Bowli – Raga Ruminations

When I hear M.S. Subbalakshmi singing the song, Shriman Narayana in the wee hours of the morning, the day starts on a bright note. It could be a combination of the singer’s voice, the melody and the lyrics but the effect is always the same. The song is a benediction to Lord Venkateshwara and the melody has a meditative nature. Raga Bowli is a morning raga where the notes are sung in a flat, gliding manner. While Shriman Narayana is sung in a slow tempo, the song Brahma okate in raga Bowli by the same composer Annamacharya is sung in a fast-paced manner and has an uplifting effect. In the latter song, the composer talks about how there is only one God who resides in each one of us. The songs of Annamacharya are simplistic yet emotive, tugging at the heart strings.

Here is a version of MS Subbalakshmi singing Shriman Narayana in raga Bowli.

Here is a version of  Brahma Okate sung by Sudha Raghunathan.

Tyagaraja’s Melukovayya is part of the Utsava Sampradaya kritis, a collection of songs by the composer which describes the process in which he worships his favourite deity, Rama. Melukovayya is a beautiful piece in raga Bowli where the composer entreats the Lord to wake up as his various devotees are waiting impatiently with their special prayers and objects of worship.

Here is a rendition of Melukovayya by M. Balamuralikrishna

As far as I know, there is no Hindustani equivalent to raga Bowli.

I haven’t heard many songs being sung in this melody on the silver screen.

The Tamil song Senthazham Poovil sung by Jesudas from the hit movie Mullum Malarum, was composed by Illayaraja and is based on the raga Bowli.

During the pandemic violinist Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi presented healing ragas where raga Bowli (with the chirping of birds in the background) was featured as one of them. Do check it out here.

For those who want details, raga Bowli is a janya of the parent raga Mayamalavagowla (15th) and the scale of the raga reads as follows.


3 thoughts on “Bowli – Raga Ruminations

  1. Senthzlam poovil with all foreign nots is MMgowla.


  2. The scale of the ragam seems to be a typo. Pls confirm if the scale for bowli is s r1 g3 p d1 s arohanam and s n3 d1 p g3 r1 s.


    1. Thanks for reaching out to me. This was a typo.


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