Analytical study of Aṣṭāṅga-s of K͟hayāla from the perspective of Yati in Hindustani Music

Dr. Swapnil Chandrakant Chaphekar

Assistant Professor, Department of Music and Fine Arts

Central University of Karnataka, Kalaburagi, Karnataka.



Laya is an inevitable part of the aesthetics of Hindustani music. ‘Layakārī’ is the term most often used for various formations and combinations of Laya in most of the song forms. But, the treatises on music give a definite terminology for this usage under the types of Yati. In the K͟hayāla genre of Hindustani music, Yati-s are seen in the structure as well as improvisation – which are collectively called Aṣṭāṅga-s of K͟hayāla. This research paper is to analyze the eight Aṅga-s from the perspective of Yati and reinstate the concept of Yati, which seems to be hidden and forgotten in these improvisational Aṅga-s of K͟hayāla. The paper examines the K͟hayāla from compositional and improvisational aspects. It discovers the Yati-s in various Aṅga-s. It also shows how a conscious use of Yati-s can enhance the beauty of this genre.

Keywords: Yati, Laya, Bandiśa, K͟hayāla, Aṅga, Aṣṭāṅga

How to cite this paper:

Chaphekar, Swapnil Chandrakant. 2024. “Analytical study of Aṣṭāṅga-s of K͟hayāla from the perspective of Yati in Hindustani Music.” Sangeet Galaxy 13(1): 67-73.


The quote ‘Śrutirmātā layaḥ pitā’ underlines the importance of Śruti and Laya in Indian music. These are the two fundamental entities of any form of music. Of course, music does not exist without the principle of Laya. Various types of Laya are used on a macro and micro level of rendition to create beauty.

            So far, Yati has been considered one of the 10 Prāṇa-s of Tāla, collectively known as Daśaprāṇa. If Yati means the movement of Laya – the changes in the tempo – wherever there is Laya, Yati must be present. This thought encourages us to discover the existence and usage of Yati in the entire world of music, irrespective of Tāla. It is seen in the Bandiśa and Aṣṭāṅga-s of K͟hayāla. This research paper is an inquiry to explore the elements of Yati in these Aṣṭāṅga-s using an analytical method.

            The paper took shape by observing the traditional treatises which are considered to be the sources of the concept of Yati and Aṣṭāṅga, the different opinions in them, the views of modern scholars, and analyzing the idea of Yati used in the Aṣṭāṅga-s.


A] Yati: Concept and Types

A.1] The Concept of Yati

            The first mention of the term Yati in music appears in Natayashastra. According to Bharata,

Kālomārgaḥ kriyāṅgāni grahojātiḥ kalālayaḥ |

Yatiḥ prastārakaśceti tālaprāṇādaśasmṛtāḥ ||1

Kāla, mārga, kriyā, graha, jāti, kalā, laya, yati and prastāra are the ten Prāṇa-s of Tāla as described in Natayashastra. One of these Daśaprāṇa-s is Yati. Bharata considers the Yati concept both in terms of lyrical use of syllables-words-varṇa and instrument playing. This proves that the idea of Yati is not so narrow or limited as one of the ten Prāṇa-s of Tāla. The concept of Yati is also elaborated upon in the Sangeet Ratnakara. In the fifth Tālādhyāyaḥ of the text, in the Mārgatālatatvalakṣaṇa chapter, Sharangadeva has described the three types of Yati-s as follows:

Layapravṛttiniyamo yatirityabhidhīyate |

Samā srotogatā cānyā gopucchā trividheti sā ||2

In the course of time, it can be seen that these three Yati-s were added with two more Yati-s, and a total of five types of Yati-s were promoted.

A.2] Types of Yati

            The five main types of Yati-s that are universally accepted in contemporary Hindustani music are as follows –

1) Samā Yati

2) Srotogatā Yati

3) Gopucchā Yati

4) Mṛdaṅgā Yati

5) Pipīlikā Yati

The section below helps to understand the nature of these five types.

A.2.1) Samā Yati

           The word ‘Samā’ is derived from the word ‘Sama’ meaning equal. Having the same tempo everywhere without any change at the beginning, middle, and end is known as Samā Yati

A.2.2) Srotogatā Yati

            Srota+āgata=Srotogatā. The idea for this Yati is derived from the river’s flow coming from the source. At the river’s head, the water flow is slow, and as the water rises, the flow becomes faster gradually. Such an increasing Laya is the Srotogatā Yati. Some texts also use the term ‘Srotovahā’ for the same.

A.2.3) Gopucchā Yati

            ‘Go’ means cow, and ‘Pucchā’ means tail. A cow’s tail is thin at the beginning and widened at the end; the concept of Gopucchā Yati is based on this change in shape. Gopucchā is considered if there is a rapid Laya in the beginning, a medium Laya in the middle, and Vilambita or a very slow Laya in the end. In short, the decreasing Laya is Gopucchā Yati

A.2.4) Mṛdaṅgā Yati

            Mṛdaṅga, also known as Mṛdaṅgam, is a very well-known percussion instrument. The left mouth of the Mṛdaṅga is medium in size, bulging in the middle, and the right mouth is again small in diameter. If there is a medium Laya at the beginning, a delayed Laya in the middle, and a fast Laya at the end, then it is considered as Mṛdaṅgā Yati. In short, Mṛdaṅgā Yati is a fast-slow-fast movement of Laya.

A.2.5) Pipīlikā Yati

            Pipīlikā means an ant. In its anatomy, the head and back are larger than the waist. In the same order, slow-medium-slow, or medium-fast-medium, or slow-fast-slow Laya sequences are known as Pipīlikā Yati. It is also known as ‘Ḍamarū’ Yati as it also resembles the shape of the instrument Ḍamarū. Another meaning of Pipīlikā is the movement of an ant. An ant’s movement has no regular pattern; sometimes it stops walking, and sometimes it starts running; that is, its activity is erratic and uneven. Such unpredictable Laya is also called Pipīlikā Yati. Some writers have also given such unplanned and unrestricted Yati-s the term Viṣama Yati.

            From this, we can conclude that, in music, the principles on which the tempo of Śabdabandha (words in singing and syllables in Tāla, dance) and Svarabandha (usage of notes) changes are given the term Yati. The names of Yati-s are derived from the objects in nature which resemble these kinds of Laya sequences.

B] Aṣṭāṅga: Concept and Aṅga-s

B.1] The concept of Aṅga and Aṣṭāṅga

            The term Aṅga is used in many aspects, such as Pūrvāṅga-Uttarāṅga, Rāgāṅga and Aṣṭāṅga. This research paper deals with the Aṣṭāṅga. An Aṅga is a part or embellishment in the presentation of K͟hayāla a vocalist possesses to improvise the Raga skillfully. All the Gharānā-s use certain Aṅga-s, but Gwalior Gharānā – which is the mother of all the Gharānā-s – uses eight Aṅga-s (together called Aṣṭāṅga-s) and so its Gāyakī is called as Aṣṭāṅga-Pradhāna Gāyakī.

B.2] Eight Aṅga-s in K͟hayāla

            There is a difference of opinion about what all Aṅga-s to be considered in these Aṣṭāṅga-s. Commonly accepted Aṣṭāṅga-s are: Astāī, Antarā, Ālāpa, Bola-ālāpa, Bola-banāva, Bola-bām̐ṭa, Bola-tāna and Tāna. Some add Bahalāvā to this.3 Moreover, Agra Gharānā considers a total of 18 such Aṅga-s. These include: Lāga-ḍāṇṭa, Sarapā, Sūta, Hūka, Māṇḍa, Lahaka, Muraka, Ḍagara, Mīṇḍa, Tāna-bandhāna, Biḍāra, Bahalāvā, Khaṭakā, Phandā, Gamaka, Kheñca, Dhunaka and Gāza.4 Still, most of the vocalists agree with the Aṣṭāṅga-s considered by the Gwalior Gharānā and try to use as much Aṅga-s as possible in their presentation of K͟hayāla. The present paper also sticks to the commonly accepted Aṅga-s of Gwalior Gharānā.

C] Yati in Aṣṭāṅga-s

            Laya is a fundamental element of any music. K͟hayāla is no exception to that. Wherever there is Laya, Yati is also there, whether one knows it or not. Obviously, all the Aṅga-s in K͟hayāla use Yati-s. Let us analyze each of the Aṅga from the perspective of Yati:

C.1] Astāī and Antarā

            Astāī and Antarā together form Bandiśa, which is a basis for the development of K͟hayāla. A Vilambita K͟hayāla Bandiśa is usually kept in sync with the tempo of the rhythm. Although it is not as tightly bound to rhythm as the Dhṛpada Bandiśa, it hardly incorporates variation in terms of Laya. Even Madhyalaya Jhaptaal and Rupak compositions are in the equal Laya to that of Tāla. ‘Prabhu āja more ghara’ in Jhaptaal is a good example of such Bandiś-es.5 This suggests that most Vilambita and Madhyalaya Jhaptaal-Rupak compositions can be included in the Samā Yati. Whereas some Madhya and Druta Laya Bandiś-es show a variety of Laya variations.

           The traditional composition ‘Namana kara catura śrīgurucaraṇā’ is a good example of Madhyalaya Bandiśa in Samā Yati. The syllables and notes used in each line are very much bound to the original tempo of the Tāla. We can say that it is almost one Svara per beat and one Akṣara or Varṇa per beat. Sometimes, a Bandiśa begins with an equal tempo and ends with a fast tempo. If we examine the Raga Bhairav composition6 ‘Śaṅkara girijāpati’, we come across the journey from equal tempo to increasing tempo; which represents the Srotogatā Yati. The same Yati usage also occurs in the famous Bandiś-es like, Catara sugara balamā (Raga Kedar, Madhyalaya Trital), Laṅgara ḍhīṭa maga maga rokata hai (Raga Bihag, Druta Trital), Ālī rī alabelī nāra (Raga Bihag, Druta Trital), Bole re papiharā (Miyan Ki Malhar, Madhyalaya Trital) etc.

            Some Bandiś-es begin with a tempo equal to that of Tāla but eventually find their tempo decreasing. The composition ‘Acche pīra more tuma’ in Raga Vrindavani Sarang, is one of them. If we look at the notation of the word ‘Khvājā’, the Laya is less as compared to the original tempo of the Tāla. Some Bandiś-es begin with a fast tempo Tāna and rest in an equal tempo. The well-known Tarana ‘Dīṃ tanana derenā’ in Raga Sohani also enters the low pace at the end of the Antarā. Another example of this occurs in the Sargam song “Dha Ma Dha Re, Ga Ma Ni Dha” in Raga Marwa, which is composed by Pt. K. G. Ginde. Such a change of tempo leads to the appearance of Gopucchā Yati.

            Some Bandiś-es begin with a Tāna, move to an equal tempo in the middle, and again end with a Tāna. For example, see the Tritaal Bandiśa in Raga Shankara composed by Vidushi Prabha Atre ‘Śiva hara hara mahādeva śaṅkara’. In such an order of Laya, the Mṛdaṅgā Yati takes place. The same Mṛdaṅgā Yati usage also occurs in many famous Bandiś-es such as, Nā ḍāro raṅga mope (Bageshree, Druta Ektal), Chāṇḍa de morā añcharā (Kamod, Madhyalaya Trital), Re morā re (Bihag, Druta Trital), Banarā āyo (Puriya Kalyan, Druta Ektal) etc.

            There is a Tāna in between some Bandiś-es like ‘Sāḍe nāla ve’ in Raga Bhimpalasi set to Trital. Pipīlikā Yati appears in such cases from the change of Laya in the Madhya-Druta-Madhya sequence. A Raga-Sagar composition7 ‘Chāya rahī bahāra’ set to Ektaal also shows a lot of Laya variations, which indicates Pipīlikā Yati.

C.2]  Ālāpa

            Each Gharānā has a distinct style of taking Ālāpa-s. Moreover, each vocalist also has his own style, which is unique but fits in the aesthetics of his Gharānā. Commonly, it can be seen that Ālāp-s in Vilambita K͟hayāl-s are mainly in the same Laya as that of Tāla. From the perspective of Yati, such Ālāp-s can be categorized under the Samā Yati. In the case of Ṭapa-K͟hayāla, it is a requirement of the form that the Ālāp-s also incorporate some Tappa elements; such Ālāp-s can be considered under Pipīlikā Yati. Agra Gharānā vocalists take Anibaddha Nom Tom Ālāp-s before starting the Bandiśa. Their Laya is increased gradually. So, the entire Anibaddha Ālāpa part comes under Srotogatā Yati.

C.3]  Bola-ālāpa

            Bola-ālāp-s are taken once the Ālāpa portion of K͟hayāla is over. This time, the Laya of Tāla is also increased, and Bol-s (lyrics of the Bandiśa) are used to beautify the K͟hayāla. These Ālāp-s start with the same Laya as that of Tāla – in Samā Yati – but can eventually change the tempo. According to the speed at which they enter, they can be classified under Srotogatā Yati or Gopucchā Yati.

C.4]  Bola-banāva

            Using meaningful sentences and sub-sentences of the Bandiśa and using them in Ālāpa in tune with the meaning and emotion depicted in the K͟hayāla is called Bola-banāva Aṅga. Previously, this Aṅga was used only in Thumri, but now it has become an Aṅga of K͟hayāla rendition as well. Since this is used in the Ālāpa portion only, it uses Samā Yati for maximum time and other Yati types rarely.

C.5]  Bola-bām̐ṭa

            Dividing the lyrics (Bol-s) as per specific meter or Wazan of Laya is called Bola-bām̐ṭa Aṅga. Singers use various Jātī-s like tiśra, cataśra, miśra, etc., to create the Wazan and divide the lyrics accordingly. If they enter into a different Laya from that of Ṭhekā, they will try to take the Mukhda also in the same Laya. Thus, if we analyze that particular Āvartana, the same Wazan is maintained, which will come under Samā Yati. A singer may use another Laya in other Āvartana-s. If a Laya change occurs in the same Āvartana, the Srotogatā or Gopuccha Yati can be seen.

C.6] Tāna

            Tāna is a fast-paced rendition of the notes of the Raga. The Laya of the Tāna has a specific relation with the Laya of Ṭhekā. It can be in double speed (Duguna) or quadruple speed (Cauguna), but once the Tāna is started, the tempo is maintained till the end, which puts this Aṅga under Samā Yati. A few times, the Laya of the Tāna is seen to be changed in the same Āvartana, mostly from slower to faster tempo, which shows the characteristics of Srotogatā Yati. In the recording of Raga Vibhas, Vidushi Kishori Amonkar starts one of the Tān-s in a quadruple tempo and, at the end, reduces the Laya to double and comes to the equal Laya to catch the Mukhda.8 This rare example demonstrates Gopucchā Yati in Tāna Aṅga.

C.7]  Bola-tāna

            Using the lyrics (Bol-s) in Tāna is called Bola-tāna Aṅga. A singer usually takes this kind of Tāna in Samā Yati as the Laya is seen maintained throughout the Āvartana. Tāna and Bola-tāna use the same Laya aspects in K͟hayāla.

C.8]  Bahalāvā

            The word Bahalāvā comes from the Hindi language. Various scholars have defined the term differently. One group believes that it came from the way of talking to babies to please them. The other group says it came from Be-Hilava – shaking the notes twice, just like the waves appearing on the surface of the water.9 Bahalāvā is mainly seen in the singing of Gwalior Gharānā and sometimes in Agra too. When analyzed from the perspective of Yati, it can be put under the Pipīlikā Yati since the Laya variations in it are unpredictable. Once the singer has presented the Bahalāvā Ang sufficiently, he tries to enter into Tāna, which is faster than Bahalāvā. If he does this in a single Āvartana, Srotogatā Yati takes place.

            If we take a birds-eye-view at the whole K͟hayāla from the Laya perspective, it resembles the Srotogatā Yati, as the Laya transition happens from Vilambita to Madhya to Druta. However, musicology experts should brainstorm about whether this phenomenon can be technically included in the scope of Yati.


It is evident that the Yati-s are present in each and every Aṅga of K͟hayāla presentation. So far, they are not treated as Yati-s and are included just in a big umbrella term of ‘Layakārī’. Many times, artists are not even aware that they are using Yati-s, but they use them unknowingly in the process of improvisation. Knowledge of Yati as a principle will enable artists to use them through various experiments. This can open an entirely new dimension in the usage of Laya in vocal music.

            To summarize the discussion in this research paper, the Astāī and Antarā Aṅga-s use all the types of Yati-s. This is the only concrete part in K͟hayāla in the sense that it is pre-composed. The rest of the improvisation is impromptu and depends upon the training and the aesthetic sense of the vocalist. That part contains the rest of the K͟hayāla Aṣṭāṅga-s. These Aṅga-s use a minimum of one and a maximum of two to three Yati types.

            In Aṣṭāṅga-s of K͟hayāla, the usage of Yati-s contributes significantly to the experience of beauty.