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. 

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.

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