Chakravakam (raga)

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ArohanamS R₁ G₃ M₁ P D₂ N₂ 
Avarohanam N₂ D₂ P M₁ G₃ R₁ S

Chakravakam or Chakravaham (pronounced chakravākam) is a rāgam in Carnatic music (musical scale in South Indian classical music). It is the 16th Melakarta rāgam (parent rāgam) in the 72 melakarta rāgam system. According to the Muthuswami Dikshitar school, this rāgam is called Tōyavēgavāhini.[1] Chakravakam is close to Raga Ahir bhairav in Hindustani music.[2]

Chakravakam is a raga that is known to incite feelings of devotion, sympathy and compassion in the listeners.

Structure and Lakshana[edit]

Chakravakam scale with Shadjam at C

It is the 4th melakarta in the 3rd chakra- Agni. The mnemonic name is Agni-Bhu. The mnemonic phrase is sa ra gu ma pa dhi ni.[1] Its ārohaṇa-avarohaṇa structure (ascending and descending scale) is as follows (see swaras in Carnatic music for details on below notation and terms):

The notes in this scale are shadjam, shuddha rishabham, anthara gandharam, shuddha madhyamam, panchamam, chathusruthi dhaivatham and kaisiki nishadham.

It is a sampoorna rāgam - rāgam having all 7 swarams. It is the suddha madhyamam equivalent of Ramapriya, which is the 52nd melakarta.

Chakravakam is different from Mayamalavagowla in some ways, while playing. The Ri Ga ma notes are played a bit flatter than Mayamalavagowla, making it sound more restrained than Mayamalavagowla. The Da and Ni are played somewhat like Hari Kambhoji, giving the overall tune, to be restrained and devotional essence

Asampurna Melakarta[edit]

Tōyavēgavāhini is the 16th Melakarta in the original list compiled by Venkatamakhin. The notes used in the scale are the same and the ascending scale and descending scale are same.[3]

Janya rāgams[edit]

Chakravakam has quite a few janya rāgams (derived scales) associated with it, of which Bindumalini, Malayamarutam and Valaji are popular.

See List of Janya Ragas for a full list of its janyas.

Popular Compositions[edit]

Etula Brotuvo teliya and Sugunamule by Thyagaraja, Kānakkankoti vendum by Koteeswara Iyer are also sung in concerts.

Gajānanayutham is a popular composition in Tōyavēgavāhini, by the maestro Muthuswami Dikshitar, which is sung in a brisk tempo, unlike other compositions set to Chakravakam.

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal also contributed a lot to this raga. His composition Sarojanabha is a famous krithi in this raga which is about Sree Padmanabhaswamy.

Kalyani Varadarajan has composed a melodious kriti in this ragam - Sri Amruta Phalâmbike

There are a number of popular compositions that have recently been set to tune in Ahir bhairav (a Hindustani raga similar to Chakravakam), one of the most well known ones being Pibare Rāmarasam in Sanskrit, by Sadasiva Brahmendra.

Film music has its share of popular compositions in Chakravakam/Ahir Bhairav which include songs such as "Albela Sajan" from "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (Hindi), "Poochho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitai" from "Meri Surat Teri Ankhen" (Hindi) and "Raakkili Than" from "Perumazhakalam" (Malayalam).

Related rāgams[edit]

This section covers the theoretical and scientific aspect of this rāgam.

Chakravakam's notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields 2 other major melakarta rāgams, namely, Sarasangi and Dharmavati. Graha bhedam is the step taken in keeping the relative note frequencies same, while shifting the Shadjam to the next note in the rāgam. For an illustration refer Graha bhedam on Dharmavati.


  1. ^ Alternate notations:
    • Hindustani: S  G M P D  
    • Western: C C# E F G A A# C
  2. ^ Alternate notations:
    • Hindustani:   D P M G  S
    • Western: C A# A G F E C# C


  1. ^ a b Ragas in Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH Publications
  2. ^ Raganidhi by P. Subba Rao, Pub. 1964, The Music Academy of Madras
  3. ^ Shree Muthuswami Dikshitar Keerthanaigal, by A Sundaram Iyer, Music Book Publishers, Mylapore, Chennai

External links[edit]