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• Urmi Battu

# Merukhand

Updated: Jan 31

Merukhand is an age-old practice in Indian Classical music which involves the systematic permutation of swaras. In this practice, we take a set of swaras and sing all the possible combinations or arrangements of these swaras, in a particular order. In mathematical terms, Merukhand is a permutation of swaras.

ORIGIN:

Merukhand practice can be traced back to the 13th century, mentioned in the Sanskrit classic text "Sangeeta Ratnakara", written by Sarangdeva. The word “Merukhand” is composed of two words: "Meru" and "Khand", where "Meru" means an axis, and "khand" means parts. In Merukhand practice, the axis refers to a fixed set of notes, which are broken down in parts, in all possible combinations. Merukhand is also popularly known as Merkhand, Meerkhand, Sumerukhand and Khandmeru.

THEORY:

The basic concept of Merukhand practice, is to take a set of swaras, and sing all different combinations of these swaras, in a particular order. Each pattern is distinct, and

the swaras cannot be repeated. When we practice Merukhand, there is a particular sequence in which we sing the patterns, that’s why we say Merukhand is a Swara permutation.

Given a set of swaras, we can find the number of unique combinations that can be made with these swaras using the mathematical formula of factorials.

By definition, the factorial of a positive integer n, denoted by n!, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n.

Factorial of an integer n = n! = n x (n-1) x (n-2) x (n-3) x …. x 3 x 2 x 1

For example:

Factorial of 3 = 3! = 3 x 2 x 1

Factorial of 5 = 5! = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1

There are 7 swaras in the Indian music scale. The table below shows how many unique combinations can be made with a given number of swaras. Here “n” represents the number of swaras. EXAMPLES:

Let’s take some examples.

If there are 2 swaras, say S and R, the two possible combinations will be SR RS

If there are 3 swaras, say S, R and G, there will be 6 permutations:

SRG RSG SGR GSR RGS GRS

If there are 4 swaras, say SRGM, we get 24 combinations, and they are arranged in such a way that 6 of the patterns end with M, 6 with G, 6 with R and 6 with S, shown below :

SRGM RSGM SGRM GSRM RGSM GRSM .... 6 patterns ending with M

SRMG RSMG SMRG MSRG RMSG MRSG .... 6 patterns ending with G

SGMR GSMR SMGR MSGR GMSR MGSR .... 6 patterns ending with R

RGMS GRMS RMGS MRGS GMRS MGRS .... 6 patterns ending with S

Commonly, upto 4 swara patterns are practiced. Only very advanced singers practice 5,6 and 7 swara patterns.

GET CREATIVE:

Merukhand patterns can also be elaborated in many ways:

• Singing the patterns in the descending scale

• Create pattern with notes that are not adjacent. For exmple: SRMP, or SGPD

• Make patterns with the notes of a raga

• Sing it in aakaar, and all the volwels

• Practice in increasing tempo

• Expand across octaves

• Create paltas with partial patterns.

All this can lead to endless practice. Merukhand practice has many benefits. It improves our sense of pitching, helps in creativity, improvisation and elaborating patterns.

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