Ramkali is an early morning raga, often associated with Sikh devotional cultures. Many Sikh saints have set 'shabads' (spiritual verses) to the tune of this raga.
In the sprawling premises of the Bawali Rajbari, the 265-year-old heritage mansion-palace situated 35 kilometres outside of Kolkata, the Darbar team captured the soulful voice of the acclaimed vocalist, Omkar Dadarkar elaborating an alap in Ramkali. Flourishing a spacious introduction rooted on long, reposeful notes, he plods further to deliver two compositions – the first tied to vilambit (slow) tempo and the second tied to a faster tempo. However, in this rendition where he focuses principally on the ‘bhava’ (emotions) of the raga, he does away with any rhythmic accompaniment altogether. As a result, what we get to listen to is a free-flowing recital rendered casually in an old palace – it is almost like getting drawn to the sounds and tiptoeing through the corridors of an ancient palace reverberating with the sounds of a yogi immersed in oblivion in his ‘riyaaz.’ It is almost like walking beneath alcoves of strapping, time-worn walls to take a stealthy peek into the sadhana (immersive practice) of a recluse.
Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606) describes Raag Ramkali as a wise teacher disciplining the student. The student is aware of the pain of learning but is still conscious of the fact that ultimately it is for the best. In this way Ramkali conveys the change from all that we are familiar with, to something we are certain will be better.”
Omkar Dadarkar’s khayal style is receiving growing plaudits across the world. He first learned from his parents, then from a vast range of learned gurus including his aunt Manik Verma, Ram Deshpande, Yashwanthbua Joshi, Ulhas Kashalkar, Girija Devi, and Shrinivas Khale. A period of study as an ITC Sangeet Research Academy scholar further sharpened his vocal control, and his performance career goes from strength to strength, with a growing resume of performances and awards. He blends the analytical with the soulful, bringing traditional khayal to new global audiences each year.
Ramkali is derived from Bhairav thaat. Its jati is sampurna-sampurna vakra, that is, it uses all notes in its ascent and descent while the descent has a meandering path. Its dominant note is Pa (5th) and the sub-dominant note is Sa (1st). Its arohana and avarohana are as follows:
S r G m P d N S'
S' N d P ; M P d n d P ; M P G m r S
Omkar Dadarkar (khayal)
Raag Ramkali, Thaat: Bhairav, Samay: early morning
Recorded by Darbar in 2017, on Location at The Rajbari Bawali, India