Ragamala Vol 5: Malkauns


The story is told of Sati, who obeying the command of Brahma, married Shiva in order to bring him out of his isolated spiritual pursuits and engage with the world of men.  When Daksha, Sati’s father, neglected to invite her and Shiva to a grand function, Sati took it as her natural right to visit her parents. Unexpectedly, Daksha, did not embrace his daughter. Rather he berated her and complained about the many ‘faults’ of her husband, Lord Shiva.  In exasperation, Sati was consumed by rage and in defense of Shiva’s honour, immolated herself.


When Shiva learned of this he himself became enraged.  Grabbing Sati’s charred body he danced across the world with his dead wife on his shoulders.  As he danced madly and violently Sati’s body broke apart and fell in 51 different places. Many of these shaktipeeths are today revered as pilgrimage sites.


The gods of heaven were alarmed by the crazed Shiva and instructed Vishnu to try to calm him.  Sati, reborn as Parvati, at last was able to bring peace to the Lord of the Universe (Vishwanath) by performing a beautiful raga for him. This raga, the one we celebrate today, is Malkauns.


Malkauns is a very old raga as the story above attests; in it’s current structure it is said to be at least 3 – 400 years old.  It is a raga of deep night.


Abhay Narayan Mallick specialises in dhrupad singing, the ancient form of vocal music which reached its peak in the 16th and 17th centuries. This stately version of this grand raga is the perfect way to open Volume 5.


Jagjit Singh, who died in 2011, was a legend of Indian music. He made his name in the early 1980s, when with his wife, Chitra, he did more to make the poetic style of ghazal hugely popular. This ghazal written by Ghalib and set to malkauns is from the mid-eighties record, Echoes.


Charanjit Singh was a journeyman musician in the studios of Bombay, playing guitar and synthesizers for soundtracks throughout the 70s.  In the early 80s he recorded a record of synthesized ragas, in an Indian variation of PDQ Bach, who did a similar thing to Bach, in the States. It was way ahead of its time but sold nothing in India. This is his version of malkuns ala Moog!


A duet with Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle from the film Navrang is next. Adha Hai Chandarama based on malkauns is indeed a very soothing song which like the raga is performed at midnight.


According to Rajan Parrikar “when God created Malkauns, only two mortals were allowed the privilege of peeking over His shoulder while He was at work. Bhimsen Joshi and Amir Khan both owe their elevation to ‘Tansenhood’ to their extraordinary sway over Malkauns.” Herewith, is one of those holy interpretations, that of Ustad Amir Khan.


Koyalya Bolay Amuva ki Dar Par is a melody describing how koel birds singing on freshly blossomed mango trees, bees humming and hovering over new buds, signal the onset of spring. Based on malkauns this is gorgeous offering from the scions of the Patiala gharana Ustads Amanat and Fateh Ali Khan.


The King of Banaras and shenai (Indian oboe) Ustad Bismillah Khan offers a very concise yet amazing and enticing snippet of malkauns from an album of the late 1960s.


One of Charanjit Singh’s employers were the composer/lyricist team Shankar Jaikishan who ruled the Bollywood scene through much of the 1960s. Ever innovative and creative, the team got together a bit of combo with some of Calcutta’s hottest session musicians and scored several famous ragas in jazz.


Track Listing:

01 Raag Malkauns [Abhay Narayan Mallick]

02 maanaa ke musht-e-khaak se badhkar naheen hoon main [Jagjit Singh]

03 Raga Malkauns [Charanjit Singh]

04 Adha Hai Chandrama (Film_ Navrang)[Mahendra Kapoor & Asha Bhosle]

05 Raga Malkauns [Ustad Amir Khan]

06 Koyalya Bolay [Amanat Ali and Fateh Ali Khan]

07 Malkauns [Bismillah Khan]

08 Jazz Style Malkauns [Shankar Jaikishan]


3 thoughts on “Ragamala Vol 5: Malkauns

  1. download link of Ragamala series all the 5 volumes is not working. please provide if possible.
    if possible back cover may also be upload.

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing Nate. One correction – The ‘Malkauns’ here is actually Dhamar in Raag Desh. Its the same as that found in the beautiful album ‘Gauhar – Pearl of Darbhanga Dhrupad’ by Pandit Abhay Narayan Mallik. Theres a misprint on that album as well.

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