THE MUKUND MELAKARTA RAGA CHART                             

Ashok Madhav

Ragas form the basis of melodic music of India and some of the ragas form the parent or melakarta ragas. From the melakarta ragas only, many derived or janya ragas are possible. A melakarta raga is characterized by having all seven swaras or notes in both ascending (arohana ) and descending (avarohana) order. It shows a complete sequence of swaras called sampoorna pattern. Except Sa and Pa, which are fixed at a definite frequency, the other five swaras- Ri, Ga, Ma, Dh and Ni have two sets of swaras-the lower and higher or komal and teevra varieties. Thus the seven swaras are expanded to 12 notes. From these 12 notes alone, all the 72-melakarta ragas are generated and from these melakarta ragas only, thousands and thousands of janya ragas get evolved.

Venkatamakhi, a gifted musicologist of 17-the century is credited to have put all the sampoorna ragas, which are the main 72 parent ragas in a logical order. This was done by placing successively swaras of higher frequency from one melakarta to the next. Thus the classification of the 72-melakarta ragas was developed. This important work "Chaturdandi Prakashika" was published in 1660AD. The 72-melakarta ragas scheme is variously called Janaka ragas, Sampoorna ragas, Raganga ragas,Melakarta ragas or Mela ragas.

The 72-melakaerta ragas are divided into two major groups for convenience.The first half consists of 36 melakarta ragas with shudda madhayama (M1) and the second half contains the other 36-melakarta ragas with prati madhyama (M2).

Since the time of Venkatamakhi's classification of Carnatic ragas into 72-melakarta scheme, attempts have been made by a few musicologists to put the above scheme into a concise form. S. Mukund of Bangalore has succeeded admirably in his attempt to put the 72-melakrta ragas in a compact chart. He devised the chart, while he was in the early teens. This chart has been appreciated by the well known musicologists like Prof. P. Sambamurthy, R. Ranga Ramanuja Iyengar . T.S. Parthasarathy and other musicians of standing.

S. Mukund is a reputed musicologist and a prolific composer of merit. He has composed varnas, kritis, raga malikas, padams etc in many languages.  He has also composed more than one set of kritis in all 72-melakarta ragas. To date, he has close to 5000 compositions of various kinds to his credit including several varnas and songs with jatis as dance items.

The Mukund melakarta raga chart is presented below and the explanations are given to emphasize the utility of the chart. The melakarta numbers are given in brackets along with the melakarta ragas.  PDF version of chart

To repeat again, the melakarta ragas 1 through 36 take shudda madhyama (M1) and the melakarta ragas 37 through 72 have prati madhyama (M2). In the Mukund chart, the upper triangle in each square contains shudda madhyama melakarta ragas and the prati madhyama ragas are found in lower Chakravakam (16) and Ramapriya (52).

All melakarta ragas in the outermost rows (horizontal)-(Ri-Ga) and column (vertical)-Da-Ni give rise to the 40 vivadi melakarta ragas (apparently disonant scales).

That is the melakarta ragas occurring in the border. eg. Navaneetam (40) and Vagadeeshwari (34). The 16 squares in the center of the chart contain all avivadi melakarta ragas. eg: Bhavapriya (44) and Harikambodi (28).

Antipodal melakarta ragas (the two melas with maximum differences, with swaras being opposite, excepting Sa and Pa being common) can be found in opposite triangles in the two opposing squares.

Eg: (11) Kokilapriya (1+10) and (62) Rishabhapriya (72-10)

(30) Naganandini (1+29) and (43) Gavambodi (72-29)

To find swaras of a melakarta ragas:

Locate the triangle in which the melakarta raga lies, the four swaras, Ri, Ga, Da and Ni

will be found at the two ends of the row and the column in which the triangle is situated.

eg: Natakapriya (10)

Answer: R1, G2, M1, D2,N2

eg: Neetimati (60)

Answer: R2,G2,M2,D3,N3

To identify a melakarta raga from the swaras

First locate the square in which the swaras are marked. The triangle, where the row and the column pertaining to the given swaras meet, indicates the melakarta raga.

eg: R2,G2,M1,D1,N3

Answer: Keeravani (21)

eg: R2,G3,M2,D3,N3

Answer: Chitrambari (66)

The chart is useful in finding ragas differing in one swara only. The following examples will illustrate the point.

Ri only: Mayamalavagoula (15), Sarasangi (27) and Gangeyabhushani (33)

see along vertical column III and

Chakravakam (16) and Harikambodi (28) see vertical column IV

Ga only: Ratnangi (2), Hanumatodi (8) and Vakulabharanam (14) see vertical column II

Dharmavati (59), Mechakalyani (65) see vertical column V

Da only: Shubhapantuvarali (45), Suvarnangi (47) and Divyamani (48) see horizontal row II

Namanarayani (50) and Ramapriya (52) see horizontal row III

Ni only: Kantamani (61), Rishabhapriya (62) and Latangi (63) see horizontal row V

Natakapriya (10) and Kokilapriya (11) see horizontal row II

The Mukund chart has been very useful to students of music, teachers and music scholoars to make intelligent use of the 72-melakarta ragas. It is an invaluable contribution to the theory of Carnatic music.


The 12 notes of the Melakarta ragas are given with notations for easy reference. Sa and Pa are fixed.


Shudda Ri R1
Chatusruti Ri or R2
Shudda Ga G1
Sadarana Ga or G2
Shatsruti Ri R3
Anthara Ga G3
Shudda Ma M1
Prati Ma M2
Shudda Da D1
Chatusruti Da or D2
Shudda Ni N1
Kaishiki Ni or N2
Shatsruti Da D3
Kakali Ni N3

 PDF version of chart

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