Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Book Release: Commitment to Hindi and Knowledge


Though almost a cardinal principle in itself, the fact voiced over several times during the event, that knowledge is dependent on language became the central Vib2Deltheme of Hindi Medium Implementation Directorate’s book-release function at World Book Fair, New Delhi on Sunday the 10th February 2013. Dr. Asha Gupta, Director, with her able team, released over a dozen books written by independent authors as well as team-writers. The function was presided over by Prof. Keshari Lal Verma and included such dignitaries as Prof. Subhash Chandra Kashyap, Prof. Jagdeesh Chandra Muna, Prof. M.P. Singh and Prof. Ramesh Gautam.

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Recalling in Tranquility


I often wondered about the process involved in aesthetic experience. There are things that appeal to us naturally. If people we value appreciate the same thing we feel that our taste is commendable. Often such a taste goes against the preference of the masses. It was as student of literature that I developed an insight into the aesthetic process. Still, when it came to fine arts and that too music it became all too complex. A poem does not get fragmented when we talk about a particular image, but as we speak of a musical phrase we seem to undermine rest of the composition. More often than not, people find it difficult to pinpoint what musical part endears the whole composition to them. Further, to explain the combination of notes that would make a composition likeable is again a difficult thing. So, if we wish to tap aesthetic sensibility of children and nurture it along a desired direction what should we do?

To read more ……………………………….Swati on Tranquility

Veena : Manifestation of Intangibility


Names are like human beings, often helpful but at times deceptive. Ancient most Indian treatise records two kinds of non-percussive instruments – Veena and Venu. Wheras Venu or flute during its evolution changed little, Veena had a hundred avatars. In the twentieth century, when most of the Veena-s had vanished and remaining ones had carved an exclusive niche with unique names, there are still some instruments that despite some changes, have retained both the ancient essence as well as name. Rudra Veena and Vichitra Veena of the North, with slight modifications in design and embellishment are in vogue as Tanjauri Veena and Gottu Vadyam in South. However, the music system remains unchanged despite distinction in form. In India music like painting, theater and poetry has never been separate from ordinary routine of people. All knowledge is dedication of one’s talent, all talent a medium of sublimating one’s ego. Learning Veena is a constant flattening of one’s ego till gain of wisdom.
For full essay visit Omenad.

Clutching the Intangible: Conserving Veena


In a world grappling with material, the concept of imperceptibility, invisibility and intangibility has slowly crept in. More and more activities, products and services are getting virtual. The materialization and later commercialization of music wiped out several traditions of musical practice. The nature of nation, society and family has been drastically overhauled with so-called empowerment of the “individual”. The price of such material empowerment has been paid by the individual in currency of emotional, intellectual and psychological balance. Fortunately, human life is governed by several factors. So while, technology and economic order pushes him in one direction, the local socio-cultural factors tend to retard the pull. There are some who ride the crest, while those in trough serve as anchors. It was decided by the supreme body that culture has an intangible side which needs concrete aid and support in order to maintain the essence of human nature – compassion, camaraderie and creativity. Indian music is best represented by the tradition of Veena-playing which involves performance, scholarship, innovation and crafting. For millenniums, it has retained continuity but the challenge of technology driven economy, which leaves little time to individual, is the toughest. It needs determination and concrete policy to keep Indian music in health.
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The Concept of Intangibility


by Rajiv Trivedi

Consciousness, perception, reason, intelligence are concepts necessary to establish a relationship between man and the world. His senses help him in formulating such a relationship on basis of actions which involve classification; language is a tool developed for this purpose. This tool has limitations and thus representation of reality is neither precise nor permanent. It is not merely the inadequacy of language which gives birth to idea of intangibility; it predates language as essence of consciousness itself. It is that which vitalizes consciousness and propels one to know. On a practical plain, it represents that which is perceptible but defies quantification. One has to ultimately recourse to such terms as… Visit Omenad for full article.

‘Role of Instruments in Indian Music’


International Conference: Bhopal, January 17-18 2009

by Shruti Shankar

The two day conference of Omenad was organized at Swaraj Bhawan, Bhopal. Scholars from various parts of India as also from varying disciplines had gathered to offer their expertise on musical instruments. Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Sonoma State University had planned his visit to South Asia specially to attend the conference… Read more

Rishi Tradition in Music education


By Dr. Bageshri Joshi

Learning and teaching are intertwined like the vine and the wall it grows upon. The two co-exist; however the quality of their existence depends on the age. Forgetting our basic principles we have imported a system of knowledge in which we first create problems and then seek their solutions. We are forced to define the concepts of learning and teaching repeatedly, yet nowhere near do we reach the traditional order that we discarded in favor of modern definitions. Rather than do our own thinking, we are content to import ideas from elsewhere. This has resulted in dwarfing India’s position from being teacher of the world to becoming beggar of the world. The reason is that we have forgotten our Rishi tradition. Our thought process has slowed down; our minds have lost their keenness, paralyzed by material pleasures.

We can now find in society a desire to regain the lost tradition. People now take pride in having learnt in Guru-Shishya system — it is glorified as everything else, regardless of the fact that in truth it was a routine silent activity withdrawn from material world. Can we ever hope to reverse the clock, and if we do, would the Rishi tradition permit our entry?

Of the five ways of worship prescribed for person following Grihastha Ashram by scriptures, the grant of knowledge (Vidya Dan) is equated with grant of life (Pran Dan) and is held superior provided it has not been made to earn a reward. The core of learning-teaching is contained within this idea of Vidyadan. This concept of learning-teaching is first mentioned in Veda-s. The meaning of Veda itself is ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Reason’.

To understand the idea of knowledge and reason, Riga-Veda further mentions three notions — Shruti (that which is natural and self-evident) Agam (that received through inheritance) and Nigam (that which clearly and specifically provides solution to problems of life). Indian practice of fine arts, especially music follows these principles verbatim.

As art exists through expression it is self generated and self-evident. The performance of any art necessarily involves the practice and appreciation of tradition hence it reflects inheritance. That it clearly provides solution to immediate need is established by the possibility of attaining a state of ecstasy and bliss though art. Hence all the three Vedic concepts for teaching-learning process are still in practice. Apart from these three, there is a fourth concept dealing with dissemination and choice.

Dissemination implies that the knowledge should be made available for all sections of society declared eligible to receive it. But in the modern times our distribution system has become miserly. Our tradition of distributing single grain amongst seven recipients has now turned into “Seven to one; to six, none!”. The highest characteristic of a noble teacher is equal distribution; he gives each a ‘part’ of himself. In the field of education the whole activity rests upon dissemination, but how much are we able to impart today?

Krishna in the age of Dwapar too was consumed by this challenge of equitable distribution. 1 He found a solution to this in the ancient tradition of Yajna. He expanded the definition of yajna to cover all facets of life thereby increasing its scope. He declared that when a rich man gives away his riches, the saint his wealth of piety, the Yogi his determination, and Guru his teachings then there is no ahuti (ritual feeding of the yajna fire) of a religious yajna greater than these. A direct beneficiary of Krishna’s declaration is the Rishi-tradition and system of learning-teaching that we have inherited.

The prime goal of education is to stop faith, thought and reason from decaying into superstition. Faith and reason are two wheels that require an axle to keep life’s motion in balance. This central axle is the activity of teaching.

Veda prohibits amassing and insists on dissemination in the process of education. Hence in the Rishi tradition there has been a free and open propagation of knowledge thereby creating the tradition of Shishya (pupil).

The Veda-s also stress the significance of listening in the education process. Truth is established through comprehension and unrestrained expression. Therefore it is said — Avrittisakridupdeshaat. Repetition of the truth as laid in scriptures leads of consolidation of knowledge. Even today the music tradition of India has to rely on repeated listening for attaining a perfect note.

Further the education process is exhorted to run clear of Maya (denoting ignorance that offers misleading alternatives), accept possibility of change, inspire man to look within, facilitate transformation from soul to oversoul, and cooperate to establish order. The ignorance or maya ties a knot between the mind and intellect which Guru alone can open. A desire for change is vital to human intelligence. So long as food and shelter are available an animal does not desire to change its location, but soon as his physical hunger is satiated, man craves to satisfy his intellectual thirst. This thirst is satisfied by the food of thought through arts, science and literature. But as even this becomes monotonous sooner or later, a change is further required.

The process of education of education incorporates:

* The desire to attain the eternal.
* The desire to find that which does not change.
* The desire to employ the temporal for a solution.

It is these three desires that propel the process of learning. Education is the ability to discern between knowledge, truth and impression. This becomes far more complex when applied to fine arts. To focus on primary subject is essential in fine arts but mostly the central theme is distributed and subtle so it is difficult to focus on it. In the shapeless domain of musical notes this endeavor becomes still more difficult. To determine even the subsidiary goal is difficult and becomes a mystery. To unravel the layers of this mystery is made possible through process of learning-teaching.

One should comprehend the difference between learning and teaching, specially today when more and more stress is being laid on learner-centric education. Swami Vivekanand says that difference between a mustard seed and mountain, a fire-fly and sun, and a rivulet and ocean is not as much as is learning situated from teaching. The writer of Mahabharata sage Veda Vyas ordains that teaching is not a commercial activity, but a planned process of building character, attainment of intent, solution and bliss.

The very thing that has been banished from the educational endeavor stands first and foremost today — monetary reward. The commercialized education is gradually annihilating our traditional system. It is severing us off from our traditions. It makes us uncivilized and uncivil. if at all we have any love for our fine arts we shall have to resort to the Rishi tradition of learning-teaching else like other aspects of our culture our fine arts are sure sure to lose their depth and integrity, their existence.

The seven notes interact to create a melody unique for all individuals — once the process of unraveling the mystery of their interaction is decimated by unseating them from their places through regimented sounds, as can be seen in synthetic music today, they shall cease to provide sense, solace, and rejuvenation to human spirit, bogging it down with hollow mechanical ecstasy resulting in debilitating dejection and fatigue. Eroding the spiritual for a insatiable material hunger is the product of commercialization of all human endeavors. Mahatma Gandhi had voiced the ancient truth — one should reduce one’s dependence on physical requirements by limiting one’s needs. This truth, like the Rishi tradition of education was upturned by consumption directed development model. Now nature itself warns us through environmental changes like global warming that we should better take heed and consume only that much which is required for our survival, else man shall cease to survive. When eternal values are replaced by temporal ones, the learning-teaching system is no longer worthy of this epithet.

From Articles section of

References :

1 Krishna, as also Guru Dronacharya, was perturbed by the limitation of a teacher entrusted with care of select pupils, who could not teach a deserving student outside the given set.

Saraswati Veena


by Dr. Ragini Trivedi

Of the several variants mentioned in musical treatises of ancient and medieval period, we do not find mention of Saraswati Veena. It seems strange. The most public of all Indian deities, without worshipping whom no function can begin, is always shown carrying a musical instrument, which by default should be Saraswati Veena and ancient texts do not mention it! The faithful find this hard to believe. The term Saraswati Veena represents designation rather than design.

Musicians of the Seni school had opted for Rudra Veena as their instrument of choice. They would not teach techniques of playing this to anyone outside the family. They referred to the instrument as Saraswati Veena. In southern part of the country variants of Kinnari Veena were in use and makers of Tanjore were reputed for their craftsmanship. Their Veena came to be recognized as Tanjori Veena. This same instrument was given the name of Saraswati Veena.

Saraswati, goddess of learning, has always been revered. Indian philosophy treats both Word (Shabda) and Sound (Nad) as Brahma. Hence, Saraswati has always been depicted with a string instrument. The shape of this instrument kept changing with times. This emphasizes that idea has always been dominant over matter in Indian Art. The artist was always eager to attribute highest form of learning to the Goddess, hence he did not hesitate to choose the superior instrument of his times over the traditional one.

A 1500 BC sculpture, “Roopur”1 shows a woman sitting cross-legged, holding an instrument horizontally at waist level. Scholars opine that this instrument is Vipanchi Veena in which three Vedic notes could be tuned. Thirteen centuries later around 150 BC (Bharhut)2 there is a group of twelve musicians depicting women playing Mridang, Manjeera, Vipanchi Veena, marking beats and singing. Another group of same period sculpted on west gate of Sanchi Stupa – 13 shows one playing on flute, another on Mridang of Bharat period and two playing Vipanchi Veena. Such resources indicate that from third, second BC to sixth, seventh century AD the Veena-s in prominence were Vipanchi, Chitra and Ghoshvati. While Vipanchi carried nine strings, Chitra had seven strings and Ghoshvati was single-stringed. Dr. Lalmani Misra says that on the basis of available sculpture and paintings, one may construe that Vipanchi was like modern Harp, Chitra resembles Sarod and Ghoshvati was built like Ektara.

Gandharva Chittorgarh Topkhana sculpture dating 200 BC to 600 AD show Chitra Veena4, Huduk5 and Pinaki6 besides percussion. A panel from Nagarjun Konda10, second century, shows a female playing Chitra Veena as others listen rapt. The same has also been depicted at Ajanta, Cave 411 (second BC – sixth century AD) but the instrument appears to have frets while no mention is found of fretted instruments prior to Matang’s Kinnari Veena. A fifth century panel from Pawaya12 of a dancer surrounded by musician gives clear depiction of instruments — Mridang, Chitra and Vipanchi Veena. One can see the seven key-knobs in Chitra Veena. A female figure in Ellora Cave 2113 (seventh century) plays Alapini Veena, a variant of Ektantri.

A sixth century Nalanda15 bronze of Saraswati holding Vipanchi Veena shows figure playing flute on right and percussion on left flank. Veena-player from temple of Harsat Mata, Abner18 shows her holding a different kind of instrument not seen hitherto. By its shape, it may be Kachchapi Veena. Another figure from the same temple19 is the first clear depiction of frets. The Ghoshvati Veena here does not have resonators.

Twelfth century idol of Saraswati at Chennakesava temple20, Belur is shown with a variation of Kinnari Veena. This is the instrument which initiated the form of Veena developed by craftsmen of Tanjore. Hoysaleshwar temple26 of the same period at Halebid shows the Goddess playing Ektantri Veena. It is only in seventeenth century (Rameshwaram temple27) that Saraswati is depicted playing Rudra Veena, prompted perhaps due adoption of this instrument by the Seni musicians who called it Saraswati Veena. During the medieval period, specially in Ragmala paintings this is the instrument which appears time and again.

When in later half of nineteenth century the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma attracted west and became a source of inspiration for calendar art, it was Tanjori Veena that appeared in the hands of Saraswati. For almost a century and half it has been granted the title. Stylization in art is responsible for vague representation of the instrument by M. F. Hussain. This also marks the end of an era. In case a new instrument becomes popular, unless realism is accepted back in art, it shall never find true depiction. Perhaps rightly so. When Indian instruments have stopped evolving and started fusing into electronic gadgets there is hardly any need to exalt them in the hands of Saraswati.

From Articles section of

References :

Numbers 1 to 27 refer to pictures in Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya 1973. Second edition, 2002. Picture section.

12th century Saraswati at Kothanoor with Ektantri

Bharatiya Shastriya Sangit: Shastra, Shikshan Va Prayog. Collection of Essays in Indian music.

Scripting the Oral


Practice of any art presumes observation. Often the documentation of such observations leads to change in practice. Culture is a construct of multiple inputs. Madhukali is aided in its venture to promote conservation and promotion of Indian modes of aesthetic expression by several institutions and individuals. The history of this nation’s culture reports retention of its originality through oral communication. Experts, critics, enthusiasts help Madhukali by contributing their original research and thought.