Raga Time and Timeless Ragas - Dawn to Dusk

The time theory in Indian Classical Music suggests that Ragas are associated with time. They are to be sung at specific times in the day to create a specific mood or experience. Presenting here a series of Ragas from dawn to dusk.

We implore you to think about this observation of T.S. Eliot as you listen to the melodies.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

By Dmitri KesselLIFE Photo Collection

Raga Lalit by Pt. Behrebuva

Before the First Rays

The dawn is time when man connects with the divine. These early morning moments have been cherished by musicians and spiritual practitioners for a long time. Raga Lalit is one such early morning melody that can set oneself on a deeper journey within oneself. 

Misty Morning (2019) by Mandar KaranjkarBaithak Foundation

Raga Bhairav by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi Bombay

Early Morning

You now have first glimpse of the sun and yet you have not forgotten the dawn. There is a day ahead but the moment is evolving and ragas like Bhairav set a similar mood. 

Todi Ragini, Second Wife of Hindol Raga, Folio from a Ragamala (Garland of Melodies) (circa 1775-1800) by UnknownLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Raga Todi by Ustad Bismillah Khan

Todi Ragini

The contemplative nature of many morning ragas soothe many. Our connect with nature has been severed to an extent that we are unable to imagine the synchronicity experienced by musicians a century before. These ragas can become a medium to re-establish the lost link. 

Autumn Morning on the Potomac (circa 1860s) by William Louis SonntagLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Raga Jaunpuri by Ustad Faiyyaz Khan

Late Morning Ragas

Ragas like Bilawal, Deskar and Jaunpuri are sung around 10 am. The sun is bright and so are the notes. Here is Ustad Faiyyaz Khan singing a drut (fast-paced) composition. 

Sarang Raga from the Sirohi Ragamala (ca. 1680-1690)Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

Raga Shuddha Sarang by Amir Khan

Kings of the Noon

The Sarang family of ragas rules the afternoon. These are the only ragas that are sung till about 2 pm. With many types and variations each Sarang has a soothing quality. Here is Ustad Amir Khan's vilambit khayal (slow-tempo composition) in the raga

Gezicht op een besneeuwd bos in de namiddag (ca. 1880 - ca. 1936) by Apol, LouisRijksmuseum

Raga Multani by Vidushi Hirabai Barodekar

A Winter Afternoon

One wonders if the Raga-Time connection is the same everywhere. Is it a conditioning or simply a personal experience? Sitting in spaces and sceneries outside the region where this music originated can one connect with the the codes of these melodies? Here is Raga Multani to test.

A Walk at Dusk A Walk at Dusk (about 1830–1835) by Caspar David FriedrichThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Raga Shree by Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur

Walk at the Dusk

The melancholy is evident. The winding back seems inevitable and thus the dusk has a feeling that is unique yet experienced by everyone. Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur conveys a part of this experience in his signature aalaps (melodic expression of the raga).  

Curious to know about ragas after dusk? Head over to this exhibition.

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