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Indian Musicological Texts

                                                                                                                                                         --- Acharya Dr Chintamani Rath Ph.D.

The table below shows some of the many musicological Texts written (mostly in Sanskrit) from ancient times until the early part of the 20th centure. Many are authentic but some are corrupt. A Text is corrupt if there is evidence that it has been tampered with by people other than its author in such a way as to materially alter its content or import.

In the early days, texts were written on a variety of material such as wood, leaf, cloth, leather and even stone. Needless to say, texts were often bulky, heavy and unwieldy. Once the writing of a text was complete, it would be copied by others. In particular, there was a class of people whose special job it was to copy texts: these poeple were known (in Orissa) as those of the "Karan" class. Unfortunately, many if not most of these professional copiers were not particularly educated, nor were they careful or conscientious enough in the discharge of their professional duties. As a result, many unfortunate copying errors abound in several ancient and medieval texts. This is one of the foremost challenges to the Indologist generally and the musicologist particularly.

Another cause for the corruption of texts, leading to the corrupt or incorrect interpretation of texts, is the damage caused by poor maintenance. For example, a hole bored by a termite so as to obliterate, substantially if not wholly, an Anusvar or the symbol for a nasal sound (which is represented as but a dot above a consonant) was responsible for the incorrect interpretation of the term Shruti and the perpetuation of such incorrect interpretation. The Text declared: "Tat Pramanam Shruti", meaning "That measure or quantity (musically, that interval) is a Shruti ("Pramanam" = "measure", "quantum"). However, our intrepid medieval termite had bored a hole right through the dot representing the "Anusvar" or "am" sound at the end of "Pramanam", so that the text now read: "Tat Pramana Shruti", effectively coining a new technical term "Pramana Shruti". A famous (now late) musicologist of 20th century northern India (based in Delhi and otherwise a sound scholar) unfortunately overlooked this fact and perpetuated this fictional term "Pramana Shruti" in his learned and respected work on Indian art music (in Hindi). As a result, musicians, music teachers, music students, all fell into the practice of using a hitherto unheard of term as a defined and ancient authentic term....

A third cause for the lack of authenticity in many texts is the presence of a good deal of interpolation. Texts have been known to have been manipulated for the personal end of the copier or his superior. This is especially true in religious and legal texts like the Smrti and other texts. Unfortunately, musicological texts have also suffered from this defect.

Finally, the depredation caused by insensitive and hostile conquerers and colonial rulers has had enormous impact upon the availability and authenticity of texts. Many texts are lost to us forever. Some texts could be partially recreated by the unending toil of scholars reconstructing them from quotations from them by later text writers and from reasoned conjecture. Not the least at fault is the callous attitude of the ordinary people and the political bosses in India: texts continue to rot in libraries, private collections and even private homes. Many texts have been doomed to internment in collections and libraries outside India: in England, France, Germany, Japan, and other countries of the first world.

In spite of these difficult factors, there are a good many texts that are, happily, available to us. In the case of musicological texts, their interpretation is not easy. There are several reasons for this. First, most practising musicians are not educated enough, nor are they respectful of matters scholastic. Second, many texts have been translated from Sanskrit into a variety of languages, including English, by people who know Sanskrit but know nothing of music. Indeed, most Sanskrit scholars who have done such translations have been persons of literature and language and have not been able to comprehend the arithmetic calculations relating to Shrutis or tones and microtones or the musical significance of many passages. Third, many texts, especially medieval texts, have been written by people with fanciful and not necessarily scientific accuracy and these texts have often been translated by doting and devoted translators who tended to, in a sense, deify the authors without regard to the real relevance of the content. In the minds of many non-musical translators, a text attained sanctity not so much by virtue of its content but because it was (a) old and (b) written in Sanskrit.

It is for these reasons that many people, especially (and sadly) musicians themselves (including "star" performers, who are performers only and nothing else...), do not understand how to interpret these wonderful musicological texts and therefore rubbish them, sometimes from genuine ignorance and sometimes from a sense of professional insecurity. The lay people, unfortunately, lap up anything and everything these "star" performers say. And there the matter rests today.

In the table below is set out, in chronological order, some of the important texts that are known to us today. Most of those in the list below are available with the author and compiler (Dr Chintamani Rath). No attempt has been made at this stage to attach any value to the texts: suffice it to mention that the majority of those below are "authentic" and fit into the broad picture of Indian Art Music. The author and key events in India's long and varied history have also been provided to make the table more meaningful.

In time, it is proposed to explain some of the key texts in greater detail in this website. Click Sangit Ratnakar (1235 - 1240 AC) in the table below to view a brief outline of that Text.

                                                              Table of Texts                                    (Back to top)

From      To            Author                  Work  Selected Historical                 Events
BC 1418 Narada GandharvaGandharva Veda of 36,000 versesMahabharata War
BC 1500BC 1000Various Gandharvas named Parvata, Tumburu, Vashishtha, Vishvavasu etc. Various Pouranic kings
BC 1500BC 1000Virinchi BramhaNatyaveda of 60,000 verses 
BC 9th century Gandharvas like Matanga I, Kashyap, etc.  Parikshita and Janmejaya in Kuru, Barhadratha in Bihar, Ikshvaku in Ayodhya, etc.
BC 8th century Druhina Bramha (= Bramhabharata), a Municoncise version of Natyaveda -- 12,000 verses 
BC 8th century Bharata I, a Muni  
BC 8th century Narada Gandharva IIGandharva Kalpa 
BC 8th century Sadashiva (Shaiva sect)  
BC 8th century Tandu (Shaiva sect)originator of Tandava dance 
BC 7th century   Ushastha Chakrayana (Delhi), Janaka (Bihar), etc. Gandharva University in western Punjab
BC 6th century Bharata II, a Muni Ratthapala (Delhi), Dantapura and Parthali kings in Kalinga
BC 599   Mahavira born
BC 580 Yajnavalkya MuniYajnavalkya Shiksha 
BC 566   Gautama Buddha (Siddhartha) born
BC 543   Accession of Bimbisara (Magadha)
BC 528   Death of Mahavira
BC 491 Munis like Durgashakti and Shardula Death of Bimbisara, ascension of Ajatashatru (Magadha)
BC 483   Death of Gautama Buddha
BC 459   Death of Ajatashatru, ascension of Udayi (Magadha)
BC 443 Panini MuniPaniniya ShikshaDeath of Udayi, Aniruddha and Munda rule Magadha
BC 435   Naga Daksha rules Magadha
BC 327 Vishalikha Muni Alexander's invasion of India
BC 324   Rise of Maurya dynasty
BC 313   Ascension of Chandragupta Maurya
BC 273   Ascension of Ashoka
BC 232 Yashtika Muni and Kohala Munijointly wrote
Sarvagama Sanghita
Death of Ashoka
BC 232AD 400Anjaneya Muni (= Anila), a Daksha  
BC 232AD 400Kashyapa Muni  
BC 232AD 400Dandin Muni, a Yaksha  
BC 232AD 400Dattila MuniDattilam 
BC 232AD 400Bharata MuniNatyashashtra
of 6,000 verses
BC 232AD 400Arjuna Muni  
BC 232AD 400Nandikeshvara, a Shaiva   
BC 232AD 400Narada Muni (100 BC)Naradiya Shiksha 
BC 232AD 400Devaraja  
BC 232AD 400Kohala II, a Muni  
BC 232AD 400  Various Buddhist and Tantrik Texts
1st - 2nd century AD   Kushans (Delhi, Punjab)
AD320   Gupta era begins
400 500Matanga II (a Muni)Brhaddeshi 
400500  Shilapadikaram inscriptions
AD 476   Birth of Aryabhatta (astronomer)
600  RahulacharyaBharatavartikam 
606    Ascension of Harshavardhana (Delhi)
600 650  Gupta period starts
600700Harshavardhana (Thaneshwar)  
600700Shashanka (Bengal)  
627 DurlabhavardhanaKarakota kings (Kashmir) 
700900  Pala dynasty (Bengal) starts
700 800   Nagabhatta I (Pratihara ruler of Rajasthan)
712    Arab conquest of Sind
713   Chandrapida (Kashmir), Kuddumiamalai inscriptions
724   Muktapida Lalitaditya (Kashmir)
725 740   Yashovarman (Kannauj)
783    Vatsaraja (Pratihara ruler of Rajputana)
800  Shukracharya  
800 TrilochanaParthavijayi (a play) 
805833  Nagabhatta II (Pratihara ruler of Rajasthan)
836   Bhoja I (Pratihara)
855    Fall of Karakota dynasty (Kashmir)
885   Death of Bhoja I
885 910  Mahendrapala (Pratihara ruler of Rajasthan)
900 1000Keertidhara work on flute
(text unavailable)
9001000  Sena dynasty (Bengal) starts
9001000  Petty Rashtrakuta kings (Kannauj)
900 1000NanyadevaBharatabhashyam 
9001000 Sangitkalpataru 
980 Sagarnandin (Sagarnandi)Natyalakshanaratnakosha 
985  DhananjayaDasharoopaka (text on drama) 
9981010  Mahmud Ghazni's 16 attacks
1000 Abhinavagupta (born 950)Abhinavabharati 
1000 Abhinavagupta (born 950)Dhvanyalokalocha 
1000 Abhinavagupta (born 950)Tantraloka 
1000 Abhinavagupta (born 950)Natyalochani 
1025 Jayasingha (grandfather of Someshvara)  
1026   Mahmud Ghazni's 17th raid
1050 Tribhuvanmalla (= Vikramanka, father of Someshvara)  
1070 SvayambhuPrakrtachhandakara 
1085   Chandradeva Gahadavala conquers Kannauj
11001200Nandin (Nandikeshvara)Bharatarnava 
11151154  Govindachandra Gahadavala of kannauj
11271137Someshvara (father of Pratapa Jagadekamalla)Manasollasa (= Abhilashitarthachintamani) 
11271137Someshvara (father of Pratapa Jagadekamalla)Vikramankabhyudaya 
1133   Arnoraja of Delhi (Chauhan dynasty)
11381150Pratapa (Jagadekamalla)Sangitachoodamani 
1150 SharadatanayaSharada 
1150 SharadatanayaBhavaprakashana 
11531163  Vigraharaja of Delhi
1160 Somaraja (= Somadeva, Somabhoopala)Sangita Ratnavali 
11631178  Prithviraja II and Someshvara of Delhi (brothers)
11681169  Vijaychandra Gahadavala of kannauj
11701193  Jayachandra Gahadavala of kannauj
1175 HaripalaSangitasudhakara 
1178   Birth of Sharangadeva
1178   Prithviraj Chauhan III of Delhi
1192   Muhammad Ghori defeats Prithviraj Chauhan
11921204  Muhammad Ghori of Ghazni
1210   Kutubuddin Aibak of Delhi (slave king)
12111236  Altamash (Delhi)
12301240author unknownRagarnava 
12301240author unknownTalarnava 
12301240Ganesha RayaSangit Kalpavrksha 
12361240  Razia (Delhi)
12401242  Behram Shah (Delhi)
1240   Raja Ganapati (Warangal)
1240 Jayasenapati (=Jyayan, of the court of Raja Ganapati of Warangal)Gitaratnavali 
1240 Jayasenapati Vadyaratnavali 
1240 Jayasenapati Nrtyaratnavali 
1240 Jayasenapati Sangitaratnavali 
1240 Hemachandra (teacher of Ramachandra and Gunachandra)  
12401250Hanumana (follower of Somesvara)Hanumanasanghita 
12421246  Allauddin Masud Shah (Delhi)
12461265  Nasiruddin Masud Shah (Delhi)
1250 Ramachandra and GunachandraNatyadarpana 
1250 RanasinghaSangitamahodadhi 
12501260Umapati (follower of Pratap)Aumapatam 
12511324  Amir Khusrau
12651287  Ghiyasuddin Balban (Delhi)
1270 Palkuriki SomanathaPanditaradhyacharitam (in Telugu) 
1280 VidyachakravartiBharatasangraha 
12871290  Kaikabad (Delhi)
1290 ParsvadevaSangitsamayasara 
12921296  Allauddin Khilji (Delhi)
1300 Haripala of BiharSangitsudhakara 
1300 AllarajaRasasatvasammuchaya 
13161320  Kutubuddin Mubarak Shah (Delhi)
1320 HammirShrngarahara 
1320 Vadimattagajankusha  
1320 Mokshadeva (son of Bhimadeva)Sangitasarakalika 
13201325  Giasuddin Tuglak (Delhi)
13251351  Muhammad bin Tuglak (Delhi)
1330 Bhavesh of MithilaDanashashana 
1330 AllarajaRasaratnadipika (1336 AC) 
1340 Vemabhoopala of AndhraSangita Chintamani 
1340 Ganesha (of Chauhan dynasty)Sangit Kalpadruma 
1350 ShrngarashekharaAbhinayabhooshana 
1350 ShambhurajaShambhurajiya 
1350 Madana and his assistant VishveshvaraKarmavipaka 
1350 Madana and his assistant VishveshvaraAnandasanjivani 
1350 BhuvananandaVishvapradipa (containing Sangitaloka, its music section) 
13511388  Firuz Tuglak Khilji (end of Khiljis)
13981399  Timur's invasion of India
1400 Devana BhattaMuktavali 
1400 Bhattamadhava of BenarasSangitachandrika 
1400 GunachandraNatyadarpana 
1400 Ganesha (=Bangabhoopa)Sangitakalpavrksha 
14201420Bharata Bharatasangit (= Bharatasanghita) 
14211434  Mubarak Shah (founder of Sayyid dynasty in Delhi)
1429 Panditamandali (= a group of scholars)Sangitashiromani 
1430  Tumburunataka 
14301435Raja MandanaSangitamandana 
14301443SinghabhoopalaSudhakara Teeka of Sangitaratnakara 
14341445  Muhammad Shah (Sayyid dynasty)
1440 NaradaPanchamasarasanghita 
1440 Madhava Bhatta of BenarasSangitadipika 
14451450Nayak Baiju (not to be confused with Baiju Bavra, a mendicant incorrectly though popularly said to Tansen's adversary in a musical contest) Accession of Allauddin Alam Shah
1449 KumbhakarnaSangitaraja 
1449 KumbhakarnaNrtyaratnakosha 
1450 Devendra BhattaMuktavali 
1450 Jagaddhara (= Sarasvatidasa)Sangitasarvasva 
1450 GopatippaTaladipika 
14501460KallinathaKallinatha Tika of Sangitaratnakara 
14501525Vasudeva Sarvabhauma founds Nyaya school in Nadia, Bengal
14511489  Bahlol Lodi (Delhi)
14581479  Husain Shah Sharki
1460 AmrtanandaAlankarasangraha 
14691538  Guru Nanak
1476 ShubhankaraSangitadamodara (text corrupt) 
14781581  Soordasa
1480 JyotirishvaraDhoortasamagama (a play) 
1480 JyotirishvaraSangitabhaskara 
14821518  Mahmud Shah Bahamani
14851516Nayak Bakshu, Nayak Lohang, Nayak Pandavi from south India, Nayak Mahmud, etc. -- musicians in Mansingha Tomar's court Mansingha Tomar of Gwalior
14861533  Chaitanya
14871517  Sikandar Lodi
1498   Vasco da Gama lands at Calicut (Kerala)
14981546  Mirabai
1500 ShrirangarajaNatyabhashyam 
15051506Raja ManasinghaManakutoohala (quoted by Fakirulla) 
1510 Somabhatta (teacher of Somanarya)  
15161589  Tansen
15171526  Ibrahim Lodi (Delhi)
1520 LakshminarayanaSangitasuryodaya (=Lakshanabharata) 
1526   Accession of Babur
1530   Accession of Humayun
15321623TulsidasRamcharitmanas (religious
text) written in 1574
15361537Achyuta RaiTalakalabodhi (= Talabdhi) 
15381545  Sher Shah Suri (Delhi)
1550 MammataSangitaratnamalaPortugese inquisitioin in their Indian settlements
1550 RamamatyaSvaramelakalanidhi 
1550 Pundarika VitthalaSadragachandrodaya
1550 Pundarika VitthalaRagamanjari  
1550 Pundarika VitthalaRagamala 
1555   Humaun regains empire
1556   Akbar ascends Delhi throne
1560   Formal accession of Akbar
15701580Ashokamalla (son of Virasingha)  
1580 Abul FazalAin-i-akbari 
1580 Abul FazalBadshahnama 
1580 Abul FazalAkbarnama 
1580 BadauniMantekhab-ut-tawarik 
1600 GaurisunooSangisararnava1st January: East India Company formed by Royal Charter
1600 PurushottamaputraSangitsarani 
1605   Accession of Jahangir
1610 VipradasaSangitchandra 
1611 SomanathaRagavibodha 
1613 Sundara MishraNatyapradipa 
16151619  Thomas Rowe, British ambassador to India
16171618Lochana Pandita IRagatarangini 
1620 Raghunatha of TanjoreSangitasudha 
1625 Jyotirmalla (= Jagajyotirmalla of Nepal)  
1626 DamodaraSangitadarpana 
16271680  Shivaji
1628   Shah Jahan ascends throne
1630 HaladharamishraSangitakalpalakita 
1633 Venkateshvara Dikshita (= Venkatmakhi)Chaturdandiprakashika 
1633 Venkateshvara Dikshita (= Venkatmakhi)Ragalakshana 
1658   Aurangzeb crowned emperor
1669   Aurangzeb orders demolition of Hindu schools, desecrates and demolishes Kashi Visvanath temple
1670 Damodara SenaDangitadamodara 
1670 BhavabhattaAnoopasangitaratnakara 
1670 BhavabhattaAnoopasangitavilasa 
1670 BhavabhattaAnoopasangitaratnakara 
1670 BhavabhattaLalitaprakasha 
1670   Aurangzeb desecrates and demolishes Keshab Rai temple
1671   Aurangzeb dismisses all Hindu officials in his employ
1673 AkalankaSangitasarasangraha
(in Telugu)
1676 FakirullaRagadarpana 
1676 Mirza KhanTufatulhind 
1677 NaradaSangitamakaranda 
1679   Aurangzeb reimposes Jizya (previously abolished by Akbar), a tax on Hindus collected to crush Hinduism and spread Islam
1680 VedaSangitamakaranda 
1690 ShrikanthaRasakaumudi 
1690 Lochana Pandita II (= Lochana Jha)Ragatarangini 
1695   Aurangzeb forbids Hindus from using palanquins, elephants, good horses and arms
1700 GovindaSangrahachoodamani 
1700 NagamallaNagendrasangita 
1704 Raghunatha RathSangitarnavachandrika 
1704 Raghunatha RathNatyamanorama 
1707   Aurangzeb dies
1730 GajapatinarayanaSangitanarayana 
1750 TulajaSangitasaramrtam 
1750 TulajaSangitasaramrtoddhara 
1750 ParameshvaraVinalakshanam 
1785 ShrinivasaRagatatvavibodha 
1785 ShrinivasaRagalakshanam 
1820 NaradaChatvaringshata-
1870 KalyanakaSugamaragamala 
19151916Appa TulasiRagakalpadrumankura 
19151916Appa TulasiSangitasudhakara 
19151916Appa TulasiRagachandrika 
19151916Appa TulasiRagachandrikasara 
19151916Appa TulasiAbhinavatalamanjari 
19151916Vishnusharma (=Bhatkhande)Abhinavaragamanjari 
19151916Vishnusharma (=Bhatkhande)Shrimallakshasangitam 
19151916Vishnusharma (=Bhatkhande)Sangitashashtra (in Hindi) 
19151916Vishnusharma (=Bhatkhande)Kramikpustakmalika (in Hindi) 

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