Mela raga #29
Uttaranga: Ma (5)
Swaras: Sa Re2 Ga3 Ma1 Pa Dha2 Ni3 Sa
This raga is the flagship of the shuddha madhyama ragas (ragas 1-36).
Its common name is Shankarabharana, but the Dhira- prefix was added when the Melakartha system was being codified in order to have it conform to the Katapayadi Sutra as raga 29.
This raga, much like Mayamalavagowla consists of a pair of symmetrical tetrachords separated by a major tone. Shankarabharana's patron God is Shiva; the literal meaning of Shankarabharana is "the ornament of Shiva," and each swara is associated with one of the seven ornaments of Shiva.
Shankarabharana is, in Western music, a harmonic diatonic scale, a.k.a. a major scale. The Ga, Ma, Pa, and Ni are considered the jeeva swaras (literally, life-notes) of the raga; they are dominant in the raga and give it its distinctive "feel", and any manodharma (improvisation) in this raga would be built around them.
Shankarabharana is a very malleable raga. Most ragas can only evoke certain feelings (rasas), but Shankarabharana can evoke a vast range in the hands (or vocal chords) of a skilled artist. Because of this, it is often used as the main raga in concert, often for a Ragam Tanam Pallavi (a type of very long and complicated piece consisting mainly of improvisation on a few simple lines; the centerpiece of a concert).
This raga is suitable for singing primarily in the evening.
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