Raga Darbari Kanada

Text by Kirit Dave


Darbari Kanada, composed by the great Tansen sometime in the 15th or 16th centuries, is one of the most popular ragas. It is of very serious nature and has a complex descending scale. In ascent, all seven notes are used and in descent also, but only with a specific movement of notes. Therefore jaati of the raga is called “Shadav Vakra Sampurna”, meaning a “nonlinearly complete” raga. In descent, going from Sa” to ni directly is not allowed, but must progress by going through dha.

It is of the “Kanada Prakar” meaning the notes combination ga Ma re Sa is prominent and moving from ga to re must go through Ma. There are as many as 18 ragas that fall into this Prakar, such as Abhogi Kanada, Suha Kanada, Kafi Kanada, Nayaki Kanada etc. and all of them require ga Ma re Sa movement in that way.

In this raga, ga is almost always in the shadow of Ma, and dha is almost always in the shadow of ni. That is, singing of ga requires starting its pitch at Ma and then gradually lowering it to ga in the allocated time of the rhythm. Similarly, dha is treated in the shadow of ni.

This raga is of very serious nature and portrays viira (bravado) and devotional sentiments. It largely flows in the lower octave and is developed in a slower tempo. Unusual talas such as Jhumara are seen in the renditions of this raga because of its serious and deeper sentiments. The popularity of this raga is so extensive that although it is strictly classical in nature, light classical compositions in Bhajans, popular movie songs, and even ghazals also utilize this raga.


Aaroha: Sa, Re, ga, Ma, Pa, dha, ni, Sa”

Avaroha: Sa” dha ni Pa, Ma Pa ni ga, Ma Re Sa ([1])

Pakad: Pa ni Ma Pa ni ga, ga Ma Re Sa, ni’ Sa Re dha’ ni’ Pa’, Ma’ Pa’ dha’ ni’ Re Sa.

Vaadi: Re

Samvaadi: Pa

Thaat: Aasawari

Time: midnight.

Jaati: Shadav Vakra Sampurna

Sentiment: Bravery, devotion, serious.


[1] Note: A variation of the avaroha of this raga is: Sa”, dha, ni, Pa, Ma, ga, Re, Sa.