In Carnatic music, Swarajathi is understood as simple composition, comprising Pallavi, Anupallavi (not always) and one or several Charanas, all with sahityam. Charanas are rendered in swaras and then in sahityam, which is feature of swarajathi comparing to kriti or kirtanam. In musical training swarajathis are sung as preparation for Varnams.
Swarajathis are very old musical form. Originally, this was a dance form containing Jathis, which were later excluded by Syama Sastri.
In dance under Swarajathis are understood compositions very close to Varnams by structure. The difference is that instead of Muktai swaras and Muktai swara sahityam (like in Varmnam), Swarajathis comprises Muktai swara-jathi, i.e. swaras mingled with Sollukattus, without any sahityam after. Another difference is that Charanam swaras are sung first followed by Charana sahityam.
Purvaranga (first part) includes Pallavi, Anupallavi, Muktai swara-jathi.
Trikala jathi and several jathis are inserted after each line of Pallavi and Anupallavi.
Muktai swara-jathi is sung twice (sometimes in two speeds), set to different korvais.
Uttaranga (second part) comprises Charana swaras, Charana sahityam, Chitta swaras and Chittaswara sahityam.
Charanam swaras are sung first followed by Charana sahityam set to pure abhinaya.
Charana swaras are set to different korvais. Charana sahityam is set to pure abhinaya.
Chitta swaras are performed like in Varnam – swaras are sung twice, set to different korvais.
Chitta swara sahityam follows set to pure abhinaya and abhinaya accompanied by tattu-mettu adavu or Sarpa nadai.
Famous Swarajathi are Husseini, Anandabhairavi, Bhairavi (by Shyama Sastri). Many Swarajathis were composed by Tanjore Quartette.