Colours of the raga – Brindabani Sarang

This is the first of my few posts which will focus on one raga, while explaining the technical details of the raga. I will try and make it simple and hopefully can help people identify songs in this raga.

I am starting off with Brindabani Sarang, which is a celebrated traditional melody of the Hindustani music system.

Brindabani Sarang, commonly referred to as Sarang, is one of the most important ragas of the Sarang family belonging to the Kafi thaat. The raga has 5 notes in the aroha (ascent) and 5 notes in the avaroha(descent).

The scale of the raga is as below-

Aaroh : Sa,  Re,  Ma Pa,  Ni Sa

Aavroh : Sa   ni Pa, Ma Re, Sa

(The Ga and Dha are omitted). Note the use of the lower case ni in the descent, which is the komal of the shuddha ni in the aroha. The two nishads are used to telling effect to establish the characteristics and the colour of the raga.

The legend has it that this raga has its origins in Uttar Pradesh, and depicts the romance between Krishna and Radha in Brindavan. Sarang family of ragas portray Shringara (love/romance) rasa. This is true of all Sarangs, and the raga is sung in the mid noon to early afternoon.

The strongest (vadi) note is Rishabh and Panmcham(Pa)the samvadi. The Re has a strong presence and sthira, i,e, it is not oscillated.

The vocal audio section begins with a demonstrative clip by Subra Guha, where she explains the scale of the raga and sings a traditional bandish.

Bhimsen Joshi made Brindabani Sarang his own, some immportal renderings of his exist in this raga.This is a lovely video which clearly demonstrates the on-stage dynamics, taal-mel between the artistes, and Panditji is in fine form.

We kick off the instrumental section with a wonderful rendering by Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, the recording of the raga there is. It has all the flavours of the raga in the right proportion, and can serve as an ideal introduction to the unfamiliar. The shringara rasa portrayed by the raga is in evidence. Note the sangath at 2:23. I feel that Brindabani Sarang takes on a completely different colour in the Bansuri.

An excellent vocal/bansuri jugalbandi featuring Jaytheerth Mevundi and Praveen Godkhindi. Swift vocal taans matched by the melodious notes of the flute make an ideal setting.

The Hindi cinema abounds with plenty of excellent uses of Sarang. Because of the inbuilt melody in the raga and the instant appeal it carries, it has been a favourite with the music directors. There are, however, several colours of Sarang and various genres.


Jhanan Jhanan – Rani Rupmati(1957)- S.N.Tripathi

This is an excellent example of the usage of Sarang in a romantic mood. The picturization is in broad day light, the gardens, the cuckoo calling, adding authenticity of the usage of the raga. Typically the juice of Sarang is best brought out in drut compositions(speedy) than slower ones. The lyrics are in perfect harmony, “Saj Singaar Koi Naar Naveli, Nidar dagar me chali hai akeli”, “Pyar jagaa hai dekho kankan me, pyaas racha hai man madhuban mein”.

Sawan Aaye Ya Na Aaye – (Dil Diya Dard Liya)-Naushad

This is one of the best examples of Sarang. The link for this song above has the build up to the song, a lot of sweet nothings between the hero and the heroine. The sitar flows with majesty at the opening, through the length and the breadth of the raga in a few moments of glory. The reader is encouraged to listen closely to the swara passages and the use of the khada rishab. This song is a classic of sorts and warrants a separate post by itself. The backdrop of the glorious ruins, the garden resplendent with flowers in full bloom, all make up for a lovely romantic setting. Waheeda is very graceful and beautiful.

Jadugar Saiyyan -( Nagin)-1954

A beautiful composition by Hemant Kumar, simple and lovely.The opening background music is quintessential Sarang. The flute interludes also ooze the flavour of the raga.

Man Bhawan – Chandralekha – Uma Devi (Tun Tun)

A superb rendering by TunTun, this song has several interesting uses of Sarang, though it does meander briefly into other territory in the second antara, before returning to Sarang proper. Tuntun is in full flow, and her classical elements are visible.


Aaja Aaja Bhanwar – Rani Rupmati

This song portrays Sarang in a relatively sad mood. The melancholic strains are clear in Lata’s voice to some lovely lyrics by Bharat Vyas, tuned by the great S.N.Tripathi.  Lata Mangeshkar produces electrifying taans with such consummate ease.   This song reveals her extraordinary talents and her strong foundations in classical music.


Hume to Loot Liya – (Al-Hilal)-Bulo.C.Rani

An immortal classic-an interesting use of Sarang in Qawwali, the mood of the qawwali is also light hearted. The opening music is full of the characteristic phrases of Sarang.

As a conclusion, here are a few questions for the readers trying to learn classical music and identify ragas-the answers to the questions below are all based on Sarang.

1.Identify the popular song from Lekin

2.Identify the ever green song from Kashmir Ki Kali, effectively  used by O.P.Nayyar

3.Identify the song from Kismat, again by O.P.Nayyar

I would like to invite suggestions on whether this format is fine or there are suggestions for improvement. People wanting to keep it confidential can mail me at



  1. Anu Warrier said,

    April 19, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Hmm… nice effort. I particularly like the fact that you put the aarohan and avrohan. Makes life easier for the likes of me. 🙂

    The only two songs I know in Brindavani Sarang (and that, because I was researching something a long time ago) are:
    Ghata Ghanghor Ghor from Tansen

    and, funnily enough, this one!

    Can’t believe two such different songs can be based on the same Raaga!

    Ha! Unknowingly, I answered one of your quiz questions! 🙂
    But Lekin? Are you sure? I thought they were mostly Todi? Okay, my knowledge is very limited in this sphere, so perhaps it is not.

    • April 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Yes Anu, the Kashmir Ki Kali song is correct. You can readily see the beauty of the Hindustani system, which so very easily lends itself to the imagination of the composer.
      Lekin’s most famous song is in Sarang :), and there was one in Todi and another in Bilaskhani Todi.

      • ASHOK M VAISHNAV said,

        May 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

        As I read this article first, I thought I will make a wild guess attempt to decode the quiz.
        But, having read this comment, where Ghataa Ghan Ghor and Meri Jaan… seemingly on two opposite poles.. can be based on the same raag, I would confine myself to enjoying reading such great posts and those of the clips therein.

      • May 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        I would encourage you to decode the quiz. This is the best way to learn, there is no shame in getting it wrong!

  2. SSW said,

    April 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Isn’t Kajra Muhabatwala loosely based in Shudh sarang rather than Vrindavani sarang?

    It is interesting that using both the nishad’s brings in a twist because flattening the nishad brings an element of introspection to the scale( I wouldn’t say pathos). The interval between the fifth and flattened seventh if emphasised can change the structure a lot

    • April 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      The ma variant used here is shudh, and the harmonium in the prelude clearly suggests Brindabani Sarang isnt? Shudh Sarang is exemplified in the last antara of Sawan Aaye Ya na aaye. Shudh Sarang uses both the madhyams with the teevra ma used in the arohan.

      • SSW said,

        April 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        True, that is why I said loosely based. I think it tends more towards Shudh Sarang in its usage at times. The issue is that MD’s don’t have to stick entirely to the boundaries of a raga and really they shouldn’t. The music in a film is supposed to reflect the mood not expound on the raga’s qualities. What struck me in certain passages of that song was this..

  3. harveypam said,

    April 22, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Wow, so much knowledge and since I don’t even know the basics of the sa re ga ma pa. it goes over my head, though the reading through it is a pleasure.
    Very well-written post, Karthik! *bow to you*
    Please do continue this series. maybe if I go on reading such articles, maybe I will just imbibe some knowledge through osmosis.

    I have made a playlist for myself so that I can listen to it often and thus understand the basics.
    Here it is:

    • April 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Thanks a lot Harvey 🙂 I am sure you realize that all of these songs have a common underlying tune, which is the raga. Thats the best way to begin recognizing ragas. If you know that say “Jadugar Saiyan” is in Sarang, and when you listen to the opening harmonium of ‘Kajra Mohabbatwala’, and the tunes feel similar,then the second must also be in the same raga. Thats the easiest way to connect.

      • harveypam said,

        April 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        Thank you Karthik!
        You are very patient with me. I will start right there, where you mentioned!

  4. rajesh said,

    January 6, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Anice information providing website

  5. September 25, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I didnt understand the name of vidushi who song classical raag g sarangwas ammezing old singer thanks sir for old collection which is rare and you had collected hopes and some above collection of smt hirabaibadodekar,bal gandharv etc

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