parent) raga. The scale for this raga is as follows SR2M1PD2 SD2PM1G3R2

I don’t think there is a Hindustani raga that corresponds to the raga Sama.

The best way to understand a raga is to listen to different musicians presenting it in their own inimitable style. For newbies, it serves as a basic exercise for identifying ragas.  After a while you can pinpoint the name of the raga when the first few notes waft through the air. 

Here’s Sanjay Subramaniam singing Saantamu Lekha, a composition of Tyagaraja.

Here is M.L.Vasanthakumari singing Annapoorne Visaalaakshi, a composition of Muthuswami Dikshithar.

Listen to Vani Jayaraman sing Manasa Sancharare in the movie Shankarabharanam.

There has been a lot of research on the therapeutic role of ragas but to me it’s simple. In the words of Carnatic great Tyagaraja from his song, Santamu lekha – “without peace of mind there is no comfort and joy.” Raga Sama makes me appreciate all the finer things in life.

Click here for a playlist that I’ve collated for the raga. Listen. Feel. Rejoice.

10 thoughts on “Sama – Raga Ruminations

  1. corresponding hindustani rag is RAG DURG


    1. Hindustani raag Durga corresponds to carnatic raga Shudha Saveri.


  2. P. Chandrasekar January 7, 2018 — 7:46 am

    Dear madam what is the parent raga for this.


    1. S.SHANMUGASUNDARAM July 14, 2018 — 9:39 pm

      The parent raga for “Sama” is 29 th melakartha Deerasankarabharanam. But 28 th Melakartha Harikambhoji can also be claimed. Since Nishadham is virgiam it makes no diiference. When I asked my music teacher why “Mohanam’ should not be claimed as the Janya of Deerasankarabharanam it is more relevant , I was told since 28 is coming first (ie) before 29,Mohanam should be classified as the janya of Harikambhoji(28).
      I think eventhough ‘Nishadham” is considered virgiam in “Sama”, “Kakali nishadham” may appear as anuswara while rendering some krithis .


    2. According to my guru, this was a janya of Shankarabhanam. Yet as [] has mentioned, it could also be technically a janya of Harikambodhi as the derivative notes are the same. There are several such examples of janya ragas that can “belong” to more than one parent.


  3. SANDEEP VANGIPURAM May 23, 2018 — 6:12 pm

    Very good write up and indeed Sama ragam makes the heart light. We dont need an hours music to get the impact. A good 5 min is enough for a peaceful day. Thanks again.



  4. Dear sir,
    If you say Mohanam is not a janya of sankarabharanam then Bilahar with Arohan of Mohanam and Avarohana of Sankarabharanam how is that is the janya of sankarabharanma.


  5. what is the time allotted to this raga?


    1. Carnatic ragas do not have a time constraint (as to the time of day) when it needs to be presented.


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