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The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah (A Fourteenth-Century Text on Music from Western India)

The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah (A Fourteenth-Century Text on Music from Western India)
Item Code: NAC108
Author: Allyn Miner
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 1998
ISBN: 8120815483
Pages: 330
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 10.5 Inch X 7.5 Inch
weight of the book: 1.09 kg
From the Jacket

The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah is an important medieval text written in 1350. It is attributed to a Jaina scholar – Vacanacarya Sri Sudakalasa and represents distinctive Western Indian and Jaina stream of musicology. Composed about one hundred years subsequent to the great compendium – the Sangita-ratnakara there is significant difference in its approach and treatment of the subject.

The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah in an in term diary position between the Sangitaratnakara and the later medieval works such as the Nartananirnaya. While epitomizing the Indian phenomenon of an adherence to certain key fundamentals it unfolds and reveals many processes of interaction and of cause’s attention on particular aspects of form and technique. It is also an important text for the change it reflects in understanding the ragas and raginis assigning gender and visualizing an iconography.

Allyn Miner combines in herself the disciplines of Sanskrit and musicology. Besides, she is a distinguished musician. She was awarded Ph.D degree from the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Ludo Roher in 1994. The present work is based on that thesis.

As a musician she has had rigorous training on Sitar under Thakur Raj Bhan Singh of Varanasi and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. For her work on Sitar she was awarded a Ph.D from Banaras Hindu University in 1982. Her book ‘Sitar and Sarod’ is based on that thesis.

Dr. Allyn Miner has visited India since the early seventies on various capacities. Recipient of the Fulbright Foundation and the J.D. Rockefeller III Fund, she is presently Lecturer in Indian Music in the Department of South Asia Regional Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

General Editor Note

The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah by Vacanacarya Sri Sudhakalasa is the 23rd volume of the Kalamulasastra series. With its publication The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts places before contemporary scholars of music and dance yet another important stream of the textual tradition of the performing arts. Dattilam (KMS series no. 2) and Brhaddesi (KMS series nos. 8, 10) were seminal texts on music. The first representing an approach to gandharva music quite distinct from the Natyasastra tradition, the second laid the foundations of a structure of the musical theory by drawing attention to define and interpret categories specially those of margi and desi. Its contribution as the first text to speak of raga is well recognised. Between the composition of the Brhaddesi and the Sangita-ratnakara many centuries elapse. By that time regional schools evolve and distinctive schools/ styles are evident. By now it becomes possible to identify Northern and Southern schools, although these are no water tight compartments. Also, it is clear that despite these distinctive characteristics there is an underlying unity in respect of the fundamentals of the notion of sound, notes, octaves, metrical cycles and above all the final goal and the purpose of music. The adherence to the theory of rasa and the system of establishing correspondence between sound, notes, scale and evocation of emotive states is implicit in all cases, if not explicit in many. While the Sangita-ratnakara roughly represents the developments which may have taken place in the Deccan and the South, many other medieval texts principally Rana Kumbha`s Sangitaraja and later the Nartananirnaya can be located in the North.

The post — Sangita-ratnakara period provides a fascinating picture of the emergence of other texts in Western and Eastern India. Between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century a large number of texts are written in Central India and Western India as also in Orissa, Bengal and Assam. The Nartananirnaya of the sixteenth century exemplifies the eclectic character of these developments and intensive dialogue between the North and the South, the East and the West. The foreword to Nartananirnaya (KMS series nos. 17, 18, 19) and the Introduction of Satyanarayana draw attention to these features.

The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah written in the fourteenth century (1350 A.D.) clearly represents the Western Indian textual stream. It also represents the contribution of the Jaina monks to the Indian arts in general and the music, dance, poetics and dramaturgy in particular. Also, there is a clear evidence of a familiarity with the developments in Central India especially the works of Bhoja and others.

Thus we find that Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah can be situated in a linear sequence of transmission not only from Natyasastra but also several texts of the Jaina stream principally the Vasudevahindi and Rayapasenaiya-suttam and others. It has however also to be studied in a special horizontal dialogue between and amongst regions, North, South, East and West.

Equally important is to study the text in relation to texts in the other arts. Particularly architecture, sculpture, poetics and dramaturgy. While by this time there is comparatively a greater degree of autonomy of each art form, cognisance has to be taken of the areas of dialogue and interpenetration. Texts of architecture pay special emphasis on the motif of music and dance in the architectural edifices; the texts on dramaturgy take note of music and dance and those on painting speak of the raginis and dance movements. Seminal and significant is the evidence in the practice and the actual remains of architecture, sculpture, painting where musical instruments and dance poses are depicted. This phenomenon is near pan-Indian. The inter- relationship of the arts at the level of theory and practice as also the dialogue between and amongst regional schools is a distinguishing feature of the Indian arts. Although there is a greater recognition of these processes, often scholarship confines itself to the particularly of the text, region and the religion—philosophic stream, and assertion of uniqueness rather than distinctiveness within a framework of interrelationships.

The Kalamulasastra series of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts endeavours to provide a corrective balance by publishing texts which lay the foundations of both, theories of art and the language of form (e.g. the texts on srauta) as also texts on the specific arts — architecture, sculpture, music and dance. These can be grouped, regrouped together on the basis of religion-philosophic schools (Saiva, Vaisnava, Jaina, and Buddhist), regions; socio- cultural, historical period and ambience and/or specific art form and style. Thus different configurations are possible, in a vertical or horizontal grid.

So far in the series this has been made explicit through the publication of Satapatha Brahmana (KMS series nos. I2, 22 8c remaining portion to appear in further vols.), and Latyayana Srautasutra (KMS series nos. 27, 28, 29; soon to be released) and the volumes on architecture —Mayamatam (KMS series nos.l4, l5) and Silparatnakosa (IGVIS series no.l6) and Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha (KMS series no. 13) an agama text and, Dattilam (KMS series no. 2), Brhaddesi (KMS series nos. 8, 10), Nartananirnaya (KMS series nos.17, 18, 19) and Srihastamuktavali (KWS series no. 3) on music and dance.

Shortly the Visnudharmottara Purana (Khanda III, chapters 35-43) will be republished with a revised editing and translation. This will deal specially with the chapters on painting.

To return to the Sangitopanisat-saroddhara we have here a text written by a Jaina monk of Svetambara community in the fourteenth century (1350 AD.). It is obviously an abridged version of an older text — the Sangitopanisat possibly composed two decades earlier. This genealogy has been traced convincingly by the late U.P.Shah in his erudite introduction to the text, first published in the Gaekwad’s Oriental Series No.133 (1961). What is of importance for us to note is the fact that there was an active tradition of scholarship in the arts amongst the Jaina monks. Further that the network of Harsapuriya gaccha reflects activity in these fields in the areas of Gujarat, Saurashtra, Rajasthan and parts of Madhya Pradesh.

The author and the work is also an important landmark in the charm of scholarship in the arts by Jaina writers. Canonical literature of (he Jainas is replete with references to the arts and particularly music and dance. The Sthananga-sutra refers to the seven svaras and Abhayadeva comments on the origin of the svaras. There is an important section on the gunas and dosas, a subject which is extensively discussed in practically all works of sangita and sahitya.

The Rayapasenaiya-suttam has a long list of seventy-two arts, the thirty-two types of dance or dance-dramas, different musical instruments, the diverse movements of dance and many varieties of percussive instruments. Vasudevahi1i enumerates different types of musical concerts, dance movements and also lists teachers.

Near contemporary to Sangitopanisat-saroddhara are the texts of Sangitasamayasara of Sangitakara Sri Parsadeva of the Digambara sect and Sangita-mandana of Mandana. Our editor Allyn Miner comments on the important differences. Many more work still unpublished could he cited. All this is convincing evidence of the long continuity of interest in the arts by the Jaina monks of both the Svetambara and Digambara sects. The popular notion of the ascetics eschewing the arts has thus to be corrected.

This is further corroborated by an equally important preoccupation of the Jainas with theories of art. Many comment on the Nd4yaiasira and debate the rasa theory; others seriously question and differ from Bharata.

This is evident from a reading of Hemachandra's work and especially Natyadarpana of Ramacandra and Gunacandra and the Natakalaksanaratnakosa of Sagaranandin.

Alongside are the texts on architecture specially the Aparajita-prccha and to an extent the Abhilasitartha-cintamani. Through each• of these texts one can trace the circuit of dialogue within the Jaina tradition spread over a broad geographical area of Gujarat, Sourashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Karnataka. The circuit is however not a closed one or exclusive. Both the theoreticians and the practitioners appear to have an active dialogue with other regions. In each case there is evidence to suggest a continuing active dialogue between Western and Eastern India. This is clear from the evidence of miniature paintings specially the marginal figures of the different Kalpasutras. Specially the Jamnagar and the famous Devasanopado Kalpasutras and the caris and bhangis of Orissa.

Thus a study of a simple text unfolds and reveals many processes of interaction, while naturally explicitly focusing attention on particular aspects of form and technique of a particular art. The Smigit0pcmi5at— saroddhara is no exception. Indeed it epitomizes the Indian phenomenon of an adherence to certain key fundamentals, a near pan-Indian dialogue and a specificity of region, period and even individual predilections of the author. These are the implicit and explicit levels of the text. Often the texts have been either considered as theoretical formulations far removed from . practice or regarded as manuals of technique to be literally translated into practice.

They have instead to be considered as I have said in my foreword to Brhaddesi, as both inductive and deductive. They have also to be placed within the context of the linear discourse within a stream, in this case the Jainas and the horizontal dialogue with other regions.

It would also be pertinent to comment on the medieval phenomenon which has been so far characterized as the emergence of regional schools and sub schools and styles in the diverse arts. This has been attributed to the rise of regional dynasties and the patronage given by the various kings and other feudatory rulers. True as this as a historical movement, the development of a specific artistic school can be influenced but not determined from within the artistic genera to this single reason. The effervescence has also to be attributed to the development of regional languages and the ability of the Indian genius to flower in multiple ways and at multiple levels within a single unified vision. The world view the subscription to the value of an integral holistic vision does not change. However many changes take place in the modes and methods of expression. These are necessitated by the need to hold universality and temporality together. Consequently in architecture the monument is both a divine presence as also a statement of royal proclamation. It is both spiritual and temporal. In drama, dance and music, while the fundamental notions of the physio-psychical interdependence do not change, many changes take place in compositional patterns, definition of categories and other practical elements. Resultantly there is emergence of a distinct school/ style, Sampradaya or gharana. None of this is to be understood as fragmentation; instead it should be seen as the possibility of a diversification of a unified vision.

The Sangitopanisat-saroddhara through its six chapters exemplifies this medieval phenomenon of continuity and change; unity and diversity; the pan-Indian and regional; the universal and the specific.

Significantly the Sangitopanisat-saroddhara does not concern itself with theoretical issues of the evocation of a rasa. However in paying obeisance to earlier writers the author acknowledges his familiarity with the works of Kohala, Dattila and Bhoja. The first two chapters of Sangita-ratnakara are significant for the author's knowledge of the body system and the production of sound from the different cakras. Sudhakalasa also focuses attention on the origin of the body (pinda) and the production of sound. The primary sound nida according to him consists of Siva and Sakti and is formed by the five elements. He elaborates on this and for him the three gods Brahma, Visnu, Mahesvara consist of nida. Parabrhma and Parasakti and the sound Om is produced from nida. After enunciating, the universal levels and these are common to all streams i.e. the Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina.

The author's concern with categories and definitions is obvious from his definitions of grim (song, melody), prabandha and the division of gita into anibaddha and nibaddha. The discussion of and anibaddha and nibaddha has a long history in music and it percolates into dance by the time of Pandarika Vitthala in the Nartananirnaya. Sudhakalasa certainly mentions desi but he is not at pains to distinguish it from marga or margi. As Allyn Miner comments, perhaps the discourse on this seminal pair of categories had become feeble on account of the ascendancy of regional schools and their recognition; or Sudhakalasas own inadequate grasp.


Sangitasastra, the Sanskrit technical literature on music, is the primary source both for studying the long intellectual tradition surrounding music in India, and for reconstructing the history of musical practices. This holds true for the period from the early centuries of the christian era (C.E.) through about the seventeenth century, when vernacular, pictorial, and oral tradition sources add to available material. The texts offer a mixture of descriptive and prescriptive information. Exemplifying the relationship between sastra and historical application, they require the reader to sort out the changing use of terminology and categories, and differentiate between theoretical and applied constructs. The case of music is a particularly interesting one for considering the relationship between text and practice, since musical practices are constantly subject to regional and vernacular influences, and challenge the normative influences of the sastra. Yet performance practices are also constantly informed by theoretical tradition.

Published editions of Sangitasastra texts began to appear in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and by about 1965 most of the major treatises were available in print. An early wave of modern musicological work focused on establishing the chronology of the texts (Raghavan: 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961; Kavi: 1983, pp. iii-xxvi). Other studies began to reconstruct understandings of the obsolete technical terminology and define historical periods in performance practices (Bhatkhande: 1956-7, 1970, 1990; Kavi: 1983). In the last two decades, with refinement in the under- standing of terminology and technical categories, increasingly specialized studies and thorough translations have appeared (Lath: 1978; Ramanathan: 1979; Ayyangar: 1980; Sangita-ratnakara, 1978, 1989). Several major recent publications signal a new vitality in the field of musicological study. The new studies represent a range of concerns. The Katz volume (1992) contains important topical studies by some of the leading musicologists of the day focusing on the relationship between theory and performance practice (sastra and prayoga), and adding the first musicological input to current academic discourse on text and historicity. Rowell (199221) has made a significant contribution by reviewing musical concepts and categories of the ancient and early medieval period in the context of the wider Indian intellectual tradition. Dattilam (1988), Sangitasiromani (1992) and Brhaddesi (1992) are new annotated translations of important sangitasastra texts.

Music historians assume that social context influences and is reflected in musical practices, and that musical material can provide insight on aspects of cultural history. Although such assumptions are eminently applicable to the Indian materials, cultural history has not yet been used as a primary focus for examining a musicological text. The work at hand assumes a continuum among music, literature, painting, and architecture, and between these arts and social reality, and uses this relationship to assist in the understanding of a text that was composed at a critical period in musical, social, and regional history.

The Scmgitopcmisat-s&2•0dd/tdra (SUS) (1961) is a manual on music writ- V ten in 1350 by a Jaina scholar belonging to a lineage centered in Western India, predominantly modern Gujarat. One of the only fourteenth-century works on music, the SUS is contemporaneous with the establishment of Muslim rule in Gujarat, when major shifts in the political and social landscape were affecting every aspect of urban life. Composed about one hundred years subsequent to the great compendium of medieval musicology, the Sangita-ratnakara (SR) (19413-1986), it treats many of the same topics of musicological discourse, but has been noted for new ideas that it expresses in its descriptions of ragas and talas. In fact, the changes ‘that it represents in comparison to the SR are fundamental, and in some cases seem to relate directly to later North Indian performance practice and theory. However, much of the SUS material has an anomalous relationship to the textual information and practices of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The SUS represents a period of musical and musicological history considerably different from that represented by the SR, but predating the appearance of dhrupad court music and the theoretical and classificatory systems contemporary to it.

Seen on the background of the political history, literature, painting and architecture of the time, the SUS clearly represents a period when Sanskritic traditions encountered a wave of vernacular trends. Shifting categories and terminology tell of changing contemporary reality. Sudhakalasas effort at maintaining the musicological idiom in his work tells of a thriving musical culture in Gujarat and a scholarly tradition which must have been struggling to interpret the changing environment around it.

This work is a product of my involvement with the music of North India dating to 1971, when 1 began performance studies under Dr. Thakur Raj Bhan Singh in Varanasi. In 1978 I began musicological studies at Banaras Hindu University under Dr. Prem Lata Sharma, and completed the Ph.D. in Musicology under her guidance in 1982. The work at hand was prepared as a dissertation for a Ph.D. in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania, which was awarded in 1994. Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan first brought the text to my attention as a subject for translation and study. Dr. Prem Lata Sharma read it with me in Varanasi in 1991 and 1993. The work was done at the University of Pennsylvania under the guidance of Dr. Ludo Rocher, who holds the W. Norman Brown endowed Chair as Professor of Sanskrit. Dr. Harold Powers of the Department of Music, Princeton University and Dr. Michael Meister of the Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, gave valuable comments and suggestions as members of the dissertation committee. I wish to express my deep gratitude to these scholars for their support and encouragement in all phases of my work. 1 am especially indebted to Dr. Sharma, who has been my mentor in Sanskrit musicological literature since the beginning and to Dr. Rocher, for his marvelous teaching and guidance over the years. 1 also wish to thank my other Professors in Sanskrit at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. George Cardona and Dr. Wilhelm Halbfass. Finally, I wish to thank Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, not only for her original inspiration to work on this text, but for her patience and cooperation in enduring the long process of completing the work.


General Editors Note v
Introduction xv
The Manuscripts xvii
The Author xix
The Historical Context xxi
Gujarat in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries xxi
The fourteenth centuryxxv
The fourteenth century trends in literature, painting, and architecture xxvii
The Musical and Musicological Contexts xxxii
The performance contexts xxxii
The Musicological context xxxiii
Major Terms and Topics xxxvii
Gita, desi nada xxxvii
Alapti xxxviii
Prabandha xxxix
Dhruvapada and dhrupad xlii
Tala, upasraya, prastra xlv
Gana, svara, grama, murcchana, tana, sruti xlix
Raga, bhasa, alamkara lii
Musical instruments lvii
Dance lviii
Summary lxi
Detailed contents of the Text lxiii
The Sangitopanisat-Saroddharah (Text and Translation) 2-201
Pathavimarsa (Textual Notes) 203
Bibliogrpahy 215
Sloka-Index 231
General Index 257

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