Bhairavi is a janya rāgam in Carnatic music (musical scale of South Indian classical music). Though it is a sampoorna rāgam (scale having all 7 notes), it has two different dhaivathams in its scale making it a Bhashanga Ragam, and hence is not classified as a melakarta rāgam (parent scale).
This is one of the ancient rāgams, said to have been prevalent about 1500 years ago. There are numerous compositions in this rāgam.
Though a Raga called Bhairavi also exists in Hindusthani music, it is very different from the Carnatic version. Hindustani's Bhairavi, in terms of its aroha and avaroha alone, corresponds to Carnatic music's Thodi.
It is considered a janya of the 20th melakarta Natabhairavi. Its ārohaṇa-avarohaṇa structure is as follows (see swaras of Carnatic music for details on below notation and terms):
ārohaṇa: S R₂ G₂ M₁ P D₂ N₂ Ṡ
avarohaṇa: S‘ N₂ D₁ P M₁ G₂ R₂ SThe other set of ārohaṇa and avarohaṇa used is:
ārohaṇa: S G₂ R₂ G₂ M₁ P D₂ N₂ Ṡ
avarohaṇa: Ṡ N₂ D₁ P M₁ G₂ R₂ SThe notes used are chathusruthi rishabham, sadharana gandharam, shuddha madhyamam, chathusruthi dhaivatham & shuddha dhaivatham and kaishika nishadham. Note the use of both dhaivathams, chathusruthi (D2) in ārohaṇa and shuddha (D1) in avarohaṇa.
While a janya of Natabhairavi melam, Bhairavi takes the anya swaram D2 in the ascent in the phrase P D2 N2 S. In descent as well as in the phrase P D N D P the D1 of the parent scale is used. Only R2 and M1 can be prolonged without gamakam. In the ascent G2 is held in conjunction with R2 with short or wide range of oscillation-the later as S G R G M. The gamakam on G ends in R. In descent the phrase M P G R is also used and G2 slides from M1 and oscillates. The phrase S G R G in the ascent and the ending of gamakam on G at R help to avoid flavour of Kharaharapriya which does not use S G R G and in which gamakam on G can end in G itself. Bhairavi is distinguished from Mukhaari by the use of the phrases P D2 N2 S and S G2 R2 G2 M1. The deft use of gamakams in handling G2 N2 D2 and D1 gives the raagam its flavour.