72 Melakarta Scheme

Melakarta, Melakarta raga, Janaka raga, Mela, Parental raga, Raganga raga – all of them are synonyms of a scale. A scale consists of Aarohana and Avarohana of the 7 notes with increasing and decreasing pitch.

An arohana and avarohana of swaras together is called Moorchana. There are 7 swaras and 12 swarasthanas, which are universal and which exist in all the systems and traditions of world music.

Our ancient musicians and musicologists found out the concept of comprehensive system to evolve the maximum number of scales through the process of permutations and combinations of 12 swarasthanas rather than as 16 Prakriti-Vikriti swaras in an octave and successfully arrived at the logical number of scales as 72, which are called as Melakartas.

This scheme is governed by 4 natural rules or laws with in its preview.

1) The scale should be an octave with upper srgmpdnS – Sndpmgrs

2) The same swarasthanas should be present in Arohana and Avarohana in the 72 Melakarta scheme. Example: Hanumatodi

3) The scale should be Krama Sampurna (straight and complete) in Arohana and Avarohana also, which means it is not Vakra Sampurna (not zig-zag).

Example: srgmpdnS – Sndpmgrs

4) ‘sa’ and ‘pa’ should be present in all the 72 Melakartas. If the 12 universal swarasthanas are taken into account for the process, only 32 Melakartas would have been derived. But out intelligent musicologists of the past evolved 16 Prakriti-Vikriti swaras into account for this scheme and evolved 72 Melakartas.

Given below is 16 Prakriti-Vikriti swaras to evolve 72 Melakartas.

1. Shadja – s 9. Sudda Da – d
2. Sudda Ri – r 10. Chatusruti Da – d
3. Chatusruti Ri – r 11. Kaisika Ni – n
4. Sadharana Ga – g 12. Kaakali Ni – n
5. Antara Ga – g 13. Chatusruti Ri is called ‘Suddha Ga’
6. Suddha Ma – m 14. Saadharana Ga is called ‘Shatusruti Ri’
7. Prati Ma – m 15. Chatusruti Da is called ‘Suddha Ni’
8. Panchama – p 16. Kaisika Ni is called ‘Shatusruti Da’

The scheme can be obtained and understood in 2 ways: