Kalyani – Raga Ruminations

The word Kalyani means ‘the auspicious one’ and is another name for the mother Goddess. It is one of the most popular ragas in Carnatic music. Almost every composer has created a composition in this raga. Some of the well-known songs include Tyagaraja’s Etavunara, Nidhi Chala Sukhama and Amma Ravamma, Dikshithar’s Kamalamba and Bhajare Rerchitha, Shyama Shastri’s Himadri Suthe and Purandaradasa’s Nambi Kettavarillavo.

The raga has ample scope for elaboration and is often presented on stage as the main piece of a concert. It has many janya ragas (derivatives) such as Hamir Kalyani, Saranga and Yamun Kalyani which are equally popular.

Here is Madurai Mani Iyer presenting Etavunara in an AIR concert.

Raga Kalyani corresponds to Raag Yaman in the Hindustani scale. Raag Yaman is an evening raag believed to be a creation of Amir Khusru. Here is Rashidh Khan singing raag Yaman.

The melody made an easy transition to the silver screen. The song Abhi Na Jao Chodkar from the Hindi movie Hum Dono sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsale is based on raag Yaman.

For more songs on film songs based on raag Yaman read here.

In raga Kalyani, music directors of Tamil movies found a bottomless source for composing numerous songs. Illayaraja’s Katril Varum Geetam sung by Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam and Shreya Ghosal for the movie Oru Naal Oru Kanavu is based on raga Kalyani.

Raga Kalyani corresponds to the  Lydian mode which is not commonly heard in Western classical music. Watch this video to learn how the Lydian mode sounds on a Celtic harp. Can you find this resonating with the notes of raga Kalyani?

For those who want details Kalyani is the 65th melakartha (parent) raga and the scale reads as follows SR2G3M2PD2N3 SN3D2PM2G3R2

To listen to the Raga Kalyani podcast click here.

2 thoughts on “Kalyani – Raga Ruminations

  1. the magnum opus manavan vandhanadi by P. Susheela is it not kalayani. Also vandhal mahalaxmiye from uyarndha ullam is also kalyani even though it is with lot of gimmicks.


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