Shankarabharanam – Raga Ruminations

The word Shankarabhanam refers to the ornaments of the god Shiva. The raga is very popular with composers and rich in gamaka. From Tyagaraja’s Swara Raga Sudha to Dikshithar’s Akshaya Linga and Dakshinamurthe, Shyama Shastri’s Saroja Dala Netri and many more, the compositions in Shankarabharanam are deeply moving and elaborate with sangatis, variations in musical phrases.

The first time I heard M.S.Subbulakshmi singing Saroja Dala Netri followed by a neraval of the phrase samagana vinodhini I was moved to tears. I hope you have the same experience when you listen to this recording.

In Hindustani music Shankarabharanam corresponds to the Bilawal thaat. Here is a rendition of the raag by Vilayat Khan on the sitar.

The quirky English Note was a composition of Muthiah Bhagavathar. An early 20th century composer, Muthiah Bhagavathar was challenged to compose a carnatic piece that would appeal to a western audience. English Note his composition popularized by vocalist Madurai Mani Iyer continues to be featured in the carnatic concert circuit. .

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

The song  Sa Re Ke Sa Re in the Hindi movie Parichay which was an adaption of the English movie The Sound of Music is based on this raga.

The national anthem of India Jana Gana Mana composed by Rabindranath Tagore (the original score in Bengali being Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata) is based on Shankarabharanam. Here is the anthem being presented by different musicians of India.

For those who want details, Raga Shankarabharanam is the 29th Mela raga and the scale is as follows. SR2G3M1PD2N3S – SN3D2PM1G3R2S

To listen to the Raga Shankarabhanam podcast click here

3 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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