Malhar - Raag that brings rain

Raag Malhar and story of Tansen – Raganation

Have you watched the Nerolac Paints ad, in which Ranbir Kapoor brings rain and devastates the wedding function. Well, he had to, as his love was getting married to someone else… But, bringing rain for this, as if the raindrops was waiting for his euphonic instructions to hit the ground. Do you think that this could happen? Or  whether this would have happened anytime in the past?

The magic is in the notes. The notes sung in the ad, seriously, have the power to bring the rain shower to the Terra. The notes come together to form a raga named ‘Malhar’. The original form of Malhar is known as the ‘Shuddha Malhar’, and its Aarohan is as

Sa   Re   ga   Ma   Pa   Dha   Ni   Sa’

and the Avarohan of the raga is

Sa’   ni   Dha   Pa   Ma   ga   Re   Sa

There are many other forms of Malhar, some of them being Raga Gaud Malhar, which is a combination of Shuddha Malhar with Bilawal ang and Gaud ang, and Raga Desh Malhar, which combines shuddha malhar and Desh.

Legends say that the musicians from the medieval era, and even earlier used to sing this raga. In that era, and even before, there had been musicians like Miyan Tansen, his son Bilas Khan, Meera Bai, Baiju Bawra, Baba Ramdas who had the capability of bringing rains using their forms of raga Malhar. Miyan Tansen had his own form of Malhar, known as Miyan Malhar. It is believed that when Tansen sang raga Malhar, it led to unexpected changes in nature, resulting in thunderous clouds and rain falling down from the sky. The version of this raga sung by Meera was raga Meera Malhar, and that by Baba Ramdas was raga Ramdasi Malhar.

Swami Haridas and Tansen with Akbar listening
Swami Haridas and Tansen, Akbar listening to them

Legends also have a story, revolving around Miyan Tansen, displaying the magnitude of Malhar’s magic.

Tansen was the musician at Akbar’s court. His talent and his obedience to Akbar made among the emperor’s favorites too. So, out of envy, the other courtiers made a plan to kill Tansen. Their objective was to make Tansen sing raga ‘Deepak’, the raga of fire. So, in order to fulfill it, they spread the word that Tansen can light up a diya with his singing, as they knew, that the raga will burn Tansen himself, along with the diyas.

After listening to the courtiers, Akbar wished to see such a spectacle. So, he ordered Tansen to show him his miracle. Tansen, worried of the consequences, but obedient, agreed to do so but demanded some time for practice.

In the time that he got for practice, he thought of raga ‘Megh Malhar’ (‘megh’ means clouds) as a counter, and taught it to his daughter, as he knew that if his daughter sings the raga, it could bring rains and he could avoid getting engulfed in the heat caused by raga Deepak.

On the day of the performance, when Tansen started with raga Deepak, the atmosphere became torrid, and Akbar, along with the other courtiers, witnessed the diyas starting to burn. The flames, in sync with the courtiers’ plan, were about to engulf the great musician. Reacting to the spread of flames, Tansen’s daughter started singing raga Megh Malhar, which brought thunderous clouds and poured rains all over the surroundings to extinguish the flames.

Tansen the great was able to display his talent, without sacrificing his valuable life for it. This is how raga Malhar came out to be the real hero of the story, and served its purpose, in its most beautiful way.

I know, that all this might seem to be a good story to you, and still, you might have a question, that “how can some notes come together to create such an aura, that has the ability to summon the clouds and bring rains?”

Well, my answer to it would be… just listen to the raga.. and immerse yourself in the beauty of ‘Malhar’. Who knows, after some time, the notes might feel like tiny rain droplets to you.



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