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Uttama, Madhyama and Adhama Rga-s

(Premalatha Nagarajan)

In the saskta tradition, there is another type of rga classification, called the
uttama, madhyama and adhama rga-s. This kind of classification is first noted in
the Svaramlakalnidhi of Rmmty. In the rgaprakaraam, he classifies the
d rga-s of his times into uttama (uttamttama), madhyama and adhama rga-s.
Uttama rga-s are those that are free from any kind of mixture of other
characteristics and are suitable for rendering gta, prabandha, lpa and hya. The
twenty uttama rga-s are:
1. Mukhr 2. uddhan 3. Mlavagaula 4. uddhavarl
5. Ghrjar 6. Lalita 7. uddharmakriy 8. uddhavasanta
9. Bhairav 10. Hindla 11. rrga 12. Kannaagaula
13. Smanta 14. Dk 15. Dhanys 16. Baul
17. har 18. Malhr 19. Mlavar 20. Sragana
Of these, ten are sampra rga-s, five are ava and the remaining five are
auava rga-s.

Fifteen rga-s are called madhyama rga-s, since they are occassionally used in
singing a portion of prabandha-s (gta-khaa or portions of songs). They are:
1. Kdragaula 2. Kmbhj 3. Kannaabagla 4. Vlval
5. Madhyamdi 6. Nraya 7. Rtigaula 8. Ndarmakriy
9. P 10. Bhpla 11. Rvagupti 12. Guakriy
13. Hjujji 14. Vasantabhairav 15. Smavarl
8 of these are sampra, 4 ava and 3 auava rga-s.

Adhama rga-s are those which are less illuminating in nature and are unfit for
being used in gta, prabandha, lpa and hya. These are innumerable. However
he lists 33 rga-s of this kind. They are:
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1.Saurra 2. Mcabaul 3. Chygaula 4. Kuraj
5. Sindhurmakriy 6. Gau 7. D 8. Magalakaiika
9. Prvagaula 10. Smarga 11. ndl 12. Phalamajar
13. akarbharaam 14. Dvagndhr 15. Dpaka 16. Naanrya
17. uddhabhairav 18. Bhinnaaja 19. Kuntalavarl 20. Sragabhairav
21. uddhabagla 22. Ngadhvani 23. Gharava 24. Mrgahindla
25. Chyni 26. Dvakriy 27. Nrya 28. Gaularga
29. T 30. Varl 31. Turukat 32. Svr
33. rdrad

In Smantha's Rgavibdha too we come across this classification of rga-s
into uttama, madhyama and adhama. According to him, those rga-s which are fit
for singing lpa, prabandha-s etc. are called uttama rga-s. They are:
1. Mukr 2. uddhan 3. Mlavagaua 4. uddavar
5. Gurjar 6. Lalita 7. uddharmakriy 8. uddhavasanta
9. Bhairav 10. Hindla 11 rrga 12. Karagaua
13. Smanta 14. Dk 15. Dhanys 16. Bahul
17 bhr 18. Mallr 19. Mlavar 20. Slagan

Madhyamarga-s
Though these rga-s are suitable for singing lpa, prabandha-s etc., since they
are not in vogue, they are called madhyamarga-s.
1. Kdragaua 2. Kmbhdi 3. Bagla 4. Vlval
5. Madhyamdi 6. Nrya 7. Rtigaua 8. Ndarmakriy
9. P 10. Bhpl 11. Rvagupti 12. Gakriy
13. Hijja 4. Vasantabhairav 15. Smavarl

Adhamarga-s
Though these rga-s are in vogue, they are not suitable for lpa etc.
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1. Saurr 2. Mcabahul 3. Chygaua 4. Kuraj
5. Rmakriy 6. Gau 7. D 8. Magalakaiika
9. Prv 10. Smarga 11. ndhl 12. Phalamajar
13. akarbharaa 14. Dvagndhra 15. Dpaka 16. Naanryaa
17. Bhinnaaja 18. Kuntalavar 19. Slagabhairav 20. uddhabagla
21. Dharava 22. Mrgahindla 23. Chyn 24. Dvakriy
25. Gauarga 26. T 27. Varl 28. Turukat
29. Svr
The rga-s listed in Rgavibdha under each category are similar to those
mentioned by Rmmty. We find only a few differences in the names of the rga-
s.
The principle underlying the 'uttama-madhyama-adhama' classification of rga-s
is also seen to be present today. Certain rga-s are regarded as being suitable for
singing 'rgam- tnam-pallavi', and certain others for rendering 'kti-s or other
compositions' and yet some suitable for use in sections of rgamlik-s etc. But the
terms 'uttama', 'madhyama' and 'adhama' as such are not used today.