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How does a raga make you feel?

Previous: Close ragas
Next: Time of Day
Now you know something about how to identify and distinguish ragas. But there is another, subtle, aspect of ragas: how they evoke emotion. This is called the "rasa" or "rasam" - literally the "essence" of the raga.

There are a number of rasas corresponding to various ragas. Below is a table of ragas that are associated with different rasas. Keep in mind that a single raga can evoke diverse feelings.

RasaMeaningRagas
adbhuta/arpudawonder, astonishment behaag
saaranga
bhayanakafear punaaagavaraaLi
bibhatsadisgust aThaaNaa
hasyajoy/laughter hamsadwani
kEdaaram
mOhanam
karuNaasorrow, anguish ghanTa
kaanaDaa
naadanaamakriyaa
sahaanaa
varaaLi
rowdraanger aThaaNaa
aarabi
shaantacalm, peace shyaamaa
vasantaa
shringaaralove asaavEri
bhairavi
husEni
kaanaDaa
kalyaaNi
kamaas
sahaanaa
shuruTTi
veeracourage aThaaNaa
bilahari
bEgaDa
dEvagaandhaari
hamsadwani

Aside from these rasas, there is "bhakthi rasa," the feeling of devotion. Many ragas invoke this, most notably the ragas used in the Vedas and slokas, like kharaharapriyaa and rEvati.

Some types of songs also go with certain ragas. Lullabies typically use ragas like neelaambari or navrOj, among others. Mangalams and finishing songs use madyamaavati.

Finally, different composers may use various ragas to evoke emotions other than what is assigned to that raga. So, you may find a laali in madyamaavati, a sad song in hamsadwani. The composers define the music, so the raga itself may be adapted to the feeling that seems to suit the song!


Next: Time of Day

OR you can go back to the Carnatic page and take our ragas quiz!


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updated on 07/21/2011