by David Courtney working tools

Ragmala Painting of Rag (Ragini) Lalit (Hyderabad circa 1760)
Ragmala Painting of Rag (Ragini) Lalit (Hyderabad circa 1760)


Lalit (sometimes transliterated as Lalith) is a moderately common rag.  One well known song in this rag is "Tu Hai Mere Prema Devata".  There is some disagreement concerning the Dha; some suggest that Lalit uses shuddha Dha and others say that it uses komal Dha.  It has Pancham absent in both the ascending and the descending structures, therefore it is shadav - shadav jati

Lalit is one of the most curious rags in the Hindustani tradition.  Normally rags which use both Mas show a very strong "either / or" approach rather than a chromatic approach.  That is to say that one may use tivra Ma in passage or shuddha ma, but one generally does not use both Mas together unless they are linked by a very clear pakad (e.g., bihag).  Lalith is unusual in that it takes a chromatic approach to the two Mas.  It treats them as though they were distinct notes.  This chromatic treatment, coupled with the absence of Pa (5th) has caused some scholars to view this tivra Ma as actually being a komal Pa. (e.g., Jairazbhoy, 1971)

The concept of a komal Pa (diminished 5th) is very controversial.  Present musical theory clearly rejects this position.  However, komal Pa was a characteristic of the old Dhaivati jati as described in the Natya Shastra.  Although there is a historical precedent to komal Pa, the conservative approach it to ignore this concept.

The rejection of komal Pa does not automatically simplify the theoretical position of Lalith.  The equal weight and usage of both madhyams raises some questions.  If we give importance to the tivra madhyam, lalit falls into Marwa that.  However, if we give importance to the shuddha madhyam, it falls into Suriyakantha mela (note- this mode is not one of the 10 thats that by convention is taught in the music colleges in India).  Since the shuddha Ma is generally considered the vadi it would make more sense to ascribe its modality to Suriyakantha mela, but for here we will bow to convention and scribe it to Marwa that.


Ascending structure for Lalit
(general discussion of arohana) - (general discussion of notation)


Descending structure of Lalit
(general discussion of avarohana)


Shadav - Shadav - (general discussion of jati)


Midnight to Mid-morning - (general discussion of time and rag)


Marwa That - (general discussion of that)


Sa-Ma or Sa-Dha - (general discussion of drone)


For more information check out "Elementary North Indian Vocal"



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For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com