Raga Bhimpalasi- Voices of the afternoon

My journey with Bhimpalasi (Aberi/Abheri)

I was around 7-8 years old – I remember walking into the vocal lesson at my teacher’s home. It was late afternoon, and the usual batch of students were shuffling around with their notebooks etc, waiting for the session to start. The teacher’s harmonium stood ready, her notebook on it opened to the lesson for the day.

She came in, sat down and announced that we were going to learn a Mirabai Bhajan (Mirabai was a 15th century saint/singer ), one based on a raga called Bhimpalasi (which caused some amusement among us, as the name sounded so strange !!)

And then I heard Mirabai’s powerful words:

“O Mother, I’ve traded all for Krishna” she declared ….. and it was this masterpiece that  brought the raga Bhimpalasi to my consciousness. 

It instantly grabbed my attention. Here was something sweet, something indescribably serene.  I remember humming it on my short walk back to my home…. it fitted perfectly with the afternoon’s ambience.

Even now, when I think of this raga, I cannot but think of Mira’s part lament, part declaration, part ecstasy – which, put together in the mix, defines the essence of Bhimpalasi.

Meera goes on to wonder about Krishna’s whereabouts…. “some say he can be found at home, some say he’s in the forest, some say he’s with Radha..” 

She finally concludes happily, issuing her standard plea to her god, which forms the final line of  many of her compositions..

Bhimpalasi brings together a joyful mood, but with a sweet tinge of resignation, but never a mood of hopelessness….

The prescribed time of this raga is late afternoon…. after the sun’s harsh rays start receding in intensity. It has a gentle and sweet feeling – of looking forward to the evening ahead.

The name of the raga is quite overbearing (possibly because of the inclusion of the phrase “Bhim” which stands for big and strong – it was also the name of the strongman Bhim in the epic Mahabharata) However, the raga is anything but strong and aggressive-  it’s soft and sweet – it actually lends itself more to the latter part of it’s name “Palasi” related to the “Palash” flower perhaps?

As part of the ongoing series to document sarod compositions, here’s a home recording of Raga Bhimpalasi in a slow/middle tempo 10 beat cycle, that I learnt from Ustad Shahid Parvez. 

July 2014

We continue the Bhimpalasi by going into some different compositions. One of the most famous compositions that I learnt in my vocal classes was one in Madhyalaya teentaal (middle tempo 16 beat cycle) called ” Ja Re apni Mandirva”, said to be composed by the famous “Sadarang”.

In Hindi/Devnagri Script, the lyrics of this composition as I learnt them are:

Sthayi (first part)

?? ?? ?? ???? ???????
??? ???? ???? ??? ??????

Antara (2nd part)
????? ?????? ????? ???? ??
???? ??? ???? ??? ????

the translation of which is as follows:

“Ja, Ja Re Apni Mandirva “(Go away, go back to your home)
“Sun Pave Mori Sas Nanadiya ” (My mother and sister in law will hear you)
The antara (2nd part) goes:
“Hum to Sadarang tum ko chahat hai” (For while I do love you)
“Kya Tum hamre  thagan liya” (You have deceived me)

This composition is pretty much a staple of musical schools on this raga, and conveys an exchange between two people full of tension but love at the same time, which characterises Bhimpalasi

My attempt on the sarod:

I’ve had a few goes at the first lines in different variations, which goes well with Bhimpalasi, as the compostion is part plea, part surrender and part anger -a plea to go away, an admission of love despite anger at betrayal- so a mixed bag of emotions.

I was thinking of this composition while walking the banks of the Ganga (Ganges) in Varanasi on a summer afternoon….

Finally a composition in Bhimpalasi in Drut Teentaal (16 beat fast tempo)

This composition is rhythmic in nature and requires fast left hand work… a few taans are provided…


That’s it for Bhimpalasi for now…


Technical Details

As I strongly believe that technical details should only come second to experiencing the raga, here are some “mandatory” technical details on Bhimpalasi. If you understand and experience the raga in its full colour and glory, these details won’t be needed.

Bhimpalasi is roughly equivalent to the Carnatic ragam Aberi.  But as with most ragas, the treatment of the raga is very different in the systems.

Bhimpalasi has the following notes:

n S g M P n S  (ascending)
S n D P M g R S (descending)

The phrase n S g M P n D P,  g M P, g M g R S is a typical progression in this raga.



10 thoughts on “Raga Bhimpalasi- Voices of the afternoon

  1. I have been looking for the perfect wording and meaning of this song so that I can compose the dance on it. Thanks so much.

  2. One of the most layered yet simple description of the emotive quality of this Raag about which I read (in Pt Omkarnath Thakur’s book Sangeetanjali) that if it doesn’t melt the heart of even the most wretched one then the heart ought to be understood as truly cruel…:):)I felt like ‘bingo’ ..I got the same feeling today while reading this:

    “as the compostion is part plea, part surrender and part anger -a plea to go away, an admission of love despite anger at betrayal- so a mixed bag of emotions”

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