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You are here : home > Indian Culture > Indian Folk and Classical Music > Origin of Indian Music

Origin of Indian Music



Here is the second of the series written by Smt. Shampa Pakrashi. Read on to know more about origin of Indian music.


According to Indian Scriptures, music originated in the hands of Lord Brahma who also created the Vedas. This knowledge was subsequently imparted to Lord Shiva who in turn blessed Goddess Saraswati with this supreme form of art. Goddess Saraswati is known and worshipped as "Veenapustakdharini" which may be interpreted as the one holding a veena - which is a musical Instrument - and pustak meaning book and representing knowledge. Goddess Saraswati taught this form of art to Narada - a well known sage in the sevice of Lord Vishnu - and he passed this wisdom on to the all the heavenly deities and apsaras (Nautch Girls of Heaven). Later, revered saints like Bharata, Hanumant etc. brought it to the mortal world.

Some musicologists of ancient India believed that, as reward for an infinitely long period of meditation, Narada was blessed with music by Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was said to have created the Rudra veena (stringed musical instrument) simulating the lying posture of his consort Goddess Parvati and through his five faces or mouths five ragas originated. The sixth raga was created by goddess Parvati herself. Of the five faces of Lord Shiva the eastern face gave birth to raag Bhairav, the Western Face to Raag Hindol the Northern face to Raag Megh, the Southern face to Raag Deepak and the fifith face which was directed towards the sky gave birth to Raga Shree. Goddess Parvati is said to have created the Raga Kaushik.

The writer of "Sangeet Darpan" Shree Damodar pandit (1625 century) writes:

Druhinat Yadavishtan Prayukta Bharten Ch

Mahadevasya purtastanmargakhya vimuktatam Which means that Lord Brahma (Druhin) has invented this great art form, Sage Bharata has demonstrated this in front of Lord Shiva. This form of pure music is emancipated and divine in nature and called "margi" sangeet.

Much later, musicologists came to believe that music originated fom natural sounds. Such as,

Sound of peacock - Swara (note) Sa or Shadaja Sound of Chatak (Rain bird) - Swara Re or Rishabh Sound of Goat - Swara Ga or Gandhar Sound of crow - Swara Ma or Madhyam Sound of Cuckoo - Swara Pa or Pancham Sound of Frog - Swara Dha or Dhaivat Sound of Elephant - Swara Ni or Nishaad

Since the range of our music was not restricted merely to India but was also influenced by places like Persia and Afghanistan let us take into consideration the opinion of Persian Musicologists as well. According to hem when Hazrat Musa (Moses) was wandering amidst nature he received a divine command - "ya Musa haquiqi tu apna asa" - that is "O Moses" stike this particular stone with your stick. The stone , when hit, disintegrated into seven parts and from each aprt different springs spouted. Each of these have different sounds which are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. Other Persian musicologists say that there is a rare bird whose beak has seven holes and it is from these holes that the seven notes originated.

So as we can see there is no scientific explanation to how, where and when these seven universally accepted notes originated.

To be continued.

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