Puriya Dhanashri Raag Description

Puriya Dhanashri is a raga in Hindustani classical music. It belongs to the Poorvi Thaat and has been derived from the Janak raga.


A “raga” in Sanskrit means a melody which is pleasing to the ear therefore a raga must consist of a melody or a scale and must be pleasant to listen to.Based on Pandit Bhatkhande’s classification system, all ragas are derived from “thaats” or scales. Thaats form the derivative scales for all ragas in

Hindustani classical music. Thaats are sampoorna or complete and consist of all the seven notes present in hindustaani music. The notes may however be present in either komal or tivra or shuddh forms in the thaat depending on the scale. There are ten thaats according to Pt Bhatkande they are, Purvi, Asavari, Bhairavi, Kafi, Khamaj, Bhairav, Todi, Marwa,Bilaval and Kalyan. From each thaat many ragas are derived, the thaat raga or the raga which consists of the notes belonging to that thaat is also known as the janak raga and the other ragas belonging to that thaat are known as janya ragas. the Thaat system has however been criticised for its imperfections by many scholars. We find that many ragas consisting of notes outside the purview of a thaat belong to it. For example in the bilaval thaat all seven notes are shuddha or natural in their form but raga Alhaiya Bilawal belonging to the same thaat consists of both the komal as well as the shuddha nishabh. Therefore it maybe said that though the thaat system most definitely helped in classifying ragas under scales it is not rid of flaws.

Raga Puriya Dhanashri

Raga Poorvi, the “type-raga” of Purvi Thaat contains all seven notes (i.e. Sharaj, Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat and Nishad). But the rishabh and the dhaivat are komal both in ascent and descent and the madhyam varies from tivra to shuddh whereas the gandhar and the nishaad stay shudh throughout.

In Puriya Dhanashri, however, the aarohan or the ascent is as follows – N r G M d N S. This shows that pancham is not used very often in the aarohan thereby making it a shaadav aarohan or an aarohan with six notes. Rishabh and Dhaivat are komal or flat in Raag Puriya Dhanashri wheres the Madhyam is tivra or sharp. The descent or the avarohan is as follows: S N d P M G M r G r s, the descent bears all seven notes with komal Dhaivat and Rishabh and a tivra Madhyam. The vadi of this raga is pancham and the samavadi is rishab. Raag Purvi’s structure is very close to that of raga Puriya Dhanashri therefore in order to differentiate between the two shudhha madhyam is often used in raga purvi unlike the tivra madhayam used in raga Puriya Dhanashri.

The gayan samay or the time of singing this raga is at dusk. Raag Puriya Dhanashri is sung at time of transition from the afternoon to the evening and thus it is known as a Sandhiprakash Raga.The pakad of this Raga or the catch phrase of this Raga under the Bhatkande system is N r G, M r G P, M d P, M G M r G d M G r S . While expounding the uttaranga part of this Raga the phrase M d N d S is used to move into the taara saptak (higher octave). The transition from the taara saptak Re to the Madhya Saptak Ni is commonly through the use of a meendh.

Raga-Rasa Theory

Each sruti or micro tonal interval has a definite character; the names manda, candovati, dayavati, ranjani, raudri, krodha, ugra or khsobhini denote their emotional quality which dwells in combination or singly in the notes of the modal scale: thus, dayavati, ranjani and ratika dwell in the gandhara and each of the notes ( swara ) of the scale in its turn has its own kind of expression and distinct psychological or physical effect and can be related to a colour, a mood ( rasa or bhava ), a metre, a deity or one of the subtle centres ( chakra ) of the body. …Thus for the sringara (amorous or erotic) and the hasya (laughter) rasa, the madhyama and the pancham are used; for the vira (heroic), raudra (wrathful) and the adbhuta (wondrous), the shadja and the rishabha ; for the bibhatsa (repulsive) and the bhayanaka (fearsome), the dhaivata ; and for the karuna (compassionate), the nisada and the gandhara are used.Every swara stands for a certain definite emotion or mood and has been classified according to its relative importance, and it forms a different part of the `person’ of the modal scale.


It is hard to classify the emotional character of this raga as it varies from the transition of one note to another. The sobriety of its scale makes it very emotional in character. It is embellished with the raudra and bhayanaka or the wrathful and the fearsome while using the dhaivat, madhyam and the rishabh but it also contains the karunakara or compassionate characteristic while using the nishadh. Every transition in this raga captures a different rasa or emotion and it stands as an example of how classical Indian music is highly dependent upon emotions and that shruthi-bhava-rasa can never work separately in any form of art.

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