Harikambodhi – Raga Ruminations

Harikambodhi is a melody that occupies prime real estate in the pantheon of Carnatic ragas. For some reason, it is often overlooked as the centrepiece in a concert in favour of a similar-sounding raga. Given the popularity of raga Shankarabharanam or raga Karaharapriya, carnatic music lovers couldn’t be faulted for thinking that Harikambhodhi (which is only a note different than the former) would share the same strong following. Unfortunately, it does not enjoy the same regard in concert lists that even its derivative raga Kambodhi enjoys. The reason for this step-sisterly treatment on the concert stage is not entirely clear to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – dear readers.

Fortunately, Tyagaraja has composed several songs in this Harikambodhi from Enthara Neethana to Dinamani Vamsha and Ramanannu Brovara as have other composers. Here’s a classic rendition of Dinamani Vamsha by Maharajapuram Santhanam.

Raga Harikambodhi corresponds to Raag Khamaj in Hindustani music. Here’s a rendition of Raag Khamaj by sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar along with his daughter Anoushka.

Khamaj is a melody that is popularly heard in bhajans and ghazals. Here is Lata Mangeshkar singing the popular bhajan Vaishnava Janato written by the Bhakti mystic Narsi Mehta.

This raga has been heard in some movies across genres. Here is an old Tamil movie song Malargalai Pol sung by T.M.Soundararajan in Paasa Malar.

HumRaag a collaboration with writer Shoba Narayan explores the classical roots of Indian popular music. The program has been presented in several cities across India. Here is a snippet from our first HumRaag show at the Bangalore International Center where shades of Raga Harikambodhi was heard in a film song.

For those who want details, Harikambodhi is a Melakartha raga (28th) and the scale is as follows. SR2G3M1PD2N2 SN2D2PM1G3R2

To hear a short podcast on raga Harikambodhi click here

I remain hopeful that Harikambodhi will get its due on the concert stage.

10 thoughts on “Harikambodhi – Raga Ruminations

  1. In my opinion, harikamboji, when one starts to present a raga, it has limited usages and becomes repetitive, unlike kambodhi. Kamach has very nice and pleasing uasages The janya ragas have more ranjakatva and appeal. Same is the case with Shankarabharana or Karaharapriya. Their Janyas are more appealing. Eg; Abhogi or Sriranjani. Varjya of certain notes adds to the beauty of a raga.


    1. Thanks for the feedback Harini. I do believe Harikambodhi has still not been heard often enough for listeners today to enjoy the nuances – the onus is on the musicians. I am looking for vintage recordings of this raga alapana and will post them once I find them.


  2. My guess is that if yester year musicians had taken up these for main and grind into the ragam’s prayogams and finer nuances, they would have been famous. Why they didnt take up is unknown. Maybe their predecessors didnt experiment and so they also left them out. Since we don’t have any of their recs, we are unable to comprehend beyond what songs from trinities offer. I am sure these ragams also can offer same length of brightness if people now start experimenting and then next gen can benefit from it. On the similar lines, malaimarutham or valaji are more famous than a Chakravaham or a Ramapriya…


    1. You’re right Shankar. Even if the stalwarts did sing this raga alapana, we don’t have the recordings. Regarding the appealing nature of Melakartha vs janya (corresponding) ragas it largely depends on the prevailing mood and how the alapana is rendered. Yes, structure of the raga is an important factor but not to a great extent in my opinion. A crisp Ramapriya and a nuanced Harikambodhi may sound more appealing than a monotonous valaji with repetitive phrases as its a pentatonic scale (audava)!


  3. I read this post completely about the comparison of latest and previous
    technologies, it’s remarkable article.


  4. I was also wondering why this raga didnt get the same treatment if not better than that o fkamboji. I am still doing research/


    1. Some how I am not fascinated by Harikambodhi, even though I love many of its many as, especially kambodhi, yadukulakambodhi


  5. Dear madam you didnt touch on illayaraja’s use of this raga
    At least nenjukkul peidhidum ma malai from varanam Aayiram.


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