Abhanga originated in India in the 17th century. The first abhanga were devotional poems written in Marathi by individuals considered saints. Abhanga are still sung in ritual marches by devotees of saint-poets Dyaneshwar, Namdeo, and Tukaram.

Abhanga consist of four lines totaling 22 syllables. The first three lines are six syllables long. The fourth line is four syllables. In addition to having a syllable pattern, abhanga have a rhyming pattern. The second and third lines rhyme, and the first and fourth lines do not.

Syllable pattern: 6 – 6 – 6 – 4
Rhyming pattern: a – b – b – c

Since the poem is short and the rhyming pattern is not complicated, contemporary Indian and non-Indian poets have begun writing non-religious abhanga. Some poets are not using rhymes at all, Non-rhyming abhanga in the 6 – 6 – 6 – 4 format appear similar to haiku and senryu in the 5 – 7 – 5 format and trilinea in the 4 – 8 – 4 format.