Origin of Indian Music

Music is life itself

Tue Oct 18, 2022

Music is the strongest form of magic.

“Music is life itself.” We hear music in different forms in each corner of the world. Isn’t it? And the beauty is there is some uniqueness in every form. Look at Indian Music only, so many varieties: we have light music, folk music, tribal music, classical music. In that also there are several categories and divisions. How it has been originated?

There is a book “Sangeet Visharad” by Vasant. In that book I read nice information about Origin of Indian Music. There are different thoughts of music stalwarts about origin of Indian music. Let’s look at it: -

1. According to Indian Scriptures,Music is originated from God Brahma, who is a creator of Vedas. Brahma imparted this art to Lord Shiva. And Shiva blessed Goddess Saraswati with this supreme and serene art form. Saraswati is known as “Vina Pustak Dharini” (The holder of Vina – Indian musical string instrument – metaphor of art and Book – metaphor of knowledge) Then Saraswati distributed this knowledge to Narada Muni. And Narada passed it on to different groups of heavenly deities like Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Apsaras etc. From there only Bharat, Narad and Hanuman acquired expertise in music and they came to earth (the mortal world) to propagate this knowledge.

2. The second stream of people have opinion that Muni Narada done very hard Yog-sadhana (meditation) and Lord Shiva got pleased with his sadhana and given him boon of this divine and heavenly art - Music. Lord Shiva also created a Rudravina (Indian musical string instrument) taking inspiration from Goddess Parvatis sleeping posture. He created 5 different Ragas from his 5 different heads. And Parvati created 6th raga. Shiva’s East, West, North, South and Upward head which was facing sky created respectively Bhairav, Hindol, Megh, Deepak and Shree ragas. And Parvati created Raga Kaushik. It’s mentioned in “Shivapradosh” Stotra that when Shiva wanted to perform a dance in front of Parvati, all other Gods and Goddess also participated in it. Saraswati played Vina, Indra and Brahma played Karatala, Laxmi started singing, Vishnu played Mrudangam. To enjoy this performance all were present there; like gandharavas, yakshas, patagas, uragas, siddhas, vidyadharas, sadhyas, apsaras, gods and goddesses.

3. The writer of the book “Sangeet Darpan” Shri Damodar Pandit (Year 1625) has noted in his book as Music has invented by Brahma. Bharat Muni presented it as a prayer to Lord Shiva and it said to be liberating and emancipating music which is known as “Margi” sangeet. He has also mentioned that the 7 Surs (Musical Notes – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni) have originated from birds and animals. That means the main source is nature.

a. Sa – Shadaj – Peacock

b. Re – Rishabh – Jacobin Cuckoo / Rain Bird (other references says: Ox)

c. Ga – Gandhar – Goat

d. Ma – Madhyam – Crow (Other references says: Heron)

e. Pa – Pancham – Cuckoo

f. Dha – Dhaivat – Frog (Other references says: Horse)

g. Ni – Nishad – Elephant

4. One Persian musicologist have mentioned that once Hazrat Musa (Moses) was wandering amidst nature and on mountains. He heard a divine command from sky -
“Ya Musa haquiqi, tu apna asa is pathar par mar!” which means – “O Moses, strike this stone with your stick”. After hearing that divine command Moses hit the stone with his stick. And what a miracle… that stone broken into 7 pieces and springs spouted from each of that part flowing in different direction. Each of these water flow has different sounds which formed 7 Surs (Musical notes) of Music – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni

5. Other Persian musicologists say that there is a rare heavenly bird named “Musiker” whose beak have seven holes like flute. And from these holes these 7 Surs have originated.

6. According to a Western Psychologist Freud, music has originated from unconscious mind naturally. The process was similar like the learnings of a new born baby. Like how baby learns automatically (unconsciously) to cry, laugh, scream etc. In similar ways humans discovered 7 Surs from his mind.

7. The followers of James Long also says that music is a result of human evolution. First humans learnt to speak then started walking and roaming different places. And gradually in the process they discovered music.

So many different views. Interesting!!! Isn’t it? There is no scientific evidence to prove how, where, when and by whom these 7 magical notes originated. And better not to go in details. Because of our lack of awareness, it’s difficult to choose any one from these as accurate origin stream of Indian Music. So, we will just enjoy the heavenly music. Let’s go….

Priti G. Parab
India based Music Therapist, Sitarist and NLP Master Practitioner

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