Musings: A Date with Darbari

Sun set at EntranceA date with Darbari can be a serious affair. There is nothing light hearted, flirtish and easy about Darbari. It seeks commitment,  introspection and mature handling. Darbari however makes a great late night companion on those summer nights when sleep seems out of reach.

The story behind Darbari is that Mia Tansen, one of

the great musical geniuses and court musician of King Akbar invented this raga and sung it to Akbar in his Court or Darbar, and so it derived its name “Darbari Kannada”. The notes “gmRs” bring to it the “Kannada” Ang adding majesty and enchantment to the raga. The raga aroha and avaroha or ascending and descending scale is “nSRg-RS – mP  -d- nS; Sd- n-P -mP- gmRS”. Bollywood celebrates this raag in songs such as “Agar mujahesey Mohabbath Hai, Apne Har Gam De Do”; “Goongat Ke Pata Khol Re Thohey Piya Millenge”.

Within the spectrum of classical music, to listen to two great forces of Indian Vocal music Bhimsen Joshi and Rashid Khan is indeed fortunate


The Karnatic Raga Kannada is similar to the Darbari Kannada heard above. Kaviyyar and Kings such as Swathi Thirunal have composed many compositions in Kannada.

The singer in this two minute song captures all the beauty of the Kannada in some wonderful “Sancharams” of the raga or Arrangement of swaras..—Govardhana-giri-dhara_darbari-kannada

Govardhana Giridhara Govinda Gokula Bala Paramananda

Shri Vaththangitha Sri Kausthubha Dhara

Bhava Bhaya Dhara Pahi mukunda

Govardhana Giridhara Govinda Gokula Bala Paramananda

Pahi Tha Sura Ripu Padhava Brindha, Pavana Charitha Paramritha Kanda

Natya Yashodara Nana bharadhara Narayana Thi Karthika Charana


Ustad Vilayath Khan saheb captures its soulfulness in his Sitar

An All India Radio Hyderabad recording of vocalist Shri Jangaiah can be heard on The characteristic of Darbari is the virtuous Gamak on Gandhaar which achieves majestic dimensions in a male voice. The only Darbari that I have heard that sounds heartwrenching in a female voice is that of MS Subbulakshmi, the Nightingale of the South.

It is well known that MS Subbulakshmi sang the Song “Hari Tum Haro” at the request of Mahatma Gandhiji presenting it to him on his 75th Birthday. Initially however the Great Father’s request was politely refused but Gandhiji replied “If you cannot sing it I rather hear you recite it”. The famous bhajan was born, played all day on radio after Gandhiji’s  assasination, the song and the singer became inseparable. The Bhajan “Hari Tuma Haro Jana Ki Dheer” is set aptly to none other than Raag Darbari Kannada.