As suggested by the name, Ahir Bhairav is a blend of two ragas –Bhairav, a primordial scale and Ahiri that owes its origin to a folk melody belonging to ‘Ahir’ or cowherds' communities residing on the fertile plains of the two Indian rivers – Ganga and Yamuna.
Arati Ankalikar connects three styles – Agra, Gwalior and Jaipur- without a suture in her presentations. In her deep, gorgeous voice, she renders Raag Ahir Bhairav, a morning melody, in this extract from the Darbar Festival 2011.
She begins the alap, taking long pauses in the lower octave to establish the initial hues of this raga with Bhairav-like expositions. With the vilambit Teental composition, ‘Rasiya Mhara Amalara’ she goes Agra-mode with heavy vocalizations and bol banav (elaboration with lyrics). The middle octave sees more of the Kafi-like shades of Ahir Bhairav, making it a succinct and flavourful portrayal of the raga’s essence.
The drut Teental composition, ‘Jago Re Mayijago’ is doled out with brilliant vistaars and taans in the Jaipur and Gwalior modes. A young and promising Anubrata Chatterjee provides an unobtrusive and steady accompaniment on the tabla. Chinmay Kolhatkar’s versatile and soulful refrains on the harmonium makes this recital more pleasing to the ears. Omkar Dalvi is an emerging artist who has made a name for himself in this rare instrument. He provides excellent support to Ankalikar in this recital.
Ahir Bhairav is derived from the Bhairav thaat (scale) and deploys all notes in its ascent and descent with komal Re (flat 2nd) and komal Ni (flat 7th). The dominant note is Ga (3rd) or Ma (4th) and the sub-dominant note is Sa (1st).
There are several viewpoints regarding its dominant and sub-dominant notes because without distorting its features or chalan (gait), the notes of the raga offer a lot of scope for improvisations. The raga’s poorvang or lower tetra-chord is rooted on Bhairav with due emphasis on its oscillating yet virile komal Re while the komal Ni in its uttarang (upper tetra-chord) brings in the soft hues of Kafi and Bageshri. Interestingly, this compound raga is much more popular than the grandiose Bhairav and in a way reflects the concept of Ardhanareeshara (the composite version of the male and female forms) in the Hindu pantheon.
Arati Ankalikar (khayal)
Anubrata Chatterjee (tabla)
Chinmay Kolhatkar (harmonium)
Omkar Dalvi (pakhawaj)
Priya Prakash & Shobhana Patel (tanpuras)
Raag Ahir Bhairav, Thaat: Bhairav, Samay: early morning