The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes the science of music which is Chapter 62 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 62 - The science of music

1. After knowing the views of earlier teachers, I shall expound the well-known embellishments in music in due order. Please listen to them, while I am explaining.

2. The embellishments are to be spoken of along with their Varṇas (movements of notes such as ‘steady’, ‘ascending and others) as their specific basis and also along with their associated configuration (saṃsthāna), always in regard to dramatic[1] performance etc.

3a. The fulfilment of embellishment[2] is achieved by the implications of sentences and connotations of the word-combinations.

3b. The words of the song are said to be either preceding or following the embellishment.

4a: (Bd. P. text corrupt & obscure but Vā. P. reads) One should know that the following three are the places of Utterances viz. the chest, throat and head.[3]

4b. In these three places, the best procedure (of producing notes) functions.

5a. In the original stage (Prakṛtau), there are four Varṇas (tone-patterns) having fourfold movements.

5b. The alternative movements are eightfold[4]; and gods know them as sixteenfold.

6. (The names of Varṇas:)

The first Varṇa is Sthāyin, the second is Prasañcārin, the third is Avarohaṇa (= Avarohin) and the fourth Varṇa is known by the experts in the knowledge of Varṇas to be Ārohaṇa[5] (= Ārohin).

7a. There is one (Varṇa i.e. Sthāyin) which has steady employment. The Sañcāra is the mixed movement.

7b. One should indicate the descent of Varṇas (i.e. Svaras) as Avarohaṇa.

8a. (Vā. P.) And the experts in the knowledge of Varṇas know (that varṇa) as the Āroha-Varṇa by the ascent of notes.

8b. Now know then the embellishments of these specific Varṇas.[6]

9. There are four embellishments viz. Sthāpanī, Kramarejana, Pramāda and Apramāda. I shall explain the characteristics of these.[7]

10. (Names of Alaṅkāras continue as follows:) Visvara, Aṣṭakala which has an interval of one place (from its original place?); Āvarta and Kramotpatti—These two should be effected according to their proportion.

11a. One should know the other one to be Kumāra and also Vistara.[8]

11b. And this indeed is fhe Apāṅga (alaṅkāra) and Kutareka (?) possesses one more Kalā (Time-measure)

12a. (Vā. P.) Śyena is originated as having one interval and situated in the midst of Mātrās of a Kalā.660 661 662 663 664

12b. (Vā. P.) In it there abides the increase in the order of the note different from it (e.g. ,—RiDha, Gani).

13a. (Vā. P.) The descent of the Śyena Alaṅkāra is called Uttara.

13b. (Vā. P.) The Alaṅkāra called Bindu is originated due to the measure of Kalās.

14a. One Kalā (a measure of time) should be employed of the Varṇas. Then it would be Sthāpita (established?).

14b. Durghaṭita is that which has the note even in the reverse order.

15a. Ekottara-Svara has the highest note from Ṣaḍja.

15b. Ākṣepāskandana should be effected as having high amplitude like the (harsh) crowing of the crow.

16a. The two Santāras belong to Sañcārin Varṇa either as the cause or the effect.

16b. Ākṣipta belongs to the category of the descending (Avarohin) Varṇa.

17. The Alaṅkāra called Preṅkholita has the twelfth place of Kalā having one interval. Thus it is endowed with the notes (?)

18a. (Vā. P.) Puṣkala is said to be due to the transfer of notes.

18b. Prakṣipta is due to Kalā... (?)

19a. It is called Bhāṣita in which there is the use of two Kalās as before.

19b. Visvarārūḍhā (Visarārūḍhā) has got eight notes in ascendance.

20a. Vāpa (?) certainly is due to the descent from the high or low register (?).

20b. These are placed verily with one interval and have the same note at the end.

21. Makṣi-praccheda (?) is declared to have a group of four Kalās. Thus, these are the thirty Alaṅkāras explained.

22. Due to employment of Varṇa and Sthāna having the measure of Kalā and Mātrā are the configuration, proportion, modification and characteristics.

23-24a. This should be known as the purpose of embellishment which is fourfold[9]. Just as in the case of embellishment if it is used at the wrong place it is censured, similarly to beautify even the Varṇas unfavourably, the producer by oneself (?) would be blamed.

24b-25a. Just as due to the use of various ornaments, a woman gets herself beautified, the embellishment is the decoration of Varṇa born of itself (?).

25b. The ear-ring is not seen (worn) on the feet, nor the girdle round the neck.

26. Thus the embellishment if used in a wrong place is censured. When the embellishment is effected, it should indicate the Rāga (melody).

27a. Just as the characterisation of the path intended to be undertaken is enjoined by indicating it with a brush.

27b. (?)

28a. I shall describe realistically (as it is)....?

28b. Obscure.

29a. Obscure (both in the Bd. P. and Vā. P.)

29b. The division of these two (viz. Ṣaḍja and Madhyama) as the dominant notes brings about the Charm of the songs.

30a. Obscure.

30b. (Vā. P.j The reverse would take place in the case of the order of seven notes.

31a. (Vā. P.) The four Madraka Gītas are sung with Gāndhāra as the keynote.

31b-32a. In Madraka Gītas we know the notes Pañcama (Pa), Madhyama(Ma), Dhaivata (Dha), Niṣāda (), Ṣaḍja () and Ṛṣabha (Ri) as the remaining notes.

32b. One should know two Aparāntika Songs (?) (The Rest is obscure).

33a. In the Aparāntika songs Gāndhāra (Ga) is employed in the original (Śuddha) form and its modified form.

33b. (Vā. P.) The Pada has got thiee forms (?). The Kaiśikī song has seven forms.

34a. With the entire use of Gāndhāra as the keynote procedure of which is declared.

34b. This is also the order intended for its Madhyama as the keynote.

35. The songs which have been mentioned and particularly those of fourfold form (?) should be effected with seven notes and the Kaiśikī of sevenfold form.

36a. This is called as the pointing out of the components (of songs?).

(The Topic of Tāla:) There are two even measures Caturasra (of four beats and eight Mātrās) and Tryasra (four beats and six Mātrās).

36b. Obscure (in Bd. P. & Vā. P.)

37. (Vā. P) In Uttara songs in the original form, the Mātrā is thus deleted (the rest is obscure).

38. With one foot in the Mātrā and deficiency in one foot... when there is the Upahanana (error?) of numbers in it, it is called Yāna.

39. The second break in the foot is well-established with Graha (the starting point of the song) and in the Aparāntika the first, eighth, third and second are established with Graha?

40. In the Uttara and in Mandraka songs in their original form, the Pāda-bhāga[10] and also along with one and a quarter (of a Pāda) (?) is in Uttara and Mandraka.

41 a. In Mandraka songs the Kalā exists as explained of the Dakṣiṇa mārga[11] also.

41b. Obscure (in both the Purāṇas).

42a. Obscure (in both the Purāṇas).

42b-43a. When there is the use of one and the use of two, O best of Brāhmaṇas, and when there is the combination of many, Patākā[12] etc. are declared.

43b. There are three VṛttisCitrā, Vṛtti and Dakṣiṇā.[13]

44a. (Vā. P.) The samavāyas (combinations of (?) are eight and similarly, the Mūrcchanā is Sauvīrī.

44b. Obscure: Last foot. Thus the Svara-maṇḍala (the whole group of notes in music) is explained.

Footnotes and references:


Vide Nāṭyaśāstra (Baroda) Vol. IV. pp.79-92.


Vā.P. reading: alaṅkārasya accepted.


Bd. P. reads Sthatonitīraro nīddīmanah. Vā. P. reads: sthānāni trīṇī jānīyāt urāḥ etc.

As the whole chapter is full of corrupt readings and obscurities the reading from the Vā.P. are accepted. But the readings are not quoted as is done above in ch. 61 but simply translated indicating the source viz. Vā.P.


These are referred to only in the Purāṇas. Later writers do not mention them.


The exigencies of metre have led to the change in the order. The order should have been (1) Sthāyin (i.e. Sā Sā Sā), (2) Ārohin (e.g. Sā ri ga etc.), Avarohin (e.g. ni dha pa etc.) and (4) Sañcārin (e.g. Sa ri sa ri ga ri sa etc.


Although the Section on Alaṅkāras (I. Vi.) in the Saṅgīta Ratnākara is referred to, to interpret these alaṅkāras only a few like Śyena (p. 133 of S. R.) throw some light. Though S. R. is much later than Bd. P. or Vā. P. he has preserved some of the Purāṇa traditions.


But the author has not given them anywhere.


The texts of Bd; P. and Vā. P. are obscure here.


vide Saṅgīta-ratnākara 1.6.64 which enumerates Rakti-lābha etc.


Pādabhāga means the fourth part. Three forms of the Tāla were Ekakala, Dvikala and Catuṣkala.

e.g. Ekakala Tāla was indicated as: S S S S; Dvikala as: SS SS SS SS, and Caluṣkala as: SSSS SSSS SSSS ssss.

1 = Laghu=one mātrā; S=Guru=2 mātrās; S=Pluta = 3 mātrās. Mātrā was the time required for the utterance of five short syllables. In Dvikala form there were Pāda-bhāgas of two Gurus each, and in Catuṣkala form, of four Gurus each.


There were three Mārgas (ways of the Tāla-procedure) namely Citra, Vārttika and Dakṣiṇa having the Kalā of two mātrās, four mātrās and eight mātrās respectively. The forms Ekakala, Dvikala and Catuṣkala were associated with Mārgas.


Patākā was one of the eight mātrās, which was indicated by moving the hand upwards. These mātrās were to be employed in the Mārgas as specifically directed.


The Vṛttis (styles of rendering songs with accompaniment) were three namely Citrā, Vṛtti and Dakṣiṇā. They were associated with the three Mārgas: Citra, Vārtika and Dakṣiṇa, the three Layas (tempi), and Grahas etc.

In Citrā the music of stringed instrument was prominent and song subservient, in Dakṣiṇā, the song was prominent and instrumentation subservient; and in Vṛtti both were employed equally.

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