Its surprising I crossed 12 episodes of Humming Now without touching upon a beautiful ragam — Sindhu Bhairavi. I vividly remember being addicted to the MLV’s rendition of Venkatachala Nilayam, long before I knew I was interested in classical music. It used to sit in one of the tapes under the devotional category, and as far I know, this must have been the first manifestation in me of any interest in classical music.

It is also one of the ragams I think I can take a shot at identifying (read — educated guess), within a few seconds and stand a good chance of being correct.

Which brings me to another interesting topic — nomenclature of ragams. I know that the 72 melakartas (equivalent of thaat in Hindustani, parents in English) are named specifically to accommodate the mnemonic system designed by Venkatamakhin. Some janyas (child or derivatives in English) are also named based on the melakartas. But I cannot find any correlation between names used in Hindustani Vs names used in Carnatic. Some names are completely distinct and hence don’t introduce any confusions e.g. Bhoop (H) is Mohanam (C) and some others use the same name in both systems (such as Hamsadhwani). But some other names are extremely confusing — for example, Bhairavi (H) is Sindhu Bhairavi (C). But Bhairav (H) is Mayamalavagowla (C). Natbhairav (H) is Sarasangi (C), but Natabhairavi (C) is Asaveri (H). There is also a Bhairavi (C), I don’t know what the Hindustani folks call it. Same goes with the Kalyani family of ragas. There are many ragams in either system, using confusing names, most of which are somewhat connected, but some that bear no connection. This system is rather puzzling to me, and I hope to clear the smoke one day by reading and researching enough.

To the learned, this is a non-issue because they don’t have to know a raga by its name. If they get confused with names, they will use swaras. Infact, I have witnessed very prominent musicians who do not know the their counterpart’s equivalent name of a given ragam. This did not surprise me at all.

Ok..back to Sindhu Bhairavi.

Fav #1 Venkatachala Nilayam (sung by ML Vasanthakumari)

Fav #2 Chinnanchiru Pen Pole (semi-classical, written by Ulundurpettai Shanmugasundaram made famous by Sirgazhi)

Fav #3 Many many improvisations of Mandolin U Shrinivas (both in classical and experimental formats)

Sindhu Bhairavi also lends itself into use in Ragamalikas (Raga Medleys) — famous ones include Kurai Ondrum Illai written by C Rajagopalachari and made famous by MS Subbalakshmi, Sri Chakra Raja written by Agastyar. Sindhu Bhairavi is one of the ragas Ilayaraja has extensively used in his compositions. There are film music compositions from other composers as well — a detailed list of film music compositions in this raga is available here