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Carnatic Swaras - the swaras of Carnatic music are equivalent to the do re mi of Western music. Basically, they are "solfa" syllables, syllables to voice the notes in succession so that they are easier to identify and pronounced, instead of a simple "aaaa" sound.
The swaras are said to have arisen from the Universe-pervading Sound of Om, which represents the drone notes SA and PA. The other swaras came from the 5 faces of Shiva. The story is told that RaavaNa, who was very devoted to Shiva, ripped out his guts and used them as strings to play the notes as Shiva kept time. RaavaNa kept playing, however, and threatened to shake the worlds and bring Shiva down from the heavens. In response, Shiva pressed him down to Earth with his big toe.
The table below lists some more interesting information about the Carnatic swaras, which are named shadjam (sa), rishabam (ri), gaandhaaram (ga), madhyamam (ma), pancamam (pa), dhaivatam (da), and nishaadam (ni). Each is associated with an animal, a color, a God of Hindu mythology, and a particular feeling (rasa).
Based on information provided by Smt. Padma Veeraraaghavan.
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