The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes dissertation on music which is Chapter 61 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 61 - A dissertation on Music

Sūta said:

1-3. Understand the genealogy of the sons of Manu in detail. Pṛṣadhra injured the cow of his preceptor at night. At the close of it, he incurred the curse of the noble-souled Cyavana and became a Śūdra.

The descendants of Karūṣa were (Kārūṣas) Kṣatriyas who could not be suppressed in battle (who were haughty due to their capacity for warfare).

The successors of Nābhāga were a thousand groups of Kṣatriyas who were valorous.

Bhalandana the son of Diṣṭa was a great scholar.

4. Bhalandana’s son named Prāṃśu was very powerful. Prāṃśu had an only son who became equal to a Prajāpati.

5. He was taken to heaven by Saṃvarta along with friends and kinsmen. In this connection a great dispute arose between Saṃvarta and Bṛhaspati.

6-7. On seeing the magnificence of Yajña, Bṛhaspati became angry with him. During the Yajña, perforníed by Saṃvarta, he became extremely furious for the destruction of all the worlds. But he was pacified by the gods: Marutta the emperor obtained Nariṣyanta as his heir.

8. Nariṣyanta’s successor was king Dama who held the sceptre (rod of chastisement). His son Rāṣṭravardhana was a well-known king.

9. Sudhṛti was his son and Nara was born of Sudhṛti. Kevala was his son. Bandhumān was the son of Kevala.

10-11. The son of Bandhumān was the righteous-souled king Vegavān. Budha was the son of Vegavān and Tṛṇabindu was the son of Budha. He became a king at the beginning of third Tretāyuga. Iḍaviḍā was his daughter who became the mother of Viśravas.

12. Viśāla, the son who was born to him became a king extremely virtuous, liberal in gifts and well renowned for heroism and great power. The city of Viśālā (Vaiśālī) was built by him.

13. The son of Viśāla was Hemacandra, a king of great strength. The successor of Hemacandra became famous by the name Sucandra.

14. Sucandra’s son was a renowned king named Dhūmrāśva. The learned Sṛñjaya was bora as the son of Dhūmrāśva.

15. The glorious Sahadeva of great exploits was the son of Sṛñjaya. Kṛśāśva, the son of Sahadeva, was extremely righteous.

16. The son of Kṛśāśva, viz. Somadatta was excessively brilliant and valorous. The son of the saintly king Somadatta was Janamejaya.

17-20. Janamejaya’s son named Pramati was well-renowned. On account of potentiality of Tṛṇabindu all the Vaiśālaka kings with Viśālā as their capital were long-lived, noble-souled, heroic and very virtuous. Śaryāti begot twins. The son was well-renowned by the name of Ānarta. His daughter was Sukanyā who became the wife of Cyavana. Ānarta’s heir named Reva was very powerful. His realm was called Ānarta and the capital city was Kuśasthalī (later Dvārakā).

Raivata was the son of Reva. Another name of his was Kakudmin. He was virtuous.

21-22. He was the eldest of a hundred brothers. After obtaining the kingdom and the capital Kuśasthalī, he went near Brahmā accompanied by his daughter. In the presence of Brahmā, he listened to Gāndharva Music for a short while (A Muhūrta i.e. 48 minutes) as reckoned by the lord of the Devas, but many Yugas according to human calculation. He returned to his city still a young man. The city then was inhabited by the Yādavas.

23. It had been renamed Dvārāvatī. It was protected by the Bhojas, Vṛṣṇis and Andhakas, the chief of whom was Vasudeva.

24. On hearing the story with all facts, Revata (Raivata) the suppressor of foes gave his daughter of good holy rites named Revatī to Baladeva in marriage. Thereafter, he went to the peak of Meru and became engaged in penance.

25. Rāma, the noble one, sported with Revatī.

On hearing that story the sages asked him subsequently.

The sages asked:

26-28. How was it that old age did not affect Revatī or Kakudmin, O highly intelligent one, even after the lapse of a long time viz. many Yugas?

We are desirous of listening to this. Tell us Gāndharva (the science of Music) too.

Sūta said:

To a person who goes to the world of Brahmā there is neither old age nor hunger nor thirst not even the fear from death. No ailments afflict him. Since I have been asked about Gāndharva (the science of Music). O great and excellent sages of good holy rites, I shall explain it accurately in details.

29. The Svara-maṇḍala[1] (the whole group in regard to notes) consists of seven notes (Svaras), three Grāmas (Basic scales), twenty-one Mūrcchanās and forty-nine Tānas.

[see notes on Grāmas, Mūrcchanās and Tānas]

30. [The names of the notes:] Ṣaḍja (), Ṛṣabha (Ri), Gāndhāra (Ga), Madhyama (Ma), Pañcama (Pa), Dhaivata (Dha) and also Niṣāda (Ni) should be (carefully) known (as the notes).

31-32. (and part of 33): [The Text is corrupt and obscure. As emended from Vā P. and other Purāṇas, it gives the names of Mūrchhanās of the Ma-scale as follow]

The Mūrcchanās of the Ma-scale are known as Sauvīrā, Madhyama-grāmā, Hariṇāsyā (Hariṇāśca in Bd. P. is wrong), Kālopabalopetā (also known as ‘Kālopanatā’), Śuddhamadhyamā, Śārṅgī and Pāvanī (nagniṃ ca pauṣā vai in the text is not correct) and Hṛtyakā Dṛṣṭvā kām’ in the text), in order.

33-34a. Now understand the Mūrcchanās of Sa-Scale (Ṣaḍja-grāma): (1) Uttara—mandrā, (2) Rajanī and also as (3) Uttarāyatā (for Unnarāyatā of Bd. P.), (4) Madhya-Ṣaḍja (but Vā. P. Śuddha Ṣaḍja) and also the other one is (5) Abhirudgatā (for Abhi-mudgaṇā in the Bd. P.[2])

34b. Know the Mūrcchanās of the Ga-scale (Gāndhāra-grāma)[3] viz. Śyāmā as are described.

35-37. (The names of the Tānas are as follows:)

(1) Agniṣṭomika, (2) Vājapeyika, [Vā. P. adds (3)Pauṇḍraka, (4) Aśvamedhika], (5) Rājasūyaka (conjectural emendation for ‘yava-rātasūyastu’ in the text). The sixth is ‘Suvarṇaka,’ the Seventh is ‘Gosava’, the eighth is Mahāvṛṣṭika, the ninth is ‘Brahmadāna,’ the next (10) is Prājāpatya, (11) Nāgayakṣāśraya, (12) Gottara, (13) Paḍakrānta (Vā. P. ‘Haya-Krānta’), (14) Mṛgakrānta, (15) the charming Viṣṇukrānta, (16) the most desirable (vareṇya) Sūryakānta (Vā. P. reading for the obscure Sūryakānta-dhareṇya in Bd. P. is accepted), (17) the well-known Mattakokila (Matta-kokila) of Vā. P. is accepted for Santakokila in the text).

38a.[4] Obscure and untraced inVā P. and elsewhere.

38b. (The names of Tānas continued:) (18) Sāvitra, (19) Ardha-sāvitra (20) Sarvatobhadra [After 38-b. here—of Vā. P. adds the following Tānas: Suvarṇa, Sutandra, Viṣṇu, Vaiṣṇuvara, Sāgara and Vijaya which is charming to all].

39. (21) The charming Adhātrya, (22) Gandharvānupata (23) Alambuṣeṣṭa, (24) Viṣṇu (25) Vaiṇavara.

40a. (26) ‘Sāgaravijaya’ which is charming to all beings (Vā. P. gives ‘Sāgara’ and ‘Vijaya’).

40b. (27) Hatosṛṣṭa and (28) know the likable ‘Skandha[5]

41. (Repeats mostly the above verse 39 and adds) Alambuṣeṣṭa and also (29) Nārada-priya.

42a. As recounted by Bhīmasena (30) Nāgarapriya (dear to citizens), (nāgarāṇāṃ yathā priyaḥ in Vā. P. It is more clear than the obscure ‘nāgaratānayapriyaḥ’ in the text).

42b.[6] (The Tāna) called (31) Vikalopanīta-vinatā Śrīḥ (32) Bhārgavapriya.

43a.[7] The fourteen; similarly they desire here fifteen (according to) Nārada.

43b. (Obscure but from Vā. P. it appears that the presiding deities of the Mūrcchanās are now enumerated. The Bd. P. text may tentatively be interpreted—on the basis of Vā. P. as follows)

(Mūrchanā Gāndhārī) along with Sauvīrā is hence sung by god Brahmā.

44a. And also of the Uttarādi-Svara, god Brahmā is the presiding deity here. [devatāstrayaḥ’ of the Bd. P. is probably ‘devatātra ca’, as in Vā. P.]

44b. Hariṇāsyā is originated in the region of Hari.

45a. The Mūrcchanā Hariṇāsyā has the Moon-god as the presiding deity (but Indra as per Vā. P.)

45b. The Mūrcchanā Karopanītavitatā is sung by Maruts in the svara-maṇḍala (group of notes).

46a. That is Kalopanītā and hence its presiding Deity is Māruta emended as: Mārutaścātra daivatam, as in Vā. P.).

46b. Śuddha-madhyamā (emended as per Vā. P. for Śuddha-mātmanā) mūrcchanā is originated in Manu (Maru) deśa (After 46 b Vā. P. adds:)

Śuddha Madhyamā is the note here and the deity is Gandharva. It moves along with the deer for the guidance of Siddhas.

47a. Hence, on account of Mṛgas (deer) it (the Mūrcchanā is called Mārgī and the Lion is its deity.

47b: Obscure:

(Tentative meaning: ‘That is associated with hermitages and various human voices’ (?)]

48a. As the Mūrcchanā is associated with rajas (atmosphere/mist), it is called Rajanī.

48b. Obscure (If allied with Vā. P.:)

Uttaramandrā is known as having Ṣaḍja as its deity.

49. Obscure (If allied with Vā. P.):

Hence Uttara-tāla is known first as well extended.

Hence, it is Uttara-mandrā whose deity indeed is Dhruva.

50. Obscure (emended from Vā. P.)

Because of its extension and being later (in the order) Uttarāyatā having Dha (Dhaivata) as the starting point, is the Mūrcchanā, the deity of which is the manes, the deities of Śrāddha.

51a. The great sages worship the Fire-god with the Śuddha Ṣaḍja (Pure Sa-) note. Hence, one should know it as Śuddha-Ṣaḍjikā (Vā. P.: This Mūrcchanā starts from the Pañcama note).

51b. is obscure, hence the reading in Vā. P. is followed.

52a. In this manner employing these Mūrcchanās in which he has got such Bhāvanā (particular faith).

52b. The mūrcchanās belong to Yakṣīs (female Yakṣas) are called Yakṣikā mūrcchanās (Ya in the Ms seems to have been read as Pa, as in writing in Devanāgarī script Pa & Ya look similar).

53a (Obscure but if allied with Vā. P.)

The Mūrcchanās do not approach the songs, affected by the poisonous sight of the serpents (Nāgas).

53b (Corrupt and obscure but with the help of Vā. P.)

And there are many Sādhāraṇa mūrcchanās[8] (and also six only (?) are known thoroughly, (The reading Vaḍavātrividastathā in the text is obscure. Vā. P. gives Ṣaḍevānuvidastathā).

Footnotes and references:


The word maṇḍala suggests the ascent and descent of seven notes (known as svara-saptaka) (see V. 30)


Note—The Purāṇa does not mention the remaining two viz. Matsarīkṛtā and Aśvakrāntā.


Strangely enough, this Text and Vā. P. are silent about other Mūrcchanās of this scale. The NP. II. 50.35b.36a records them as follows: Nādī, visālā, Sumukhi, Citrā, Citravatī, Mukhā and Balā. Leaving Ga-scale with mention of one Mūrcchanā, the text now enumerates Tānas. The omissions in the Bd.P. are made good by reference to Vā. P.

The Purāṇic concept of a Tāna is different from that of the present day one.


The line is as follows: tenavānityapavaśapiśācātīvanahyapi.


For 40b here of, Vā. P reads: Haṃsa, Jyeṣṭha and Tumburupriya.


For this Vā. P. adds: Abhiramya, Śukra, Puṇya, Puṇyāraka. There are twenty (Tānas) in Ma-scale and fourteen in Sa-scale.


For this Vā. P. states: They desire similarly fifteen belonging to Ga-grāma.


Mūrcchanās with Sādhāraṇa Svaras arc called so. The Sādhāraṇa Svaras are:

(I) Antara Gāndhāra i.e. Modem Śuddha Gāndhāra.
(II) Kākalī Niṣāda=Mod. Tivra Niṣāda.

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