Raga Jaunpuri- A morning prayer

Shahi Bridge in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Raga Jaunpuri….


I vividly remember how I came across this raga… in the 80s, Doordarshan (India’s state TV broadcaster) used to have a Sunday morning program called Prabhati (“Dawn”) which went for all of 10-15 minutes..anchored by Shri LK Pandit of Gwalior Gharana

And one day they decided to feature a morning raga called Jaunpuri. As soon as the raga was outlined, I was really taken in by the sheer beauty of this calm, morning raga- peaceful, sweet and serene….following the early morning calls to the rising sun by more serious ragas such as Bhairav, Bhatiyaar,  etc, this was a welcome sweet break from the seriousness and austerity.

Jaunpuri is a more emotional and personal call to prayer than an invocation. it calls out gently but with great emotion to the One. Within the call, there are many colours and shades of surrender, which can be discovered and expressed.

Being a morning raga, Jaunpuri is not heard much in concert these days.
My concert memories of Jaunpuri mainly consist of a few in Varanasi and one by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi. I even remember the khayal that he sang.

Continuing the tradition of playing compositions in Jaunpuri that are not heard commonly, here are three compositions in fast 16 beat teentaal.

 My recordings:

1. An old Youtube video from 2017 from a home recordin

 A set of 3 compositions:
First by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in his 90s album Dawn Dreams. I’ve slightly modified the composition
Secondly, a vast number of vocal compositions have essentially the same structure. Sung by greats like Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, I present a composition which outlines the structure of these pieces. The manjha (or middle part) of these can be be played in a number of variations and I have played it both in the original vocal style as well as one with the element of Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s khayal that I still remember.
The last one is a composition from the Shahjahanpur Gharana of Sarod
Recorded at home during a practice session

2. In December 2023, I played a Baithak featuring Morning Raagas in the Victorian town of Shepparton

Besides playing the usual compositions, I played a few more – with  additional material sourced from  Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Shri Purbayan Chatterjee (9 beat matta taal). On the tabla was Shri Pandurang Toravi. Here are some excerpts

Origin of the Name:

Jaunpuri is named after the town of Jaunpur, about 70 kms from  Varanasi and 800 kms from New Delhi by road.

The raag is attributed to Sultan Hussain Sharqi of the Sharqi Dynasty.

Musical Structure
Jaunpuri is classified as part of the Asavari Raag family (Thaat) and has the following notes:

Aaroh/Ascending: S R g M P d n S

Avroh: S n d P M g R S

While identical in notes to Darbari, there are characteristic phrases and movements which separate the two. 

In terms of Time Theory, Jaunpuri is considered an early morning Raag whereas Darbari is a late night Raag.