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A History of Indian Music

A History of Indian Music
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Item Code: IDK575
Author: SwamiPrajnanananda
Publisher: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math
Edition: 1997
Pages: 243 (15 B/W Plates)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5" X 5.4"

Before attempting to write an elaborate history of Indian Music, I had a mind to write a concise one for the students. Opinions differ regarding the import, scope, characteristics as well as method of treatment of history of Indian music. So far as is known to us there are different kinds of history of music taught in schools, colleges and universities of foreign lands. Indian people claim that their music is the most ancient one is the world, but no serious attempt has as yet been made to write a chronological history of music of India. India indeed is a great country, the fountain-head of the world civilization and culture. Most of the historians both of the East and the West admit that many of the civilized nations of the world are indebted to India for their materials of civilization, art and culture. India does not lack in authentic materials for constructing a history of music of her own, for putting before the admiring gaze of the world, her glorious heritage in the field of art education and culture.

It gives me pleasure to mention in this connection that some valuable articles on the history of Indian music, from the gifted pens of the connoisseurs of music, published from time to time in different papers and journals, have left behind them impress of permanent value in the field of study and culture of Indian music. A compendious book on history of music has recently come out from the pen of a scholar like Shri P. Sambamoorthy of Madras. The precious articles of Dr. V. Raghavan in this field are noted for their clarity and scholarship. His illuminating serial articles on Some Names in Early and later Sangita Literature, An Outline Literary History of Indian Music, appeared in the journal of the Music Academy, Madras, and Music in the Deccan and South India, appeared in the "Behar Theatre", Behar, and other articles, appeared in the Trivai, the Bulletin of the Sangita Natak Akadami, New Delhi, are worth-mentioning. Recently the University of Agra has honoured Dr. Saratchandra Shridhar Paranjape of Bhopal by conferring a doctorate on him for his thesis on the history of Indian music, from the ancient period upto the Gupta period. Thus new hope is dawning on the horizon of history of Indian music, and paving the path for writing a future authentic history of music of the Indian people.

The present volume is an attempt for tracing out firstly the historical evolution of the musical materials like microtones, tones, murcchanas, ragas, scales, gitis and prabandhas, veena, venu and mridanga, dances and hand-poses, rhythm and tempo as well as the philosophical concept that are very essential for the study of history of Indian music, and secondly, the chronological accounts of history of music of India in different ways in different periods, including development of music in Bengal and South India.

It is needless to mention that this present small volume will act as a guide to the students of history of Indian music. I have already published two volumes of Sangita O Samskriti in Bengali (in the second edition, the name has been changed into Bharatiya Sangiter Itihasa), wherein I have dealt with Indian music upto the Gupta period. The third volume of the book is under preparation.

The present first volume deals with the ancient period, covering the primitive one down to the 12th century A. D. The second volume will cover the mediaeval and modern periods i.e., from the 13th century upto the 20th century.

I express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr. Niharranjan Ray for writing the 'Foreword' of this book, which has enhanced its value as well as its prestige. I also express my gratitude to Dr. V. Raghavan of the Madras University for giving me permission to print as an 'Appendix' to this volume his learned article, Samaveda and Music, which was delivered under the auspices of the Convention in Delhi on the 13th October, 1962 and subsequently published in the Journal of the Music Academy, Madras, in 1963. Though I have dealt with the problem of samagana in this book, yet I have included Dr. Raghavan's article for the fuller knowledge of the subject for the students. I also express my gratitude to Shri Subodh Kumar Chatterji, B. A., for making necessary corrections in the manuscript before sending it to the press. It will be of great pleasure to me if the students as well as the lovers of Indian music are benefited through its perusal.

It should be mentioned in this connection that the diacritical marks a a a a have been used throughout the book to express the sound of a i.e., aa.


Swami Prajnanananda of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math of Calcutta, has been well-known in Bengal for more than a decade and a half, as one of our foremost authorities on the history, form, and technique of Indian Classical Music. For all these years he has been publishing, in Bengali, volume after volume, each one incorporating his findings and interpretations on practically all aspects and phases of his chosen field of study. This treatise in English is a summary of some of his basic findings and observations, put in the form of a simple historical narrative, more or less in the shape and form of a student's or general reader's hand-book on the subject.

I believe the book fulfils its purpose.
A good Sanskritist, deeply religious in spirit and approach to life and its affairs and philosophical in training and discipline, Swami Prajnanananda-ji gives evidence of his intimate knowledge of early and mediaeval texts on Indian music, its religious and spiritual associations and its philosophical background. Yet what is most gratifying is that he never loses sight of the historical perspective; indeed, his study is directed from the point of view of what he calls "dialectical method of historical evolution". In whatever, therefore, he brings into his orbit of study and analysis, whether it is shrutis or svaras, ragas or prabandhas, mudras or musical instruments, he follows the history from mystic origins to almost the beginning of our times, and more, he cities evidences that are not merely textual, but literary and archaeological as well, evidence that can be fixed in time and space more or less objectively. His narrative of the history of music in our country from primitive times onwards is also very interesting reading. The inclusion of rural and folk music and a separate chapter on the contribution of Bengal to Indian music enhances, I am sure, the value of the narrative.

I feel very thankful that I have been asked to introduce the book to the reading public, though I am sure, Swami Prajnanananda does not need any introduction as a writer and scholar in the field of Indian music.

Back of the Book

Swami Prajnanananda; President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta; and President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashramas, Darjeeling, Kurseong & Siliguri; born in 1907, at Prosadpur, Hooghly Dist. (West Bengal); monk of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math; Educated: Calcutta University; initiated in 'Sannyasa' by Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna in 1932; Awards: Sisir Memorial Prize for the research book Sangeet O Sanskriti (Bengali) 1958, Rabindra Memorial Prize for his book Historical Development of Indian Music (1960); D. Mus, by Education Circle, Jhankar, Calcutta, 1950; D. Litt. By Rabindra Bharati University, 1970; Sarojini Gold Medal by Calcutta university, 1972; Fellow, Sangeet Natak Academy, since 1963; Publications: Bharatiya Sangeeter Itihas, Raga-O-Rupa, Bangla Dhrupadamala, Sangeete Rabindra Prathibhar Dan, Abhedananda Darshana, Tirtharenu, Padabali-Kirtaner Itihas, Natyasangeeter Rupayan, Mantrasadhana-O-Sangeet, Mahishasurmardinee Durga, Mana-O-Manush, Vani-O-Vichar, A History of Indian Music, Historical Study of Indian Music, Music of the Nations, Philosophy of Progress and Perfection, Schools of Indian Philosiphical Thoughts, Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda, Christ the Saviour and Christ Myth, Thoughts on Yoga Upanishad and Gita, An Enquiry into Psychology Soul and Absolute, Historical Development of Indian Music, Sangita-sarasamgraha, Music: Its Form Function and Value, Music of the South Asian Peoples, Cultural Heritage of Indian Fine Arts, The Form and Function of Music in Ancient India, The Social and Historical values of Ragas and Raginis, Edited: The Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda (in 10 Volumes), and The Works of Swami Abhedananda (Abridged Edition).


Subject Page
Foreword by Dr. N. R. Rayxi-xii
Music that evolved on the Indian soil, 8-What is history, 8-What do we mean by history of music, 9-How to construct history of music, 9-10-Importance and utility of history of music, 10-11-Music: sacred and profane, 11-Division of ages, 12-13-Origin of music, 13-14
Historical evolution of different music-materials, 15-Evolution of microtones (shrutis), 15-16-Five jati-shrutis and 22 Shrutis (table), 17-18-Table No. 2, 18-Evolution of tones, 19-23-Udatta, anudatta and svarita, 19-The emergence of the solfa syllables, 20-The Vedic tones, 20-The Vedic Tones evolved in a downward process, 20-The laukika tones evolved from the register tones, udatta, etc., 21-The adharashadja, 21-Different numbers of shrutis in different periods (Table No. I), 28-Table No. II, 23-Evolution of murcchana, varna alamkara, tana and sthaya, 23-29-Sthana and murcchana in the Ramayana, 24-The Ramayana and Abhinavagupta on pathya, 24-Bharata on pathya, 24.25-Murcchana in the Nuradi-skiksha and the Natyasastra, 25-The murcchanas evolved from the gramas, 25-26-Murcchana of 12 tones, 26-Murcchanas with 7 tones are divided into four parts, 26-Kohala on the murcchana, 26-27-The function of the varna, 27-The tanas, 28-The gamaka and the kaku, 29-The sthaya, 29-Evolution of ten essentials (dasa lakshanas), 29-30-Bharata on the ten essentials, 30-31-Graha and amsha, 31.32-Nyasa, vidari, samnyasa, alpatva, vahutva, etc., 32-33-Vadi, samvadi, anuvadi and vivadi, 33-Evolution of the concept of raga, 33-34-Ragas in the Ramayana, Mahabharata-Harivamsha, 34-Evolution of the raga, 35-Jati or jatiraga and six gramaragas, 35-36-Ragas in the Kudumiamalai Rock-Inscriptions, 36-Different bhasharagas, 37-Shuddha and vikrita jatiragas as described in the Natyasastra, 37-38-Evolution of the gramaragas, 38-The seven shuddha gramaragas evolved from the gramas, shadja and madhyama, 39-40-Evolution of the bhasharagas or angaragas, 41-The evolution of the ragas was in a gradual process, 42-Evolution of the scales, 42-47-What do we mean by the word, scale, 42-43-The saman scale, 43-44-The shadjagrcma was the fixed scale of the Vedic music, 44-45-The mela and the melakarta, 46-46-Evolution of the gitis and the prabandhas, 47-48-The jatigana, 48-The brahma-gitis, 48-The gitis, magadhi, ardha-magadhi, etc., 49-The definitions of the ragagitis, shuddha, etc., 50-51-The probandha-giti, 51-52-The limbs (angas) of the prabandha, 52-Three categories of prabandha i.e., suda, ali and viprakirna, 52-53-The new designs of the dhruvapada (dhrupad), 53-54-Evolution of the veena, venu and mridanga, 54-59-The veena and the dhanuryantram, 55-The evolution of venu, 56-Different kinds of veena in the Vedic age, 56-57-Division of the musical instruments, 57-The veena, vana, 57-58-The four-stringed veena from the Ruper excavation, 59-Evolution of dance in India and its significance, 59-60-Statuette of bronze dancing girl and that of the dancing Nataraja Siva from the mounds of Mahenjo-daro and Harappa, 60-Handposes, 60-Nritya, nritta, and natya, 61-Marga and desi types of dances, 61-62-Dances in the times of Panini, Patanjali and Bharata, 63-Tandava and lasya, 63-Dances during the time of Kalidasa, 64-Dances in different periods, 65-Evolutio of the hand-poses (mudras), 66-71-The symbolized figures of the hands and different limbs of the body during the time of the saman singing, in the Vedic period, 67-68-Narada about the hand-poses, 68-69-The upasana-mudras of the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and others, 69-The four kinds of abhinaya, 20-Hand-poses as described by Bharata and Nandikeshvara, 70-71-Evolution of rhythm and tempo, 71-78-Kala and tala, 71-Hans Tiscler on rhythm, 72-The Vedic meters, 73-The talas, sa-shabda and nis-shabda, 73-Evolution of eight kinds of tala, 74-Two kinds of jati of the talas, 74-Different grahas of the talas, 75-The evolution of yati, 75-76-The evolution of prastara, 76-Different rhythms of the Karnatic music, 76-77-The modern talas of the North Indian system of music, 77-Historical evolution of philosophical concept in music, 78-82-The Mahabharata about seven tones, 79-Philosophical ideas in the Brihaddeshi and the Sangita-samayasara, 79-82
Music in the primitive time, 83-86-The functional music, 83-A.B. Alexander on the primitive music, 83-84-Mr. Hambly on the primitive music, 84-The musical instruments of the primitive time, 85-Some aboriginal stocks of the primitive singers, 85-86-Music in the prehistoric time, 86-88-The mounds of the dead in Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, 86-Musical remains from the Indus civilization, 87-The veena from the Ruper level, 87-A shell piece with grooves at two places, found from the Lothal excavation, 87-88
The samagana, 89-The stobhas, 89-The women would devoted their time in music in the Vedic time, 90-Music in different sacrifices and rites, 90-91-The tones of the Vedic music were in descending series, 91-Some subsidiary tones of the Vedic music, 91-The veenas, vana and katyayani, 92-The four song books and four types of Vedic ganas, 92-93-The singing process of the Vedic music, 93-The Vedic songs had their fixed scale, 93-The vakra and riju movements of the Vedic tones (Table), 94-Pt. Lakshmana Sankara Bhatta-Dravida and M.S. Ramasvami Aiyar on the methods of the movements of the Vedic tones, 94-The seven Vedic tones evolved from the three register tones, 94-The seven Vedic tones evolved from the three register tones, 94-There were various recensions (shakhas) of singing the samagana, 95-The stobha, 95-Four kinds of samagana, 96
Music in the classical and Epic times, 97-103-The gandharva type of music, 97-The real significance of the word raga, 98-Music in the works of Panini and Patanjali, 98-99-Music in the Bhuddhist period, 99-103-The thera and their gathas, 100-The gatha, narasamsi, 100-The veenas, chitra and vipanchi, 101-Music in the Mahayana texts, 101-102-The records left by Fa Hien, 102-Music culture during Harsa vardhana's time, 103
Music in sculptures and bas-leliefs, 104-Rajendra Lal Mitra on Sanchi and Amaravati, 104-105-Music remains in the temples at Bhubanesvara, 105-The dancing Nataraja in the cave temple of Badami, 105-Drums, represented in the temple-halls of Muktesvara and Badami, 106-Dance figures in the Parasurames-vara temple, 106-107-The dancing Nataraja of Chidamvaram, 107.
Setback and reconstruction in Indian music, 108-Music coming into definite form, 109-Contact of India with other countries, 110-It is said that Pythagoras visited India and carried with him the materials of Indian culture, 110- Cultural and commercial contact between the prehistoric Indus cities and other Western and most ancient countries, 111Contract of India with China, 111-112-Contact of India with Central Asia, 112-Different schools of dance, drama and music, 112-113-The schools of Narada, Bharata and Nandikesvara, 113-Brahma-bharata and Sadasivabharata, 113-114-Different Naradas, 114-The svaramandala as described by Narada in the Shiksha, 115-The gunavrittis, as described in the Naradishiksha, 115-116-The vaidika and laukika tones, 116-Gatra and daravi veenas, 116-117-Bharata, the father of the methodical system of music, 117-The Pythagorian microtonal system, 118-119-Bharata's method of determing of the twenty-two shrutis, 120-122-A short survey of Bharata's Natyasastra, 112-128-The veenas, chitra and vipanchi, 129-The remains of the saptatantri-veena in the Pitalkhora Caves, 129-130-The kutapa, 131-Evolution of the tuning-method or marjana, 131-132-Three kinds marjana, 132-The modern method of tuning in the tumbura, 133-Nandikesvara and his works, 133-134-Bharata and Nandikesvara, 136-137-The age of new awakening, 136-138-The murcchanas and gramaragas in the Naradishiksha, 137-Aryan and non-Aryan elements in Indian music, 138-139
The age of renaissance, 140-Eighteen jatis, sadharana, antara and kakali (modified) tones, 141-142-The alamkaras, gitis and dance in the Natyasastra, 142-What do we mean by the word jati, 142-The dhruvas, 143-The tonal bases and their distributing units, 143.
Culture of music in the Gupta and Maurya period, 114-Kumara Davi, 145-The Sakas and the Pahlavas had interest in music, 145-Kalidasa's knowledge of music and dance, 145-146-Dance-types, as described in different works of Kalidasa, 146-149-Dipadika, jhambhalika, etc. classical dances, 147-148-Prof. Ghurye on dvipadika and other dances, 148-Vema-Bhupala and Rana Kumbha on dance, 149-Shudraka and music, 149-Vishnu Sharma and music, 149-Shri-Harsa and Damodaragupta on dance, 150.
CHAPTER X151-165
Indian music in the post-Bharata period, 151-Kohala, 151-Dattila, 151-152-Shardula, 152-Yashtika, 152-Durgashakti, 152-Vishvakhila, 153-Visvavasu, 153-Svati, 153Kirtidhara, 153-Lollata, 153-Udbhata, 153-Saunaka, 154-Nandikeshvara, 154-155-Matanga, 155-156-Matrigupta, 157-The author of the Natyalochana, 157-Utpaladeva, 158-Abhinavagupta, 158-159-Parshvadeva, 159-160-King Nanyadeva, 160-161-Someshvara, 162-164-Saradatanaya, 164 and other musicologists, 165.
Role of Bengal in the domain of music, 166-167-Sumudragupta, the veena-player, 167-King Harsa-vardhana of Kanauj and music, 157-Kalhana, and Damodaragupta about music of Bengal, 167-The music culture during Pala and Sena Rulers, 168-The charya and vajra gitis, 169-The singing method of the charyagiti, 170-Music culture during Lakshmana-sena's time, 171-Jayadeva contribution to the music of Bengal, 171-The nature and the ragas of the Gitagovinda, 172-Rana Kumbha's commentary of of the Gitagovinda and the change of form of the ragas, mentioned in the astapadi, 173-174-Similar works like the Gitagovinda, 175-Theform of presentation of astapadi in the South, 176.
Role of South India in the field of music, 177-The ancient Tamil epic, Silappadikaram, 177-The Jain dictionary, Tivakaram, 178-The nymns and ragas, as described in the Tevakaram, 178-The pans are divided into three main classes, 178-179-Dr. Ragghavan regarding the Tamil worked on music, 780-The Silappadhikaram has described about 22 microtones, 180-The epic drama is divided into three, 180-The pan and its four varieties, 180-The names of the seven tones of the Tamil music, 180-names of the seven tones of the Tamil music, 180-The nine classes of prabandha, 180-The ancient scale of the Tamil music, 181-Different musical instruments in the Tamil music, 181-Music as developed during the Pallava Rulers, 181-182-The Vakatakas during the Pallava Rulers, 181-182-The Vakatakas and the Pallavas, 182-Raja Mahendravarman was an accomplished veena-Player, 182-Prof. Nilkanta Sastri on the Pallava Rulers, 183-The religio-devotional hymns of the Nayanars, 184-The new names of some of the old ragas, 184-Dr. Raghavan about the Saiva hymns of the Nayanars, 184-Music in the Chola period, 185-The Dancing hall at Chidambaram, 185-186-MM. Ramakrishna Kavi about the dance-figures at the Chidambaram Nataraja temple, 186-The musical modes during the time of Rajendra Chola 186-187-The ages of Rajaraja and his son Rajendra, 187-Music in the Chalukya period, 188-King Somesvara and music-materials, 188-189-The ragas, talas and prabandhas, as described in the Abhilasarthachintamani, 189-The ancient period of history of Indian music is very important one, 190.
Samaveda and music, 191-The Samaveda is the musical version of the Rigveda, 191-The arrangements of the Samaveda, 191-The purvarchika and the samans, 192-According to the Samavidhana-brahmana, the samansinging, 192-The terms prakriti and vikriti, 192-Seven kinds of gana, 193-The different kinds samans like gayatra, etc., 193-The utterances of the syllables in the texts of the samans, 193-The stobhas, 193-The syllables of the alapa, 194-The Rik and the saman differ in the method of the saman-singing, 194-Matanga and Kallinath in this connection, 194-195-The esoteric significance of the saman-singing, 196-The Mahabhasya on the saman-singing, 195-The saman-scale, 196-The jatis of the samans, 196-The rendering of different samans, 197-Indian music still harks back to the Samaveda, 198

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