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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Raga, RAga, Raaga

Rāga literally means attachment, ‘that which colors’.

Rāga is one of the most commonly used words which comes from the root-verb ‘rañj’. Rañj means to color. Anything that ‘colors’ the mind, makes it strongly attached is called rāga.

Rāga as per Bhagavadgītā

The Bhagavadgītā[1][2][3] uses this word in the general sense of attachment to anything and that it is caused by the quality called rajas, the second of the three guṇas.

Rāga as per Yogasutras

The Yogasutras[4] of Patañjali[5] describes it as the extreme desire that arises in the mind after a pleasurable experience. The residual desire to get that pleasure once again and the consequent attachment towards the means of getting it is also Rāga. Along with dveṣa or hatred, it is considered as a great obstacle in the path of spiritual progress.

Rāga as per Music Science

In the science of music, rāga is a tune generated by the proper combination of the saptasvaras or the seven fundamental notes. Here, they are called rāgas because they give pleasure to the mind.

Classification of Rāga

These rāgas are classed as six by the authorities of music, though the names differ in the lists given by them. For instance, one list gives them as:

  1. lava
  2. Indra
  3. Mallāra
  4. Śrīrāga
  5. Vasanta
  6. Hindola

Rāga, Gender Classification

Sometimes, depending upon the sentiments produced, the rāgas are also classified as:

  1. Pumrāga - male : The pumrāgas produce the sentiments of heroism and wonder.
  2. Strīrāga - female : The strirāgas produce the sentiments of amour and humor
  3. Napumsakarāga - neuter : The napumsakarāgas produce the sentiments of peace and fear.

Types of Rāgiṇīs

Each of these rāgas has six feminine associates called as rāgiṇīs. They take the total to thirty six.


  1. Bhagavadgītā 2.64
  2. Bhagavadgītā 3.34
  3. Bhagavadgītā 14.7
  4. Yogasutras 3.7
  5. He lived in 200 B. C.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore