Raga Bhopali (Mohanam) – Chords for Indian Classical Hindustani Raga

Rag Bhopali, also known as Bhoop, Bhoopali or Bhupali, is a Hindustani classical raga, is a pentatonic scale (audav-jati) – uses 5 notes in ascending and descending scale – with the same notes as the major pentatonic scale.

Raga Bhoopali has the same notes as in the Carnatic raga Mohanam.

Notes/ Swaras/Intervals of Raga Bhopali


If we were to play the notes with C note as the Sa,

Raaga Bhupali/ Raga Mohanam notes: C D E G A C

(see the end of this article for more about playing it on a western instrument – C major /F major scale etc)

Aroha & Avaroha of The scale of Bhopali (Hindustani)

Aroha (ascent): Sa Re Ga Pa Dha Sa

Avaroha (descent): Sa Dha Pa Ga Re Sa

Where all the notes – Sa Ri Ga Pa Dha – are Suddha Notes

Arohana Avarohana in Carnatic terms

Arohana: Sa Ri2 Ga3 Pa Dha2 Sa

Avarohana: Sa Dha2 Pa Ga3 Ri2 Sa

Raga Bhoopali notes in terms of Intervals

Root – Major 2nd – Major 3rd – perfect 5th – Major 6th – Octave

Example movements for Raaga Bhopali

Below are a few phrases which are characteristic to Raag Bhoopali, along with example chords.

See how the chords match with the melody phrase or notes at that point. Understand the method behind it, and then you can use it for any phrase.

An underlined swara indicates the mandra saptak (lower octave) and ‘ indicates the taar saptak (higher octave).

Usual pakads (characteristic phrases):

  1. S R G R S D S R G
  2. S R G R S D S R G P G D P G R S

See the video or image below to see chords for the melody phrases.

Click to see the melody and chords as image

  1. G R P G G R S R D S
  2. G R S D S R G R P G D P G R S

See the video or image below to see chords for the melody phrases.

 Click to see the chords and melody as image

The chords given above use 2 note groups from the phrase as the basis. Consider them example chords, use the same method for any note grouping within a phrase of your choice.

How to find and use chords from melody phrases

Let us take a few chord examples from the above melody chord set.

Swaras: Ga Ri

Equivalent to the notes: E D

The Em7 chord has the notes: E G B D

The E7 (dominant 7th chord) has the notes: E G# B D

Since both the 7th chords have the notes E and D in it, we have tried each chord and used both in two places for the same notes (see 2nd video).

The Em chord is part of the family of C major scale chords. Em7 is an extension, adding another note from within the C major scale (from which the major pentatonic Raga Bhoopali is derived). The E7 chord has the G# note which is note in the C major scale. Try it and if you find it sounds good, use it. The theory is for guidance or for a path or a hint or idea to begin with. The final arrangement is about choices.

Swaras: Sa Ri

Notes: C D

We have used both the Cadd9 and Dm chords for the two notes (C D)

The Cadd9 chord (notes: C E G D) has both the notes C and D

The Dm chord (notes: D F A) has the D note. When the C note is sounded in the melody along with the Dm chord, the resulting sound is that of the Dm7 chord (notes: D F A C).

Notice how the above logic works in the given situations, extend them to new situations.

Swaras: Sa Ri Dha

Notes: C D A

The chord D7 (Notes: D F# A C) has all the notes.

One can try the Dm7 chord (notes: D F A C) too, which has all the notes completely within the C major scale.

More at: How you can learn to play Chords for any Song, Raga, Melody or Phrase

Few more phrases:

Some chalans (elaborations of the pakad):

  1. G P D P D D S’
  2. P G P D P D S’ R’ G’ R’ G’
  3. S R G P |R G P D|
  4. S’ _ D2 P |G2 R2 S _|

See the video or image below to see chords for the melody phrases.

Click to see the melody/chords as image

The missing Madhyam – Kalyani thaat, F Major scale etc

Bhupali is classified under Kalyan that (Lydian scale notes). Deshkar is another raga with the same notes as Bhupali, and is included in the Bilawal Thaat (Major scale notes).

Kalyan that has the Theevra Madhyam (note F# when C is the Sa), while Bilawal has the Suddha Madhyam (note F when C is the Sa). The 4th note Ma, makes the difference between Kalyan or Bilawal – Major scale or Lydian.

The original thaat decides the movements, nyasa etc in Bhoopali and Deshkar, which brings the difference in the ragas though the notes are the same. The movements, the note groupings etc are different but the notes are the same.

Since the Madhyam is completely missing in either raga Bhupali or Deshkar, in practice, as far as the scale notes concerned, the raga doesn’t show if it belongs to Bilawal or Kalyan. If it is seen as part of the Major scale or Lydian scale won’t make any difference since the 4th note which brings the difference between the two scales is completely absent in the notes of Raga Bhopali or Raga Deshkar.

It has also been noted that F major scale is mentioned in some places as the scale on which Bhupali is based.

The C major scale notes, when played from the F note as Sa, gives us Kalyan or Lydian with F as the Sa.

F Lydian has same notes as Kalyan, while F major scale will still have the notes as Bilawal, with F as the Sa.


Just remember that ‘Major scale’ or ‘Lydian’ etc is the part which tells us the pattern of the raga, while the preceding alphabet C or F purely tells us what the Sa or the root pitch has been chosen as, which can vary from singer to singer, need to need, song to song.

Playing the white keys on the keyboard or harmonium, starting from the C note gives the notes of Bilawal. While starting from the F note and playing the white keys gives Kalyan. The only note difference is in the 4th note.

To define the raga, the movement of notes from the original thaat are important. But when playing on an instrument, the notes used are the same, and won’t affect the scale whether you start with C or F and play the white keys or respective frets.

In the case of Rag Bhopali, since the Ma is absent, whether you start with C or F and play the needed white keys, it is the same scale with a different Sa.

When applying chords, please remember that the chords from The Lydian scale will have the #4th note while the major scale chords will have the perfect 4th note.

That is, the C major scale chords will have F note in it while the Kalyan/Lydian scale will have the F# note in it. Whether to use F or F# included chords be decided as you find suitable in a case to case basis.

More about chords for Deshkar, Pahadi and other ragas at Raga/Song chord resource – Chords for any Song, Raga, Melody or Phrase

Posted in Chords for Indian Ragas, Music Theory

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