A rare find: Raga Gaoti (Gawati,Gavati, Gavti)

The rare raga Gaoti (Gawoti, Gavati, Gavti) is an underutlised gem of the Indian raga pantheon….which for some reason, has failed to get widespread popularity among musicians. Chief sources of performances in this raga are mainly sitar (notably,  the Imdadkhani group of sitarists:  Vilayat Khan, Imrat Khan, Nishat Khan, Shahid Parvez and Wajahat Khan) and some vocalists. Gaoti is hardly known on the sarod, except for a few isolated performances in the Shahjahanpur school. In my memory, I cannot recall a single performance of this raga that I’ve been to, which has contributed to my impression…
(The pantheon of indian ragas is replete with such masterpieces, forgotten among the popular,  shunned by the concert A list of ragas, but a fertile ground of endless inspiration and sustenance for explorers such as myself, who stumble upon these from time to time…)
As Thomas Gray wrote:
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear”
Gawoti is a “learned” raga  by which I mean that unlike many major ragas, it leaves the listener with a pleasant, fulfilled feeling, but it’s appeal isn’t very obvious.  It’s like enjoying a perfume without actually knowing why it’s so nice. The secret lies in the peculiar gait of the this raga – its particular combination of notes which gives it this flavour  and emotion.

The particular appeal of Gaoti to me is that it has a “happy” disposition, but there is a plaintive element to it as well. It’s almost like meeting a friend, having a great conversation but as you go to leave, your friend exhorts you to stay in a pleading manner… (the upper notes of the raga played in a particular fashion can evoke this feeling)..

I start this off with an except from a practice session exploring the raga in a quick alaap followed by a particular composition in slow 16 beat cycle (vilambit) that I like. The main reason for selecting this one is that it contrasts the happy tone of the raga with the plaintive aspect.

I’ll continue to add more material to this section over time




Gavati’s signature is  S M P N S (upper) D. This signature heralds the arrival of Gaoti, and sets it apart from other ragas.

However, there are some issues. It is not practical to keep avoiding the Ga, so many a Gaoti chalan sounds like:

G M P N S D as well.

It’s up to each person to interpret it as they choose, but the G must not be overused too much.



12 thoughts on “A rare find: Raga Gaoti (Gawati,Gavati, Gavti)

  1. FYI. I heard Sugato-da perform Raga Gawati on Dec 31st in Kolkata. A video recording of the entire performance was made (by him). In case you’re interested, you can probably ask him for it.

  2. A recording of a vocal recital in Raaga Gavati by Ustads Nazakat Ali and Salamat Ali has been in existence for at least 40 years. It was a long playing record and it also had Darbari Kanada and a thumri bundled with it.

    1. One prominent vocalist Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki’s performance keeps us spellbound. It’s available on YouTube.
      He has also used it in Natyasngeet.
      Natak: ‘Yayati aani Devyani’
      Song : Prem vardan

  3. Of the performers of current generations, I know Smt Gauri Pathare (and many other students of Pt Jitendra Abhisheki) presents a wonderful Gavati.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Smt Gauri Pathare is a wonderful singer, as are many students of Pandit Abhisheki ji.

  4. Raag Gawati by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Qawalli)

    The lyrics of the song is exactly as described above.

  5. There’s actually a beautifully recorded performance of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the Mohan Veena on the Darbar Festival channel on YouTube, a subscription would also give you access to the full recording.

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