Hinduism and Music

Guy L. Beck

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts

Published in print February 2014 | ISBN: 9780195176674
Published online February 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Hinduism and Music

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This chapter discusses the theoretical and practical dimensions of music in Hinduism, including the philosophy of sacred sound (Nāda-Brahman), the aesthetics of rasa (“taste”), the rise of Saṅgīta (music) as a component of pūjā (worship) and early drama, the Sanskrit musical treatises of Bharata and Dattila, the development of rāga (melodic pattern) and tāla (rhythmic cycle) from early scales and Sāma-Gāna (Sama-Veda chant), musical instruments, bhakti (devotion), and various classical and devotional genres of Bhakti-Saṅgīta, including Kriti, Dhrupad, Khyāl, Haveli-Saṅgīta, Samāj-Gāyan, Bhajan, and Nām-Kīrtan, within southern (Carnatic) and northern (Hindustani) traditions. Music is essential to Hindu mythology, where divine beings perform and instruct humans in the gentle art that facilitates both enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). Prevalent in sacrifices, temple rites, domestic worship, sectarian movements and films, music is invariably part of Hindu worship in India or the Diaspora.

Keywords: Nāda-Brahman; rāga; tāla; Saṅgīta; Kīrtan; bhajan; bhakti; rasa; Bharata; Sāma-Gāna

Article.  3984 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Hinduism ; Music and Religion ; Religious Studies

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