Raga Shuddha Malhar

   About Raga Shuddha Malhar

Raga Shuddha Malhar

Malhar is a raga from Hindustani classical music. 1st Malhar is known for its severe downpours. Several Malhar-related ragas, including 'Miyan ki Malhar ',  'Megh Malhar ',  'Ramdasi Malhar ',  'Gaud Malhar ',  'Sur Malhar ',  'Desh Malhar ',  'Nat Malhar ',  'Dhulia Malhar ', and  'Meera ki Malhar ' use the Malhar signature phrase m (m)R (m)R P, in addition to the basic Shuddha Malhar, which was the original Malhar.

Malhar is a raga that is said to bring rains, and is traditionally played in the monsoons or pre-monsoons. As the monsoons hit India, one eagerly looks forward to hearing the several extant raga malhars that exist all over North India. This is prevalent in all gharanas, instrumental and vocal.

It appears that malhar or what is today called Shudha Malhar existed before Tansen’s time but without the two nikhads (ni). It was Tansen who introduced the raga in its current form, and it is this form of malhar, called Mian Malhar (Tansen was known as Mian Tansen) that is said to bring about rain. There is a mention of malhar even in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, which lists several ragas in the ragamala, at the end of the scripture.

Strangely, there seems to be no comparable Raga Malhar in the Carnatic tradition, according to world renowned flautist Shashank Subramanium, “however, there are ragas, like Megh, but the treatment is totally different. There are many scales that have similar first half or second half of scales but are not referred to as Malhar”. Sudha Raghunathan, one of the finest Carnatic vocalists today, talked of her rendering of the Carnatic Raga Amruthavarshini, which is said to bring the rain —when she performed it in Doha recently, it continued to rain steadily for a week after her concert, and the organizer rang her up asking if there was a raga that could stop the rain!

Malhar is that most unusual of ragas - it is male, and yet, it invokes the feminine.

Stories of raga Megh Malhar and the many monsoon Malhars, of which there are over thirty, are understood to produce atmospheres and call on the monsoon, if done properly. There are several malhars,their listing is not universally agreed upon, with different gharanas having different histories of how many malhars there are.

According to one Senia tradition, the 12 malhars are 
1) Mian Ki Malhar; 
2) Surdasi Malhar (said to be composed by the blind singer saint Surdas); 
3) Ramdasi Malhar (a composition of the minstrel Ramdas - again in three extant versions, with shudha gandhar, komal gandhar and both gandhars); 
4) Gaur Malhar (a combination of Malhar and Gaur - this too is said to be of three types according to both Gwalior gharana doyens Pt L.K. Pandit and Shahjahanpur Senia sarodiya Pt Narendra Nath Dhar); 
5) Meera Malhar (composed by saint Meera Bai); 
6) Megh Malhar (combination of malhar and another monsoon raga Megh); 
7) Tankdasi and Terdasi Malhars (both now totally extinct, but listed in a private 19th century music journal in Gurmukhi belonging to a Senia ustad); 
8) Nat Malhar (a combination of Malhar and Nat); 
9) Charju Malhar, said to be composed by Nayak Charju; 
10) Dhulia Malhar, now very rarely played; and lastly, 
11) Sawani Malhar, today practically extinct, though one has heard of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan playing Sawani Malhar some years ago, and Pt L. K. Pandit confirmed his family has a few compositions in Sawani Malhar.
In addition, three later combinations, but which are very popular today are 
12) Jayant Malhar (a combination of Mian Malhar and Jaijaiwanti), 
13) Des Malhar (combination of Mian Malhar and Des) and 
14) Anandi Malhar.

Ustad Nasir Zahiruddin Dagar stopped singing Mian Malhar and told his disciple who was listening to him, to go home. By the time the disciple stepped out, it had started to rain copiously!

Certain notes are conducive in creating certain moods - definitely morning ragas bring about images of dawn, light evening ragas create a lyrical romantic mood, etc.; there are lyrics which talk of clouds and rains and jhulas (swings), notes which associate with the monsoons. I remember hearing Sur Malhar sung by Ustad Amir Khan (in an auditorium), and people virtually see the wet green trees, could even smell the parched earth, which had just been drenched by the first drops of rain. So imagery is very important. 

Perhaps a more considered explanation could be that unless the treatment of the notes is perfect, the exact effect (asar) is not induced, and the rains don’t get coaxed. In North India, one looks forward to hearing the different malhars this season; there are several festivals that focus on Malhar.

The many variations of Raga Malhar have been categorised chronologically by era - prachina (before the 15th century), madhyakalina (15th - 18th century) and arvachina (19th century and beyond). Ragas Shuddha Malhar, Megh Malhar and Gaud Malhar belong to the first period. Variations of Malhar include:

'Anand Malhar' (first sung by Gaan Saraswati Kishori Amonkar)
'Chhaya Malhar'
'Desh Malhar'
'Gaud Malhar'
'Meerabai Ki Malhar'
'Megh Malhar'
'Miyan Ki Malhar', also known as Gayand Malahar as both nishad shudh and komal swing around the dhaivat like a (gayand)elephant swinging his head
'Ramdasi Malhar'
'Dhulia Malhar'
'Charju Ki Malhar'
'Nanak Malhar'
'Shuddha Malhar'
'Surdasi Malhar'

Suddh malhar is after the diversification of the Malhar family.

Raga malhar Pacifies anger, excessive mental, excitement & mental instability. Useful in the treatment of asthma and sunstroke.

Credits :

   Structure of Shuddha Malhar
   External Videos of Raga Shuddha Malhar



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