Shankarabharanam – Raga Ruminations

Today is Sivaratri when thousands of people worship Lord Shiva. He is believed to have performed the cosmic dance (Tandava) on this day. The melody that comes to my mind is raga Shankarabharanam. The word Shankarabhanam refers to the ornaments of Lord Shiva. The raga is very popular with composers and performers. It is sung in a slow tempo where the notes are caressed and rich in gamaka. Whether it’s Tyagaraja’s  Swara Raga Sudha extolling the greatness of the melodic seven notes to Dikshithar’s Akshaya Linga and Dakshinamurthe describing the glory of Shiva to Shyama Shastri’s Saroja Dala Netri describing Shiva’s other half Devi, the compositions in Shankarabharanam are deeply moving and elaborate with sangatis(variations in presenting lyrics).

The first time I heard M.S.Subbalakshmi singing Saroja Dala Netri with the  neraval at the phrase “samagana vinodhini”, it was electrifying. I hope you have the same experience when you listen to this clip.

The Hindustani equivalent to Shankarabharanam is raag Bilawal. Here is a rendition of raag Bilawal by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

The Telugu movie Shankarabharanam which was a phenomenal success when it was released in 1979 described the life of a (fictional) Carnatic musician who was famous for his rendition of this raga.

For those who want details, Shankarabharanam is a parent raga (29th Mela) with the following scale.


2 thoughts on “Shankarabharanam – Raga Ruminations

  1. Dear madam,
    Now that you had mentione the movie sasnkarabharanam I have one request what is the raga aalap on the sand by sankar shastri teaching his daugter with manju Bhargavi dancing; sa ri ga ri ga pa da pa sarigapadapagari – hope I spelled it correct.


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