What Is Hindu Music?
The most common Hindu bhajan in North India is “Om Jai Jagdish Hare.” The names of Gods are religiously chanted, often including Vishnu and his incarnations, Shiva and the Goddess (Parvati, Shakti, Vaishnodevi).
A very common scale in Hindu music is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, which can be harmonized into a chord progression.
A bhajan is a Hindu devotional song, often of ancient origin. Bhajans are often simple songs in lyrical language expressing emotions of love for the Divine, whether for a single God/Goddess, or any number of divinities. Many bhajans feature several names and aspects of the chosen deity, especially in the case of Hindu sahasranamas, which list a divinity’s 1008 names. Great importance is attributed to the singing of bhajans with Bhakti, i.e. loving devotion. “Rasanam Lakshanam Bhajanam” means the act by which we feel more closer to our inner self or God, is a bhajan. Acts which are done for the God is called bhajan.
Traditionally, the music has been Indian classical music, which is based on ragas and tala (rhythmic beat patterns) played on the Veena (or Been), Sarangi Venu (flute), Mridanga(or Tabla) (traditional Indian instruments). The Sikh Scripture contains 31 ragas and 17 talas which form the basis for kirtan music compositions.
Hindus are even said to have achieved Moksha through devoting music to God. For example in the Rig Veda Gargi, the wife of Yajnavalkya, through her excellence in veena playing, an incident that caused Sage Yagnavalkya to write the famous verse:
- “Veena Vadama Tatvagnaha
- Sruthi Jathi Visharada
- Talagnanacha Aprayasena
- Mokshamargam Gachachathi”
There have also been several music-saints (e.g. Sant Tyagaraja) and poet-saints (e.g. Sant Ravidas).
Kirtan ( कीर्तन; IAST: Kīrtana) is a Sanskrit word that means “narrating, reciting, telling, describing” of an idea or story. It also refers to a genre of religious performance arts, connoting a musical form of narration or shared recitation, particularly of spiritual or religious ideas.
With roots in the Vedic anukirtana tradition, a kirtan is a call-and-response style song or chant, set to music, wherein multiple singers recite or describe a legend, or express loving devotion to a deity, or discuss spiritual ideas. It may include dancing or direct expression of bhavas (emotive states) by the singer. Many kirtan performances are structured to engage the audience where they either repeat the chant, or reply to the call of the singer.
A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankara (or kirtankar). A Kirtan performance includes an accompaniment of regionally popular musical instruments, such as the harmonium, the veena or ektara (forms of string instruments), the tabla (one-sided drums), the mrdanga or pakhawaj (two-sided drum), flute (forms of woodwind instruments), and karatalas or talas (cymbals). It is a major practice in Hinduism, Vaisnava devotionalism, Sikhism, the Sant traditions and some forms of Buddhism, as well as other religious groups. Kirtan is sometimes accompanied by story-telling and acting. Texts typically cover religious, mythological or social subjects.
Indian classical music
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