Shankarabharanam – Raga Ruminations

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 following it up with a neraval of the phrase samagana vinodhini it was electrifying. I hope you have the same experience when you listen to this clip.

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. It is believed that he was challenged by an Englishman to compose a piece of music in the carnatic idiom that would appeal to westerners. English Note was popularized by vocalist Madurai Mani Iyer and became a big hit in the carnatic concert circuit.

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 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 a loose adaption of the English movie The Sound of Music is based on this raga.

The national anthem of India Jana Gana Mana is based on Shankarabharanam.

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

5 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.


  2. A nice post! However Shankara Nadashareerapara is not based on Shankarabharanam at all! The song in the film that is based on Shankarabharanam is Omkaranadanusandhaanamou Gaaname


    1. Good catch! Thanks for your feedback. Shankaranadhashareera is based on Madhyamavati.


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