SCHOOL Of MUSIC
the epoch of the most glorious period of the Moghul Empire the
musical culture of North India rose to the Zenith. Mian Tansen,
the greatest disciple of the saint and musical seer, Swami Haridas
of Vrindaban, was the central figure around whom a renaissance
of Hindusthani music took place. The new features added during
this period could never be brushed aside, for in the teaching
of Tansen could be found the key that incorporated and federated
the musical arts of India and the Middle East through a rhythmic
pattern that was however India's own creation. In the past, the
spirit of this synthesis had incorporated Greek and Arabian melody
types into the Indian scheme. The creation of such a scheme was
a triumph for the musical genius of India. This was the ancient
spiritual ideal of India of creating unity in diversity. In fact,
this is the cosmic way, so to say, and as such its long history
in the practical concerns of Indian achievements is a matter of
supreme interest for the world. Mr. Fox Strangways is right when
he says, "India has had time to forget more melodies than Europe
has had time to learn."
I propose to furnish an
outline of the traditional gifts of the Tansen school of music
of which little is known till now to the world at large. This
school although based on the inspiration of Indian Rishis, drew
materials to enrich itself from the music of Arabia and Persia.
I have come into touch
with the original sources of the teachings of Tansen handed down
through generations of his descendants.
The royal courts of Rampur
and Jaipur which patronised and respectfully retained the descendants
of Mian Tansen estabilished the teachings of his School. The Nawabs
of Rampur were themselves great connoisseurs of music. The late
Nawabs Haider Ali Khan, Hamid Ali Khan and Chhamman Saheb were
great masters of vocal and instrumental music and had in their
Darbar the immortal Bahadur Hossainn Khan, Sangeet Nayak Wazir
Khan (the Guru of Allauddin Khan) and Mohammed Ali Khan of the
Tansen line. Wazir Khan himself was not only a great musician
but was also great musicologist who wrote the Risala Mousibi,
a voluminous work with notations. Chhamman Saheb also wrote several
valuable manuscripts including Risala Tansen, Nurul Hawdayak and
on the philosophy of music, all of which are carefully preserved
in the court of the late H. H. Nawab of Rampur. Being a disciple
of the late Mohammad Ali Khan and also of the son of Wazir Khan,
I have received the original teachings contained in these works.
Among the Seni musicians,
that is, the descendants of Tansen of the 19th and 20th centuries,
we find two mighty figures who were given the title "Sangeet Nayaka"
by the royal courts. In the 19th century, Basat Khan, the celebrated
vocalist and Veena player,was an outstanding figure who trained
many disciples and wrote some valuable books on music. The famous
work "Nagamat-e-Asarhi" contained his teachings. Another book
named "Nagamat-e-Niamat" written by the great sarodiya Niamatullah
Khan who was one of his disciples, contains his musical theories.
Md. Ali Khan who was my Guru, was the second son of Basat Khan.
He and Wazir Khan flourished during the earlier part of this century
and the latter trained Allauddin Khan, Mustaque Hussain Khan and
Hafez Ali Khan. The immortal Pandit Bhatkande also took initiation
from him in Seni music.
I have found complete
identity of views in the teachings of Basat Khan and Wazir Khan
in the theories of Hindusthani music. Both of them have propagated
the basic principles on which the entire structure of music of
Tansen and his descendants stands. The tradition of Tansen brings
us in close touch with the Iegcendary origin of the Indian music
as rich as well as the historical accounts given by Sarangadeva.
The theories of Tansen
accept the view of the Sangita Ratnakara that Brahma created the
Marga style of music out of the contents of the Samaveda which
used to call the learning of music as the Nadavidya, the embodiment
of the eternal spirit. The God Mahadeva was the original teacher
of this Vidya and Parvati and Sarasvati received this divine knowledge
from him. The mention of God Ganesa, Narada , Hanuman come next.
The celestial beings of the heaven that is the lesser gods, Ghandharvas,
Kinnaras and the celestial nymphs learned this divine music from
Narada and Hanuman. In the teachings of Tansen we find accounts
of the Puranic personalities like Ravana, Valmiki, Lava, Kusha,
Hanuman, Arjuna and others. Then there are references of Bharata,
Matanga, Sarangadeva and Kallinatha.
Tansen based his theories
of music according to the Shiv Mata and the Hanuman Mata in which
the expositions of the characteristics of the six main Ragas namely
(1) Bhairav (2) Malkosh (3) Hindol (4) Shree (5) Megh (6) Dipak
and their Raginis and the Raga Putras were given. In Sanskrit
works like Sangitadarpana correlation of the ragas with Raginis
seems to be based on imaginary grounds or fictions. But both Basat
Khan and Wazir Khan in their musical manuscripts, have rearranged
the relations between Ragas and Raginis which they ascribed to
Tansen's theories in a way satisfying both reason and science.
These two great musicians accepted the theory of twelve Melas
and showed that the six main Ragas belonged to the six main Melas
and there was correlation between the Ragas and Raginis according
to the similarities of Melas, Vadi, Samvadi and Amsa Swaras. Later
on Pandit Bhatkande established the theories of ten Thats of the
Hindusthani Sangit Paddhati. Bhatkhande also became the disciple
of Wazir Khan and collected many Dhrupads of the Tansen School.
Tansen was acclaimed by
Empeor Akbar as the greatest musician of India after the age of
Bharata. We find evidence to this in the work of Abul Fazal. The
descendants of Tansen expressed the view that the musical teachings
of Tansen, especially those on the structure of the Ragas, have
been carried down through lines of the Gurus and disciples. Tansen
himself was a disciple of Baba Ramdas of Oadh and Svami Haridasji
of Vrindaban, both of whom regarded God Siva as the creator and
Hanuman as the propagators of Ragas and Raginis. Tansen also assimilated
some of the basic principles of the of the Middle East.
The origin of the Arabic
and the Persian music may be traced from Greece. But it should
be remembered that the Greeks were indebted to Egypt on the one
hand and India on the other for the development of their philosophy,
music, science and the various arts. Tansen however received the
influence of the Arabic and Persian music from Mohammed Ghous,
the celebrated Pir of Gwalior who was also one of the spiritual
guides of Tansen. Tansen was the son of a Gaudiya Brahniin of
Benaras and was initiated by Haridas Svamii in the Brahma Vidya
and Nada Vidya and later on was initiated by the Pir of Gwalior
in the cult of sufism. Although by his marriage with a Muslim
lady he embraced the Islamic religion, he did not forsake the
teachings of the Vedic cult ; rather he combined the philosophical
principles and the practices of the Vedas and the Bhakti Sastra
of India with the Sufi cult of Persia. The songs composed by him
bear evidence of his true devotion to the gods and "avataras"
of India as well as to the prophet Mohammed. Regarding the traditions
of the music of the Middle East which inspired Tansen, we find
the following account in the manuscripts of Wazir Khan.
About the origin and history
or legends of music, the ancient Persians believed that this art
had originated from the melodious notes of a bird which they called
Mausiqar. The beak of the bird has seven holes in it and through
each hole it used to sound a different note. This ultimately led
to the foundation of seven fundamental notes.
The Persians and the Arabic
scholars mention the name of Pythagoras as the first authentic
writer on music. Pythagoras wrote a book entitled Mausike in the
Greek language in about 500 B. C. Mou in Greek means air and sike
means knot and the word mousike meant "tying a knot in the air".
Persians and Arabs call music, "Mousike", Pythagoras was known
as a student of Sankhya Philosohpy and many believe that he learnt
also the fundamental principles of Indian music.
After Pythagoras, we find
mentioned in the traditions of Tansen's School, the name of Aras-Ta-Talis
of the Greek period who had three Arabic disciples who were both
musicians and physicians: (1) Hakim Sukharat, Hakim Bokharat,
and (3) Hakim Jalinus.
During the reign of King
Marun Rashid of Persia, Mutirbin-Kundi, was a renowned musicologist
who followed the traditions of the three Hakims mentioned above
and translated the work of Pythagoras into Arabic. The great sage
Abu Ali Sina then gave it a practical shape.
During the reign of Khalifa
Harun Al Rashid of Baghdad the Arabians got free from the taboo
on music and several Arabic musicians like (1) Sayeb (2) Ashib
(3) Tyayib (4) Nasir (5) Ibrahim Bin Musli and (6) Ishakh Bin-Ibrahim
emerged on the scene.
The Pir Saheb of Gwalior
who was one of the Masters of Tansen school received the knowledge
of this line which flourished in Arabia. The Arabic inspiration
of this line shines as the milky way in the firmament of Tansen
Hazarat Md. Ghouse, however,
was not the earliest exponent of Persian and Arabic music in India
The influence of Turkish music had been carried to the Northern
parts in India by the Sakas and the Hun tribes even in the Hindu
period. The music of Turkistan was similar to that of Persia.
Later on during the Pathan period Amir Khusru, the renowned poet
and musician, introduced the Persian system of music in the Delhi
Durbar. He composed numerous songs in the Persian style known
as "Kwawali". The Persian system was based on the theory of the
twelve Moquamis ( Main Ragas ), twenty-four Subhas ( Raginis )
and forty-eight Gussas ( Uparagas ). Amir Khusru composed also
many new Ragas by combining the tunes of India and Persia.
Baiju Bawra, a musician
saint who was a contemporary of Amir Khusru, created the Dhrupad
style of Hindusthani music in accordance with the lines of Sanskrit
"Prabandhas" and "Dhruva gitis." Baiju Bawra was an exponent of
theory of Ragas and Raginis. But the Dhrupad Paddhati introduced
by him, although it received the highest respect in the temple
of music, never held a dominant position in the courts of Pathan
Emperors who placed the Kwawaii system in a position superior
to that of the Dhrupad Paddhati.
After the fall of the
Pathan Empire, Raja Man-Tomar of Gwalior established a musical
association in his court and retained four great musicians, (a)
Bham, (b) Charju, (c) Dhundhibar and (d) Chanchal Sashi who were
given the title 'Sangita Nayaka'. With their co-operation Raja
Man revived the glory of the Dhrupad-system of music and gave
it a status superior to that of the Kwawali.
The Pir Ghouse of Gwalior
was a friend of the Raja and although he imbibed the Persian culture
in music and religion, he accepted the Dhrupad-system of Indian
music and was also an admirer of the Bhakti cult of India.
At that time Swami Haridas
of Vrindaban was regarded as a great saint and musical genius
of remarkable creative power. He followed the style of Baiju but
gave an extremely melodious and colourful style of presentation
of Dhruvapada music. As Tansen's musical genius was developed
by his direct teachings it was evident that Tansen would become
an exponent of the Dhruvapada Style. In fact, the Pir of Gwalior
also encouraged Tansen to develop the Dhruvapada style although
he made him well versed in Persian music. Thus Tansen based all
his musical creations on the Dhruvapada Paddhati while assimilating
some beautiful forms of the Persian music.
Akbar the Great made the
ideal of his policy to combine the different cultures of India.
Tansen as the Guru of Akbar followed the same ideal in the creation
of his music, both the Emperor and Tansen raised the status of
Dhruvapada as the highest expression of music. Thus in the Mogul
court unlike the Pathan Court the Kwawali type of music, was given
only a secondary position. Akbar established an association of
nine gems of musicians (Navaratna) with Tansen as its leader.
Tansen created many new ragas which, uptill now, are regarded
as the foremost ragas of Northern India. Some of these are noteworthy,
e.g. Darbari Kanada,Darbari Todi,Miya ki Malhar, Miya ki Sarang
etc. Tansen composed about one thousand Dhruvapadas which are
even now remembered not only for the wonderful exposition of the
Ragas contained in them but also for their very high poetic value.
There are many songs of devotion to the Supreme Divine and also
to the Gods. We find also many outstanding songs composed by him
in praise of the Kings and the Emperors. And these songs contain
remarkable synthesis of the Vedanta, the Bhakti Sastra and the
mysticism of the Sufi cult.
Tansen reshaped the entire
of Dhruvapada music by the addition of new ornamentations in Meend,
Gamaka etc. which were lacking in them. His songs had special
charms and emotional appeal. As the Guru of Akbar, he received
the highest honour from all and established a permanent school
of Dhruvapada music. In the field of instrumental music also he
had valuable contributions in the development of the Rabab ( Rudra-Veena
) and the Hinduathani Saraswat Veena. It is remarkable that his
music was kept bright in the line of his descendants also.
From the period of Akbar
upto the beginning of the present century the descendants of Tansen
who were called Seni musicians were regarded as authorities on
Hindusthani classical music. Some of his descendants created new
Ragas which have permanent value, e.g., Vilaskhani Todi, Tilak-Kamod,
Puria Kalyan, Kausiki Kanada etc.
These musicians preserved
and developed the Dhruvapada music introduced by Tansen containing
the four Banis or styles : (1) Gouhar Bani containing melodious
sliding notes. (2) Dagar Bani containing melodious Gamakas and
curved lines. (3) Khander Bani with quick vibrations. (5) Naohar
Bani with jumpy notes. These Banis contained five main Rasas:
(1) Santa (2) Sringara (3) Karuna (4) Vira and (5) Abdhuta. The
classical instrumental music of Northern India was also developed
on the same lines through the instruments, the Veena, the Rabab,
Surasringar and Sitar. The celebrated musician, Shah Sadarang
was also a descendant of Tansen and it was he who invented the
Hinduathani classical Kheyal by combining the techniques of the
Dhruvapada and the Kwawali with the system of Ragas following
the tradition of Dhruvapada.
Now-a-days we come across
many musicians who claim to belong to different schools of music
of the North. But all these schools were founded by musicians
who were directly or indirectly the disciples of some descendant
of Tansen. Thus what we know about the classical Hindusthani Music,
is originated from the line of Tansen. If we sincerely aspire
to revive the glory of the classical music of the North, we have
to turn our attention to researches on the music of Tansen's line
and for that purpose the establishment of centre for research
on the Tansen School of music is urgently required.
Pt. Birendra Kishore Roy Choadhury - bio | table
of contents | chapter 4