Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 9

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana – 9 a Series of lecture
demonstrations on the Origin and Development of Indian Culture through ages-

The ninth program in the series was a
lecture demonstration on - Unknown Compositions and Composers of
Karnatak Music with Special Reference to Tallapaka Composers of 15th -16th CE

This scholarly demonstration was
presented by Dr Veturi Anandamurthy a Telugu Scholar,
Researcher, Author and Music Archaeologist accompanied by Vidushi Yoga
 on vocal on Saturday, 22nd November 2014 at 4 PM in the
premises of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture.

Dr.Veturi Ananda Murthy whose
doctoral research was on the life and works of Annamayya has dedicated himself
in bringing to light many unknown and rare compositions of Tallapaka poets,
Bhadrachala Ramadasa and many more. Prof. Murthy served as the Head of Telugu
Department, Osmania University Hyderabad.

One of his most enduring achievements has been deciphering the TIRUMALA MUSIC
INSCRIPTION of Tallapaka Annamacharya which dates back to 15th Century. Through
his efforts it is now established that this stone parchment is the first
historical evidence of lyrics with notated music. Bhasha Samman National Award,
Sri Krishnadevaraya Puraskaram, Sri Ramanavami Pratibha Puraskaram are a few
among the many awards he has received.

The lec dem was attended by Scholars, researchers and noted personalities. Yoga Keertana presented few less known compositions of Tallapakam composers. The lecture by Dr Veturi opened up a new vista about the less known Tallapakam composers which made everyone attended to participate in the interaction session.

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 7

Birds of India by Sri Vijay Cavale
Vanamala Center for Art and Culture had organized a wonderful Audio Visual
program on Birds of India by an ace photographer Sri Vijay Cavale on 31st May

Cavale’s program was unique in two
ways. He first presented plenty of beautiful birds, which are surprisingly
found in and around our houses. His slide show was accompanied by the call of
the birds, which is not only rare but also difficult to record. But Vijay being
an expert in birds and also photography, was able to capture wonderful pictures
of birds along with their voices.

Apart from birds around house hold,
he presented some exotic birds in remote corners of India.

His slides on human exploitation of
birds in China were heart rending. It showed how humans snatch food from birds
by tying a band around its neck to prevent them swallowing the fish.

The show was concluded with a
wonderful clipping of Monarch Butterfly’s migration, for thousands of miles.
The amazing feature of these butterflies is that the fourth generation of
butterflies return to the point of origin.

Vijay Cavale’s presentation was not only interesting but also educative. The enormous work done by him shows his perseverance, enthusiasm and great interest in nature photography.

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 6 - Ranga Geethegalu

The programme for March 2014 at
Vanamala Centre for Art and Culture was a special one- “Rangageete” by Vidwan
Paramashivan. It was quite amazing that even at the ripe age of 84, he stood up
and sang for the entire duration of the programme- that is nearly three hours!
Another point to be noted was that he sang all the rangageetes from memory,
without having to refer to the lyrics at any time- he said he knows 1200 of
them by rote! Describing rangageete as “Panchamrutha”- a blend of Carnatic,
Hindustani, Marathi, Folk and Western genres of music, he commenced his lecture
demonstration with a brief narrative of his life and experiences.

Male singers used to sing at a very high pitch, thus enabling the blending of emotions (bhaava milana) with female singers. Rangageetes in those days were mostly based on ragas in Carnatic music- not just the popular and easy ones, but tough, proficiency-level ragas such as Devagandhari and Athana. Every aspiring rangageete artist had to commence his career by learning and performing “koti haaDu”, which was rife with naDe bheda and challenging grahas (place of commencement of the song with respect to the rhythmic cycle).

The veteran then embarked on a medley
of skillfully and soulfully rendered rangageetes, demonstrating the vast
variety of music in this genre. Some of the rangageetes performed were Baa siri
lOla (Kalyani raga, Adi tALa, Akroora says this to Krishna), Enna siriyE
(Abhogi, Adi, KaNNappa nATaka- this used to be sung by the yesteryear film
stalwart Dr. Rajkumar), Ninnolu dayAnvite yaaramma (another song sung by Dr.
Raj addressed to “mother” in the nATaka “SAhukAra”). One of the rangageetes he
presented, Raamanentha cheluvane ammayya in the raga tODi, was almost like a
pallavi (one of the crowning glories of Carnatic music with rhythmic
intricacies and creativity) with changing grahas of kaaleduppu and
mukkaaleduppu! He also demonstrated a few songs tuned along the lines of
Carnatic compositions- kritis, javalis, padams. Later, he demonstrated
rangageetes based on Hindustani compositions, Abhangs, folk tunes and western
Vid. Paramashivan was ably accompanied by Vid. Srinivas on the harmonium and
Pandit. Narendra on the tabla. A very soul-satisfying performance and one that
everyone would look forward to witnessing again! Vid. Paramashivan has brought
out a book containing nearly 2500 rangageetes and a CD containing his rendition
of 1200 of these. The book and CD are available with the stalwart.

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 5 - Navagraha Kritis of Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar Sowmya Sanak Kumar Athreya and Sanak Kumar Athreya

Sowmya Sanak Kumar is one of the founding trustees of Svarakshema Foundation (Regd) and is conducting Research on Music Therapy. Sowmya being a science graduate did her Masters in Micro biology and later went on to pursue her Masters in Music with a distinction from Jain University. She learnt music from Vidwan Sri N Subramanya Sharma, Vidushi Sharada Subramanyam and Vidushi Madhavi Rajagopalan. Sowmya is currently pursuing her Ph.D on Alternate Medicine using Music Therapy.

Sanak Kumar Athreya is the managing trustee of
Svarakshema Foundation and is also conducting research on Music Therapy. A
software engineer by profession, he has previously worked with multinational
companies such as HP, Accenture and ITC Infotech. Presently, Sanak is learning
Mridangam from Vid. Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma and is a freelance journalist
having authored over 800 articles in various magazines and daily especially on
music. He has completed his Teacher Training Certificate course (YIC) at SVYASA
and has presented papers at prestigious seminars. 
The duo has presented papers on Music therapy, Yogasanas and Bija mantras.

Excerpts from the Lecture The works of Sri Muthuswami
Dikshithar deserve a lot of intense analysis and insight to be appreciated.
This need is furthered while dealing with the group Kritis. Dikshithar
interweaves many streams of knowledge- Vedic, Scientific, Artistic, Historical,
Esoteric, and importantly Musical, making each Kriti an unfathomable enigma.
The NavaGraha Kritis are a set of nine Kritis saluting the nine Planet-Gods
that form a fine example to the above-stated.

Sri. Sanak Kumar Athreya and Smt.
Sowmya Sanak lit-started the fine Saturday evening, with the invocation Kriti
to Lord Shanaishchara – “Divakara Tanujam” in Raga Yadukula Khamboji. The
introduction to the topic began with a discussion on the expression “Kala
Chakra Bedha Chitra Bhanum” used in the Divakara Tanujam kriti. The profundity,
complexity, and scope for extraordinary range of artistic interpretations were
unwrapped and presented to the audience.

The talk continued with a sequential
portrayal of each Kriti starting from “Surya Murthe” and finishing with
“MahaSuram”. The highlights included varying perspectives, ranging from Modern
Science to Vedas, Vedanta/Upanishads, Vedangas like Niruktam, Jyotisham,
Chandas, Kavyashastram, Sangeetha Shastram, Aagamas and Puranas. The analysis
was made based on both the musical and literary aspects. Occasionally, even
subjects as diverse as Music Therapy, Yoga, and History were referred to.

The couple rendered certain
interesting aspects of the Kritis, like possible reasons for selection of
specific name and salutation for each Graha, justification on the choice of a
particular Raga/Tala and the aesthetic appropriateness of some Vishesha
Prayogas and Svaraksharas. Enlisting the rhetorical beauties like Praasas,
Yatis and Alankaraas incorporated in the Kritis, on many slides, the
presentation was an unmistakable proof to Dikshithar’s command on Kavya
Shastra. The lecture also brought to light the similarities and differences
across the VaaraGraha Kritis (Sun to Saturn) and the ChayaGraha kritis (Rahu
and Ketu) due to the existing controversy of authorship.

The evening concluded with Vid. Meera Rajaram Pranesh’s reiteration and the duo’s acceptance that it requires the divine blessings of Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar himself to be able to foray into unravelling the splendour of the NavaGraha Kritis.

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 4 – Evolution of Theatre Madhuvanti Mandyam

Prof. Dr. Sudheendra Sharma is a renowned theatre artist
and has served as a faculty of Drama as well as the Head of the Dept. of
Performing Arts, Bangalore University. He has also served as a Member and
Chairman, Board of Studies; Board of Examiners at several Universities. He is the
Founder Editor of Kalaaswaada- a monthly journal with articles focusing on
Performing Arts. Dr. Sharma has directed many Dramas, acted in serials like
Mukta, Maha parva and many more on small screen; delivered lectures in India
and Abroad.


Dr. Sudheendra Sharma, presented a lecture on Evolution of Theatre in Vanamala’s September programme. The session was immensely informative and thought-provoking. Starting from the Greek theatre which is the oldest evident structure, Dr. Sharma traced the growth and development of theatre through the ages. Dr. Sharma mentioned that Greece, Egypt, China and India are the four civilizations with the longest history of theatre.

Indian theatre has its roots in
Bharata’s Natyashastra and is also influenced by Greek theatre. Though there
are many differences in the way plays are performed in different civilizations,
the bottom-line is the same- a conflict between good and evil, with good
ultimately triumphing over evil. It was interesting to note the extent of
influence of Greek theatre on Indian theatre today.

The words “comedy”, “tragedy” and the concept of chorus were born in Greece. Explaining the meaning of each of these words in detail and why a comedy referred to something happy and a tragedy referred to something sad, Dr. Sharma also expounded the structure of a play according to Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. The lecture went on to cover Indian theatre in detail and explored the acoustics of many theatre performance venues. Dr. Sharma mentioned some interesting and fascinating facts about theatres in India, Japan, Greece and other places in the world. The lecture was followed by a very long interaction session and left the audience thirsty for more sessions by this great artist and speaker!

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 3 – Ganapathi Darshana : The Philosophical aspects of Lord Ganapathi through Music Vidwan Rahul Ravindran

Vidwan Rahul Ravindran, is a Graduate
in Business Management and Masters in Karnatak Music. He is also a Handwriting
Analysis expert and a Certified Advanced Pranic Healer. Rahul has presented
many vocal concerts in Karnatak Music and Jugalbandi concerts with Hindustani
Musicians. Rahul is a Visiting faculty at Vasavi Vidyaniketan for Personality
and Memory Development techniques and Karnatak Music Trainer at Shankar
Mahadevan Academy 
Excerpts from the lecture
Vidwan Rahul Ravindran, presented a lecture-demonstration on Philosophical
Principles of Lord Ganapati with reference to the compositions of Sri
Muttuswami Dikshitar during Vanamala Center for Art and Culture’s July

This session was refreshing and
opened out new vistas for the minds of the listeners to explore. With Ganesha
Chaturthi round the corner, this lecture was aptly timed. Rahul spoke about the
different parts of the iconography of Lord Ganesha and explained the
philosophical meaning behind each.

Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar, one among the Trinity of music, has composed a number of kritis on Lord Ganesha and has used different descriptives in each of his kritis. He has also referred to many kshetras in his compositions. Why does Ganesha have a trunk? Why is His colour red? Why does He have a modaka, akshamaala in his hands? Why is the rat his vehicle? Why is he “Ekadanta”, or the single-tusked one? These questions and many others were answered in this lecture by Rahul through the compositions of Dikshitar. The importance of understanding what we say and what we recite was stressed upon, and the import of this reached the audience in an effective manner. Why Dikshitar has used certain adjectives for Ganesha in certain compositions and not any other was an interesting facet dealt with by Rahul. Overall, it was a very interesting lecture and enlightened the audience about how one can obtain a deep understanding of something as common as India’s favourite God- Lord Ganesha!

Bharatiya Samskruthi Darshana 2 – Road to Mount Kailash & Manasa Sarovar A Travelogue by Dr. A Pranesh

Dr. A Pranesh is a
practicing general physician by profession. Post serving as a Medical Officer
in National Aerospace Laboratories for over 2 decades, he presently practices
on his own in Bangalore.

Dr. Praneshs’ hobby
includes wildlife photography and has travelled to most of the National Parks
in the country. As an amateur wildlife photographer he has contributed his
pictures to various magazines as well as calendars and also won several
photo-contests at a National Level.

He is also an
ardent traveller and has visited a number of destinations that include
pilgrimage, tourist hot-spots as well as exotic locations. Apart from these
activities, he pursues a study of philosophy as well as spirituality on
personal interest.

Excerpts from the Lecture
Dr. A Pranesh gave a presentation on The Road to Kailash and Manas sarovar- A
Travelogue, during the May program of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture. The
presentation was all about a two week trip, to the abode of Shiva- Kailash from
Katmandu, Nepal. The lecture included pictures of Mount Everest, Gowrishankara
Peak, the Himalayan Ranges, Manasa Sarovar, Mount Kailash and Mukthinath.

With a brief history of Manasa Sarovar and Mount Kailash with their philosophical importance, Pranesh spoke in detail, on how to go about planning for trip, logistics, costs as well as the acclimatization and physical endurance needed. He also gave the trekking guidelines for Parikrama or circumbulation around Mount Kailash. The sceneries photographed by Pranesh were captivating and the lecture was very informative and indeed a virtual journey of Kailash and Manasa Sarovar.

Bharatiya Samskruti Darshana 1 – Music in Temple Architecture Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal

Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal is an
ardent Researcher proficient in Art History as well as a Dance Exponent.
Currently she is the Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jain
University, Bangalore. Being an author of many books, her innumerable research
papers have been published in National as well as International journals. She
is a recipient of Nehru Fellowship from Victoria Albert Museum; the UNESCO
fellowship; An International Research Fellow UNSW, Australia. She has also
extended her services at many National and International Universities, Museums,
Research Institutes, Art Galleries including the Chitrakala Parishath, Indira
Gandhi National Center for Arts and others.

Excerpts from the lecture
Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal, gave a presentation about Music and Temple Architecture
during the March program of Vanamala. Known for her research skills, Dr.
Choodamani’s lecture was enlightening to senior and budding researchers alike.
Indian texts, though centuries old, are relevant even to this day. Music had
always been studied along with theatre and dance and until Matanga’s
Brihaddeshi, music was dealt with in only a few chapters of treatises, the rest
being dedicated to theatre and art.

A number of Sanskrit treatises- some well-known and some little known- were introduced to the audience, along with works in other languages which deal with music and musical instruments. The lecture also dealt with inscriptions in temple architecture related to music. The word “Sangeeta”, when used in inscriptions, refers to Geeta, Vadya and Nritya. Rituals in temples included Angabhoga and Rangabhoga. The latter comprised of worship through dance and music. Orchestras were existent even in the olden days and evidence of this is seen in sculptures. A number of slides containing pictures of sculptures depicting musical instruments in different temples were shown to the audience. In the process, the development of these instruments to their current form was also traced. This lecture was laden with information and knowledge and had the audience wishing for more!

ನೆನಪುಗಳು - ಕಮಲಾ ಬಾಲಾಜಿ

ಟೆಲಿವಿಶನ್ ಮಾಧ್ಯಮಗಳ ಗಲಾಟೆ ಇಲ್ಲದೇ ಇದ್ದ ಕಾಲ . ಆಕಾಶವಾಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂಡಿಬರುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಸಂಗೀತವನ್ನು ಕೇಳಬಹುದಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅದು ಬಿಟ್ಟರೇ ರಾಮನವಮಿ ಮತ್ತು ಸಂಗೀತ ಸಭೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಕಚೇರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಕೇಳಲು ಜನರು ಕಾಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಆಗಿನ ಸಂಗೀತ ದಿಗ್ಗಜರುಗಳಾದ ಚೆಂಬೈ ಭಾಗವತರ್, ಅರಿಯಾಕುಡಿ ರಾಮಾನುಜ ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್, ಶೆಮ್ಮಂಗುಡಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸ ಅಯ್ಯರ್, ಜಿ ಏನ್ ಬಾಲಸುಬ್ರಮಣ್ಯಂ, ಮಧುರೈ ಮಣಿ ಅಯ್ಯರ್, ಎಂ ಎಸ್ ಸುಬ್ಬಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ,ಪಟ್ಟಮ್ಮಾಳ್, ಎಂ ಎಲ್ ವಸಂತಕುಮಾರಿ, ಟಿ ಆರ್ ಮಹಾಲಿಂಗಂ …. ಹೀಗೆ ದೊಡ್ಡ ದೊಡ್ಡ ವಿದ್ವಾಂಸರುಗಳ ಕಚೇರಿಯನ್ನು ಕೇಳುವ ಸದವಕಾಶ ನನ್ನದಾಗಿತ್ತು.

ಚೆಂಬೈ ಯವರ ಶಾರೀರ ಘಂಟಾ ನಾದದಂತಿರುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಮೈಕೇ ಬೇಡವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಜಿ ಏನ್ ಬಿ ಯವರ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣಿ ರಾಗ; ಮಧುರೈ ಮಣಿ ಯವರ ಸ್ವರ ವಿನ್ಯಾಸ; ಅರಿಯಾಕುಡಿ ಯವರ ಕಾಂಭೋಜಿ ರಾಗದ ಶ್ರೀ ಸುಬ್ರಮಣ್ಯಾಯ ನಮಸ್ತೆ; ಎಂ ಎಸ್ ಎಸ್ ರವರ ಶಂಕರಾಭಾರಣ ರಾಗದ ಆಲಾಪನೆ ; ಪಟ್ಟಮ್ಮಾಳ್ ರವರ ಮಣಿರಂಗು ರಾಗದ ಮಾಮವ ಪಟ್ಟಾಭಿರಾಮ …….. ಮುಂತಾದುವು ಇನ್ನೂ ಕಿವಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊಳಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಅವರ ಸಂಗೀತವನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದ ನಾವೇ ಧನ್ಯರು!

ಒಮ್ಮೆ ರಾಮನವಮಿಯ ಸಂಗೀತೋತ್ಸವ ಸಂದರ್ಭ! ಶೇಷಾದ್ರಿಪುರಂ ಶಾಲೆಯ ಆವರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಎಂ ಡಿ ರಾಮನಾಥನ್ ರವರ ಗಾಯನ ಕಚೇರಿ. ಸಂಗೀತ ಕೇಳುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದಿರುವವರು ಕೆಲವರಾದರೆ, ಮಾದುವೆ ಮುಂಜಿಗಳ ಇತ್ಯರ್ಥ …, ಗಂಡು ಹೆಣ್ಣುಗಳ ಜಾತಕಗಳ ವಿನಿಮಯ, ಬರೇ ಮಾತಾಡಲು ಬಂದಿರುವವರು ಇನ್ನೂ ಕೆಲವರು…… ಜನ ಸಂಗೀತ ಕೇಳುವುದರ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಸ್ವಕಾರ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಳುಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಎಂ ಡಿ ಆರ್ ಸಾರಮತಿ ರಾಗದ ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜರ ಕೃತಿ ಮೋಕ್ಷಮುಗಲದಾ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಬೇಕು ಜನರ ಗದ್ದಲ ಜಾಸ್ತಿಯಾಯಿತು. ಹಾಗೇ ಹೀಗೇ ನೋಡಿದರು. ಸದ್ದಡಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ರಾಮನಾಥನ್ ಪಲ್ಲವಿಯಿಂದ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸದೇ, ಜೋರಾಗಿ ತಾರಾ ಸ್ಥಾಯಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ “ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ಕಾರ” ದಿಂದ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದರು. ಕೂಡಲೇ ಗಲಾಟೆ ಸ್ಥಗಿತವಾಯಿತು. ಜನ ನಿಶಬ್ಧರಾಗಿ ಸಂಗೀತದತ್ತ ಗಮನ ಹರಿಸಿದರು. ಎಂ ಡಿ ಆರ್ ರವರು ಸಂಪ್ರದಾಯಸ್ಥರಾಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಕೂಡ ಸಮಯೋಚಿತವಾಗಿ ಹಾಡಿದ ರೀತಿ ನಮ್ಮನ್ನ ಮಂತ್ರಮುಗ್ದರನ್ನಾಗಿಸಿತು.

ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ದಿನ ಬೇರೊಂದು ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಎಂ ಡಿ ಆರ್ ರವರದ್ದೇ ಕಚೇರಿ. ಸ್ವಾರಸ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಒಂದು ರಾಗದ ಆಲಾಪನೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ಆಗತಾನೇ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಬೇಕು. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಮೈಸೂರಿನ ವೈಣಿಕರು ದೊರೈಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್ ರವರು ಆ ಸಭೆಗೆ ಆಗಮಿಸಿದರು. ಎಂ ಡಿ ಆರ್, ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಕೈಮುಗಿದು, ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಗದ ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜರ ಪಂಚರತ್ನ ಕೃತಿ ಎಂದರೋ ಮಹಾನುಭಾವುಲು ಹಾಡಲು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದರು. ಅಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ರಸಿಕರು ಒಬ್ಬರ ಮುಖ ಒಬ್ಬರು ನೋಡುವುದನ್ನು ಕಂಡು ಒಂದು ಸಣ್ಣ ನಗೆಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಹಾಡನ್ನು ಮುಂದುವರೆಸಿದರು .

The Journey of Indian Classical Music

The murmur of water, the whistle of
wind, the hiss of flames, the rumble of earth and the thunder of sky formed the
elements of sound from which speech in turn music evolved. Singing marks the
beginning of music in all nations. The cries of birds and beasts might have
attracted the primitive man and the man imitated those sounds to denote alarm,
passion, pain and joy. As the man began to produce these vocal sounds, to
denote alarm, he also found that the claps or the drum beat could be
effectively used to draw attention or to articulate rhythm. In this manner
shout might have been the inspiration for vocal music and a clap for percussion

आत्माविवक्षमाणोऽयंमनःप्रेरयते मनः
देहस्थंवह्निमाहन्तिसप्रेरयतिमारुतं ।
ब्रह्मग्रन्थिस्थितः सोऽयक्रमादूर्ध्वपथेचरन्
नाभिह्रुत्कण्ठ​मूर्धास्येष्वाविर्भावयतिध्वनिम् ॥

(Sangeetha Makaranda- Narada)

The atman (soul) desirous of speaking
out of its intention excites the mind; and the mind operates on the vital heat
of the body by setting the air in the Brahma granthi, rises up and produces
sound through the navel, the heart, the neck, the head and the face”. This
sound is the basis for the origin of vocal music.

Classical music called Shastreeya
 in Sanskrit, means music that adheres to the principles or
rules. Classical music is not just artistic or entertaining it also sublimates
man’s mind, body and soul thus making him Jeevan mukta (liberated
soul). The saying goes as just like Tapas (meditation) is
for Krita yugaYagna (religious sacrifice)
for Treta yugaPooja (worship) for Dwapara
Sangeeta (music) is for Kali yuga. The
ultimate goal of music is the union of Jeevatma (soul)
and Paramatma (God). Apart from devotion, Indian music
emphasizes morals through the medium of art.

The Indian scriptures call God
as Naada Brahma and music as Naada yogaNaada the
musical sound give rise to Srutis (micro tones) and these
to Swaras (notes) and in turn to raagas (melody). Naada is
of two varieties: 
(1) Aahata Naada which is heard with conscious efforts of man
(2) Anaahata Naada which is often referred to the music of the
spheres heard without the man’s effort. This is audible only to yogis

Indian music can be broadly studied under three major phases-

Ancient period- Vedic to 8th century AD

Medieval period- 9th to 15th century AD

Modern period- 16th to present day

Music is an integral part of Indian Culture and is as old as mankind. The evolution of music can be traced by a systematic study of Granthas (treatises) belonging to Sacred literature and Secular literature. There is no single ancient literature which does not speak about music. They give references to music with respect to spiritual, religious and sociological aspects.

Music in ancient period was looked upon as sacred and religious form. According to ancient scriptures Sangeeta (music) and Saahitya (literature) are said to be the two breasts of goddess Saraswati. Indian music traces its origin to Vedas (Veda meaning knowledge). The four Vedas– Rig VedaYajur VedaSaama Veda and Atharva Veda are the fountain heads of all knowledge. Indian music is derived from Saama Veda

According to the scriptures-

सामवेदादिदं गीतं सञग्राह पितामह​: ।

Brahma derived music
from Saama Veda

Lord Brahma, Vidyashankara temple, Sringeri, Karnataka

Lord Brahma

Music is also called Panchama Veda or Gandharva
 as it was practiced by celestial nymphs called Gandharvas.
The pranava naada (primordial sound) OM is
said to be the source of music.

Lord  Krishna
in Bhagavatgeeta says-

वेदानां सामवेदोस्मि

Among the Vedas I dwell in Saama Veda

The recitation of Vedic hymns marks the beginning of
classical music. Initially the chanting started with a monotonic recitation
known as Archika gaana(singing). Later it paved
the way to two toned – Gaathika followed by Saamika with
a higher Swara (note) resulting in three toned
recitation. Rig Vedichymns were recited from one to three notes.

The triad comprised of a higher swara called Udatta, lower- Anudatta and
the third sandwiched in between- the SwaritaPrachaya was
the fourth lower note to Anudatta and this formed a tetra chord called Swarantara. The
tetra chord was supplemented with three more notes and the group of seven swaras was
named Yamas. Thus the full scale with seven notes evolved
and were named in the descending order of pitch- Krishta, Prathama,
Dwiteeya, Triteeya, Chaturtha, Mandra 
and Atiswaarya. The Saama
hymns were recited from five to seven notes.

In due course of time the idea of Sthayi (octave) was
conceived and the new names replaced the old names of Yamas. The
new names Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama,
and Nishada were assigned solfa names Sa,
Ri, Ga Ma, Pa, Da, Ni
 respectively and was called Saama
. The earliest music was the sacred music called the Sāman chants.

As per the ancient granthas (treatises) every swara is
generated from a particular part of the human body-

Shadja (Sa) from Naabhi (Navel)

Rishabha (Ri) – Jathara (Stomach)

Gandhara (Ga) – Hridaya (Heart)

Madhyama (Ma) – Kaanta (Neck)

Panchama (Pa) – Naasika (Nose)

Dhaivata (Da) – Lalaata (Forehead)

Nishada (Ni) – Shiras (Head)

Various musical instruments like Veena (string
instrument), Dundubhi, Bheri (percussion instrument), Shankha (wind
instrument) were used as accompaniments during Vedic rituals.
The transition of Vedic chant to song was a slow
process. Saama gaana was adorned with trills and graces.
The Saama saptaka gave birth to Shadja grama the
primordial scale. Apart from Vedas references of music are
amply found in Pratishakhyas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, Shikshas and AranyakasPuranas (epics)
like Markandeya puranaHarivamsha, Vayu purana, Vishnu
 and many more mention about music.

Great works like Ramayana and Mahabharata have
references of music like raagas, vaadyas (instruments), taalas, rendering
songs in different speeds and musicians.

Lava and Kusha the children of Raama sang Ramayana melodiously in the latter’s court. Raavana the demon King of Ramayana is a said to be a great veena player.


Arunachaleshwara Temple,
Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu

Mahabharata mentions three types of music- music of Gods, music of rich people mainly patronized by Kings and music of common people.

In Bhaagavata lord Krishna played flute.

Apart from Sa and Pa which are called Prakriti swaras (notes which does not take variations), rest of the five notes Ri, Ga, Ma, Da and Ni called Vikrita swaras take two variations each thus producing twelve notes in an octave. The lower variety with lesser frequency is termed mridu (soft) or komal and the note with higher frequency tikshna (sharp) or teevra. The variations are denoted by solfa notes with numerical numbers in sub script.

Sa – Shadja Prakriti

Ri1– Shuddha rishabha Komal

Ri2– Chatushruti rishabha Teevra

Ga2– Sadharana gandhara Komal

Ga– Antara gandhara Teevra

Ma1– Shuddha madhyama Komal

Ma2– Prati madhyama Teevra

Pa – Panchama Prakriti

Da1– Shuddha dhaivata Komal

Da2– Chatushruti dhaivatha Teevra

Ni2– Kaishiki nishada Komal

Ni3– Kakali nishada Teevra

These 12 notes of an octave again gave birth to 22 Srutis or
Microtones. It is the usage of these srutis which make Indian
music special and have an individual status. It is difficult to notate Indian
music as notations provide only the outline of a composition, but the actual
melody of the music can be well expressed only by the usage of these minute
divisions or srutis.

Music is comprised of Sruti (pitch), Raaga (melody), Taala (rythm), Laya (tempo),
Saahitya (lyrics), Bhaava (emotion), Gamaka (grace
or ornamentation). Any musical rendering should have a perfect blending of all
these features. A quartertone or a microtone is also called Sruti. It
is the usage of these micro tones that makes Indian music so special and

The transition of Vedic chant to song was a slow process. Saama
 was adorned with trills and graces. Scales were expanded by a
method called Graha bheda (Model shift of tonic) which
resulted in getting new scales or melodies.

Many were the treatises which mentions about the development of music.

Natya shastra the monumental treatise written approximately between 2nd century BCE
and 2nd century CE by Bharata covers all aspects of
Indian drama, dance and music. Indian music had developed well by then in the
aspects of melody, rhythm, instruments and orchestra.

The treatises Naradiya shiksha by Narada,
Kashyapa’s Kashyapa, Kohala’s Sangeeta meru, Dattila muni’s Dattilam,
Nandikeshwara’s Bharatarnava
 are some important that have contributed
in tracing the development of Indian music. There are sufficient references
about the sangeeta acharyas (music preceptors) like Anjaneya,
Shardula, Durgashakti, Yashtika, Kirtidhara, Kambala
 and Ashwatthara.

Silappadikaram which speaks about music exhaustively is a classic in Tamil written
in 2nd century CE by King Illango Adigal belonging
to Chera royalty. This speaks about music exhaustively.

Medieval Period

During 7th century CE philosophers and religious teachers composed simple
songs in the regional languages. Tevarams and Divya
 of Shaiva and Vaishnava saints composed in tamil
respectively can be recorded as one of the earliest forms of practical music.

The advent of Raaga was a major milestone in the evolution of music.
Though the term raaga had occurred in earlier works, it never carried a
specific musical definition. It was Matanga muni of 6th century CE,
the author of the treatise Brihaddeshi who gave the
description of Raaga in an exquisite manner. This definition was well received
by everyone both during his period and the subsequent generations that it is
followed in Indian music even to this day. He mentions about Raagas and its
varieties; maarga and deshi sangeeta; introduced sa ri ga ma notation and the
musical form prabandha.

The Pallava king Mahendra Varman of 7th century CE, was well versed in playing Veena. He got a musical inscription carved on huge boulders in Kudumiyamalai situated in Pudukkottai district, Tamilnadu. Kudumiyamalai inscription which highlights the music prevailed during that era is believed to be one of the oldest inscriptions on music.

The Raaga concept happened to be the most important aspect of Indian music
which got framed by Matanga muni, underwent many improvisations over the
centuries. Various raga classifications were mentioned by Narada of 11th century CE in
the treatise Sangeeta Makaranda. Raagas were classified into
Purusha- male, Stree- female, Napumsaka- neutral system; Raaga, Raagini, Putra
system; on the basis of time – ragas that have to be sung early in the morning,
morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night and some more.

Someshwara Bhullokamal the ruler of Deccan in the early 12th century who authored the treatise Manasollasa called the music of South India as Karnataka Sangeeta. Astonishingly even after eight centuries the same name is being continued for South Indian music. One of the greatest works during early 13th century was that of Sharangadeva who wrote the treatise Sangeeta Ratnakara. This treatise deals with almost all aspects of music like ragas, talas, rasas, the compositional form prabandhas, instruments, practice and performances, physics, physiology and psychology of music which became the guiding lamp to the present music system. Indian music which had its origin from Sama Veda prevailed in the whole country as one music system till 13th century CE. The beginning of Islamic rule in the northern parts of India not only changed politically but also resulted in the cultural exchanges. With the influence of Persian music in northern part of the country, Indian music got bifurcated into North Indian and South Indian music.

Amir Khusro

The most popular poet and musician Amir Khusro served the Sultans of Slave dynasty. It is believed that under Amir Khusro’s influence, Indian music absorbed many features of Persian music in North India and this branched off into North Indian or Hindustani music and South Indian music or Karnatak music systems. But South Indian music did not undergo any changes and purely adhered to its origin of Vedic tradition.

Gopala Nayaka was the well known musician who was in the court of
Devagiri King. It is believed that he inspired Amir Khusro to compose the
musical form Taranas in Hindustani music.

Many treatises were authored by great scholars who highlighted the
features of both systems of Indian music. Many commentaries on the earlier
treatises were written. Vidyaranya known to be the king maker of Vijayanagar
dynasty wrote the treatise Sangita Sara. This treatise
mentions for the first time the word Mela a technical
term for janaka raga. The Bengali author Subhankara’s treatise Sangita
 explains about Salaga suda prabandhas.

The practical section of Indian music was also progressing
simultaneously. Gita Govinda one of the earliest available
evidences of Indian operas was composed by Jayadeva of 12th century CE.
The story revolves on the love play of Radha and Krishna on the surface level.
But it actually shows the deep philosophy of Jeevatma- the individual soul
pining for surrendering to Paramatma- the ultimate God. Gita Govinda which is
in Sanskrit consists of twelve chapters divided into 24 cantos and each canto
consists of eight couplets called Ashatapadis. These ashtapadis are sung and
danced all over India even to this day.

Indian Music witnessed a revolution from 12th century onwards. The compositions which were in Sanskrit language till then, were brought out in their respective regional languages. The core of veda and upanishads which had an access only by one set of intellectuals, were made available for common people. Scholars and philosophers embedded the essence of these scriptures in simple songs composed in regional languages like Kannada, Hindi, Marati, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali and other Indian languages.


In the region of Karnataka, scholars who followed shaivism composed thousands of simple songs in Kannada called Vachanas meaning that which is said. The lyrical core of these vachanas is upanishadic values and social reformation. The composers of vachanas were called Vachanakaras. Devara Daasimiah, Basavanna, Akkamahadevi, Allamaprabhu, Maadara Chennaih and Sarvajna are some of them who have contributed to the Kannada literature as well as music.

Philosophers/ composers who followed Vaishnavism were called Haridasas. Their works which were composed in kannada come under the broad heading Daasa sahitya. Narahari Teertha was the first composer among Haridasas. He was followed by a row of Haridasas like Sripadaya, Vyasaraya, Vadiraja, Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa, Vijayadasa, Jagannathadasa and others. Daasa sahitya reached to its peak during 15th and 16th centuries especially in the ruling period of the emperor Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar dynasty. The musical forms composed by these Haridasas comprised of thousands of kirtanas also called padas or DevaranamasSuladis, Ugabhogas, and Vrittanamas, thus contributing significantly to practical music.

Purandaradasa’s magnificent contribution to the field of music earned him the title Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha. It is believed that he has composed in thousands, but the available compositions are only few hundreds. He felt the need for a strong basis for music education, and composed an extraordinary system of exercises with sarale, janti, alankara and pillari geethe which are followed by the music teachers even to this day as basic lessons. Vachanas and devaranamas are renderd by both Karnatak and Hindustani musicians of South India.

Annamacharya also a 15th century bard
was a native of Tallapakam village in Andhra Pradesh. Being a scholar in Telugu
language he was extraordinarily talented as musician and composer. He has
composed more than three thousand songs comprising of Sankirtanas and Padas in
both classical and folk tunes. The compositions composed in Telugu and Sanskrit
are on lord Venkateshwara of Tirupathi and his consort Alamelu Mangamma. These
were later engraved in copper plates and are preserved till date. Chaitanya
Maha Prabhu’s sankirtans became popular in Bengal regions.

The period of post 15th century pulsated with a new spirit and an enlarged vision. This era contributed more towards the practical side but strictly adhering to the shastra or guidelines mentioned in the treatises. Bhakti movement which took its birth in the previous eras swept throughout India in the post 15th century. Great devotees like Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabirdas, Tulsidas and Haridas Goswami Baiju composed hundreds of Kirtans which were mainly sung in central and northern parts of India. Bhajans in Marathi language called Abhangs were composed by Saints like Namdev, Dhyaneshwar, Eknath and Tukaram.

Modern Period

Akbar one of the Mughal emperors patronised many artists in his court.
According to Ain-i-Akbari the work which documents the administration of Emperor
Akbar, there were 36 musicians including Tansen who adorned the court. Swamy
Haridas a devotee of lord Krishna, said to be the music teacher of Tansen, has
many compositions to his credit Pundarika Vittala the author of the treatises
Sadraga Chandrodaya, Ragamanjari and Ragamala was invited by Akbar to
Delhi. Pundarika Vittala a south Indian who was an exponent in
both Karnatak and Hindustani styles of music was appreciated by Akbar so much
that he performed the golden Tulabhara which means weighing Pundarika Vittala
against gold and bestowed upon him the title Akabariya Kalidasa.

Ramamatya’s Swara Mela Kalanidhi, Somanatha’s Raga
, Ahobala’s Sangita Parijatha, Nijaguna
Shivayogi’s Viveka Chintamani, Govinda Dikshitar’s Sangita
 contributed a lot towards the Mela Raga system and evolution of
modern Veena. The 72 Mela systems which is the forte of Karnatak music was
designed by Venkatamakhi in the early 17th century.
Venkatamakhi author of the treatise Chaturdandi Prakashika classified
melas (janaka or parent ragas) through the permutation and combinations of
sixteen notes in an octave. Sixteen notes are obtained by the variations of
five notes Ri Ga Ma Da Ni which are called Vikriti swaras and the two Prakriti
swaras Sa and Pa. Venkatamakhi classifies melas as shown below-

Given are the sixteen notes that are derived from sapta swaras or seven
notes of an octave:

S – Shadja

R1– Shuddha rishabha

R2– Chatushruti rishabha

R3– Shatsruti rishabha

G1– Shuddha gandhara

G2– Sadharana gandhara

G– Antara gandhara

M1– Shuddha madhyama

M2– Prati madhyama

P – Panchama

D1– Shuddha dhaivata

D2– Chatushruti dhaivatha

D3– Shatsruti daivatha

N1– Shuddha nishada

N2– Kaishiki nishada

N3– Kakali nishada

The 72 melas are divided into 12 chakras or cycles and each chakra has
six melas totalling to 72 melas. The chakras has been designated with a bhuta
sankhya The two madhyama variables act as an important factor in the
distribution of 72 melas. First 36 melas are with shuddha madhyama and
remaining 36 with prati madhyama. Every mela has combination of seven notes
with shadja and panchama as constant notes.

1st Chakra called Indu means Moon which is only one in number

1 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N1

2 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N2

3 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N3

4 S R1 G1 M1 P D2 N2

5 S R1 G1 M1 P D2 N3

6 S R1 G1 M1 P D3 N3

2nd Chakra Netra means eyes- which are two

7 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N1

8 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2

9 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N3

10 S R1 G2 M1 P D2 N2

11 S R1 G2 M1 P D2 N3

12 S R1 G2 M1 P D3 N3

3rd Chakra Agni means fire- three types of fire

13 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N1

14 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N2

15 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N3

16 S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N2

17 S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N3

18 S R1 G3 M1 P D3 N3

4th Chakra Veda- Vedas are four

19 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N1

20 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2

21 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N3

22 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2

23 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N3

24 S R2 G2 M1 P D3 N3

5th Chakra Baana which means arrows- Cupid’s arrows are five in number

25 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N1

26 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N2

27 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N3

28 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N2

29 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N3

30 S R2 G3 M1 P D3 N3

6th Chakra Ritu means season – seasons are six

31 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N1

32 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N2

33 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N3

34 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N2

35 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N3

36 S R3 G3 M1 P D3 N3

Remaining 36 melas follow the same combinations but with a change in
Madhyama swara

7th Chakra Rishi means Sages- great sages are seven

37 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N1

38 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N2

39 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N3

40 S R1 G1 M2 P D2 N2

41 S R1 G1 M2 P D2 N3

42 S R1 G1 M2 P D3 N3

8th Chakra Vasu- Vasus are eight

43 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N1

44 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N2

45 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N3

46 S R1 G2 M2 P D2 N2

47 S R1 G2 M2 P D2 N3

48 S R1 G2 M2 P D3 N3

9th Chakra Brahma- Brahmas are nine

49 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N1

50 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N2

51 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N3

52 S R1 G3 M2 P D2 N2

53 S R1 G3 M2 P D2 N3

54 S R1 G3 M2 P D3 N3

10th Chakra Dishi- directions are ten

55 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N1

56 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N2

56 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N3

58 S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N2

59 S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N3

60 S R2 G2 M2 P D3 N3

11th Chakra Rudra- Rudras are eleven

61 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N1

62 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N2

63 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N3

64 S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N2

65 S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N3

66 S R2 G3 M2 P D3 N3

12th Chakra Aditya means sun – twelve are the Sun each for a month

67 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N1

68 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N2

69 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N3

70 S R3 G3 M2 P D2 N2

71 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N3

72 S R3 G3 M2 P D3 N3

This scientific method became so popular that this system of raga
classification prevails in Karnatak music even to this day. Later
Venkatamakhi’s 72 mela system was improvised by Govindacharya the author
of Sangraha Chudamani in 18th century. Most
of the names of the melas differ in the two schools- Venkatamakhi and
Govindacharya but with the swaras designated for the melas being same.
Thousands of ragas are derived from these 72 melas.

Hindustani music which prevailed in North and central part of India also
underwent many progressions. Pandit Vishnu Narayana Bhatkande the
great musicologist of early 20th century
conceived the idea of Thaat or Thaata system for raga classification. This
system of ten thaats with its derivatives is in vogue even to this day. In
Hindustani music the twelve notes of an octave with their variations:

Shadja- S

Komal Rishabh – Rk

Tivra Rishabh – RT

Komal Gandhar – Gk

Tivra Gandhar – GT

Komal Madhyam – Mk

Tivra Madhyam – MT

Pancham – P

Komal Dhaivath- Dk

Tivra Dhaivath – DT

Komal Nishadh – Nk

Tivra Nishadh – NT

The ten thaats conceived by Bhatkande can be listed as-

Bhairavee S RGMP DNS

Bhairav S RGMP DNS

Asaavaree S RGMP DNS


Khamaaj S RGMP DNS

Bilaaval S RGMP DNS


Poorvee S RGMP DNS

Maarwaa S RGMP DNS Modern period witnesses a systematic development in raaga system. Seventy two Melas or Janaka raagas (parent ragas) in the Karnatak music system formulated by the great scholar Venkatamakhi followed by ten Thaats system in Hindustani music conceived by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkande were one of the major contributions of modern period. Thousands of compositions were composed in these janya (derived) and janaka ragas in both the systems. The great composers of karnatak music- Shyama Shastry, Thyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar composed hundreds of Kritis- a compositional form which happens to be the nucleus of Karnatak music.