What is Hindu Music?

Hindu music is music created for or influenced by Hinduism. It includes Indian classical music, Kirtan, Bhajan and other musical genres. Raagas are a common form of Hindu music in classical India.

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.

Bell Brass Hindu Temple Sound Ring Metal Golden

Bell in Hindu Music

Bhajan

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.

बुधवार भक्ति : नॉनस्टॉप गणेश जी के मधुर भजन –
Nonstop Ganesh Ji Ke Bhajan : Nonstop Ganesh Bhajan

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”

(“Yagnavalkya Siksha”)

There have also been several music-saints (e.g. Sant Tyagaraja) and poet-saints (e.g. Sant Ravidas).

Kirtan

Kirtanकीर्तन; 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.

Jai Jai Radha Ramana | Kirtan Sessions

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 HinduismVaisnava 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

Main article: Indian classical music

Indian classical music is the classical music of the Indian subcontinent. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic. These traditions were not distinct till about the 16th century. There on, during the turmoils of Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent, the traditions separated and evolved into distinct forms. Hindustani music emphasizes improvisation and exploring all aspects of a raga, while Carnatic performances tend to be short and composition-based. However, the two systems continue to have more common features than differences.

Nina Burmi | Mishra Bhairavi Thumri | Indian Classical Music

The roots of the classical music of India are found in the Vedic literature of Hinduism and the ancient Natyashastra, the classic Sanskrit text on performance arts by Bharata Muni. The 13th century Sanskrit text Sangita-Ratnakara of Sarangadeva is regarded as the definitive text by both the Hindustani music and the Carnatic musictraditions.

Indian classical music has two foundational elements, raga and tala. The raga, based on swara (notes including microtones), forms the fabric of a melodic structure, while the tala measures the time cycle. The raga gives an artist a palette to build the melody from sounds, while the tala provides them with a creative framework for rhythmic improvisation using time. In Indian classical the space between the notes is often more important than the notes themselves, and it does not have Western classical concepts such as harmony, counterpoint, chords, or modulation.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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