# Melakarta

**Mēḷakarta**is a collection of fundamental musical scales (ragas) in Carnatic music (South Indian classical music).

*Mēḷakarta*ragas are parent ragas (hence known as

*janaka*ragas) from which other ragas may be generated. A

*melakarta*raga is sometimes referred as

*mela*,

*karta*or

*sampurna*as well, though the latter term is inaccurate, as a

*sampurna*raga need not be a

*melakarta*(take the raga

*Bhairavi,*for example).

In Hindustani music the

*thaat*is equivalent of

*Melakarta*. There are 10

*thaats*in Hindustani music, though the commonly accepted

*melakarta*scheme has 72 ragas.

## Rules for *Mēḷakarta Ragas*

Ragas must contain the following characteristics to be considered *Melakarta*.

*sampurna ragas*– they contain all seven

*swaras*(notes) of the octave in both ascending and descending scale

*krama sampurna*ragas – that is the sequence is strictly ascending and descending in the scales, without any jumps or zig-zag notes

*Punnagavarali*and

*Chenchurutti*are not

*mēḷakarta*as they end with

*nishadam*)

## History

The*mēḷa*system of ragas was first propounded by Raamamaatya in his work Svaramelakalanidhi c. 1550. He is considered the father of

*mela*system of ragas. Later, Venkatamakhin, a gifted musicologist in the 17th century, expounded a new

*mela*system known today as

*mēḷakarta*in his work

*Chaturdandi Prakaasikaa*. He made some bold and controversial claims and defined somewhat arbitrarily 6

*svaras*from the known 12 semitones, at that time, to arrive at 72

*mēḷakarta*ragas. The controversial parts relate to double counting of R2 (and similar

*svaras*) and his exclusive selection of

*madyamas*for which there is no specific reasoning (also known as

*asampurna melas*as opposed to

*sampurna ragas*). However, today the 72

*mēḷakarta*ragas use a standardized pattern, unlike Venkatamakhi's pattern, and have gained a significant following. Govindhacharya is credited with the standardization of rules and known for giving different names for standard ragas that have a different structure but the same swaras as those proposed by Venkatamakhi. The scales in this page are those proposed by Govindaacharya.

## Determining the *Mēḷakarta*

A hundred years after Venkatamakhin's time the

*Katapayadi sankhya*rule came to be applied to the nomenclature of the

*mēḷakarta*ragas. The

*sankhya*associates Sanskrit consonants with digits. The digits corresponding to the first two syllables of the name of a raga, when reversed, give the index of the raga. Thus the scale of a

*mēḷakarta*raga can be easily derived from its name.

For example,

*Harikambhoji*raga starts with syllables

*Ha*and

*ri*, which have numbers 8 and 2 associated with them. Reversing them we get 28. Hence Harikambhoji is the 28th Mēḷakarta rāga. See Katapayadi sankhya for more details and examples.

*Mēḷakarta* scale

Each *mēḷakarta*raga has a different scale. This scheme envisages the lower Sa (

*Keezh Shadja*), upper Sa (

*Mael Shadja*) and Pa (

*Panchama*) as fixed

*swaras*, with the Ma (

*Madhyama*) having two variants and the remaining swaras Ri (

*Rishabha*), Ga (

*Gandhaara*), Dha (

*Dhaivata*) and Ni (

*Nishaada*) as having three variants each. This leads to 72 seven-note combinations (scales) referred to as the

*Mēḷakarta*ragas as follows.

There are twelve semitones of the octave S, R1, R2=G1, R3=G2, G3, M1, M2, P, D1, D2=N1, D3=N2, N3 (see

*swaras*in Carnatic music for explanation of these notations). A melakarta raga must necessarily have S and P, one of the M's, one each of the R's and G's, and one each of the D's and N's. Also, R must necessarily precede G and D must precede N (

*krama sampūrṇa*rāga). This gives 2 × 6 × 6 = 72 ragas. Finding

*mēḷakarta ragas*is a mathematical process. By following a simple set of rules we can find the corresponding raga and the scale associated with it.

A raga which has a subset of

*svarās*from a

*Mēḷakarta*raga is said to be a

*janya*(means born or derived from) of that

*Mēḷakarta*raga. Every raga is the

*janya*of a

*mēḷakarta*raga.

*Janya*ragas whose notes are found in more than one

*mēḷakarta*raga are assigned (or associated) parent

*Melakarta*based on subjective notions of similarity. This is obvious for ragas that have less than seven notes. For such ragas it can be associated with a

*Mēḷakarta*which has any of the different swaras in that position. For example, Hindolam has Rishabha and Panchama missing. Hence, it could be considered a janya of

*Todi*(also known as

*Hanumatodi*) which has

*shuddha rishabha*or with

*Natabhairavi*which has a

*chathushruti rishabha*. It is popularly associated with

*Natabhairavi*.

*Chakras*

[[Image:Melakarta.katapayadi.sankhya.72.png|250px|thumb|Melakarta chart as per Katapayādi system. (On the prati-madhyamam side, all instances of ni_{2}da

_{3}should instead say ni

_{3}da

_{2}.)

(Sarasangi and Harikamboji should be swapped. That is Sarasangi is the 27th raaga and Harikamboji is the 28th)]] The 72

*Mēḷakarta*ragas are split into 12 groups called

*chakrās*, each containing 6 ragas. The ragas within the chakra differ only in the

*dhaivatam*and

*nishadam*notes (D and N), as illustrated below. The name of each of the 12

*chakras*suggest their ordinal number as well.

*Indu*stands for the moon, of which we have only one – hence it is the first

*chakra*.

*Nētra*means eyes, of which we have two – hence it is the second.

*Agni*is the third

*chakra*it indicates three kinds of Agni.(Dakshina, Ahavaniyam and gArhapatyam)So agni indicates 3rd

*Chakra*.

*Vēda*denoting four

*Vedas*is the name of the fourth

*chakra*.

*Bāṇa*comes fifth as it stands for the five Arrows of

*Manmatha*.

*Rutu*is the sixth

*chakra*standing for the 6 seasons of Hindu calendar, which are Vasanta, Greeshma, Varsha, Sharat, Hemanta and Shishira.

*Rishi*, meaning sage, is the seventh

*chakra*representing the seven sages.

*Vasu*stands for the eight

*vasus*of Hinduism.

*Brahma*comes next of which there are 9.

*Chakra*indicates Ten directions(East, West, North, South, North East, North West, South East, South West, Above and Below). Hence it is 10th

*Chakra*.

*chakra*is

*Rudra*of which there are eleven.

*Aditya*of which there are twelve.

These 12

*chakras*were also established by Venkatamakhi.

## Table of *Melakarta* ragas

The 72 *Mēḷakarta*ragas can be divided into two parts. viz.,.

**suddha Madhyama**and

**prati Madhyama**ragas. When a given

*suddha madhyama*raga's M1 is replaced by M2, we get the corresponding

*prati madhyama*raga. See Katapayadi sankhya for more information on how to derive the various

*swaras*of a raga from its

*melakarta*number.

See swaras in Carnatic music for explanation of the notations like R1, G2, N2, etc.

## Alternate *Mēḷakarta* scheme

Muthuswami Dikshitar school followed a different set of scales as the 72

*Mēḷakarta*ragas. These were taught by Venkatamakhin. Many of the scales were

*asampurna*(not sampurna ragas) because Dikshitar chose to follow the earlier established structure to mitigate ill-effects of usage of direct

*vivadi swaras*in the scales.