Brahmins as Musicians

Sat May 8 13:51:29 UTC 2010

Don't forget that some brahmans - not a large percentage - are
Saamavedins. They do not recite but sing.

> Śrīvara, the Kashmirian court Pandit of Sultan Zayn (r. AD 1418/20-1470),
> was a noted Brahmin musician. His Rajatarangini (ed. Kaul 1966) abounds in
> references to musical performances, of which the one quoted below
> (1.4.34-36) deserves particular attention:
> [34][Being myself] an expert in music of all kinds, I took an [ordinary]
> gourd lute in my hand [and] by playing it displayed my skills in new
> musical
> modulations. [35]Others such as Ǧa‛far [joined in] also and sang difficult
> Turkish tunes with me accompanied by the lute, in front of the Sulṭān.
> [36]While we were singing a song in twelve [different] modes in the
> assembly, the tones [formed] from strings and voices seemed to reach
> perfect
> harmony out of [mutual] affection.
> As to the Gitagovinda, cp. 1.5.99f:
> [99]He then embarked on a boat surrounded by five or six boatswains and
> sailed out to Lake [Kramasaras], taking Bhaṭṭa Siṃha and me along with
> him.
> [100]When I sang the Sulṭān songs from the Gītagovinda [there], he became
> immersed in love for Kṛṣṇa on listening to them, overcome with the
> particular sentiment [corresponding to my recital].
> Lake Kramasaras is mod. Konsar Nag (elevation c. 15,000 feet) below
> Naubandha Peak on the Pir Pantsal.
> Best, WS
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan" <palaniappa at AOL.COM>
> To: <INDOLOGY at>
> Sent: Saturday, May 08, 2010 2:50 PM
> Subject: Brahmins as Musicians
> Dear Indologists,
> I am interested in the history of orthodox Brahmins performing as
> musicians.
> Today the field of Carnatic music is dominated by South Indian Brahmins.
> South Indian Brahmins' involvement in music is traceable at least up to
> Madhava Vidyaranya. An early epigraphic record praising the musical
> ability
> of a Brahmin is that of the Western Chalukya king Somesvara of 11th
> century
> in Yewur in Karnataka . However, there does not seem to be any widespread
> brahmin participation in musicmaking at that time. Jayadeva comes a
> century
> later. I would like to know if the Bhagavatapurana and especially the
> Gitagovinda have anything to do with increasing Brahmin participation in
> musicmaking?
> Thank you in advance for any comments or references.
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
> ------------------------------
> Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
> Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
> D-99425 Weimar
> (Germany)
> Ego ex animi mei sententia spondeo ac polliceor
> studia humanitatis impigro labore culturum et provecturum
> non sordidi lucri causa nec ad vanam captandam gloriam,
> sed quo magis veritas propagetur et lux eius, qua salus
> humani generis continetur, clarius effulgeat.
> Vindobonae, die XXI. mensis Novembris MCMLXXXIII.

Frits Staal

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