by Mrs. Nandita Sarmah | 2014 | 67,792 words
This page relates ‘Music, Dance and Musical Instruments’ of the English study on the Harshacharita: A Sanskrit (poetical work) which can be studied as a Historical book of Indian society during the 7th century. It was originally written by Banabhatta who based his Harsacarita on the life of the Gupta emperor Harshavardhana. This study researches the religion, philosophy, flora and fauna and society of ancient India as reflected in the Harsha-Charita.
Bāṇa says about śruti, a technical term in music, which implies he had a great knowledge of, or interest in music. From the description of saṅgītagṛha (i.e., music-school), it became clear that the people were very interested in acquiring the different types of arts (kalā). Description of various profession such as-gāndharvopādhyāya (the teacher of the arts,p.19), śailuṣa (an actor,p.5), vāṃśika (flute player or piper,p.19), mārdaṅgika (drum-player,p.19), gāyana (singer,p.19), lāsaka (dancer,p.19), śailālī (actor,p.19), dārdurika (potter,p.19) etc. it informs that at that time the people give grove attention for teaching the arts. The writer mentions that the kings were also attentive to give the knowledge of different types of arts (kalā) to their sons and daughters. It is found that princess Rājyaśrī was expert in all types of arts. So, she was called learned or vidagdhā. Bāṇa in his Kādambarī also clearly says that the prince Candrāpīḍa, too was expert in playing various musical instruments, such as-the lute, the flute, the drum, the cymbals, the hollow pipe etc., It shows that music and dancing were the most popular entertainments of that time. Bāṇa mentions that people were mad after singing in his time. On certain festivals of the royal family such as-birth of a child, the occasion of marriage ceremony in a royal family etc., all types of people, high and low, used to dance together without any hesitation. There are references of the bards who sang song just for enjoyment.
There was also playing of various instruments. The writer mentions that some types of instrument were used in the royal palace such as conch (i.e. śaṃkha) and paṭaha etc . which were used as alarms to indicate the time and get ready for war. The sharp sound of the holy drums were there beaten in the marriage of bulls.
Other different types of instruments were—
Murajā: It was a striking instrument. The writer describes that when it was beaten, the people got incited for singing. Again in the time of king Harṣavardhana’s army expedition (i.e., daṇḍayātrā), paṭaha was beaten to announce the royal march. On princess Rājyaśrī’s marriage time leather workers had struck the drums lustily.
Vīnā: Generally it is known as lyre. The vīnā is the most popular musical instrument in India from ancient time. It is a stringed instrument. The writer mentions ladies and gents both were interested in this instrument. At that time, the high-born ladies used to play on the lute as an external accomplishment. The writer mentions that the sound of the lyre was very pleasant. The emperor Harṣa had been very much interested in this instrument.
Veṇu: It is an instrument played with the help of air and also known as flute. The flute is made of a bamboo reed (vaṃśa). Vātsāyana mentions in his Kāmasūtra that it was capable of winning the heart of any girl when used in the way he prescribes. The writer Bāṇa mentions that his friends knew how to play the flute.
Tūrya: It is a kind of trumpet, also implying concert. The writer mentions that the echo of the tabors spread on all directions in the skandhavāra (in royal camp), but when the king Prabhākaravrdhana was in his dead bed, it was stopped. The sound of tūrya was believed as auspicious, and so it was beaten to announce the time of royal march (daṇḍayātrā).
The Bhaṭṭikāvya mentions—
veṇun pupūrire guñjā juguṅjuḥ karaghaṭṭitāḥ.
It was beaten in the departure of the kings.
Above descriptions, it proves that various types of instruments were used in Bāṇabhaṭṭa’s time.
Footnotes and references:
tathā hi ……vināveṇumurajakāṃsyatāladarduraputaprabhṛtiṣu vādyeṣu bharatādipraṇiteṣu nṛtyaśāstreṣu nāradīyaprabhṛtiṣu gāndhrvavedaviśeṣeṣu… ….kauśalamavāpa, Kādambarī, p.126
nirdoṣāntaḥpurapraveśaḥ samasvāmīparijano nirviśeṣavālavṛddhaḥ samānaśiṣṭāśiṣṭajano……tulyakulayuvativeśyālāpavilāsaḥ pranṛttasakalakaṭakalokaḥ putrajanmotsavo mahān, Ibid.,IV. p.62
evam ca …..bhūṣaṇamaya iva bhramati parijane, bāndhavamaya iva dṛśyamāne sarge….vivāhadivasaḥ, Ibid.,IV.p.70
….snānavasānasamaye banditayā …..śrotṛṇāṃ gītyā pavamānaproktaṃ purāṇaṃ papīṭha, Ibid.,III.p.39
[a] atha galati tṛtīye yāme …….prayāṇapaṭahaḥ, Ibid.,VII.p.109
[b] sarvabhūvanābhayaghoṣanāpaṭaha.., Ibid.,p.61
[c] vṛṣavivāhaprahatapuṇyapaṭaha.., Ibid.,III.p.43
atha galati tṛtīye yāme …….prayāṇapaṭahaḥ, Ibid.,VII.p.109
cakāṇa koṇahatānandādiva pratūṣanāndī, Ibid.,IV.p.59
utsāritavīṇāḥ strījana….sukhāyantaḥ, Ibid.,IV.p.61
vānyeva madhuravīnā bāhyavijñānaṃ tantītāḍanam, Ibid.,III.p. 44
vīṇāraṇitaramaṇīyā ramayanti…, Ibid.,I.p.8
vāṃśikau madhukarapārāvatau, Harṣacarita, I.p.19
[a]..maṅgalatūryāṇi reṇuḥ….sarvabhūvanabhayaghoṣanapaṭaha iva …. tūryapratiśabdaḥ.., Ibid.,p.61 [b] prahatamaṅgalatūryapratiśabdanibhena..dikṣu…pramodādakriyate…, Ibid.
[a] prahatamaṅgalatūryapratiśabdanivena dikṣu…, Ibid.p.61 [b] atha prasthite rājani……tūryāṇāṃ pratidhvaniraśātaṭeṣu, Ibid.,VII.p.112