There are 22 Naads which are used in vocal singing. Out of these 22 Naads, 7 Naads are clustered together to form a Thaat. Thaat is also known as Mel or Sansthaan. The seven Naads are actually the seven swars. Swars can be Komal or Teevra but their order remains unaltered –Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni. In short, a raga which emerges from a particular group of swars is called a Thaat.
Rules for Thaat
- There must be seven surs or swars in a Thaat. A Thaat cannot be created with less than 7 swars. Ragas with 5, 6, or 7 swars can be created from a Thaat.
- The order of the swars is very important in a Thaat. They must appear in the order ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni’. A swar can be Komal or Teevra but the order cannot change. Eg. In Kalyaan Thaat, the Madhyam is Teevra, so the swars appear as ‘Sa Re Ga Ḿa Pa Dha Ni’. In Bhairavi Thaat the swars are Komal and they appear as: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni
- Like ragas, Thaats also do not require aroha or avaroha. The seven swars appear straight in a line. That is the reason why Thaats are never sung, but are useful in the morning riyaaz.
- Because Thaats are not sung, they do not require vadi, samvadi, pakad, gaansamaya, alaap, and taans.
- Thaats are not entertaining.
Rules for Ragas
Thaats and Ragas are different. Raga is defined as an entertaining creation comprising of aroha, avaroha, vadi, samvadi, pakad and gaansamaya. A raga must have at least five swars. In ‘Sangeet Ratnakar’, a Sanskrit shloka describes a raga as follows.
Ranjako jana Chittanam
Saragaha Kathito Budheyaha
It means the appealing, entertaining sound (naad) comprising of swars and varnas is called a Raga.