Haridasas and Music
Haridasas and Music

Haridasas contribution towards Music


The science of music was systematized in India, many centuries before it could be called a science in Europe. Pythagorean derived his knowledge of music from India. Wagner seems to have been familiar with Indian music through Latin translations and is indebted to Indian music for his principle idea or 'leading motive'..... Leopard Stokoviski the famous conductor of Philadelphia Orchestra expressed the great indebtedness of European music to the subtle intricacies of Indian rhythm. An eminent French author and critic has said that the music of India is without doubt one of the greatest proofs of the superiority of her civilization. The Indian system of music has been admittedly formed on better principles than those of the West and is far superior to the occidental music in as much as the Western system of notations does not admit of any sound less than half a tone, while the Indian music has quarter tones which render it too difficult to be insulated by Europeans.

It is account of these quarter tone and certain other characteristic features, that Indian music is more perfect than its western counterpart The System of Karnataka music has the well-known scheme of seventy two mela karta ragas or scales and these offer an ever expanding vista of possibilities for enriching music of other countries. A Western musician well known for mastery of Indian and Western systems of music says with reference to the seventy two Melakarthas or scales of Karnataka music.

It is not only in its science of Ragas that the East can teach the West, whose music has built itself up on three only out of the seventy two Melakarthas, what it calls the major scale, the harmonic minor and the melodic minor scales. The teeming millions of Indian people are trained by tradition in at least sixteen different root-scale combinations and their trained musicians have a working knowledge of over forty and a theoretical knowledge of seventy two.

Music as the medium of a language, all its own, converges the feelings and sentiments of a man in remarkably effective manner. Music resembles architecture but in the case of architecture all dimensions such as height, width, and thickness are linked together by numerical relations.

The history of Hindu music is buried in deep antiquity. The ancient Hindu, cultivated music, to a greater extent, than other nations, and all the famous works on music as Bharata, Kolala, Nandi, Bharana were composed in ancient times only; and music was cultivated as necessary accomplishment of religion. The origin of music at first seems to have been to convey the idea of our passions to others. In course of time, when language had attained a certain degree of intelligibility, its use began to be restricted to the worship of the supreme being. It was afterwards extended to the commemoration of great events, the celebration of praises of chieftains and heroes, and lastly to the alleviation of the cares of society.

Music was practiced by the Rishis, Gandharvas, and other inspired mortals and was considered sacred, because it softened and refined the mind and elevated its devotee to the Creator of the Universe.

The most luminous of the composers and originators of Karnataka style of music was Pundarika Vittala. According to some writers his period synchronizes with that of Krishna Deva Raya and he is reputed to have founded Mela Prastara Ragas. Accordingly by the time Purandara became prominent Ugabhoga, Suladi, Gita and Prabandha forms of musical compositions had already become popular, uplifting the soul of the common people to higher reaches of thought and sublimity of Vedic and Upanishadic speculation which so far had appeared unapproachable to those who were unfamiliar with Sanskrit and Philosophy.

Sripadaraya swami, Vyasaraja and his great disciples Purandara, Kanaka and Vadiraja carried the great intricacies of philosophical thought to the doors of the common people, through Geeta and Prabhandha, characterised by the dominance of Laya and Tala-Laya, Tala Pradhna and through Ugabhoga characterised by the dominance of 'Swara Raga Pradhana".

It is said that the soul of a nation is enshrined in the temple, in its literature and in its arts. All these are venerated in India and are represented to have emanated from God who is believed to be the fountain head of all that is True, Good and beautiful in life - Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram. A divine origin was assigned to music by the ancient Aryans because music is the language of the emotions. To a hindu, God is infinite and the entire sublime idea that is symbolically and beautifully expressed when the sage and Rishis of India described Sangeeta and Sahitya as two limbs of the Goddess Saraswathi. Music is perhaps the oldest of the Arts and it can be traced back to the Vedic period for there is the Rig Veda reference to Vina, the perfect string insturment and Vana the hundred stringed instrument and the wonderful music concert of ineffable melody (in Yama's court) of music of Vana, Vina and other musical instruments. India venerates music and noen of its arts is more perfect more loved more widespread more interwoven with its life than its music. India's musical tradition was, that music was first created from the Sama Veda by Brahma.

Karnataka Music

One of the most valuable contribution of Karnataka to world culture is the system of Music described as Karnataka Music, as distinguished by what is known as Hindustani music, a system of music prevalent in Northern India. The two systems are also known as the Dakshinadi or Southern and Uttaradi or Northern systems of music though the latter has taken root in certain areas of the Kannada country as well. Though the two systems differ from each other in their peculiar and characteristic treatment of Ragas their fundamental principles are similar. Both the systems recognize that thee are twelve notes in an Octave and use the same srutis. Both the systems classify Ragas under different Melakartas. Janaka Ragas- as derivatives or Janya Ragas. It is also very interesting to note that certain ragas of the one system correspond to particular Ragas of the other though under different names; for example, ragas Shubha Pantuvarali, Hidola and Mohana of Karnataka Music correspond to ragas Thod, Malcos and Bhupali of the Hindustani music respectively, which many such counterparts may be readily found in the two systems of Indian music.

The Vijayanagar Empire stood as the bulwark of Vedantic and Saiva culture and civilization, and music as the Sadhana of devotion to God against secularism of Northern Muslim India. As the Vachanakaras, so too the Haridasas, moved by intense love and devotion for their own people in Karnataka energized the impulse towards consolidation of hindu forces against the thread of the mono-theistic and Icono-clastic religion of Islam spreading slowly but inexorably in the Deccan and the South.

Music teaches men not to be self-willed and fanciful, but to see the beauty of order, the usefulness of rule, and the divineness of Law. It is for this reason that Haridasas resorted to music as the medium of communication of sublime thoughts of the Vedas and the Upanishads to impart instruction and to enlighten the people. It was their firm conviction that God would manifest Himself when the soul craved His company through music and dance. Of all modes of apprehension of God, music was the most effective and powerful, and when employed would persuade and Remote and the Transcendental God to bless with His living presence.

Sri Madhvacharya and followers of his dvaita philosophy regarded Kirtana mode of appraoch to Reality as one of the nine forms of Bhakthi. To the Haridasa, music and poetry Sahitya were twin-born and one would not exist wihtout the other. Sripadaraja says in one of hs Ugabhogas 'Dhyana in Krita Yuga, Yagna and Yajana in Treta Yuga worship in Dwapara and Gana in Kaliyuga are the forms of devotion to Keshava'. The same tatva is Echoed by Purandara when he says 'that Dhyana, Yagna and Archana and Keertana are the forms through which Purandara vittala bestows Moksha on the devotee'.

The philosophy of Haridasas was the realization of Paramatma through music and poetry, for the Lord is the Samagana Priya and both music and poetry are the sadhana of Adhyatma Vikasa. The Lord says 'mad bhakta Yatra Gayanti tatra Tishtama'. The Haridasas sing the praises of Hari. Bhakti was enshrined in poetry and transmuted into living excellence by music for poetry and music were both dear to the Lord. Every Haribhakta was a composer, a poet and a devotee with soulful music.

The Haridasas were the first saints in the world, to whom Bhakti through music was the only mode of attaining salvation. All these inclusive of Sripadaraja, Vyasaraja, Purandara, Vadiraja and Kanaka and other accept the religion of Madhva and his dualistic philosophy. Purandara was a devout follower of Madhva philosophy. His system Bhajana as described in the Vedas is called Taratamyapaddati. The deva taratamya or the order of merit in Bhajana Paddati is Vinayaka, Parvati, Siva, Sesha, Garuda, Bharati wife of Vayu, Gayathri, Sarswathi, Vayu Mukhya Prana, Brahma, Lakshmi and Sri Hari Sarvottama. According to the Paddathi the first invocation starts from Mangalacharane, Deva taratamya, Darshana Kutohala, Avahana, Agaman, Karna Yachane, Stotra, Dvaita Bhakti Prameya, Sri Krishna Leela seva, Moral teaching, Devaranamans, Suladis, Ugabhogs, Mangalaand finally Harivana Seva.

Sri Purandara is the founder of Karnataka Music and his songs range from the most homely to the most philosphical. In fact the learners of Karnataka music will start his composition first ie 'kereya neerana kerege chelle...'. Sri Purandara came as a saviour at a time when classical music was being threatened with contamination by western influences. Muslim power had come to stay in India, and along with it, its system of religion, of Government and of fine arts with their exotic flavor. Purandara who combined in himself a devoted saintly life with the qualities of a great composer and singer saved Karnatic music from extinction by systematizing it; setting high standards it its aesthetic appeal, and spiritual value, and fixed the vital outlines of all ragas in vogue in his days, with precision, and protected it from mutilation by vulgar hands.

Sri Purandara was in a way, the founder of Keertana form which it its melody is based on technical compositions like Gita whose purpose is to elucidate Raga forms and Tala patterns. The emphasis in the Keertanas is on its aesthetic excellence and that is why it is considered as the most important part of Karnatic classical music.

The great master composers who came after Sri Purandara faithfully followed the tradition and form which Purandara established. The Raga and Tala aspects are followed by composers like Dikshitar and Shama sastri and the purely Raga aspects by composers like Kshetragna. But it was Tyagaraja who brought out in the fullest measure all the three aspects viz. Raga Bhava and Tala of the tradition, founded by Purandara.

Haridasas compositions are so emotional that any one can moved to tears. Their language is the language of music which takes the individual above the Immanent to Transcendental. It is in a suspended state of animation that music inspires, the the Bhakta sees the pillars of the forest, pyramidal mountains, columnal cliffs, as the images of the divine architect; models of living forms and shining fantasies of the skies, the mountain like in the light of the rising moon and the first stars twinkling against the dusky silveriness of twilight, will give him an image of a divine sculpture or a celestial Painter.

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