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

Ragas must contain the following characteristics to be considered Melakarta.

  • They are sampurna ragas - they contain all seven swaras (notes) of the octave in both ascending and descending scale[1][2]
  • The upper shadjam is included in the raga scale[2] (ragas like Punnagavarali and Chenchurutti are not makarta as they end with nishadam)
  • The ascending and descending scales must have the same notes[2]


The ma 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 makarta in his work Chaturdandi Prakaasikaa.[3] 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 makarta 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 makarta 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.[3] The scales in this page are those proposed by Govindaacharya.

Determining the Makarta

A hundred years after Venkatamakhin's time the Katapayadi sankhya rule came to be applied to the nomenclature of the makarta 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 makarta 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 Makarta r?ga. See Katapayadi sankhya for more details and examples.

Makarta scale

Each makarta 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 Makarta 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 samp?r?a r?ga). This gives 2 × 6 × 6 = 72 ragas. Finding makarta 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 svar?s from a Makarta raga is said to be a janya (means born or derived from) of that Makarta raga. Every raga is the janya of a makarta raga. Janya ragas whose notes are found in more than one makarta 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 Makarta 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.


Melakarta chart as per Katapay?di system. (On the prati-madhyamam side, all instances of ni2da3 should instead say ni3da2.) (Sarasangi and Harikamboji should be swapped. That is Sarasangi is the 27th raaga and Harikamboji is the 28th)

The 72 Makarta ragas are split into 12 groups called chakr?s, 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.[1][4]

  • Indu stands for the moon, of which we have only one - hence it is the first chakra.
  • N?tra 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.
  • V?da denoting four Vedas is the name of the fourth chakra.
  • Ba 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.
  • Disi Chakra indicates Ten directions(East, West, North, South, North East, North West, South East, South West, Above and Below). Hence it is 10th Chakra.
  • Eleventh chakra is Rudra of which there are eleven.
  • Twelfth comes ?dityas of which there are twelve.

These 12 chakras were also established by Venkatamakhi.

Table of Melakarta ragas

The 72 Makarta 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, and so forth.

'Makart? R?gas'
'Shuddha Madhyama' 'Prati Madhyama'
No. Raga Scale No. Raga Scale
1.Indu Chakra 7. Rishi Chakra
1 Kanakangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 37 Salagam S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
2 Ratnangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 38 Jalarnavam S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
3 Ganamurti S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 39 Jhalavarali S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
4 Vanaspati S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 40 Navaneetam S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
5 Manavati S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 41 Pavani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
6 Tanarupi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 42 Raghupriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
2. Netra Chakra 8. Vasu Chakra
7 Senavati S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 43 Gavambhodi S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
8 Hanumatodi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 44 Bhavapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
9 Dhenuka S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 45 Shubhapantuvarali S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
10 Natakapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 46 Shadvidamargini S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
11 Kokilapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 47 Suvarnangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
12 Rupavati S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 48 Divyamani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
3. Agni Chakra 9. Brahma Chakra
13 Gayakapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 49 Dhavalambari S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
14 Vakulabharanam S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 50 N?manarayani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
15 Mayamalavagowla S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 51 Kamavardhini S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
16 Chakravakam S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 52 Ramapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
17 Suryakantam S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 53 Gamanashrama S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
18 Hatakambari S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 54 Vishwambari S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
4. Veda Chakra 10. Disi Chakra
19 Jhankaradhwani S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 55 Sh?malangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
20 Natabhairavi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 56 Shanmukhapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
21 Keeravani S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 57 Simhendramadhyamam S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
22 Kharaharapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 58 Hemavati S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
23 Gourimanohari S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 59 Dharmavati S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
24 Varunapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 60 Neetimati S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
5. Bana Chakra 11. Rudra Chakra
25 Mararanjani S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 61 Kantamani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
26 Charukesi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 62 Rishabhapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
27 Sarasangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 63 Latangi S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
28 Harikambhoji S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 64 Vachaspati S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
29 Dheerasankarabaranam S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 65 Mechakalyani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
30 Naganandini S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 66 Chitrambari S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
6. Rutu Chakra 12. Aditya Chakra
31 Yagapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 67 Sucharitra S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
32 Ragavardhini S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 68 Jyoti swarupini S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
33 Gangeyabhushani S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 69 Dhatuvardani S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
34 Vagadheeswari S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 70 N?sikabhushini S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
35 Shulini S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 71 K?salam S R? G? M? P D? N? ?
36 Chalanata S R? G? M? P D? N? ? 72 Rasikapriya S R? G? M? P D? N? ?

Alternate Makarta scheme

Muthuswami Dikshitar school followed a different set of scales as the 72 Makarta ragas.[5] These were taught by Venkatamakhin.[3] 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.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b Ragas in Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH Publications
  2. ^ a b c A practical course in Carnatic music by Prof. P. Sambamurthy, 15th edition published 1998, The Indian Music publishing house
  3. ^ a b c d Shree Muthuswami Dikshitar Keertanaigal, by A Sundaram Iyer, Madras Book Publications, Mylapore, Chennai
  4. ^ South Indian Music Book III, by Prof. P Sambamoorthy, Published 1973, The Indian Music Publishing House
  5. ^ Shree Muthuswami Dikshitar Keerthanaigal, Appendix III and IV, by A Sundaram Iyer of Kallidaikurichi, Music Books Publishers, Mylapore, Chennai

External links

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