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Unveiling the Melodic Mysteries: Exploring Janaka Ragas in Carnatic Music

Title: Understanding the Classification of Ragas in the Carnatic Music System


Greetings, music learners! In today's blog, we delve into the fascinating topic of classifying ragas in the Carnatic music system. Ragas are the building blocks of melody, consisting of different variants of swaras (musical notes). Let's explore the definition of a raga and the classification system in detail to enhance our understanding of this beautiful art form.

Defining a Raga:

A raga is a collection of swaras arranged in a specific sequence to form a melodic structure. Each swara has different variants or forms. For instance, if we consider the swara "gandhara," it can have three variants: suddha gandhara, sadharana gandhara, and anthara gandhara. Similarly, other swaras like rishabha, madhyama, deivatha, and nishadha also have unique variants. When we combine these variants in a particular order, we create a melody known as a raga.

Janaka and Janya Raga Classification:

In the Carnatic music system, ragas are classified into two categories: janaka and janya ragas. Let's focus on janaka ragas first. A janaka raga is defined as a raga that consists of seven swaras in both the ascending (arohana) and descending (avarohana) order.

Janaka Ragas as Parent Ragas:

Janaka ragas, also known as sampoorna ragas or melakarta ragas, hold a special place as they serve as parent ragas from which numerous child ragas are derived. These child ragas inherit their foundational structure and characteristics from the janaka raga.

Rules for Identifying Janaka Ragas: To identify a raga as a janaka raga, it must adhere to three fundamental rules:

  1. Arohana and Avarohana: As the name "sampurna" suggests, a janaka raga should have all seven swaras in both the ascending and descending order.

  2. Sequential Order: The swaras sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, da, ni should follow a straight sequential order in the arohana, and sa, ni, da, pa, ma, ga, ri, sa in the avarohana. Deviation from this sequential order (vakra sancharas) is not permitted.

  3. Consistency of Variants: The variants of rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, deivatha, and nishadha used in the arohana should be the same in the avarohana. For example, if a shudda rishabha is used in the arohana, a shudda rishabha should also be used in the avarohana.

Examples of Janaka Ragas: Let's explore a few popular janaka ragas that exemplify these rules:

  1. Mayamalavagowla: Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa (arohana) and Sa Ni Da Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa (avarohana).

  2. Shankara Barana: Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa (arohana) and Sa Ni Da Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa (avarohana).

By applying the three rules to these ragas, you can observe how they perfectly adhere to the requirements of a janaka raga.


Understanding the classification of ragas in the Carnatic music system enhances our ability to appreciate and perform this beautiful art form. Janaka ragas, with their well-defined structure, serve as the foundation for various child ragas. Remember to explore more resources, watch instructional videos, and subscribe to channels dedicated to Carnatic music to deepen your knowledge and skills. Let's keep the music alive and continue our melodic journey together!

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