Shiva, one of the Principle deities in Hinduism, is also labeled as the ‘destroyer’. The biggest irony lies in the fact that this deity of the cosmic functions of destruction, was believed to be the creator of the raga, whose depth has the capability to accommodate the streams of peace, seriousness, and serenity altogether. The raga came to be known as ‘Bhairav’, named on the fierce and destructive incarnation of Lord Shiva, named Bhairav. Want to know more about this immensely intense raga?

Bhairav is a heptatonic raga, which is also the representative raga of the ‘Bhairav’ thaat. This raga has a distinctive property, which is, that this raga is known to be the most suited raga for the ‘Aarambh’ (beginning) as well as ‘Ant’ (end) of a musical concert.

The Aarohan of this raga is

Sa re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’

And the Avarohan of the raga is

Sa’ Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa.

Dha is the Vaadi of the raga, and re is the Samvaadi of the raga.

This raga has many distinct forms. The most used forms of this raga are raga Ahir Bhairav and Raga Nat Bhairav.

Ahir Bhairav Raga is the mixture of Raga Bhairav and an ancient, rare Raga known as Raga Ahiri. The Raga comes in existence by converting ‘Ma’ in Raga Bhairav to ‘ma’ i.e. teevra Ma.

Nat Bhairav is one of the most important of Bhairav thaat. This raga displays Veer rasa, with some Karuna rasa, that is, heroic feel, with a slight feeling of pathos.

There is something really peculiar in this raga. The moment it rings, it creates some sort of an invisible force, which invites one to get out of the bed in a really irresistible way. The singer is required to be completely devoted, serious and introvert in order bring out this raga out of him/her in its most pristine form. This raga is best suited to be sung early in the morning. It is said that if sung perfectly, there can’t be a better Swagatam (welcome) for Surya (the Sun) than this raga. Its eternal philosophical depth and emotional richness are the recipes behind its flavor which is perfectly suited for a mood of introspection. This Raga is also situated in the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy book in Sikhism. The ‘gurus’ used this raga as a mode to bring seriousness and stability in the mind of the devotees.

Some more ragas from the Bhairav thaat are Raga Jogiya and Raga Ramakali. Just like Bhairav, Jogiya is also known for the creation of a mood of devotion and detachment from the exterior world. Raga Ramkali is very similar to Bhairav, the only difference being that the ‘Ma’ becomes ‘ma’ (teevra Ma), and the notes re and dha are less oscillating. This raga is also situated in the Guru Granth Sahib, where the raga is used by the ‘gurus’ to provide calmness to their devotees.

Bhairav has gifted many beautiful compositions to the Indian music industry. Remember the classic song Jaago Mohan Pyaare? Well, it’s a composition in which the devotee tries to wake up the lord from sleep and listen to his prayers. Moreover, the composer added more meaning to the song by capturing the devotional mood of Raga Bhairav in the composition. The song Ram Teri Ganga Maili is based on Ahir Bhairav, through which the composer of this song had tried to portray the devotional mood with a touch of poignancy. The most famous number from the movie ‘Maachis’, that is, ‘Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale’ is also based on this raga.

Ever wished to get a tranquil, serious, and a somber feel altogether? Well, just plug in your earphones, and lose yourself into the stream of ‘Bhairav’….