Tag Archives: Jati

Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

Devi Kamakshi


Svarajati, as the name suggests, is a combination of Svaras (notes) and Jati (rhythmic pattern represented by a vocal ‘Sol’).

The Svarajati is said to have been developed in two ways – one type with Jatis to suit dance movements; and, the other, a simple type for beginners in music.

Thus, the Svarajati could be rendered as a song, with all the Alamkaras; and, it could also be a musical composition adorned with graceful and flowing stream of rhythms, to which a Dancer performs with apt Nrtta (rhythmic-body-movements) and present the interpretation of its words through Abhinaya (meaningful expressions).

The main features of the Svarajatis are (1) presence of a number of Svara-Sahitya passages in the Carana ;( 2) the absence of Anupallavi; and, (3) preponderance of Jatis

The first two features can be seen in beginner’s Svarajatis. And, in the Dance-Svarajatis, the third factor is important.


As regards the Svarajatis, which belonged to the sphere of Abhyasa-gana; they were mainly intended to be learnt by students of music. These were simpler types, without the Jatis.

On account of the simple, yet qualitative music, and good rhythmic flow, many Svarajatis are taught to the students of music, after they learnt Gitas; but, before the Varnas.  The Svarajatis are, therefore, normally treated as Abhyasa-gana class of practical compositions.

[Simpler Svarajatis, without Jatis and the Anga of Muktayi Svara, were composed for the benefit of students of art music and dance. These are pieces to be learnt after a course in Alankara, Gita and Jatisvara; but, before learning to sing Varnas.

The purpose of learning Jatisvara and Svarajati is to get a good grasp of the rhythm, which would prepare the student for the next difficult piece, the Varna.

Thus, there is some logic behind the graded method of teaching the musical forms.

The Sahitya of a Svarajati has more words than the Sahitya of a Gita.

To enable the student to get familiar with a Sahitya consisting of more number of words; to train her/him to sing properly, following the time-units precisely is perhaps the intention behind the gradation of  these technical forms.]

This Abhyasa-gana type of Svarajatis is quite different from the Pada-Varna.  It has a different structure. It has no Anupallavi; but, there is coordination between the Svaras and the syllables of the Sahitya. The Sahitya and the melody take priority.

Perhaps, the only common point it has with the Pada-Varna is the fact that the beginning Svara sahitya passages are simpler; and, there is a gradual increase in the length and complexity of the lines.


As regards the Svarajatis that are specially designed for Dance; they have rhythmic syllables or Sollukottus in its musical structure. In this type, there are Jatis and Sahitya for all the Svara-passages. The Svara and Sahitya lines which follow each other alternatively, lend themselves well to the Abhinaya and Nrtta sequences in a dance.

Here, the Nrtta (rhythmic-body-movements) and Adavus (basic steps in Dance) are performed to the Svaras and Sollokottu; whereas, the Abhinaya is performed to the Sahitya.

The early version of the Dance-Svarajatis resembled the Pada-Varnas. It had a short Pallavi, Anupallavi and a fairly long Carana portion, consisting of Carana-Sahitya, Svara passages and a Jati section.


The third type of Svarajati, which has no Jati or Sollukottu in its structure; which has the refinement to project the Raga-svarupa; and, which can be rendered in music concerts, was the one that was developed by Sri Shyama Shastry.

The Svarajatis developed by Sri Shyama Shastry were far more advanced and sophisticated than the simple Abhyasa-gana Svarajatis. And, at the same time, they are different from the Dance Svarajatis.

The Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry form a separate class of compositions, which do not resemble Dance-Svarajatis. They do not have a Mukthayi-Svara section with Sahitya and Jati. They also do not, generally, form a part of the repertoire of Dance-Music. They are largely rendered in Art-musical-concerts.

In their structure, these types of Svarajatis are made of Pallavi, and many Caranas in the form of Svara-Sahityas (Svara syllable having a corresponding syllable of text of identical duration).

A number of Svara-Sahitya passages in the Carana and the absence of Anupallavi are the other characteristic features of this type of Svarajati.

The Svarakshara beauty, where the syllable of the text is identical or similar to the correspondent Svara syllable, is a noteworthy feature in most of the Svarajatis.

Svara-Sahitya is a combination of Svara (Sol-fa) passages with appropriate Sahitya passages that match the Svaras. The Svara-part should steadily maintain continuity with the Music of the Sahitya of the Carana; and, should methodically lead to the Pallavi. Again, the Sahitya-portion of the Svara-Sahitya should blend with the Sahitya of the Carana; and, later with the Carana.

That is to say; the Svarajatis are compositions made of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Caranas in the form of Svara-sahitya. Now, while rendering the Carana, its Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented. After the final Carana, the Pallavi is again rendered as  the conclusion.

By increasing the numbers of Svara letters and the Sahitya letters, according to the time-units of the Taala-aksharas, the Carana-Svaras are sung as if in Madhyama-kala. The number of Avartas (one Avarta is a complete cycle of a Taala) for the Carana-Svaras is also increased gradually.

When one tries to explain in words, it does sound very complicated. But, when an erudite artist sings, seamlessly weaving the Svara-Sahitya passages with consummate skill and artistry, it is truly delightful.


Almost running parallel to what I said above:

Dr. Ritha Rajan, in her articleJatisvaram/Svarajati’ published in the Journal of the Music Academy Madras (Vol. LXXV- 2002) mentions that Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, in his Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini, described two types of Svarajatis.

The first type of Svarajatis are those, which are more suitable for Dance-Dramas , like Bhagavatha-Mela-Natakas, wherein the brisk Madhyama–Kala could be executed , with all its vigour and gusto, by the male dancers.

This is said to be the older form or type of Svarajati; with Madhyama-kala as its characteristic feature. Many of them are set in Tisra-Eka-Taala (each unit of Taala being three melodic pulses) or in Rupaka-Taala (one Dhruta followed by one Laghu).

The Mukthayi (a passage of Svara syllables that succeeds an Anupallavi, usually of two Avartas) was composed with the first phase,  with only long Svaras; the second phase in Madhyama-kala; and, the third phase in Durita-Kala, ending with the Jati phrase : ‘ taddin ginata tom’. The Carana was sung in a faster tempo as Svarajati.

[It is said; this older type of Svarajati-s fell into disuse; because the Pada-Varnam, which resembled it, gained more popularity.]

The other type of Svarajatis that Sri Subbarama Dikshitar mentioned is that, where the Jati-groups (rhythmic patterns composed of vocal ‘Sols’) form the central core of the composition. The Jati-groups are presented in the form of Svaras, along with the Sahitya.

The Graha-Svaras (Svara on which a Raga or a song commences) of the Svara-Sahityas will be in the Arohana-Krama (ascending order), in accordance with the Murchanas (the ascending and descending movement of the seven notes in successive order) of the Raga. Sometimes, the Krama or the sequential order of the Graha-Svaras of the Svara-Sahitya will be in Avarohana-Krama (descending order). The Mathu or the text will be of devotional nature. The Mathu of the first section of the Svarajati will be like a Pallavi.


Viewed in the light of these explanations, you find that the Svarajati-s of Sri Shyama Shastri in the Ragas Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji in Misra-Chapu-Taala, alone come under the second category of Svarajatis.

These Svarajatis have a Jati based format, which is presented as Svaras with appropriate Sahitya. The Graha Svaras of the Svara-Sahityas are in the Arohana- Krama. The Mathu is devotional, in its nature. The first section is complete like the Pallavi section of a Kriti, in terms of both Dhatu and Mathu.

Dr. N. Ramanathan points out that the Todi Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastry seems to be the odd one out; because, certain important features found with the other two Svarajatis are absent here. There is no proper ascending order (Arohana)   for the Graha-Svaras in the Svara-Sahityas of the Svarajati in Todi Raga; and, a planned gradual musical development is also missing in its Svara-Sahityas.


As regards the Svarajatis in Ragas Bhairavi and Yadukula-Kambhoji, Dr. Ramanathan mentions:

The Pallavis of the Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis have almost identical rhythmic structure; and, also have architectonic order and proportion. Further, certain Svara-Sahityas have similar structure in both the forms. In the Bhairavi Svarajati, out of the Eight Svara-Sahityas, from the 5th Svara-sahitya onwards the numbers of melodic pauses considerably increase.  There are also sub divisions of melody within the sections.

Vadi-Samvadi-Svara combinations, Svara-aksharas, Atita and Anahata-Eduppus and prolonged Svaras with Karvai for five or seven Aksaras also figure in the Svarajatis


Further, Dr. N. Ramanathan says that the Svarajati form created by Sri Shyama Shastry is almost similar to the Carana part of the old Svarajati, with modifications. These made the composition into an Art-musical form. With revision of the Kala-pramana into a slower one; and, by concentrating more on melodic richness; and, with a plain Bhakthi text, the new form of Svarajati came into vogue.


Sri Shyama Shastry revised the form of the Svarajatis by eliminating the Jatis from their musical structure and, letting the Svaras to arrange themselves into Jati-patterns. And, he converted them into a refined form, which can even be sung in concerts.

Though the Jatis are eliminated, there are enormous other rhythmic beauties and complexities in the structure of his Svarajatis; without interfering the Bhava aspect; and, at the same time, adding more richness to these compositions. Sri Shyama Shastry, elsewhere, referred to this musical form in his Natta Raga Kriti ‘Pahimam’ as ‘Sarasa-pada-yugale Svarajati kalpita sangeeta-rasike’.

Sri Shyama Shastry’s contribution in reforming the Svarajatis is indeed exceptional. He was probably the first to compose Svarajatis in a new form of musical genre, where the compositions can be rendered in vocal or in instrumental form, with all the embellishments. Prior to this, the Svarajati was primarily a dance-song, resembling the Pada-vara, in its structure.

The Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry are different from the rest; they are more advanced; and by themselves, they form a separate category of Art Music.

The beauty of the Svarajatis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry is in its natural flow of the Taala, Laya and Svaras.

He seemed to have found the Svara-Sahitya feature most fascinating and challenging, as well.

Here, in the Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the elegant Svara passages blend naturally with the emotionally rich Sahitya. What you experience here is the harmony that binds together in one entity, the soulful Ragas; the lyrical elegant Sahitya; and, the innovative Taala patterns; all into a rare joyful aesthetic delight.

As regards their structure; his Svarajati compositions commence with a Pallavi, which is followed by Carana/s. While rendering the Carana, the Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented.


It is often said that the earlier form of Svarajati was primarily a dance-song, resembling the Pada-Varna in its structure; and, Sri Shyama Shastry transformed it into a more Musical form.

However, Dr. Ramanathan observes:

I think that in Shyama Shastri’s compositions the dance rhythms may not be explicit; but, they are still very much there. His Guru Samgita Swami was a Natyacharya; and , learning from this Guru at a young age had probably left certain deep impressions and ideas in the disciple’s mind, based on which, he would later mould his compositions.

It is also possible that in making modifications to the earlier Svarajati forms, Sri Shyama Shastry was influenced by the songs like ‘ēmandayānrā’ in Husēni Raga of Paccimiriyam Ādippayya (with whom he spent quite some time).


Sri Subbarama Dikshitar also says that the compositions of Shyama Shastri have an under-current of Jati-patterns in the melodic structure; and, should be sung with a proper grip and assertiveness.

That is because; his techniques have created unique rhythmic patterns and movements. For instance; in the application of Chapu Taala, he very effectively used the khanda phrases (i.e. phrases with 5 pulses), by way of starting the composition after the lapse of 5 counts and by providing apt Misra and Sankirna pauses of duration of 5 counts. This extraordinary use of khanda-Karvais, in effect, made the Taala gain an altogether different dimension.

[Dr. N. Ramanathan says that there is another variety of Svarajatis, which is modelled in the structure of a Pada-varna, with Pallavi, Anupallavi, Muktayi-Svara, Carana and Carana-Svaras.

In this type, the Muktayi-Svara passage consists of two parts i.e. Paata syllables and Svaras. It ends with the Jati ‘ta-dingina-tôm’ before returning to Pallavi.

He mentions that the Graha-Svaras of the Carana-Svaras are in the ascending order; in this type it is observed only in the Svarajati ‘Emandayanara’ in Huseni Raga composed jointly   by Paccimiriam Adiyappa and Melattur Venkatarama Shastri

In these Svarajatis we find the Sahitya of the Pallavi and Anupallavi is spread over a number of Svaras; and, only in the Carana Svaras we find the Svara letters and Sahitya letters are identical either long or short (Dheerga or Hrasva).

 Moeover, the Kala-pramana also differs between the Purva-part and Uttara -part in some Svarajatis.  The Purva-part is in slow tempo while the Uttara-part is in Madhyama-kala.]


Sri Shyama Shastry has composed three Svarajatis which are aptly called ‘Ratna-traya’ i.e. three gems.

His three Svarajatis are: (1) Rave Himagiri Kumari (8-Todi, Adi Taala); (2) Kamakshi anudinamuna (20-Bhairavi, Misra-Chapu Taala); and, (3) Kamakshi nee padayugamu (28-Yadukula-Kambhoji, Misra-Chapu Taala).

All the three are composed in Telugu; and, consist of Pallavi and multiple Caranas, which are sung as Svara-Sahityas.

And, all the three Svarajatis are dedicated to Devi Sri Kamakshi of Kanchipuram.

 Each Svarajati extols the beauty, the magnificence and splendid virtues of the Devi. And, through these gems, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the Devi, seeking her blessings, her protection and her Motherly Love; and, refuge at her Lotus-feet.

All the three Svarajatis, singing the beauty and glory of the Mother Goddess Kamakshi, resemble the Kriti in their form. However, they differ from the Kriti in that they have no Anupallavi; and, have a number of Svara-sahitya passages with an entirely different Dhatu. 

All the three Svarajatis are structured with a gradual sequence of music that ends in a climax.  With the steady ascendance of the tempo, it looks as if Sri Shyama Shastry adopted here the sequential progression of the Alapana-Paddathi.

The Todi-Svarajati ‘Rave-Himagiri-Kumari-Kanchi-Kamakshi‘in Adi-Taala is the shortest, with six Svara-sahitya; each of which begins with the Raga-Chaya-SvarasDha, Ga and Ma. The Svara-kashara syllables are dexterously woven into the texture of the Sahitya.


The Bhairavi-Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-Amba-anudinamu-maravakane’ is set to Chapu Taala; and, has the unique structure with eight Caranas  each beginning with a successively a higher note in the scale of   the eight Svaras ‘Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ in that order (krama). And, the last Carana begins with tara-sthayi shadja. And, the Pallavi starts in the Mandra-sthayi; and, has a rare Prayoga of Shudha-Dhaivata, sung as a prolonged note. This is perhaps is the most popular Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastri.


The Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-ni-paada-yugamu’ is set to Misra-Chapu. And, here again, the different sections commence on the Raga-Chaya- Svaras of the Raga- Sa,-Ri,-Pa,-Dha. This Svarajati is mostly in Mandra and Madhya Sthayi; but, some lines, towards the end, ascend (Makuta) to the Tara-Sthayi.

Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastri

The Ragas selected, in each case, is very apt. All the three Ragas are Shuddha-Madhyamā Ragas; of which one (Raga Todi) is a Melakarta.  Of the two Janya Ragas, Bhairavi, which is a major Raga, provides abundant scope for elaboration. And, at the same time, the third one, Yadukula-Kambhoji is very rarely elaborated. But, Sri Shyama Shastry has deftly handled all the three Ragas, exploring their subtleties and their individual characteristics.

All the three Svarajatis, which are addressed to the Devi Kamakshi, have many common features; such as: similarity in thematic content of the Sahitya couched in sweet-sounding rhythmic passages; in the arrangement of the Music starting from the slow meditative expansive elaboration, gradually raising to higher pitch and faster pace towards the end portions.

The prime feature of the music of Sri Shyama Shastry is his deep-rooted faith and his ardent devotion to the Mother Goddess. He approaches her as a child that longs for the Love of his Mother.  The Laya patterns, in tandem with the soulful (Bhava-purita) Sahitya, portray his approach.

Most of his compositions commence in calm, slow-paced (Vilamba-kala) meditative Music, lovingly conversing with the Mother Kamakshi. As the composition progresses, he is overtaken by a feeling of urgency and eagerness of a Sadhaka in securing assurance and protection from his Ishta-Devata. And, that is reflected in the contemplative mood giving place to the increased pace of the Laya in the latter parts of his Svarajatis.


The sparkling Svarakshara beauty, which blends amicably well with the Sahitya, is another noteworthy feature shared by his three Svarajatis, which are often rendered at the Musical concerts.

Generally in all the three Svarajatis the Mandra Sthayi is used in the Pallavi, which paves way for the elaborate delineation of the Raga ; and , a gradual rise in the Sthayis as well as number or Avartas are found in the subsequent Caranas.


Before we go into the individual Svarajatis, it would be truly rewarding to briefly read through the general observations made by Dr. Sharadambal in her Doctoral Thesis.

[Her comments are highly technical. I have included here, hopefully, for the benefit of the serious students, just a few extracts from some of the details she provided.]


Structure of Svarajatis

The three Svarajatis are in the Ragas Todi, Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji.

The Svarajatis   in Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji are set in Misra-Chapu Taala; while the Svarajati in Todi is set in Adi-Taala (two Kalai).

Of the three Svarajatis, the Todi Svarajati ‘Rave Himagiri Kumari’ in Adi-Taala is with Six Caranas; while the Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis in Misra-Chapu Taala are with Eight and Eleven Caranas, respectively.

The Graha-Svaras for the Caranas are in the ascending order in the Bhairavi and in the Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis.

In the Todi-Svarajati, a slight change is found; the second Carana starts in the note ‘Ma’, while the 3rd, 4th and 5th Caranas on ‘Ga’.

In the earlier books which published the Svarajatis of Shyama Shastri, it is mentioned that the Svara of the Pallavi should be sung after the Svara portion of the Carana; and, the Sahitya of the Pallavi after the Sahitya portion of the Caranas.

As seen in the book Gayaka-siddha-anjanamu (of Singaracharulu Brothers, 1905), finishing portions of the Pallavi and Caranas of the Bhairavi Svarajati are marked as follows:

 Pallavi (last Avarta) : M G, R s (N) /  (nammiti) ni Sri kan ci (ka)

 1st Carana-Svara (last Avarta) :  D N S r (N) / (tal) li ra ksin cu (ka)



The language employed in the Svarajatis is a high-flown pedantic scholarly Telugu, admixed with Sanskrit terms, as compared to the simple colloquial style adopted in the Kritis. The speech idiom is also interspersed with the poetical description of the Goddess.

For instance, to indicate that the Devi is the protector of the universe, he says:

Sarasijasana-harisa vinuta pada-kamalasambava-sura-muni-drulace tanu ninu-pogadutaku (Svarajati-Kamakshi-ni-pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji

To indicate that the Devi protects   her devotees, he uses a very long phrase:

Dalacinajana-dulaku-bahu-sampadalanu-sadadalacina-manavula-kella phala mosage – (Svarajati Kamakshi ni pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji).

The greatness of the Goddess as exhibited in the Vedas is mentioned in the three Svarajatis as: ‘srtutulu-moralidaga’; `vedamulu moralidagana’; and, `dorayanucu vedamulu moralidaga’.

Devi as destroyer of sins is hailed as: pataka-mulanu vâdiga; and pataka-mulanu-dircci

Devi as the destroyer of demons is praised as: Madamatta-mahisa-danava-mardani; and, madadanuja- varana-mrgendra-rcita kalusa-dahana.


At the same time he uses he uses, at times, even in the Svarajatis, informal, colloquial expressions, calling himself as her son, ‘Sutudamma’. He requests her to guard him against trials and tribulations. For instance:

Abhimanâmuledâ-nâpai Devi / parâkelane brôvave ippudu / cintalu vevega dircchamma / mora vinada parâkela-namma



A remarkable feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry is the perfect synchronization of the Mathu and Dathu; blending the Sahitya with its corresponding Svara-structure. He also manages to establish harmony between the syllabic duration with the melodic duration of the phrases (Kala-pramana).

Svarajatis with many Caranas functioning as Svara-Sahityas give plenty of scope for introducing Svaraksharas. A perfect dovetailing is also found between the Svara letters and Sahitya letters in his Svarajatis.

Both the Shuddha and the Suchita Svaraksharas are found in the three Svarajatis, as the Svara and Sahitya are sung one by one; we are able to understand the Svarakshara well in the Svara -Sahityas of the Svarajati.

The Svaraksharas syllables occur in between other letters as a single letter in many places and also as combined with two or three letters.

The Svara syllables ‘Ma’, ‘Ni’, ‘Pa’, ‘Sa’ are frequently used as single syllables as the Svarakshara syllables  while the grouping of two or three are found by combining ‘Ga-Ma’ ‘Ga-Ma-Pa’, ‘Ga-Ma-Dha’, ‘Sa-Ri-Ma’, ‘Ri-Sa’ and ‘Sa-Ri’.


Examples of single letters: In the last Carana of the Todi Svarajati, the Svaras’ Ni ‘and’ Pa’ fit in as Svarakshara.

R s n s P, D, N, P m G
cinta nuve kalyâ ni pâ da me


Svaraksharas used in Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati

svarakshara syllable2s

Some Examples of Svaraksharas in the three Svarajatis

Svarakshara Svarajati2


  1. Rave Himagiri Kumari (8-Todi, Adi Taala)

[Todi (also called as Hanuma-Todi) is the 8th Mela

      • Arohana:s r g m p d n S
      • Avarohana:S n d p m g r s

Svarasthana: Shadja, Shuddha-Rshabha, Sadharana-Gandhara, Shuddha-Madhyama, Panchama, Shuddha-Daivata and Kaisiki-Nishada/]

The Svarajati in Raga Todi, the shortest of the three, consists a Pallavi followed by Six Caranas as Svara-Sahitya Passages.

Of the Six Carana, the first four are of the magnitude of one Avarta; and, the last two Caranas consist of two Avartas. 


The different sections commence on the Raga-chaya-Svaras namely Dha and Ga. The Pallavi, the first Svara-Sahitya Section; and, the Mudra section begin on Dhaivata, while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sections on Gandhara.


The music of the Pallavi begins in the Mandra-Sthayi-Dhaivata; and, revolves around the same; occasionally touching the Madhya-Sthayi ‘Ga’.

The first Svara-Sahitya passage is beautifully conceived, without resorting to Panchama note. The phrases succeed in a highly attractive manner. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Svara Sahitya sections begin in the Gandhara-Svara, bringing out the essence of the Raga through powerful and appealing phrases.

Each of these Svara-Sahitya-Caranas begins with the Raga-chayaSvaras capably woven into the texture of the Sahitya as, for instance: Ga-ma-Pa-ma-ga-ma-Dha / (Ka)- (mi)-(tartha)-(pha)-(la)-(da).

Todi Svarasahitya

 The essence of the Raga (Raga-bhava) is evoked through appealing phrases and the use of Panchama (Pa) in Alpa-Prayogas (very rare application or usage mostly when concluding the Raga-Alapana). This lends a special charm to the Music of the Svarajati.

 [Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi. Thanks to Sri RSR)]

The Svarajati is addressed to his Mother (Mayamma) Kanchi Kamakshi, the daughter of the King of Himalaya (Himagiri Kumari). And, the Pallavi commences with a request submitted to her to listen to his plea (Naa manavi vinavamma); and, to bless him (Shubha mi-mma).

In the string of Six Svara-Sahitya passages, Sri Shyama Shastry praises the beauty, magnificence and the kindness of the Mother Kamakshi, by using the Sanskrit terms. And, while requesting (Koriti) her to dispel his worries quickly (Naa chintalanu vega deerchi) for protection (Abhaya-miyamma) since he has nowhere else to go but her feet (Nee paadamule dikku), he uses the Telugu terms and verbs.

 He describes the power and the kindness of the Mother in Sanskrit phrases as:

Mada-matta-Mahisha-danava-mardhini; Nata-jana-paripalini; Kamapalini; and, Kamita-artha-phala-dayike

In the fifth Carana, Sri Shyama Shastry sings of the beauty of the features and of the stately gait of the Mother Goddess through poetic phrases, such as:

Kamala-mukhi;Dhara-ghana-neela-kacha-bhara-vilochane;Mani-radana; and Gaja-gamana.


The Pallavi commences in Mandra-Sthayi-Dheerga-Dhaivata, rendered with Kampita Gamaka.

The Raga-bhava of the Todi is brought out by the proper application of the Prayogas along with the Raga-chayaSvaras (Gandhara and Daivata). The Panchama-Varja-Prayoga (skipping of notes) adds beauty to the composition. A special feature of Todi Raga is said to the Varja-Prayoga or phrases where Svaras are skipped. This, in Todi in particular, enhances the beauty and Rakthi of the Raga.


The Dvitiya-akshara-Prasa the rhyming with identical consonants or similar sounding vowels, in the second position in a line can be seen in the Caranas 3 to 5: Kamapalini; Kamitaphala; Kamalamukhi; and, Syamakrishna.

The Svara-phrases and words corresponding to groups of Tisra and Khanda can be seen in the 5th Carana


Smt. Sharadambal comments:

The Pallavi of the Todi Svarajati ‘Rave’ begins in the Mandra Sthayi, Dheerga Dhaivata, which is sung with Kampita -Gamaka.

The Caranas either end in Mandra-Sthayi-Nisada or Madhya-Sthayi-Shadja, with a natural lead to the Pallavi as: n (D) or s (D).

The range of the Svaras increases gradually in Sthayi. 

In the first and second Carana- Svaras, the lower limit is ‘Mandra Dha’ and upper limit is ‘Madhya Ma’

In the second and third Carana Svaras , the lower limit is Mandra ‘Ni’;  and upper limit is Madhya ‘ni’;  while the fifth Svara touches ‘Tara-Ga’ in the finishing phrase as  :

 Dha-ga-ri-ni-Dha, pa |, ma-Ga- Ri-sa ||

The second Carana Svaras start with Madhyamā, while the other three Carana-Svaras start on ‘Madhya Ga’. The first Carana- Svara start on ‘Mandra Dha’; and, the last on ‘Madhya Dha’.

The melodic movement of the last Svara also centres between ‘Madhya Ma’ and ‘Tara Ri’, only in the final phrase comes down to Mandra-Sthayi-Svaras as ‘Pa-Ma-Ga, Ri-Sa’

In the third, fourth and fifth Svaras that start on the Svara ‘Ga’, stress and shake is given to the Svara in different ways. ‘Ga-Ma-Pa’, ‘Ga-Ma-Dha-Ma’ in these Prayogas. the Dheerga KampitaGa’ is sung. 

Flattened ‘Ga’ is found in the Prayogas: ‘Ga-Ri-Sa’, ‘Ri-Ga-Sa,’ ‘Ni-Dha-Ma-Ga’ and ‘Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa’. ‘Ga’ is sung as Erra- jaru in both Mandra-Sthayi to Madhya Sthayi and Tara- Sthayi in the fifth Svara as:   ‘Dha/Ga-Sa-Ri-Ni-Sa’ and ‘Dha/Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha’.


We find Shadja, Panchama Varja Prayogas in the Todi Svarajati.

They are Varja and also Dathu Prayogas [Ga-Ma-Ni-Dha-Ma, Ga-Ma-Dha-Ma, Ni-Dha-Ma-Ga, Ma-Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha, Ri-Ni-Dha] – Varja, [Dh-Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha Ga-Dha-Ma-Ga-Ri-Ni] – Dathu.

In the first Svara it is a combination of a Misra and a Tisra as [dha-ni-sa-ri-G-] [-Ri-ni] , while it is simply a Misra in the second Svara as [dha-ni-sa-ri-g-ri-ni]


  1. Kamakshi anudinamu (20-Bhairavi, Misra-Chapu Taala)

[Bhairavi is the Janya of the 20th Melakarta Nata-Bhairavi

    • Arohana: s r g m p *d n S
    • Avarohana: S n d p m g r s

Svarasthana: Shadja, Panchama, Chatussruti-Rishabha, Sadharana-Gandhara, Shuddha-Madhyamā, Shuddha-Diatom, Chatussruthi-Daivata.and Kaisiki-Nishada]

The Svarajati ‘Kamakshi anudinamunu maravakane nee paadamule dikkenuchu nammitini Sri Kanchi, Kamakshi’ in Bhairavi Raga, Misra-Chapu Taala, is a very highly popular composition of Sri Shyama Shastry; and, it is very often rendered at the Music concerts.

[Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi Thanks to Sri RSR)]

Its Pallavi is followed by eight Svara-Sahitya-Caranas. Each of these Eight Caranas begins in a regular order of Svaras: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa.

The Pallavi commences in Mandra-Sthayi; and, the tempo picks up progressively in the later Angas of the Svarajati, to match the emotional appeal of each Carana.

Sri Shyama Shastry seemed to have treated each Svara as a Graha Svara; and has delineated the Bhairavi Raga most beautifully.

[Please check here for the Dance-rendering of the Bhairavi Svarajati]


Apart from its very pleasing Sahitya, the Raga-bhava of Bhairavi is brought out wonderfully well in a methodical progression, traversing through all the Sthayis, ranging from Mandra-Sthayi-Madhyamā on to the Tara-Sthayi-Madhyama.

The Pallavi has a rare Prayoga of Shuddha-Daivata (Dha); and, is sung as an extended prolonged note.

The commencing notes of the Caranas are in the ascending order (Arohana-Krama) of the Saptha (Seven) Svaras; and, the last Carana takes off from Tara-Sthayi-Shadja.

The Vggeyakara-mudra, the signature of the composer is set in in a lengthy phrase, which is taken up by the performers on the stage for Neraval and Kalpana-Svara improvised elaborations: Shyamakrishna-sahodari-Shive-Shankari-Parameshvari.

And, the Raga-mudra, indication of its Raga, is in the last line of the last Svara-Sahitya-Carana, as: Paraku-yelane brovave ippudu Sri Bhairavi.

As in the other compositions, here too, the Vilamba-kala tempo gradually raises up along with Sri Shyama Shastry’s anxiety and impatience to stimulate the Devi to grant him protection. And, beginning from Mandra-Sthayi-Nishada, it reaches Tara-Sthayi in the last two lines, impatiently questioning and pleading with Mother Kamakshi- Abhimanamu leda naapai Devi? (Don’t you have any affection towards me?); Paraku yelane? (Why are you delaying so much?); Brovave ippudu (Protect me right now) Sri Bhairavi –Kamakshi.

Very enterprising Gamaka Prayogas are built into the rendering style of this Bhairavi Svarajati. The third Carana starts on ‘Ga’ rendered in Kampita Gamaka ; and, that is followed by exploration of the varied shades of the Madhyama , ranging from the delicate  throbbing Gamaka for the words ‘Padma-bhava’ (Ma-Pa-Ga, Ri)  leading up to a higher Gamaka ending in ‘Pa’ for the words ‘Hari’(Ga Ma) and ‘Shambhu-nuta’ (Pa; Dha-Ma-Ga).

In the next Carana also there is a charming Jaru-Gamaka (sliding) that links the higher Svara Sa to Pa, when the words ‘Taamasamu seyaka’ (Pa; Dha-Ni-Sa-Pa) are rendered.


The profusion of enchanting Svara-Sahitya lends richness and sparkling rhythmic brilliance to this sublime Svarajati.

[This Svarajati, in its structure and musical content resembles the famous Ata-Taala-Varna ‘Viriboni’ composed by Sri Pachimiriyam Adiappiah, the noted composer and singer of his times, under whose tutelage the young Shyama Shastry spent a brief time.

Some scholars have tried noticing in this Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastry, the traces of the influence of Sri Adiyappa.]


Smt. Vidya Subramanian has made a very good study of the Svara-sahitya in the Bhairavi Svarajati Kamakshi anudinamu. I have tried to summarize her observations, here:

The first Carana ends with the words ‘Talli rakshinchu’. The Svara for these words are Pa-Dha (Talli) and Ni-Sa-Ri (Rakshimpuu). The Svaras ‘Pa and Dha’ leisurely take four Akshara-kala; while ‘Ni’ takes three; Sa takes two; and, Ri takes one Akshara-kala.

The second Carana concludes with the word ‘Mayamma’. The Svaras used for this word are ‘Ni, Ga, Ri’, a typical Bhairavi Prayoga, to which Gamakas  are applied,  to heighten the  emotion of Bhakthi (devotion).

In the third Carana , which commences with the Svara ‘Ga’, many shades of delicate Gamakas are applied to the words ‘Padma-bhava’ (Ma; Pa-Ga-Ri) taking up to higher Gamaka , ending in ‘Pa’ for the words ‘Hari’(Ga Ma) and ‘Shambhu-nuta’ (Pa; Dha-Ma-Ga).

In the fourth Carana, the Jaru-Gamaka on ‘Sa’ links the higher Svara ‘Sa’ to ‘Pa’, when the words ‘ Taamasamu seyaka’ (Pa; Dha-Ni-Sa-Pa) are rendered.

The fifth Carana also commences on a Svarakshara. The words ‘Paataka mulanu’ match the Svaras ‘Pa; Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri’. And, his question ‘Pavani-gaada?’ is matched by the Svaras ‘Ga; Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa) ; and,  ‘Moravinadaa?’ with (Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa).

In the sixth Carana, here is an unusual link from the Svara ‘Sa’ in the Madhyamā-Sthayi to the higher Svara ’Ga’ in the Tara-Sthayi , matching with the word ‘Vedamu’ (Sa-Ga-Ri)

The seventh Carana also has many Svarakshara Prayogas; like Nee Pavana (Ni; Ri-Sa-Ri) and Mada Danuja (Ma-Pa-Sa-Ni-Dha). There are also some charming Sancharas like (Ga-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa) which bring out the beauty of Bhairavi raga in the higher notes.

The Eighth and the concluding Carana ,is adorned with a series of inspired and lovely phrases addressing the Mother Kamakshi . Among these, the Music for the words ‘Abhimanamu-leda-naapai?’ seamlessly escalates from Madhyamā-Sthayi to Tara-Sthayi, with the Svaras (Sa-Ni-Sa; Pa-Ma-Pa; Dha-Ni; Sa-Ri; Ga)


Smt. Sharadambal comments:

In this Svarajati the eight Carana-Svaras start on the Saptha-Svaras in the ascending order as:  Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa.

The Svaras end mostly or Rsabha-svara; and, the Pallavi is taken as :  Ga Ri \ Ni or Sa Ri \ Ni.

Only the third and fourth Caranas end Shadja as:  Ga Ri Sa and Ma Ga Ri  Sa

The number of the Avartas as well as the range of Svaras increases gradually from the first Carana passage to the last Carana passage. 

The first Carana has four Avartas and the last Carana Svara has sixteen Avartas. The melodic range in the first Carana-Svara is from the Mandra Madhyama to Madhya Rsabha; gradual increase in the Sthayi is noticed in the subsequent Carana Svaras.

In the second Carana Svara the lower limit raises to ‘Mandra Dha’ and the Svara Sancharas are framed up to ‘Madhya Ma’.

 In the next two Carana-Svaras the Sancharas does not go below Mandra-‘Ni’;
while the upper limit is increased to ‘Tara Ri’ and ‘Tara Ga’.

The seventh and eighth Carana-Svaras touch ‘Tara Ma’; while the Svara-Sancharas cover Madhya and Tara- Sthayi in many places, occasionally touch Mandra –Sthayi-Svaras also.


We find a number of Svara patterns in the Bhairavi Svarajati also. Though the composition is in regular Misra-Chapu Taala, we find patterns of Svaras in the Viloma-krama (i.e. reverse order 4+3). 

The third Carana ends with this pattern as ‘Ni-Ni-Dha-Pa | Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa||’

In the seventh Carana we find the ending as (Ni Dha Pa G Ri] [; Sa Ni Dha Pa] [; Ga Ri (Ni)]

The eighth Carana ends in a combination of ‘Misra’ as:  Ma Ga Ri Ra Ri|| Sa Ri Ni Dha Pa || Ma Ga Ri Ga Ri||.


  1. Kamakshi nee padayugamu (28-Yadukula Kambhoji, Misra Chapu Taala)

Raga Yadukula Kambhoji is a Janya of the 28th Melakarta Harikambhodi

  • Arohana:S R₂ M₁ P D₂ Ṡ / Avarohaṇa: Ṡ N₂ D₂ P M₁ G₃ R₂ S
  • Svara-shtana: Shadja, Chathusruthi-Rshabha, Antara-Gandhara, Shuddha Madhyamā, Panchama, Chathusruthi- Dhaivata and Kaisiki-Nishada.]

The Svarajati in Yadukula-Kambhoji, in its commencing lines of Pallavi, is a poignant submission to the Devi, requesting her to drive away all his worries. Sri Shyama Shastry, here again, asserts his deep-rooted immense faith in his Mother (Amma); and pleads with her to rescue and to protect him.

Kamakshi nee padayugamu sthiramani ne namm-iyunnanu; naa chinta-lellanu deerch-amma

This is the longest of the three Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry, with the Pallavi followed by as many as eleven Svara-Sahitya-Caranas.

Addressing the Mother Kamakshi as :  Pavani Manini; Parvathi-Sakala-Janani; and, Sura-vrnda-Vinuta; Sri Shyama Shastry recites the beauty of Devi Kamakshi with a series of elegant Sanskrit phrases; Kamala-dala-sama-nayana; Kacha-jita-ghana-Sashidhara-vibha-vadana; Baala-kisa-laya-carana; and, Kunda-mukula-radaa.

Yadukula-Kambhoji, usually, is not much elaborated in the Raga-alapana. But, Sri Shyama Shastri makes a deft Prastara of it.

Moving away from the usual mode of singing this Raga only in the Mandra and Madhya Sthayis, Sri Shyama Shastry attempted introducing the Tisra-Sthayi up to Madhyamā.

Here, again, the different sections of the Svarajati commence on its Raga-Chaya-Svaras: Sa, Ri, Pa, Dha and Tara Sa. The Music of the Svarajati is mostly in Mandra-Sthayi and Madhya-Sthayi; and, some lines, towards the end, go up to Tara-Sthayi.

The Caranas are systematically arranged in the raising order of the pitch, keeping in tune with the emotional content of the Carana. This progression simulates the Alapana-Paddathi, moving from low to high

The first two Caranas are set in Madhya-Sthayi-Shadja. The next three Caranas commence with the Svaras ‘Ri’, ‘Ga’ and ‘Ma’.

The three Caranas that follow begin with ‘Pa’.

The ninth and the tenth Caranas start with the Svara ‘Dha’.

And, the eleventh and the last Carana commences with Tara-Sthayi-Shadja.


The Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati has many instances of Jaru-Gamakas (slides) as well as the graceful Pratyahata- Gamaka, which is a characteristic of the Raga

[Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi Thanks to Sri RSR)]

Smt. Sharadambal comments

This Svarajati is a lengthy one with eleven Caranas in all the versions of the published books; and also in the HW of Shyama Shastri II; but in SSP of Subbarama Diksitar there are only 10 Caranas.

In this Svarajati also the starting Svaras of the Caranas are in the ascending order. This Raga has only five Svaras in the Arohana [Sa Ri Ma Pa  Dha], so more than one Caranas start on the same Svara

There are two Caranas starting on the Svaras Shadja Rsabha and Dhaivata; and three on Panchama

There is only one Carana each starting on the Svara Madhyamā and Tara Shadja. The Nyasa Svaras of the Caranas are mostly ‘Ga’ and ‘Ri’ and the Caranas either end as `Sa-Ri-Ga’, `Ri-Ma-Ga’, `Dha-Pa-Ma-ga’, `Pa-Ma-ga-Ri’, `Ga-Ri,-Ma-Ga-Ga-Ri’ and `Dha-Pa/Ga-Ri’

Only one Carana i.e. the 9th one ends on the Svara Dha as `Ni-Dha –Pa-Dha

In the first seven Carana Svaras  the melodic movement in the Mandra Sthayi touches ‘Mandra Pa’ and the upper limit only increases gradually as `Ma’, `Dha’, `Ni’ and `Sa’.

In the eighth Carana alone the lower limit happens to be `Madhya Sa‘ ; and in the next three Carana Svaras also `Mandra Pa’ is included in the Svara Sancharas.

The last Carana Svara gives the climax of the Raga.


In the Svarajati in Yadukula-kambhôji Raga, Svaras are sung in two octaves.

Here is an instance in the fifth Svara ‘PaPaDhaDhaSa /PaPaDhaDhaSa’.

We see the Erra-jaru-Gamaka also in this Svara combination.

In a similar way, different patterns of Svaras are also sung in two octaves with an upward glide.

There are Svaras sung in two octaves with a downward glide also.

Here both the Jarus are found: p d r S | \ ; m p d P || – 8th Svara

Prathyahaþa Gamaka, which is another characteristic Gamaka of Yadukula-kambhôji raga, is found in some places.

The finishing Svaras of the Carana- Svaras before taking up the Pallavi is interesting to note.

In many Svaras we find Svaras in all the three octaves occurring as finishing Svaras.

The sixth Svara finishes as – P | Dha-Sa-R-iMa-Pa-Dha-Dha | Sa, Pa|| Ri Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga||.

In the eighth Svara we find the ending as: [ p d | r S ; ] [ m p | d p ; ] [ m g || + [S , ]

In the ninth Caranas the last two Avartas cover the three octave Svaras as ‘Ga-Ri-Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa-Ma | Ga-Ri-Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa-Dha ||

Lalita Parameshvari


In the Next Part we shall talk about

The Varnas composed by Sri Shyama Shastry



The Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet


Posted by on August 3, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri


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Discussions, Debates and Arguments: Ancient India – Part Two

 Continued from Part One

 Vaada, Jalpa and Vitanda


Vaada is a debate between two persons of equal standing. The term Vaada by itself means a theory, doctrine or thesis. In the debate, the proponent who puts forward arguments in support of his doctrine (Vaada) is termed as Vadin. The opponent who refutes that theory through his counter-arguments is termed as Prati-vadin. Unlike in Samvada, there is no teacher-taught relationship here; nor is it a discourse. 

Ideally, both the parties to the Vaada should have mutual regard, respecting each other’s learning and status; and should participate with an open mind in order to explore various dimensions of the subject on hand; to examine it thoroughly by applying the accepted norms of logic and reasoning (Tarka), supported by passages from  texts of undisputed authority (Sabda Pramana). The principal aim of a wholesome Vaada is to resolve the conflict; and, to establish ‘what is true’. The proceedings of the Vaada should be characterized by politeness, courtesy and fair means of presenting the arguments. You might call it a healthy discussion. 

Vatsayana in his commentary Nyāya Bhāya, says that congenial debate (Anuloma Sambasha) takes place when the opponent is not wrathful or malicious; but, is learned , wise, eloquent and patient  ; is well versed in the art of persuasion ; and, is gifted with sweet speech. 

As regards the benefits (Sambasha prashamsa or prayojana)  of such peaceful and congenial debates  : If a learned person debates with another scholar, both versed in the same subject, it would increase the depth of their knowledge, clear misapprehensions, if any, and lead them to  find certain minor details which hitherto might have escaped their attention . It was said: Vade Vade jayate tattvabodhah – Truth emerges out of debates – Besides, it would heighten their zeal to study further; and bring happiness to both.   

But, in cases where two scholars hold contrary views, the Vadin and Prati-vadin will each try very hard to establish the doctrine which he believes is true; and to convince the other to accept its veracity through fair and effective presentation and arguments. At the same time, each is willing to understand and appreciate the arguments of the other; and accept any merit they might find in it. In case, one is in doubt or unable to respond  satisfactorily , one can take a break to re-group his position or to re-examine the issue to see whether he can refute the opponent’s argument more effectively or put up a sounder defense.

And, if one is convinced that the doctrine and the argument presented by the opponent is valid, he adopts it with grace.   And, at the end, one of the two might be proven wrong; or both could be right.  In any case, they accept the outcome of the debate, whatever be it; and, part their ways without rancor. 


The Buddhist text Milinda Panha (The Questions of King Milinda) dated between second and first century BCE is said to be a record of the conversations that took place between the Indo-Greek king Menander I Soter  (who is said to have ruled over the regions of Kabul and Punjab) and the Buddhist monk Nagasena. 

[Menander (Milinda), originally a general of Demetrius, is probably the most successful Indo-Greek king, and the conqueror of a vast territory. The finds of his coins are the most numerous and the most widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. From at least the 1st century AD, the “Menander Mons“, or “Mountains of Menander”, came to designate the mountain chain at the extreme east of the Indian subcontinent, today’s Naga Hills and Arakan, as indicated in the Ptolemy world map of the 1st century.  

Minander had expanded his kingdom into Gangetic plains, where Buddhism was flourishing. He is reputed to have been a secular King , who protected the beliefs of his Greek and Buddhist subjects.

Menander is remembered in Buddhist literature (the Milinda Panha) for his conversations with the Buddhist elder Monk Nagasena. According to Milinda –panha, the King Milinda carefully listens to Nagasena’s teachings; and, at the end of each discourse exclaims ‘Very good, Bhante* Nagasena’.

[*Bhante (Sanskrit: Bhavanta) is a respectful title used to address elder Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition. The term literally means “Venerable Sir’.]

Sagala , the city in which King Milinda met the Bhikku Nagasena is identified with Sialkot . The Jatakas  mention : There is , in the country of the Yonakas , a great center of trade , a city that is called Sagala, situated in a delightful country, abounding in parks , groves , lakes and tanks ; a paradise of rivers, woods and mountains.

Source : Greeks and Buddhism: Historical Contacts in the Development of a Universal Religion by Demetrios Th. Vassiliades ]

Milinda panha

At the outset, Nagasena remarks that the debate they would be having would be one between two wise men; and it would not be a debate for the King.

Then, King Menander enquirers as to the distinction between the two. 

Monk Nagasena explains:   

When scholars debate, your Majesty, there is summing up and unraveling of a theory, convincing and conceding; there is also defeat, and yet the scholars do not get angry at all.   

When the Kings debate, your Majesty, they state their thesis, and if anyone differs from them, they order him punished, saying ‘Inflict punishment upon him’. 

Thus, in a good debate there could be defeat or censure or clincher (Nigraha-sthana) but no animosity.

[This debate is justly praised for the incisive questions asked by Menander; and, it is regarded by the Buddhists as equal in value to their canonical scriptures.

It is not certain whether Menander was  converted to Buddhism; but, he seemed to have taken a deep interest in it. Some of his coins show a wheel, similar to the Buddhist Chakra. Plutarch reports that after Menander’s death his ashes were distributed to all cities of his kingdom where monuments were then constructed to contain them—a kind of commemoration which was in tune with Buddhist practice.]

milinda nagasena

 [Dr. Sangeetha Menon, in her scholarly article, though she writes about Savāda, she is actually referring to Vada:

(Sa)vāda, is meant to lead to transforming experiences, in the process of which attempts are made jointly to (i) ascertain what is true knowledge, (ii) to understand new ideas, and,  (iii) to understand the nature of the inquirer herself/himself.

(Sa) vāda plays a central role in understanding Indian philosophy as well as Indian psychology. It has references not only to logical and epistemological methods but also to states of mind which are important in the discussion about the primal nature of self. Hence, the discussions on metaphysical and ontological issues are always interrelated to understanding ethical, axiological, aesthetic and spiritual issues. There is a constant attempt to reconcile and integrate different experiences, and the existence of contradictions so as to generate worldviews based on an understanding of life with answers for fundamental questions about self-identity, nature of world, creation, purpose of life, nature of knowledge, value systems etc.

Apart from the content of the dialogue, the process of dialogue plays an important role in contributing to the well-being of the partners involved. It gives total and one-time attention to how world views are formed, how mental and physical discipline are significant to conceive an idea, how way of living is connected with the self-identity of the inquirer.

Being and Wellbeing In Upanishadic Literature  by Dr. Sangeetha Menon ]



Nyaya Sutra in its First Book enumerates the steps or the categories (padartha) of the methods (Vadopaya) for structuring the argument and for presentation of the subject under debate, while the rest of the four Books expand on these steps. The Vada-marga (the stages in the course of a debate) is classified under sixteen steps: 

  • 1) Pramana (the means of knowledge);
  • 2) Prameya (the object of right knowledge);
  • 3)  Samsaya (creating doubt or misjudgment );
  • 4) Prayojana (purpose);
  • 5) Drshtanta  (familiar example);
  • 6) Sidhanta (established  tenet or principle);
  • 7) Avayava (an element of syllogism);
  • 8) Tarka ( reasoned argument);
  • 9) Niranaya (deduction or determination of the question); 
  • 10) Vada (discussion to defend or to arrive at the truth);
  • 11) Jalpa (wrangling or dispute to secure a win );
  • 12) Vitanda (quibble or mere attack);
  • 13) Hetvabhasa (fallacy, erratic  contrary , ill-timed challenges);
  • 14) Chala (misleading or willfully misinterpreting the words);
  • 15) Jati (futile objections founded on similarities or otherwise) ;and
  • 16) Nigrahaslhana (disagreement in principle or  no purpose in arguing further or the point nearing  defeat). 


These sixteen steps are meant to ascertain and establish ‘what is true’ (yathartha).The first four steps deal, mainly, with logic; while the latter seven perform the function of preventing and eliminating the errors. Among the first fou; Pramana with its four reliable means of obtaining knowledge is of cardinal importance [Pratyaksha (perception), Anumana (inference), Upamana (comparison) and Sabda (reliable verbal testimony)].

As said earlier, these sixteen categories are discussed in detail in four sections of the Nyaya Sutra.  The Nyāya Sūtra (verse 1.1.2) declares that its goal is to study and describe the attainment of liberation from wrong knowledge, faults and sorrow, through the application of above sixteen categories of perfecting knowledge.

duḥkha-janma-pravṛttidoṣa-mithyājñānānām uttarottarāpāye tadanantarā pāyāt apavargaḥ (1.1.2: )


Nyaya Sutra (1.2.1) – (vāda-lakṣaṇam) states that Vaada, the good or honest debate, is constituted by the following characteristics:

 1. Establishment of the thesis and refutation of the counter thesis should be based upon adequate evidence or means of knowledge (pramana) as well as upon proper reasoning (tarka). Pramana, the valid knowledge, is defined as the cognition of the objects as they actually are, free from misapprehension (tatha bhuta rtha jnanam hi pramanam uchyate); and, anything other than that is invalid A-pramana or Bhrama – the cognition of objects as they are not (atha bhuta rtha jnanam hi apramanam). Pramana stands both for the valid -knowledge, and for the instrument or the means by which such valid knowledge is obtained.

2. The conclusion should not entail contradiction with analytical or ‘accepted doctrine’; 

3.  Each side should use the well-known five steps (syllogism) of the demonstration (Sthapana) explicitly.

4.  They should clearly recognize a thesis to be defended and a counter thesis to be refuted.

(pramāṇa-tarka-sādhanopālambhaḥ siddhāntāviruddhaḥ pañcāvayavopapannaḥ pakṣapratipakṣaparigrahaḥ vādaḥ 1.21 )


Nyaya Sutra (1.1.32- avayava-uddeśasūtram; and 1.1.39- nigamana-lakṣaṇam) lays down a five-part syllogism for proper presentation of the elements of the arguments (Vaada).  It states that any valid argument must include the following five factors, as they help to establish the object of right knowledge. These five steps also combine in themselves the four means of cognition: viz., Pratyaksha (perception), Anumana (inference), Upamana (comparison) and Sabda (reliable verbal testimony):

1. Pratijna – the proposition or the enunciation of the object – that needs to be proved in the light of the approved texts (Sabda)

2. Hetu – the reason or evidence through the vehicle of inference (Anumana); it furnishes a means to prove the proposition;

3. Udaharana – the citation of examples (well recognized, universally acceptable and independently verifiable) that illustrates (Pratyaksha) the  common principle underlying the subject in question and the example  . It provides the supporting reason or evidence;

4. Upanaya – the application (validity of the example cited- Upamana) evidencing that present thesis is essentially similar to example cited.


5. Niranaya – the conclusion eliminates all plausible contrary conclusions against the proposition; and re-states the proposition or the thesis as proved and established beyond doubt – derived by bringing together all the four means of right knowledge (proposition, reason, example and application)

 ( pratijñā-hetū-udāharaṇa-upanaya-nigaman āni avayavāḥ -1.1.32)

 ( hetvapadeśāt pratijñāyāḥ punarvacanam nigamanam- 1.1.39)

Pratijna is enunciation of the thesis that is sought to be proved – (e.g. Purusha is eternal). Sthapana is establishing the thesis through a process employing reason (hetu), example (drstantha) , application of the example( upanaya)  and conclusion (nigamana) — (e.g. the statement – Purusha is eternal- has to be supported by valid reasoning (hetu)- because he is uncreated; by examples (drstantha) – just as the sky (Akasha ) is uncreated and it is eternal ;  by showing similarity between the subject of the example and the subject of the thesis (Upanaya) – just as Akasha is uncreated a , so the Purusha is uncreated and eternal : finally establishing the thesis (Nigamana) –therefore Purusha is eternal.

Prativada is refuting the proposition or thesis put forth by the proponent. Thus when the proposition of the thesis Sthapana is Purusha is eternal, the   Prati-stapana, the counter proposition, would be Purusha is non-eternal; because it is perceivable by senses and the jug which is perceivable by senses is non-eternal; Purusha is like the jug; therefore Purusha is non-eternal


At the commencement of the Vaada, the Judge or the arbiter (Madhyastha) lays down rules of the Vaada. The disputants are required to honor those norms and regulations. They are also required to adhere to permissible devices; and not to breach certain agreed limits (Vada maryada). For instance; in the case of debates where the Vadin and Prati-vadin both belong to Vedic tradition it was not permissible to question the validity of the Vedas or the existence of  God and the Soul. And, any position taken during the course of Vaada should not contradict the Vedic injunctions.

In the case of the Vada where one belongs to Vedic tradition and the other to Non-Vedic traditions (say, Jaina or Bauddha) they had to abide by the rules and discipline specifically laid down by the Madyastha.

As mentioned earlier, according to Nyaya Sutra (1.2.1) Vaada comprises defense and attack (Sadhana and Upalambha). One’s own thesis is defended by means of genuine criteria of knowledge (Pramana) and the antithesis (opponent’s theory) is refuted by negative dialectics of Tarka (logic). But, when defense or attack is employed excessively, merely for the sake of scoring a win, then there is the risk of the debate degenerating into Jalpa.

It is said; Vaada and Jalpa are contrasting counterparts. In Vaada, the thesis is established by Pramana-s; and the anti-thesis is disproved by Tarka or different set of Pramana-s. Whereas in Jalpa, the main function is negation; the Pramana-s do not have much use here.  Jalpa tries to win the argument by resorting to quibbling, such as Chala, Jati and Nigrahasthana. None of these can establish the thesis directly, because their function is negation. But, indirectly , they help to disprove anti-thesis. Thus, Jalpa in general is the dialectical aid for Vada (Nyaya Sutra: 4.2.50-51

[It is said; at times, the Madhyastha might allow or overlook ‘Jalpa-like’ tactics ‘for safeguarding the interests of truth, ‘just as a fence of thorny hedges is used to protect the farms’.]

It is at this stage in the Vaada that the Madyastha might  intervene  to ensure that the participants, especially the one who is at the verge of defeat (Nigraha-sthana) do not resort to tricks such as quibbling (Chala) , false rejoinder (Jati)  etc. 

The Madyastha may even call off the Vada; and award to the candidate who in his view performed better. 

The Vada could be also treated as inconclusive (savyabhicara) and  brought to an end if there is no possibility of reaching a fair decision; or the very subject to be discussed is disputed (Viruddha); or when arguments stray away from the subject that is slated for discussion (prakarana-atita) ; or when the debate prolongs beyond a reasonable (Kalatita).

In this context, it is said the debate could be treated as concluded and one side declared defeated: a) When a proponent misunderstands his own premises and their implications; b) when the opponent cannot understand the proponent’s argument; c) when either party is confused and becomes helpless; d) when either is guilty of faulty reasoning or pseudo-reasoning (hetvabhasa); because, no one should be allowed to win using a pseudo-reason; or e) when one cannot reply within a reasonable time. 

When one party is silenced in the process, the thesis stays as proven.  Hence, in Vaada, there is no explicit ‘defeat’ as such. The sense of defeat (Nigraha-sthana) becomes apparent when there are contradictions in logical reasoning (hetvabhasa); and the debate falls silent.

And, at the end, one of the two might be proven wrong; or both could be right.  In any case, when one is convinced that the doctrine and the argument presented by the opponent are valid, he adopts it with grace. Ideally, whatever might be the outcome of a Vaada, it should be accepted; and, both – Vadin and Prati-vadin  should part their ways without rancor.

shankara mandana misar

[The most celebrated Vaada is said to be the one that took place between the young monk Sri Sankara and the distinguished Mimamsa scholar, householder, Mandana Misra.  Considering the young age of the opponent, Mandana Misra generously offered Sri Sankara the option to select the Madyastha (Judge) for the ensuing debate. Sri Sankara, who had great respect for the righteousness of Mandana Misra, chose his wife Bharathi Devi, a wise and learned person.  

During the course of the lengthy debate when Mandana Misra seemed to be nearing Nigrahasthana (clincher) Bharathi Devi raised questions about marital obligations.  Sri Sankara being a monk had, of course, no knowledge in such matters. He requested for and obtained a ‘break’ to study and to understand the issue. It is said; he returned after some time equipped with the newly acquired knowledge, renewed the Vaada and won it. Thereafter, Mandana Misra and Bharathi Devi accepted Sri Sankara as their teacher, with grace and respect.] 


[Please click here for a writing about Vada-vidhi (method of argumentation), a treatise about the methods to mould flawless logic, ascribed to the celebrated Buddhist scholar Vasubandhu (4th to 5th century CE). Vāda-vidhi is the only work of Vasubandhu on logic which has survived. Vasubandhu contributed to Buddhist logic and is held to have been the origin of formal logic in the Indian tradition. His text paved the way for the later Buddhist scholars like Dignaga and Dharmakirti, in the field of logic.

Vasubandhu’s methods for distinguishing fallacious arguments from valid ones rely heavily on his theory of cognition.

He describes a number of logical fallacies, which he classifies into three types: reversed, incorrect or unreal, and contradictory. He then moves on from the trivial examples to complex ones. Vasubandhu’s formal system of argumentation is simple and practical, and especially well-suited for the quick back-and-forth of the verbal debates that were very much in vogue in Vasubandhu’s day. He had a reputation for being an experienced, ferocious debater, with a sharp mind.

His ideas on cognition are quite interesting. The underlying principle in Vasubandhu’s treatise on logic is an unstated premise seemed to be that the objects in the argument structure have no independent existence. Instead, they only come into existence provisionally, when cognized. He further breaks down our process of cognition into direct perception, such as perceptions of pleasure, pain, sound, or sight, and inferred perception, such as the perception of a mountain as fire-possessing when it is observed to be smoke-possessing.

According to him : Knowledge through inference can be specified as an observation coming when the means-of-evidence is directly observed, and the invariable concomitance between it and what can be inferred is remembered. One does not occur unless something else is directly known. Otherwise there is no inference.

Vasubandhu points out, we can never be absolutely certain about anything, because we can only make inferences based upon our perceptions, which can be misleading, and memory, which is unreliable. He goes on to give examples of problems with cognition, such as a false cognition-of-silver arising from looking at mother-of-pearl, and cognition of objects that do not exist, such as a luminous circle that is perceived when a torch is hurled in an arc.

This method makes the example and counter-example so vital to the argument. Any thesis can be disproved by showing that the proposed invariable concomitance is not, in fact, invariable.

 The last part of Vāda-vidhi is devoted to methods that can be used to distinguish logical fallacies from valid arguments.

For more , please read, ]



As per the classification made by Akshapada Gautama in his Nyaya Sutra (1.2.2- jalpa-lakṣaṇam), while Vaada is a ‘good’  or congenial debate (anuloma sambasha or Sandhya sambasha), Jalpa along with Vitanda is treated as ‘bad’ or hostile  argument (Vigrahya sambasha).

Jalpa is described as debate between two rivals who are desperate to win, by fair or foul means. It is characterized as clever or tricky disputation and a quarrelsome verbal fight that is often noisy.

Unlike Vaada which is an honest debate aiming to ascertain ‘what is true’, Jalpa is an argument where each strives to impose his thesis on the other. The question of ascertaining the ‘truth’ does not arise here. Each party to the Jalap is already convinced that his thesis is true and perfect; while that of the opponent is false and totally wrong. Each is not prepared to understand and appreciate the rival argument; but, is over anxious to ensure the opponent is ‘defeated’ and is made to accept his thesis. Even while it   becomes apparent  that one might be on the verge of defeat , he will not accept the position;  instead , he will  try to  devise a strategy or  will take a ‘break’  to gather  some material or to  concoct  a fallacious argument  to evade defeat and , if possible, to prove the other wrong.

Both the Vadin and the Prati-vadin work hard to establish their thesis through direct and indirect proofs. In Jalpa, the Pramana-s, the means of valid knowledge do not have much role to play. The arguments in Jalpa relay more on negation or negative tactics, such as: discrediting the rival argument, misleading the opponent or willfully misinterpreting rival’s explanations. The main thrust of the arguments in Jalpa is not so much as to establish the thesis directly, as to disprove or refute the rival’s thesis, through circumvention.

The reason why Jalpa is labeled as tricky is that apart from traditional means of proving one’s thesis and for refuting the opponent’s thesis, the debater can use elusive and distracting devices such as: quibbling or hair-splitting (Chala); inappropriate rejoinders (Jati), and any kind of ruse that tries to outwit and disqualify the opponent (nigrahasthana),    circumvention, false generalization and showing the unfitness of the opponent to argue; without, however, establishing his own thesis.

 (yathoktopapannaḥ chala-jāti-nigrahasthāna-sādhanopālambhaḥ jalpaḥ -1.2.2)

Nyaya Sutra gives a fairly detailed treatment to the negative tactics of Jalpa. Nyaya Sutra (1.2.11-14; 5.1.1- 39; and 5.2.1-25) enumerates three kinds of quibbling (Chala); twenty-four kinds of inappropriate rejoinders (Jati); and twenty-two kinds of clinchers or censure-situations (Nigrahasthana).

 (jāti-lakṣaṇam —  sādharmyavaidharmyābhyām pratyavasthānaṃ jātiḥ -1.2.18)

(nigrahasthāna-lakṣaṇamn – vipratipattiḥ apratipattiḥ ca nigrahasthānam-1.2.19)

 (nigrahasthānabahutva-sūtram — tadvikalpāt jātinigrahasthānabahutvam-1.2.20)

It is said; such measures or tricks to outwit the opponent are allowed in Jalpa arguments, since the aim of the debate is to score a victory. However, those maneuvers are like double-edged swords; they cut both ways. Over-indulgence with such tactics is, therefore, rather dangerous.    One runs the risk of being censured, decaled unfit and treated as defeated, if the opponent catches him at his own game.


Quibbling (Chala) is basically an attempt to misinterpret the meaning of an expression (Vak-chala); or, improperly generalize its meaning (samanya-chala); or by conflation of an ordinary use of a word with its metaphorical use (upacara-chala), with a view to derange the argument.

(chala-lakṣaṇam —  vacana-vighātaḥ artha-vikalpopapattyā chalam – 1.2.10)

(chala-bheda-uddeśa-sūtram – – tat trividham – vākchalam sāmānyacchalam upacāracchalam ca iti- 1.2.11)

For instance; when one says: the boy has a nava kambala (= new) blanket; the other would look horrified and exclaim:  why would a little boy need nava (=nine) blankets !

And, when one says: he is a hungry man (= purusha) , the other would generalize Man – Purusha as ‘ humans’ , and ask why are all the human beings hungry? and, all at the same time?

Similarly, term ‘mancha’ ordinarily means a cot; but, its metaphorical meaning could be platform or dais or the people sitting on it. The opponent would wonder ‘why on earth , would the couple choose to sleep on a public platform , while many persons are already seated on it ?’.

There are many other similar words, such as:  Mantapa which normally is understood as an open-hall; but, its etymological meaning could be ‘one who drinks scum of boiled rice (Ganji)’. And, the term Kushala is generally used to denote an expert or a highly skilled person (pravina); but, its etymology analysis would lead to one who is ‘good at cutting grass (kush). And, similarly, Ashva-gandha is literally ‘smell of the horse; but in common usage it refers to a medicinal herb.

A mischievous quibbler would deliberately twist the meaning of such words; take them out of the context; and, try to distract and confuse the his rival 

Improper rejoinder or futile rejoinder (Jati) is generally through falsifying the analogy given; and ridiculing it.

For instance; when one says: sound is impermanent because it is a product, such as a pot; the other would ignore the ‘impermanent’ property of the analogy (pot), but would pick up a totally un-related property of the analogy (say, the hollow space or emptiness in the pot) and say that a pot is filled with space (akasha) which is eternal, then how could you say that a pot is impermanent? And, further pot is not audible either.

Censures or the point at which the Jalpa could be force-closed (Nigrahasthana)  by pointing out that the opponent is arguing against his own thesis  ; or , that he is willfully abstracting the debate; or to his inappropriate ways. 


There are also some statements that defend the Jalpa-way of arguments.

One reason adduced for allowing in the debate the diverse interpretations of the terms is said to be the flexibility that the Sanskrit language has, where compound-words can be split in ways to suit one’s argument; where words carry multiple meanings; and, where varieties of contextual meanings can be read into with change in structure of phrases, sentences and context of topics.   

And, the other is that the ancient texts in Sutra format – terse, rigid and ambiguous – can be read and interpreted in any number of ways. Each interpretation can be supported by one or the other authoritative text. There is therefore, plenty of scope for legitimate disputation.

It is said; that Jalpa way of arguments is at times useful as a defensive measure to safeguard the real debate (Vada),just as the thorns and branches are used for the protection of the (tender) sprout of the seed’.

The other reason is that it would be in the interest of an aspiring debater to be familiar with divisive tactics; and, also the ways and means of deflecting them.

It is also said that Jalpa-tactics might come in handy to a novice or an inexperienced debater, as a ploy . If such a person, without adequate skills,   enters into a debate, he might not be able to come up with proper rejoinder at the right time to safeguard his thesis. In such a crisis, he may get away with such tricky debate. In any case, if the opponent is not quick witted, the (novice) debater may gain some time to think of the proper reason. Thus, he may even win the debate and the sprout of his knowledge would be protected.

However, this justification was not altogether acceptable.


The next question would be why would a debater resort to such tactics as quibbling and dishonest rejoinder?  Or why would anyone waste his time and effort in learning those tactics?

Bimal Krishna Matilal in his The Character of Logic in India explains:

‘ Uddyotakara, in the beginning of his commentary on chapter five of the Nyaya Sutra explains that it is always useful to learn about these bad tricks, for at least one should try to avoid them in one’s own debate and identify them in the opponent’s presentation in order to defeat him. Besides, when faced with sure defeat, one may use a trick, and if the opponent by chance is confused by the trick, the debater will at least have the satisfaction of creating a doubt instead of courting sure defeat.

This last point was, however, a very weak defense; and not convincing at all , as the Buddhist scholar Dharmakirti (c. 600-660) elaborately pointed out in his book on debate, Vada-nyaya.’


The crucial difference between Vada and Jalpa  appears to be that in the case of Vada the ‘truth’ is established by positive evidence; and, the invalid knowledge (A-pramana) masquerading as a good reason (that is, a hetvabhasa) is detected and eliminated. No one is really defeated and the truth is established.

In the case of Jalpa, it mainly depends on negation (which is non-committal) and on effective refutation of the proponent’s argument. There is no earnest effort to build positive irrefutable proof. And, the fear of defeat overhangs the whole proceedings.

 The scholarly opinion is that the rejection or refutation of a position may not always amount to the assertion of a counter-position. And, determination and establishment of truth depends upon positive evidence; and not merely on refutation.




In Akshapada’s Nyaya-Sutra (1.2.3), Vitanda is classified as a ’bad’ or hostile argument (Vigrahya sambasha) or wrangling, which does not allow the opponent to establish his  argument . In terms of merit; it is the worst; it is rated inferior to Jalpa, which also employs such trickery as quibbling and illegitimate rejoinder. While Jalpa tries to argue for the success of its thesis by whatever means, Vitanda does not seriously attempt to put up any counter-thesis. That is because, its debater has no thesis of his own to put forward.

In other words, the debater here tries to ensure his victory simply by refuting or demolishing the thesis put forward by the other side, by browbeating or misleading or ridiculing the opponent. The whole purpose of its exercise seems to be to prove the opponent wrong and incompetent; and to confuse and humiliate him.  Vitanda is therefore termed as a destructive debate.

(vitaṇḍā-lakṣaṇam — saḥ pratipakṣa-sthāpanā-hīnaḥ vitaṇḍā- 1.2.3 )

Vitanda is a ruthless debate, the major part of which is spent in denying the opponent’s views, in discrediting him or in quarrelling. Vaitandika, the one who adopts Vitanda style of argument, might at times pick up the opponent’s thesis (though he himself might not believe in it) and argue in its favor just to demonstrate that the opponent is not doing a ‘good job’; and rebuke him saying that his thesis might not be after all so bad, but he made it look worse by making a terrible mess of it.

Vaitandika makes it a point to disagree with the other, no matter what the other says. It is a way of saying: you are wrong, not because your statement by itself is wrong; but, it is wrong because you said it. He tries to effectively undermine the credibility of the opponent; and demonstrate to him that he is neither competent nor qualified to discuss the subtleties of the logic. Then he would shout:” go back and study for one more year at the feet of your teacher; you have done enough for today”.

What the Vaitandika says might be irrational or illogical; but, he tries to effectively silence the opponent. In such type of debates either ‘valid knowledge’ or ‘truth’ has no place.

In a Vitanda, where both the parties employ similar tactics, the debate would invariably get noisy and ugly. The Madhyastha or the Judge plays a crucial role in regulating a Vitanda. He has the hard and unenviable task of not merely controlling the two warring debaters and their noisy supporters, but also to rule on what is ‘Sadhu’ (permissible) or ‘A-sadhu’ (not permissible) and what is true (Sat) what is just a bluff (A-sat). And, when one debater repeatedly oversteps and breaches the accepted code of conduct, the Madyastha might have to disqualify him and award the debate to the other; or, he may even disqualify both the parties and scrap the event declaring it  null and void.


Vatsayana, the commentator of the Nyaya Sutra finds the Vitanda debate irrational and rather pointless. He observes that it is unfair that a debater is simply allowed to get away with irresponsible statements, particularly when he is neither putting forward a thesis nor is defending one. In fact, most of the times, he has no position of his own, but attacks rabidly whatever the other debater utters. This is a travesty and abuse of the platform.

According to Vatsayana, the format of Vitanda is totally wrong. Vatsayana insists, whatever might be the tactics adopted by Vaitandika, he must be forced to specify his stand. And, when the opponent states his thesis, the Vaitandika must be asked either to accept it or oppose it.  If he concedes, the debate is virtually over. And, if he argues against the thesis, he must argue logically, in which case he gives up his status of Vaitandika (refuter). And, if he does not choose either of the options then, his rationale should be questioned; or, the debate be brought to an end, if need be, by disqualifying him.

Vatsayana’s observations and recommendations are sound and healthy. But, sadly, they were hardly acted upon.


Sources and References:

A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Schools

By Mahamahopadyaya Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana

The Character of Logic in India Edited  by Bimal Krishna Matilal, Jonardon Ganeri, Heeraman Tiwari

The Nyâya Sûtras of Gotama by Nandalal Sinha

Hindu Philosophy  by Theos Bernard

Categories of Cognition and Proof – Shodhganga

A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1 By Surendranath Dasgupta

The Birth of Meaning in Hindu Thought  by  David B. Zilberman

History of Indian philosophy: The philosophy of the Veda and of …, Volume 1 By Erich Frauwallner


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Discussions, Debates and Arguments: Ancient India- Part One

Discussions, Debates    and Arguments:  Samvada – Vaada – Jalpa and Vitanda

 Part One

In the Indian traditions, including the Buddhist and Jain traditions, four formats of discussions, debates and arguments are described. These are named as:  Samvada, Vaada, Jalpa and Vitanda. The merit and esteem of each of these types of discussions is graded in terms of the honesty of their purpose, the quality of debate, the decorum and the mutual regard of the participants.

Of these four forms of discussions, Samvada is regarded the noblest type of dialogue that takes place, in all earnestness, between an ardent seeker of truth and an enlightened teacher. Most of the ancient Indian texts are in this format.

While Samvada is a discourse or imparting of teaching, the other three – Vaada, Jalpa and Vitanda – are clever and structured (Tantrayukthi) debates and arguments between rivals.  

Let’s talk of  Nyaya (well-organized logical ways of ascertaining the true nature of the objects and subjects of human knowledge) and Samvada on one part; and, the debates/arguments on the other. 


Nyaya Sutra

As is well known, there was a long and a time-honored tradition in ancient India where philosophers and thinkers met to discuss metaphysical issues over which there were multiple views. There are detailed narrations of such discussions, debates and dialogues recorded in Chandogya-Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Prashna-Upanishad.

The other early texts such as Aitareya Brahmana , Kathopanishad  and others  use terms  like : tarka (reasoning); Vada (debate); Yukti (sustained arguments), Prameya (object of knowledge); Pramana (proof); Nirnaya (ascertainment)  etc. which later became the principal terminologies of the Nyaya School. It is also said that the idioms of inquiry (Anveshiki) dealing with the theory of reasons (Hetu-vidya or Hetu-shastra) were mentioned in Manu-samhita and Panini’s Astadhyayi.

Although the intellectual debates were quite common during the Upanishad-times, and even later, there was perhaps no well laid out theory or an approved structure for conduct of various types of debates.   It is said; it was during the Sramana and the Buddhist period that debates became really very serious.

As Bimal Krishna Matilal observes (in The Character of Logic in India):

.. The intellectual climate in India was bristling with controversy and criticism. At the center of controversy were certain dominant religious and ethical issues. Nothing was too sacred for criticism. Such questions as: “Is there a soul different from body?”; “Is the world (loka) eternal?”; ”What is the meaning, goal, or purpose of life?”; and, “Is renunciation preferable to enjoyment?” etc. were of major concern.  While teachers and thinkers argued about such matters, there arose a gradual awareness of the characteristics or patterns of correct, acceptable and sound reasoning. There were    also concerns to evolve the norms to distinguish sound reasoning from pseudo-reasoning (hetvabhasa) which is unacceptable. 

According to Dr. Benimadhab Barua, even among the Sramanas, the wandering monks, there were famed debaters who were “clever, subtle, and experienced in projecting controversies; hair-splitters who ruthlessly splintered into pieces the arguments of their adversaries”.

The debates tended to get more passionate, animated and even noisy.  Gradually, the notions of ‘good’ and acceptable debates took shape as distinct from wrong and ugly arguments. That gave rise to the development of a branch of study dealing with theories of reasoning and logic (Hetu-vidya or Hetu shastra). It was perhaps around the fifth century BCE that manuals came to be written for conduct of proper and successful debates (Tarka vidya or Vada vidya). Such manuals included instructions and learning methods for the guidance of aspiring debaters. The earliest known text of that genre was Tantra-yukti (structured argument) compiled perhaps in the sixth-fifth century BCE to systematize debates conducted in learned councils (Parishad). 

Debates and arguments then came to be recognized both as art of logical reasoning (Tarka-vidya) and science of causes (Hetu-shastra) following the path of a well-disciplined method of inquiry (ânvikŝiki) testing scriptural knowledge by further scrutiny. 

The monks and priests belonging to various Schools and sects were imparted training in Tarka–vidya: the art and skills of conducting impressive successful debates and disputations (Sambasha or Vada vidhi) in learned assemblies (parishad).

Apart from  methods of presenting arguments as per a logically structured format, the training modules included ways to stoutly defend ones thesis  by means of genuine criteria of knowledge (Pramana) and to attack the opponent’s thesis by means of indirect arguments (Tarka); estimating the strengths and weaknesses of arguments of either side; establishing one’s own points while setting aside those of the opponent.

They were also trained for handling different types of challenges, such as: how to vanquish a person of blazing fame; how to behave with a senior opponent; how to handle an aggressive and troublesome opponent; and,  how to conduct oneself in prestigious Parishads  , to influence the flow of debate and to impress the judges and the onlookers  etc.

These types of debates and arguments broadly came under the purview of Nyaya or Nyaya Shastra.

[The Charaka Samhita , a principal Ayurveda Text (dated around the second century), in its  third part, called Vimanasthana, along with other topics like training of a physician, ethics of medical practice, pathology, diet and nourishment, taste of medicines, etc.,  also  contains a discussion on the principles of debate.]


Nyaya, as a system,  is one among the six Darshanas (systems of Indian philosophy). It deals with well-organized logical ways of ascertaining the true nature of the objects and subjects of human knowledge (Pramana-Sastra).  Nyaya is also called Tarka-vidya (logic) and Vada-vidya or Vada’rtha (reasoned argument); and, is included among the fourteen principal branches of learning. 

Nyaya is founded on the belief that knowledge is not self-revealing; man must make effort to gain correct knowledge ; and, to abandon incorrect knowledge, through a systematic process. It asserts that the analytical way of Nyaya is the greatest protection to a young person whose intellect is still in the process of growth and is yet to attain equanimity. And, it is only by thorough examination of the modes and sources of correct knowledge that a thinking person can gain a clearer perspective of life. It asks each one to think for himself; and, not to tacitly accept beliefs handed down by the older generation. And, therefore, it instructs, the teachings that have come down to us through traditions must be critically examined before accepting them.

Vatsayana in his Nyāya Bhāya , Commentary on Nyaya Sutra (1.1.1) , asserts that the analytical investigation and examination (Anveshiki) of issues which bring clarity into the intellectual aspects of man’s life help him to attain freedom (moksha) from delusions and confusions in life. Nyaya which enables us to discern the true from the false is therefore regarded as Moksha-Sadhana the way to absolute freedom or liberation.

nirdeśe yathāvacanaṃ vigrahaḥ|
cārthe dvandvaḥ samāsaḥ|
pramāṇādīnāṃ tatvamiti śaiṣikī ṣaṣṭhī|
tatvasya jñānaṃ niḥśreyasasyādhigama iti ca karmaṇi ṣaṣṭhyau|
ta etāvanto vidyamānārthāḥ|
so ‘yamanavayavena tantrārtha uddiṣṭo veditavyaḥ/ NyS_1,1.1 /


Nyaya, in particular, also denotes a method or a scheme of logic employed to prove or to disprove a proposition through proper evidence (pramana). The employment of a Nyaya would become necessary when the subject discussed was either vague or was disputed; and when the other methods of reasoning were ineffective.

The Nyaya School was essentially logistic in its orientation. It tried to examine the sources and contents of valid knowledge. It built a logical link between the subject, the knower (pramata); the means or method of obtaining knowledge (pramana) ; and the object , the knowable (prameya) . In addition, it put forth analogy (Upama) as the fourth method.

Analogy (Upama), it is said, comprehensively includes in itself the other three methods. However, the main purpose of Upama is to illustrate. This  models attempts to represent something that which cannot be perceived. However, this Nyaya is like the finger; and, it is not the moon. Therefore , Analogy, the Upama has its own limitations; it could be brittle at times; and , if pressed too hard it might even crumble .

In its working method; Upama employs something that is already familiar , in order to explain certain concepts that are at once abstract and real. But, an analogy cannot be not perfect; as there cannot be complete identity between the  subject and the object.  Therefore, there  cannot be a perfect analogy; and, mere  argument is not evidence.

Which is to say; while the analogy or illustration is important, the more important than that is the validity of the argument, its  precision and its import. Therefore, there is always an element of inadequacy in the Upama . One has to strive to extract from the model what is called “a positive analogy”; or Samanya-guna a relevant factor that is common to both the subject and the object . The notion of transformation (Vivarta) is thus what one could call a logical construction.

Nonetheless, the value of these Nyayas consists in that they facilitate a passage from the observable to the actual ; and,  from the factual to the theoretical .

[ Prof. Surendranath Dasgupta explains in A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1 (p.406):

Pramana in Sanskrit signifies the means and movement by which valid knowledge is acquired Pramata means the subject or the knower who cognizes, Prama – the result of pramana i.e., right knowledge, knowledge of reality or valid cognition, prameya – the object of knowledge and pramanya – the validity of knowledge acquired.  The verbal root ma of these terms derived with the prefix pra, means also to measure (apart from meaning to cognize) . Thus, what is to be measured is the prameya; and, that by which to measure is pramana.]

[In Sanskrit, the term Jnana stands for all kinds of knowledge – whether be it of truth or of falsehood. The term Prama, however, is used to designate only a true cognition (yatartha-jnana) as distinct from a false one (mithya-jnana). A Pramana is an active and a unique cause of Prama or knowledge. Pramā means ‘knowing an object as it is’: tadvati tat prakārā-anubhavaḥ  pramā.  The term  pramāṇis also  understood as- pramāyāḥ karaṇam, pramāṇam. Alternatively, yathārthā-anubhavah pramā – the actual experience is pramā.  To see a rope as rope is pramā. If we see a snake instead of the rope, it is apramā- ayathārtha-anubhavaḥ apramā.

The Samkhya and Yoga Schools of Indian philosophy accept three means of cognition, Pramanas: 

Pratyaksha : direct perception generated through sense organs – indriyārtha – sannikarṣajanya . That is,   when there is a contact between the senses and the object – jñānamakam pratyakṣam. Gautama defines Pratyakṣa as – akṣam akṣam pratityutpadyate iti pratyakṣam – meaning ‘knowledge born of sensory perception, such as eyes is pratyakṣaAnd. Pratyaksha is regarded as the basic (Mula) Pramana; because, the other pramānas such as Anumāna, Arthāpatti, Upamāna and śabda are dependent on it.

Anumana (inference) literally means knowledge gained  afterwards ; i.e. knowledge that ‘follows other knowledge’ –  jñāna-kāraka-jñānam.). In Anumāna, first the liṅga (minor primise) is seen, then by liṅga or hetu, the sādhya-sambandha-jñāna  or vyāpti-jñāna (invariable concomitant) takes place. This Sādhya (major primise) is known as anumiti. Thus, since this knowledge takes place after liṅga-darśana, this is known as Anumāna

And Sabda is verbal testimony , through scriptures. Bhartrhari asserts, the traditional knowledge (Agamawhich consists of the revealed (Sruti) or remembered (Smrti) scriptures cannot be set aside by inference, since they are more dependable than inference.


The Mimamsa School accepts six types of Pramanas: Pratyaksha, Anumana, Sabda, Upamana (analogy), Arthapatti (presumption) and Abhava (non-apprehension). 

The same set of six Pramanas is also stated by Vedanta. There are, of course, variations among these Schools regarding the specific understang of each of the Pramans.


Within Vyakarana, Bhartrhari in his Maha-bhashya-tika accepts three Pramanas: Pratyaksha (perception), Anumana (inference) and Agama or Sabda (scriptures). He argues that perception, at times, could be erroneous because of weakness or improper functioning of sensory organs. Some even think, he says, that inference is superior to perception. But he asserts that Agama or Sabda which consists of the revealed (Sruti) or remembered (Smrti) scriptures is a strong Pramana; and, it is more dependable than inference.

According to Bhartrhari, it is not justifiable to replace scriptures (Sabda) with inference particularly in non-empirical matters. He also says that philosophical views (Vada) cannot be independent of the scriptures. He argues that inference alone, without the steadying influence of the scriptures is an inadequate means of valid knowledge. In his Vakyapadiya (1.34), it is said: ‘whatever is inferred with great effort through clever reasoning can easily be put aside  by a much more clever reasoning or argument’.

yatnenānumito+apy arthaḥ kuśalair anumātṛbhiḥ / abhiyuktatarair anyair anyathaivopapādyate -VP.1.34

The words of the Rishis convey super-sensory knowledge that cannot be set aside by inference. Thus, Bhartrhari asserts that Dharma or right conduct cannot be determined by reasoning alone, without the guidance of the scriptural traditions. Even the knowledge which the sages possess has the scriptures for its reference (Vakyapadiya: 1.30). Thus, tor true knowledge, the support of the scriptures (Sabda) is essential.

na jāgamād ṛte dharmas tarkeṇa vyavatiṣṭhate /  ṛṣīṇām api yaj jñānaṃ tad apy āgamapūrvakam – VP.1.30

In this context, Bharthari says that the role of Vyakarana (Grammar) is very important,  as it helps  to safeguard the correct  transmission of the scriptural knowledge , and to assist the aspirant in realizing the the truth of the  revealed knowledge of  Sabda.]


The Sutra text attached to Nyaya School is the Nyaya Sutra ascribed to Akapāda Gautama (variously estimated between 6th-century BCE and 2nd-century CE). Nyaya Sutra treats mainly five subjects: Pramana (instruments or means of right knowledge); Prameya (the object of right knowledge); Vaada (debate or discussion); Avayava (the elements or steps of syllogism); and, Anya-matha-pariksha (review or examination of the doctrines of other Schools).

[Please click here for The Nyaya Sutras of Gotama; Translated by Mahamahopadhyaya Satish Chandra Vidyabhushan; Published by The Panini Office, Bhuvaneshvari Ashram, Bahadurganj, Allahabad – 1913 ]


While discussing Vaada, Nyaya Sutra talks about sixteen padarthas  (topics or categories ) involved in the development of the debate (Vada marga);  the four reliable means of obtaining valid knowledge (pramāa) viz.:

Pratyaksha (perception), Anumana (inference), Upamana (comparison) and Sabda (reliable testimony ); the five-part syllogism (Nyaya); the structure (vada vidhi); the ways of developing sound evidence (pramana); the logical reasoning (tarka) to support ones thesis which needs to be proved (Pratijna) and its object (nirnaya); the disciplined (anusasana) mode of presentation (vadopaya); and the exceptions (prthaka-prasthana), as also the limits or the ‘dos and don’ts’ (vada-maryada) of three formats of such debates.

(vāda-lakṣaṇam : pramāṇa-tarka-sādhanopālambhaḥ siddhāntā-viruddhaḥ pañcā-vayavopapannaḥ pakṣa-pratipakṣa-parigrahaḥ vādaḥNyS_1,2.1)

Gautama’s text was followed by commentaries; the first of which being Nyāya Bhāya by Vātsyāyana (c. 450–500 CE). The commentary by Vatsayana was followed the ones by the Nyāya-vārttika of Uddyotakāra (c. 6th–7th century); Tātparya-tīkā by Vācaspati Miśra (9th century); Tātparya-pariśuddhi by Udayana (10th century); Nyāya-mañjarī by Jayanta (10th century); Nyaya-sara by Bhasarvajna (10th century); and Tatva-chintamani by Gangesa (12th  century). These commentaries further developed the Nyaya Sutra expanding upon Gautama’s work.

As per these texts, the debates and arguments are grouped under a broad head titled ‘Katha’. In Sanskrit, the term ‘Katha’, in general, translates as ‘to inform’, ‘to narrate’, ‘to address or to refer to somebody’. In the context of Nyaya Shatra, which provides the knowledge (Vako-Vakya or Vada-vidya) about the methods for presenting arguments as also the rules governing the debates, the term ‘Katha’ implies formal conversation (Sambasha) as in a debate. The conversation here is not in the casual manner as in day-to-day life. But, it is articulate, precise and well thought out utterances.

The Katha is described as ‘polemical conversation’, meaning that it is passionate and strongly worded , but a well balanced  argument against or in favor of somebody or something. That is why; the discussions (Vaada) are never simple. A Katha, in essence, is a reasoned and a well-structured philosophical discussion.

Vatsayana at the beginning of his commentary on Nyaya Sutra (1.2.1) mentions that Katha is classified into two kinds of debates (Dvi-vidha sambasha):  Vaada (the good-Sandhya sambasha) on one hand; and Jalpa and Vitanda (the bad- Vigrahya sambasha) on the other.

Uddyotakara in his Nyāya Vārttika further explains that this threefold classification is according to the nature of the debate and  the status of the persons taking part in the debate.

(padārtha-uddeśa-sūtram:pramāṇa-prameya-saṃśaya-prayojana-dṛṣṭānta-siddhāntāvayava-tarka-nirṇaya-vāda-jalpa-vitaṇḍāhetvābhāsa-cchala-jāti-nigrahasthānānāmtattvajñānāt niḥśreyasādhigamaḥ- NyS_1,1.1 )

The first variety ,  Vaada is an honest , peaceful  and congenial (sandhaya) debate that takes place between two persons of equal merit or standing, trying to explore the various dimensions of a subject with a view to ascertain and establish ‘what is true’.  The Vaada, at its best, is a candid friendly discussion (anuloma sambasha or sandhya sambasha) or debate in the spirit of: ’let’s sit-down and talk’.

The other two are hostile arguments (vigrhya sambasha) between rivals who desperately want to win. Thus, by implication, while the goal of a Vaada is establishment of truth or an accepted doctrine; and that of the other two hostile debates (Jalpa and Vitanda) is seeking victory.

Of the two types of hostile debates, Jalpa is described (in Nyaya Sutra 1.2.2) as a disputation or wrangling or a ’tricky’ debate between two rivals , where each is thoroughly convinced that he is absolutely right and the other (termed as the opponent – Prativadin) is hopelessly wrong. The first party to the debate is dogmatically committed to his own thesis, while the other party takes a rigid contrary position (Prati-paksha) on a given subject; and, sometimes at the cost of truth. Each is prepared to employ various deceptive or sophistic devices, such as quibbling (Chala); unreasonable (A-hetu) responses; shifting the reason or the topics ( Hetvantara or Arthantara); irrelevant rejoinders provoking the opponent to lose focus , to get perturbed and yet continue with the dispute (Jati) somehow; and , such other devices to outwit the opponent.

(jalpa-lakṣaṇam :  yathoktopapannaḥ chalajātinigrahasthānasādhanopālambhaḥ jalpaḥ-NyS_1,2.2)

Unlike in Vaada, the purpose of Jalpa is not so much as to ascertain the truth, as to establish one’s own position or thesis, and to prove the opponent wrong; and, make him accept defeat. What is at stake here is the ‘prestige and honor’ of one’s School (Matha). And, therefore, each will try to win the debate by fair or foul means.   And, when one senses that he might be losing the argument (nigrahasthāna), he will try to invent every sort of face-saving device or ruse to wriggle out of a bad situation that is quickly turning worse , like being trapped on quicksand sinking down each moment . Jalpa, predictably, could therefore be noisy , unpleasant and even be desperate.

And, Vitanda is the worst type of argument or squabbling descending to the level of quarrel and trickery. It is  described as a destructive type of argument; the sole aim of each party being not only to inflict defeat on the opponent but also to demolish and humiliate him .

The Vaitandika , the debater who employs Vitanda, is basically a refuter; he relentlessly goes on refuting whatever  the proponent says. He has no thesis of his  own – either to put forward or to defend.  Sometimes he might pick up a thesis  just for argument’s sake, even though he may have no faith in the truth of his own argument. The aggressive Vaitandika goes on picking holes in the rival’s arguments  and destabilises his position , without any attempt to offer an alternate thesis.

Both the participants in a Vitanda are prepared to resort to mean tactics in order to mislead, browbeat the opponent by fallacies (hetv-abhasa); by attacking the opponents statement by willful misrepresentation (Chala) ; ill-timed rejoinders (Atita-kala) and, make the opponent ‘bite the dust’. It is virtually akin to a ‘no-holds-barred’ sort of street fight. The ethereal values such as: truth, honesty, mutual respect and such others are conspicuously absent here.

(vitaṇḍā-lakṣaṇam : saḥ pratipakṣa-sthāpanā-hīnaḥ vitaṇḍā –NyS_1,2.3)

It is said; in the case of Jalpa the contending parties have a position of their own, fight hard to defend it, and aim to make the rival accept it, by whatever means.  However, in the Vitanda, the disputant has neither a position of his own nor is he trying to defend any specific thesis.  He is merely trying to derange and humiliate the other party to the debate. Vatsayana in his Nyaya-sutra Bhashya calls one who resorts to Vitanda (Vaitandika) as self-destructive.

Even in the case of Jalpa and Vitanda, the disputants had to agree, beforehand, to certain rules, norms and devices, so that the defeat could be forced by the judge (Madyastha) on one or the other party.

A debate with the mere aim of win or humiliation of the other is looked down. Therefore, Jalpa and Vitanda are deemed contrary to the overall aim of the Nyaya Shastra which is oriented towards determination of the true nature of objects.

[The skills in waging debates and arguments (Vada-vidya) of the Jalpa and Vitanda might have been relevant during the medieval times when the inter–religious or intra-religious debates (Shastrartha) were held among the rival traditions (Sampradaya) or sects, each trying hard to prove the superiority of its Matha (thesis or sect) over the others. In the present context, such beliefs and arguments have become obsolete in India, though their techniques are very well preserved and practiced in Tibetan Buddhist debates.

Having said that , Prof. A L Basham remarks : ” Modern logicians might make short work of these rather pedantic systems of ontological and epistemological relativity, but they have a fundamental quality of breadth and realism, implying a full realization that the world is more complex and subtle than we think it, and that what is true of a thing in one of its aspects may at the same time be false in another.”

Further . the syllogism, logical structure and methods of presenting reasoned arguments as described in the ancient texts  are still of great interest. Its methodology based on a system of logic is the same for us today in our lecture halls and programming desks as it was for the medieval scholars.]

vada samvada

 Let’s look at each of these types of discussions and arguments in a little more detail. 

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Samvada is a dialogue that takes between the teacher and the taught in all earnestness.  The one who approaches the teacher could be a disciple; student; friend (as in Krishna-Arjuna or Krishna-Uddhava) ; son (as in Shiva-Skanda or Uddalaka-Swetaketu); or spouse (as in Shiva-Prvathi or Yajnavalkya-Maitreyi);  or parent (as Sage Kapila teaching his mother);  or anyone else seeking knowledge (as in Nachiketa -Yama or the six persons who approach Sage Pippalada in Prashna Upanishad).

What characterizes the Samvada in such cases is the sincerity and eagerness of the learner; the humility in his/her approach; and the absolute trust in the teacher.  The wise teacher , in turn , with full of grace , imparts instructions out of enormous love for the ardent seeker of truth.

kapila teaching his motherUhdava  Krishna.JPGUddalaka Swetaketu -samvadaSatyakama

(siddhānta-sūtra : jñāna-grahaṇā-abhyāsas tad-vidyaiśca saha saṃvādaḥ- 4.2.47

vidhya-artha-vādā-anuvāda-vacanaviniyogāt ; vidhiḥ vidhāyakaḥ; stutiḥ nindā parakṛtiḥ purākalpaḥ iti arthavādaḥ ;na anuvādapunaruktayoḥ viśeṣaḥ, śabdābhyāsopapatteḥ ; śīghrataragamanopadeśavat abhyāsāt na aviśeṣaḥ; mantrāyurvedaprāmāṇyavat ca tatprāmāṇyam, āpta-prāmāṇyāt (2.1.63-69)

shiva skanda

Another remarkable text of this genre is The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra (a component of Rudrayamala Tantra), a principal text of the Trika school of Pratyabhijna (KashmiraShaiva Siddantha). It is composed as a discourse (Samvada) between the Lord Bhairava and his consort Bhairavi.  Here, Bhairava imparts instructions to the Devi; teaching her as many as 112 Tantric meditation methods or centering techniques (Dharana or types of Yoga). The Vijñāna Bhairava utilizes all the traditional techniques of Yoga (such as Mudra, Pranaskthi, mantra-japa, awakening of Kundalini, bhakthi, jnana etc.). These include several variants of breathawareness, concentration on various centers in the body, non-dualawareness, mantrachanting, imagination and visualization and contemplation through each of the senses. These techniques are said to help / guide the aspirant along the path to realize her/his identity with the highest reality – recognized here as Bhairava, the Absolute.

The Devi listens to the Lord with rapt attention : Shrutam deva maya sarvam rudrayamala  sambhavam.


Similarly, the Svacchanda-bhairava-tantra, belonging to the Śāktāgama (or Śākta-tantra) division of the Āgama tradition, is rendered as a Devī-Deva-saṃvāda, where Lord Bhairava is drawn forward to teach the Goddess Bhairavi. The Devi implores ,  O Parameśvara, you taught the  Svacchanda Tantra  a profound Tantra  (mahā-tantraṃ) having  four parts (catuṣpīṭhaṃ ) and leading to the four types of attainments (catuṣṭaya-phalodayam)

mudita Bhairava dṛṣṭvā Devī vacanam abravīt || yat tvayā kathitaṃ mahyaṃ svacchandaṃ Parameśvara || śata-koṭi-pravistīrṇaṃ bhedā-anantyavisarpitam | catuṣpīṭhaṃ mahā-tantraṃ catuṣṭaya-phalodayam ||

Then the Devi requests : Teach me, O Maheśvara, how this Tantra will be successful now that the Kali Age is upon us (kalim āsādya siddhyanti tathā brūhi maheśvara). |

The Lord responds : That was really good, O blessed Goddess. Now I will teach what you have requested in order to bestow grace upon mortal beings.

 sādhu sādhu Mahābhāge yat tvayā parichoditam || anugrahāya martyānāṃ sāmprataṃ kathayāmi te

Svacchanda Bhairava

Another well known text , in the form of a Samvada, is the  Siddha Kunjika Stotra , a Tanric stotra, which occurs in the Gauri Tantra (section) of Rudra-yamala Tantra. Here, Lord Shiva, the Adi Guru, imparts instructions to his consort Parvathi; and, extols the virtues of the Kunjika Stotra.

It is said; the  Kunjika is the Key ,which  unlocks the powers of the Chandi Paatha. And, its prefix ‘Siddha’ implies that the stotra leads to the attainment of the  ideal state. 

It is also said; Kunjika, here, is in form of the Devi Chamunda, the Supreme Goddess; and, there is nothing beyond Her (Anuttara).

While invoking the Devi Chamunda, the Kunjika Stotra  explains the meaning  of the syllables (Bija mantras) in the Navarna Mantra – Om̃ ai hrī klī cāmuṇḍāyai  viccey.


A Samvada is thus a discourse or a dialogue that teaches, imparts instructions or passes on knowledge to a sincere seeker of Truth. 

The bulk of the Upanishad teachings have come down to us in the form of Samvada, which took place in varieties of contexts. Apart from intimate sessions where an illumined teacher imparts instructions to an aspirant , there are instances of varied kind, say, as when : a wife is curious  to learn from her husband  the secrets of immortality; a teenage boy approaches Death itself to learn the truth of life and death; a king seeks instruction from an recluse sage who speaks from his experience ; Brahmans advanced in age and wisdom sit at the feet of a Kshatriya prince seeking instructions as also inspiration ; and , when sometimes the sages are women who are approached by kings .There are other sorts of dialogues , say, when Jabala is taught by bulls and birds (Ch. Up 4.4-9) , Upakosala by the sacred fires (Ch. Up. 4.10-15), and Baka is by a dog (Ch. Up 1.12). 

Nothing in the Upanishads is more vital than the relationship between a student and his guide. The teacher talks, out his experience, about his ideas of the nature of the world, of truth etc. or about particular array of phenomena visualized through mental images that stay etched in memory. 

An Upanishad-teacher ignites in the heart of the boy a spark that sets ablaze his desire to learn and to know the central principles which make sense of the world we live in. The guide inflames the sense of challenge, the urge to reach beyond the boy’s grasp and to know the unknown. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad calls upon :

‘You are what your deep, driving desire is; as your desire is, so is your will (sa yathā-kāmo bhavati tat-kratur-bhavati); as your will is, so is your deed (yat-kratur-bhavati tat-karma kurute) ; as your deed is, so is your destiny (yat-karma kurute tad-abhi-sapadyate”- (Brhu. Up. 4.4.5).

sa yathākāmo bhavati tat-kratur bhavati | yat-kratur bhavati tat karma kurute | yat karma kurute tad abhi-saṃpadyate || BrhUp_4,4.5 |

In the end, all achievement is fueled by burning desire. 

The Bhagavad-Gita suggests that an ardent seeker of truth should approach a learned teacher in humility and seek instructions from him; question him repeatedly: 

Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya I Upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah II (B G.; Ch.4; verse 34) 

The student questions the teacher not because he doubts (samshaya) the wisdom or the understanding of the teacher; nor is he / she questioning the authenticity of the teaching . The questions are asked with open mind and guileless heart; and, are meant to clear doubts, and to gain a flawless understanding of the teaching.

The teacher is neither annoyed nor does he discourage the student from asking questions.  On the other hand, he encourages the learner to examine, enquire and test the teaching handed down to him.  A true teacher, in a Samvada does not prescribe or proscribe. He lets the student the freedom to think, to ponder over and to find out for himself the answers to his questions. A student needs humility, persistence, and honesty of purpose to go further and to arrive at his own understanding. 

lotus design

Yaska  tenders sage-like counsel. Yaska instructs (Nir.1.18): what is taken from teacher’s mouth, but not understood and, is merely repeated, never flares up. It is like dry firewood flung on something that is not fire.

  • Don’t memorize, seek the meaning
  • What has been taken from the teacher’s mouth  but not understood,
  • Is uttered by mere memory  recitation,
  • It never flares up, like dry firewood without fire.
  • Many a one, although seeing, do not see Speech,
  • Many a one, although hearing, do not hear her,
  • And many a one, she spreads out Her body, like a wife desiring her husband.
  • The meaning of Speech is its fruit and flower.

yad ghītam avijñāta nigadena eva śabdyate/  anagnāv iva śuka edho na taj jvalatikarhicit/  sthāus tiṣṭhater artho arter araastho vā / Nir. 1.18 /

lotus design


The Buddha, the best of the teachers, also adopted a similar approach. He insisted that his followers should not try borrowing ideas or experiences from him; but they should arrive at their own.  In the first sermon he delivered (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) in the Deer-park (Miga-daya) at Isipatana (Saranath), soon after attaining enlightenment, he asked his listeners:

O monks and wise men, do not accept my Dharma merely out of respect for me, but analyze and test it the way a goldsmith examines a pieces of gold by  burning , cutting and rubbing it on a touchstone.(please  see the note below)

A teaching would not be true, valid or trustworthy merely because it was uttered by an eminent person of great renown. It would be so only in case it is thoroughly tested, clearly understood and truthfully brought into one’s own experience.  

The Buddha guides the aspirant on the path that leads to right-understanding. But he disclaims any personal authority; and asks the follower to work it out himself. The follower when he succeeds in attaining the enlightenment will not become a second Buddha or a replica of the Buddha. In the final analysis, both the Buddha and his follower free themselves from the bonds of samsara; yet, each retains his individuality.


[This often quoted analogy of testing a piece of gold  appears in many texts ; such as :  Jnanasara-samuccaya (31) a Sanskrit text of a later period (perhaps a translation of the Tibetan text – sTug-po bkod-pa’i mdo) ; in  Nyāya-bindu-pūrvapakṣa-saṃkṣipti, a commentary on Dharmakīrti’s, Nyāyabindu (1.18–1.21) and also  in Śāntarakṣita’s Tattva-saṁgraha (verse 3588) .

It reads in Sanskrit as :

Tāpāc chedāc ca nikasat svarnam iva panditaih / Parikshya blikshavo grāhyam madvaco na tu gauravāt

However, the kalama Sutta  (or Kesamutti Suta) – delivered to the Kālāmas of Kesamutti – appearing in Aṅguttara Nikaya (III.653), which is a part of Tipitaka, merely lays down the principle of taking an objective view after a thorough examination (charter of free inquiry); but, it does not specifically mention the instance of ” jewel-testing” :

“Come, O Kālāmas, Do not accept anything thinking that thus have we heard it from a long time (anussava). Do not accept anything thinking that it has thus been handed down through many generations (paramparā). Do not accept anything on account of rumours (itikirā). Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures (piṭaka-sampadāna). Do not accept anything by mere surmise (takka-hetu); nor upon an axiom (naya-hetu). Do not accept anything by mere inference (ākāra-parivitakka). Do not accept anything by merely upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over (diṭṭhi-nijjhān-akkh-antiyā). Do not accept anything by coming under another’s seems ability (bhabba-rūpatāya). Do not accept anything merely because the monk-teacher says so (samaṇo no garū). Do not accept anything thinking that the ascetic is respected by us (and therefore it is right to accept his word.)

“Kalamas, when you know for yourselves —these things are immoral, these things are blameworthy, these things are censured by the wise, these things when performed and undertaken, conduce to ruin and sorrow – then indeed you do  reject them.

“But Kalamas, when you know for yourselves –  these things are good; these things are blameless, these things are praised by the wise; these things when undertaken and observed, lead to well-being and happiness- enter upon and abide in them. ]



Continued in Part Two

.. Vada, Jalpa and Vitanda

Sources and References:

A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Schools By Mahamahopadyaya  Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana

The Character of Logic in India Edited by Bimal Krishna Matilal, Jonardon Ganeri, Heeraman Tiwari

The Nyâya Sûtras of Gotama by Nandalal Sinha

Hindu Philosophy by Theos Bernard

Categories of Cognition and Proof – Shodhganga

A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1 By  Prof. Surendranath Dasgupta

The Birth of Meaning in Hindu Thought by David B. Zilberman

History of Indian philosophy: The philosophy of the Veda and of …, Volume 1 by Erich Frauwallner

All images are taken from Internet


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Music of India – a brief outline – Part Six

Continued from Part Five  – Akhyana – Ramayana

 Part Six ( of 22)-  Gandharva or Marga Music


Gandharva – Svara, Taala and Pada

After Saman and Akhyana, let’s take a look at the Gandharva or Marga Music.

1.1. The term Gandharva by itself means Music in general (Gandharva-shastra) and the Gandharva form of Music in particular. Gandharva Music regarded as Marga signifies something that which is chaste or classical. Marga, by its very nature, is rather sombre and not quite flexible.  Gandharva was said to be the Music performed for worship of gods since the ancient times. It is both sacred and well regulated (Niyata).

The early Gandharva songs were in praise of Shiva (Shiva-stuti). And, Shiva himself is said to have taught this Marga Music, on his Veena, in his Sri Dakshinamurthy form, to the sages sitting around him.

Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.2) calls the Gandharva-vidya as Devajana -vidya ( the art of the Devas). And, it is said : Ganat parataram na hi – nothing is higher than that music. 

1.2.  Gandharva or Marga is a sort of counterpart to Saman; and yet, the two are different types of Music. The Svaras in the early Saman were arranged in descending order (Avaroha); and, the concept of Grama –Vibagha (classification as per Gramas) was also not there.

The Gandharva Music, in contrast, is based in Gramas and in the ascending and descending order of Svaras (Aroha-Avaroha).

In fact, the term Gandharva, either as a class of Music or of musicians, does not appear in Rig-Veda. Similarly, plying of cymbals and marking of Taala also does not appear in conduct of Yajna or in Sama singing. 

Further, while the Saman singing was in the context of a Yajna; the Gandharva, on the other hand, seemed to be the singing by trained singers on other worship-occasions (Puja). Taittiriya Aranyaka (1.9.30) mentions a group of eleven Gandharva-singers (eti ekadasha gandharva-ganah) who sang songs in praise of gods.

1.3. Abhinavagupta, commenting on Natyashastra , strikes a conciliatory note and remarks : Although there is no structural similarity between Saman and Gandharva, the fruit (Phala) of rendering the two is indeed the same – bestowing bliss and leading towards Moksha. Such Music is a worthy offering to gods.  And, gods would be delighted with sublime Music than with reading Puranas or lecturing on Yoga exercises.

In support of his observation, Abhinavagupta quotes verses (26,27 and 28 of Chapter 36) of the Naytashastra :

 The recital of poetry, performance of dance (drama) along with songs and instrumental music are equal in merit to the recitation of Vedic hymns.

pāṭhyaṃ nāṭyaṃ tathā geyaṃ citravā aditrameva ca । veda-mantrārtha-va-canaiḥ samaṃ hyatad bhaviṣyati ॥ 26॥

I have heard from the god of gods (Indra) and even from Shankara (Shiva) that music (vocal and instrumental) is indeed purer and superior to taking a ceremonial dip in a river and repeating a mantra (Japa) a thousand times.

śrutaṃ mayā devadevāt tattvataḥ śaṅkarāb-ddhitam । snāna japya saha srebhyaḥ pavitraṃ gīta vāditam ॥ 27॥

Whichever places that reverberate with the auspicious sounds of songs and music of Natya will forever be free from inauspicious happenings.

yasmin nātodya nāṭyasya gīta pāṭhya dhvaniḥ śubhaḥ । bhaviṣyatya śubhaṃ deśe naiva tasmin kadācana ॥ 28॥

 2.1. Historically, Gandharva occupies an important position in the Music of India. It acts as a bridge between the Music of Saman and the Music of the later generations that has come down to us through series of transformations. In the Gandharva, the original descending Sama Veda scales were recast into new ascending and descending seven Svara (note) structures.  These seven notes of the Gandharva – Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni –  were adopted in Natyashastra and in Dattilam  (Svara-saptaka); and ,more importantly, they  are in use even today.

[The Gandharva music is significant, in another way too; because, it moved away from Yajna (offering havis to Agni, the fire); and, adopted the approach of prayers and Puja – worship, adoration. It became a counterpart to Sama  which was chanted at the Yajna. Since then, worship through or with music has remained at the center of most Puja or Seva activities, with flower and other offerings.]

Therefore, getting to know Gandharva might help to gain a historical perspective of our Music.

3.1. Bharatha explains the term Gandharva as the Music dear to gods (atyartham iṣṭa devānā), giving great pleasure to Gandharvas; and, therefore it is called Gandharva.

(atyartham iṣṭa devānā tathā prīti-kara puna | gandharvāā ca yasmād dhi tasmād gāndharvam ucyate || (NS Ch. 28, 9).

3.2. Following Bharata who said : Gandharvam trividham vidyath Svara-tala-padat-makam (NS.28.11), in Verse three of the Dattilam , its author  Dattila explains Gandharva as a collection of notes (Svara) which is based in words (Pada- thatha–Svara sanghtah); which is  measured by  time-units (Taala) ; and, which is  performed with diligence (prayukthas savadhenena) is known by the name of Gandharva .(Gandharvam abhijayate) .

Pada – thatha- Svara sanghtah Talena sumitas thatha  I Prayukthas savadhenena Gandharvam  abhijayate  II

Another ancient scholar Vishakilacharya (?) also describes  Gandharva in  similar terms; as that which is the confluence of Svara, Pada and Tala (Svara-pada-Tala samavaye tu Gandharvam)

And, Naradiyashiksha (1.4.12) gives the etymology of the term Gandharva by splitting it into three parts. It explains Gandharva as made of: Ga – the song (giti geyam vidhuhu); Dha – playing on the Veena by skilful use of fingers (karupya vadanam); and , Va – other instruments and gestures (veti vadhyasya sanjnya)  ; and says ‘ this indicates Gandharva (ye Gandharvasya nirochanam).

3.3. Abhinavagupta in his Abhinava-bharathi (a commentary on Natyashastra) remarks that Gandharva which is sung from time immemorial bestows both evident or seen (Drsta) and not-evident or unseen (A-Drsta) benefits (Phala).  It is pleasant to the ears and to the mind; and, it also brings merit paving way towards liberation .

(anāditvād dṛṣṭā-adṛṣṭa-phalatvāc ca pradhāna gāndharvam… | gāna hi prīti-kārye vartate | tena tādātmya tāvad ayuktam |).

Music Dhrupad

3.4. The terms and concepts of the Gandharva musical tradition were described, mainly, in Bharatha’s Natyashastra and in the Dattilam of Dattila.  Natyashastra devotes about nine chapters to Gandharva Music – vocal and instrumental. And, a major part of 243 verses of Dattilam is about Gandharva. The Verse Six of Dattilam mentions that the text aims to discuss, mainly: Sruti (micro tone intervals), Svara (notes) , Grama (systems), Murchana (scales) consisting series of notes (Tana) , Sthana (voice registers) , Vritti (styles) , Suska or A-gita (playing on Veena following vocal style but without singing) and Sadharana (two ways of over lapping).

Svara, Taala and Pada

4.1. Gandharva is said to be governed by the combination of Svara (tonal structure); Taala (time-units); and, Pada (text), in association with various musical instruments (Gaandharvam trividham vidhaat svara-tala-pada-atmakam). Thus, song, Veena and flute all contributed to Gandharva. Dattilam explains it in a similar manner, calling it Avadhana, conscious (samyag baddha) melodic employment of Svara, Taala and Pada. And yet, the scholars reckon the Gandharva Samgita was essentially vocal. The objective of the Gandharva songs (Stuti pada-s) was to praise of Shiva (Shiva-stutau prayojani) and to please the gods (atyartham iṣṭa devānā).

4.2. In Gandharva, the Svara, Taala and Pada had hierarchical positions (Gāndharva yan mayā prokta svara-tāla-padātmakam). Svara and Taala enjoyed prominence.  However, Svara and Taala do need the substance (vastu) or the form of Pada – the text – as their base.  Bharata, therefore, says that Pada serves as an aid to Svara and Taala (Pada tasya bhaved vastu svara-tālānubhāvakam).  Padas were, perhaps, modified to suit Svara and Taala. In other words, lyrics of a song were subject to Svara (melody) and Taala patterns.  Specific examples of modifications of Pada are listed in Dattilam: changing Agne to Ognayi; disjoining syllables – Viyate to Vo Yi to Ya Yi; stretching a syllable – Ye to Ayi; repetition of words – Ya YiYa Yi; unwarranted break in Pada – Gunano havyadataye to GunanohaVyadataye; and insertion of meaningless sounds – Au, Ho, Va, Ha, U, Eha, Aho-i, Oha-i etc. These were the practices carried forward from Saman singing.

4.3. However, between Svara and Taala, Gandharva assigned a secondary position (angāngi-bhāva) to Taala; and the prime position to Svara. Taala was governed by rigid rules measured by time-units (matra), having a fixed number of delineations, by the strikes of hand-held cymbals (Ghana).  In Gandharva, no deviation was allowed from the set pattern. The main task of Taala was to provide fixed measurement of time to the notes; and, to maintain Saamya (coming together) a point of resolution that provides a sense of balance. (It could perhaps be akin to Sam of Hindustani Music..!)

5.1. According to Matanga, Svara is the sound which has musical quality that creates melody. When the interval between the notes (Sruti) is raised or lowered, the musical quality gets altered. And, such musical sound is different from other sounds. Thus, Sruti and Svara-s are vital elements of a song. The difference between the two is that the former has no resonance, while the latter has it.

5.2. Abhinavagupta explains the term Svara as derived from the root Sva of the expression Svabhavadi-gana. And, Svara has both Sabda (sound) and Upa-taapa (warmth of feeling) – śabdopa-tāpayo. He goes on to say; the mind ordinarily grasps plain sounds. But, a Svara has the power to infuse various emotions into the sounds and to influence the mind. And, thus, the Svara has resilience to assert itself over mundane noises and stray thoughts.

5.3. Dattilam  as in Natyashastra (28.24) says Svaras are seven starting with Shadja (Dattilam .11) ; and they are  of four types:  Vadi (sonant); Samvadi (consonant); Anuvadi (assonant) and Vivadi (dissonant).

chaturvidha tva meteṣāṃ vijñeyaṃ gānayoktṛbhiḥ । vādī caivātha saṃvādī vivādī cā anuvādyapi ॥ NS.88. 22॥

Vadin is the note that produces the melody. As Vadin is repeated often, the other notes are used in relation to it . For instance; the two Svara-s,  with an interval of eight or twelve Sruti-s between them, are called Samvadi of each other. Ni and Ga are Vivadi (discordant) to other Svaras. The Svara following a Vadi Svara is called Anuvadi.

Svarah shadja adayah sapta gramau dvau shadja madhyamau / kechid gandharam apy ahuh sa tu nehopalabhate //  (Dattilam .11) //

Dattila explains these terms:”Vadin is the king (Swamin); Samvadin is the minister who follows him (Amatya); Vivadin is like the enemy who disrupts (Satru), and should be sparingly employed; and, Anuvadi denotes the retinue of follower (Parijana).”

Abhinavagupta adds a word of caution; and remarks that Dattila’s analogy just as any other analogy is rather brittle; and, should not be pressed very hard.



6.1. Before going into the other elements of Gandhara Music we may talk a bit about its concept of Sruti.

Bharata refers to Sruti in his statement: Jatibhih Srutibhiscaiva svara gramatva-amagatah (NS 18, 5-6) – through Jaatis and Sruti-s the Svara attains the state of Grama.

6.2. Dattilam (9) mentions that the notes in the higher register (Tara) are on the upper end of the Veena (Uttarottara-taras tu venayam); and the notes in lower register are on its lower end (adharottarah). The difference in sounds (dvani visesha) so produced is understood as Sruti (Sruti samjnitah); and, that difference can be perceived only through practiced listening (iti dvani visesas te sravanah). ‘And, with these Sruti-s one sings all the songs’ (Dattilam.10)

Uttarottara-taras tu venayam adharottarah / iti dhvani visesa te  svara varna ca chrutisamjnitah//9// te bhyah kamscid upadaya giyante  svara giti su / adriyante ca ye tesu svaratvam upalabhya te //10//

6.3. Prof. Dr. Ramanathan explains that Sruti, here, is the unit of measure (pramana) of Svara-s, and also the basis on which Svara-s were classified into Gramas. Thus, what is important in a Grama is the number of Sruti-s that link the Svara.

6.4. Abhinavagupta points out: In fact it is for the very purpose of classifying the Gramas that the concept of Sruti was formulated (Grama-vibhagarthm eva Sruti-kirtanam); else, it had no existence in performance .

(evam gramadvayam tadupayoge ca Sruti; sadbhave svaranam Sruti niyama pramanya bhidhaya)

6.5. Dr. Ramanathan explains: In the ancient system, Svara was conceived not merely as a sound of fixed pitch position, but also as comprehending the entire tonal range between itself and its previous svara.  The interval which separated one Svara from another was measured in terms of Sruti-s.

6.6. Sruti is, thus, a distinctly cognizable, audible sound-interval (not a precise mathematical or physical measure) that separates one Svara from its next. The listening acumen of the musician is the sole guide to measure the rise or fall in Sruti. And, this is achieved only by diligent practice (Sad-abhyasa) , as  Abhinavagupta says –  Sruteh Sabdasya Srotragr -Ahyasya utka.

[Naradiyashiksha remarks: one who is not able to distinguish between the Srutis cannot be called a teacher – Srutinam yo visheshajno na sa acharya uchyate – (Nar,Shi 1.7.9) ]

6.6. According to Bharatha, Sruti is basically an interval. And, Svara is measured in terms of Sruti. When you call a Svara as Dvi-srutika, it means that two Sruti-s are separating a Svara from its previous Svara. Similarly, the terms Tri-srutika and Chatus-srutika mean that there are three and four Sruti intervals, respectively, between a Svara and the previous Svara. Let’s say; when one speaks of Tri-srutika in relation to Ri  it would mean that it is the third distinctive sound from Sa ; and also that it is three Srutis away from Sa.

Bharatha adds that the lowering or raising could be done by loosening or tightening of the strings in the case of stringed instruments.

[Dr. Ramanthan comments : While Bharatha explains Sruti as the unit of interval, Dattila (9-10) understands it as the pitch positions or sounds that can be distinguished from one another.]

6.7. Abhinavagupta explains the term Sruti, in his unique manner, as the sound (sabda) produced (prabhavita) when struck at appropriate position (śruti-sthāna-abhighāta) on the Veena. And, the note produced afterwards continuously by resonance is Svara. And says, when the Sruti is exact (anuraana) it transforms into resonant sweet flow of sound pleasing to the ears and to the heart (snigdha-madhura). Here, Anuraana is the physical aspect of Sruti; while snigdha-madhura is its aesthetic beauty.

Gandharva depivtion in art


Gandharva – Music elements – Jaati, Murchana and Grama


8.1. The Gandharva songs were rendered in melody-forms or modes called Jaatis, which perhaps, did not allow much scope for elaboration.

The Jaati-s were formed by Svaras which in turn were made of measurable units of intervals (Sruti).

8.2. Natyashastra mentions eighteen Jaati-s. Of these, seven are called Shuddha Jaati-s. These are the Jaati-s which have the Svaras (notes) after which they are named, such as: Graha, Amsa and Nyasa. To this, Dattila adds Apa-nyasa. The Nyasa of Shuddha Jaati is Mandra.

The Shuddha–Jaati had all the seven Svaras. When any one or more of these were dropped, excepting the Nyasa (final note),  the Shuddha Jaati would become Vikrta (modified).

śuddhā vikṛtāścaiva hi samavāyājjātayastu jāyante । punarevāśuddhakṛtā bhavantyathaikādaśānyāstu ॥ 46॥

[It is also said: When a Svara leaves its own place and or the Sruti-s specified for it assumes another place or contains other Sruti-s, it becomes Vikrta. For instance; When Rsbha assumes the four Sruti-s of Shadja it becomes Vikrta.]

By the combination of the two or more Jaatis the eleven Samsargaja–Vikrta would be formed.

(In Ramayana only seven Jaatis were mentioned .They, perhaps, were derived from Ga Grama).

8.3. Natyashastra (28.66) lists ten characteristics of a Jaati:

: – Graha – It is the initial note –Adi-Svara– used at the beginning of a song;

: – Amsa – It is the prominent note (key note ) in the song ( According to some, it is another name for Vivadi Svara). The melodic expression of the song depends on it;

: – Tara – It is the high register; the upper limit of the notes to be used. It is the fourth note from Amsa which belongs to middle sthana;

:- Mandra –It is the low register; the lower limit of the note to be used;

: – Nyasa – It is the note with which the song ends;

:- Apa-nyasa– It is before the final note (penultimate) . It is note with which a section of the song ends –Vidari;

:- Alpatva – It is the use of a note or notes in small measure. It is twofold: by skipping over the particular note or notes; and by non-repetition;

:- Bahutva – It is of two kinds: by using the notes fully or by repeating it often;

:- Sadavita –Six notes are used omitting one;

:- and, Audavita -Five note are used dropping two.

daśakaṃ jātilakṣaṇam – grahā aṃśau tāra mandrau ca nyāso’ apanyāsa eva ca । alpatvaṃ ca bahutvaṃ ca ṣāḍava auḍuvite tathā ॥ 66॥


[Dattilam (55) also lists the ten characteristic of Jaati as: Graha, Amsa, Tara, Mandra, Sadava, Audavita, Aplatva, Bahutva, Apa-Nyasa and Nyasa

Graha amsau tara mandarau ca sabda baudubite kramat / alpatvam ca bahutvam ca nyaso apanyasa eva ca //55//]


[Later, Sangita-ratnakara (1.7.29-53) adds three more lakshana-s : Samnyasa, Vinyasa and Antara-marga.

Samnyasa the final note of the first part (Vidari) of a song is described as ‘a note which is not dissonant (Vivadi) with the dominant note (Amsa); and, which concludes (samapti-krt) the first part (Vidari) of a song.

Vinyasa, the final note of the pada (a division of a song) is explained as a note that is not dissonant (Vivadin) with regard to the dominant note (Amsa). And, it stands at the end of the verbal-theme (Vidari-bhaga-pada-pranthe).

Antara-marga is an intermediate note which occurs in the midst of the notes practiced rarely (madhye-madhye alpatva yujam). It brings in variety (vichitratva-kariny) and is practiced without repetition and with isolated omissions. And, as a rule it occurs in the modified (Vikrta) Jaati (krta sa antara-margah syat prayo vikrta Jaatishu).]

The Amsa being the prominent (key) note in the Jaati was often used in combination with its Samvadi (consonant) and Anuvadi (assonant) Svaras.

[In the later times, the music of the Jaatis with its many varieties gave rise to the Raga system.]

Murchana and Grama

9.1. Murchana is described as the ordered or the sequential arrangement of the seven Svaras. The term Murchana is derived from Murch – to increase or to pervade. Natyashastra says that Murchanas are so called because seven notes are used in order (kramayutah) in their fixed positions. Narada in his  Shiksha  said: tana-raga-svara-grama- murcchana tu lakshanam- (II. 1) – Murcchana  is that which comprises – tana, raga,svara and grama

Later, in Gandharva, Murchana came to be understood as an arrangement having a gradual Aroha (ascent) and Avaroha (descent) of the seven Svaras (notes). Different musical expressions were derived from the Murchanas by permuting the seven Svaras in any number of ways. Of such rearrangements, the one where the seven Svaras were placed in their sequential order was called Krama. And, the one where the Svara-sequence was not in the order was called Kutatana. The logical method of computing Krama and Kutatana was called Prastara.

9.2. As said earlier; it was on the basis of Sruti-s that the intervals of the Svaras in a Jaati were measured. Abhinavagupta explains Grama as jaati-samudaya (collection of Jaatis). Jaati, again, refers to class of melodic types, which were constructed out of Murchanas.

It is also said that Grama is the resort  in which the Murchana-s reside.

9.3. A scale of notes starting on a particular note is said to be Grama Gramaha swara samuhaha syaath.

In the Gandharva, the Murchana arrangement was under two parent scales or Gramas: Madhyama (Ma) and Shadja (Sa) – Jatibhih Srutibhis chaiva Svara-Gramatvam agatah- NS.28.24-26. ‘Here there are 22 Sruti intervals’.

The Jaati-s were, initially, grouped under three Grama-s (group or cluster) known as Gandhara (Ga); Madhyama (Ma) and Shadja (Sa).  The Ga Grama, it appears, went out of use quite early. And, out of the other two Gramas (Sa and Ma), fourteen Jaatis were formed.

Natyashastra also talks about two Gramas : Shadja Grama or Sa-grama ; and , Madhyama Grama or Ma-grama.

9.4. The term Shadja means ‘giving birth to six’. And, it refers to the first defining note of the Grama – Sa. Once this note is fixed, the placement of other six notes is determined. The Shadja Grama is the collection of the seven Svara-s namely:  Shadja (Sa), Rsabha (Ri), Gandhara (Ga), Madhyama (Ma), Panchama (Pa), Dhaivata (Dh) and Nishadha (Ni).

Desiya Ragas were  said to be a result of Sa-grama: Deshee ragascha sakalaha shadja grama samud-bhavaha . The notes in Sa-grama were called Shuddha swaras .


The Madhyama Grama also has seven Svaras (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni) ; but , the sequence or the order of the two Gramas differ.

Under each Grama, the intervals between two consecutive Svaras (measured by Sruti) also differ.  For instance ; Sa Grama has Srutis as : Sa (4), Ri (3), Ga (2) , Pa(4) , Dha (3) and Ni(2). And, the  Ma Grama has :  Sa(4) , Ri(3) , Ga (2), Ma (4) , Pa (3), Dha (4) and Ni(2).  And, therefore the Murchana obtained from one Grama differs from that of the other.

[You may notice: the Pa note of Ma Grama is one Sruti lower. Therefore, the interval between Pa and Dha of Ma-Grama becomes longer, that is four Srutis. ]

As can be seen; the interval of two Srutis is the smallest; then, there are intervals of three Srutis and four Srutis. Natyashastra gives the number of Srutis in the Grama as 22. But, they were not named. Dr. Ramanathan remarks: Though the number of Sruti-s is said to be 22; this number has no sanctity attached to it. What is important in the Grama system is the number of Sruti-s within a Svara.


10.1. It is said; there were four types of Murchanas: Purna (full), the heptatonic with all the seven Svaras; Shadava (hexatonic) with six Svaras; Audava (Pentatonic) with five Svaras; and, Tanas or Sadharani-krta (including overlapping notes, like Kakili Nishada).

kramayuktā svarā sapta mūrcchanetyabhisajñitā apañ ca svara kāstānāḥ, āavau uvitāśrayā 28.32 sādhāraaktāś caiva kākalī samalak antara svara sayuktā mūrcchanā grāmayordvayo NS.28.33

Natyashastra mentions: The variety of Tanas and Murchanas, thus arising, provide enjoyment to the listeners and to the musicians, as well. They do help the singer in improving his voice registers (sthana-prapti).

As said earlier; the Svaras of the Murchanas of the Shadja Grama are seven (Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni). If the commencing Svara (initial note – Graha) is changed, but the intervals between the Svara (Sruti)  is kept unchanged, it then is called Graha–Bedha. It was through this method, it is said, Murchanas were derived from Gramas.

Each of the seven Murchanas of the Shadja Grama is called by a name. They are:(Uttaramandra; Rajani; Uttara-ayata; Shuddha-Shadja; Matsarikruta; Ashvakranta ;  and, Abhirudgata).

aje cottaramandrā syādṛṣabhe cābhirudgatā aśvakrāntā tu gāndhāre madhyame matsarīk 28.29

Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni Uttaramandra
Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa Rajani
Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa-Ri Uttarayata
Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga Shuddha-Shadja
Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma Ashvakrantha
Dha-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa Matsyakrantha
Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha Abhirudgata

The Murchanas of the Madhyama Grama were also seven (Sauviri; Harinasva; Kalopanata; Shuddha-madhyama; Margi; Pauravi; and, Hrsyaka).

atha madhyamagrāme -sauvīrī hariāśvā ca syātkalopanatā tathā śuddhamadhyā tathā mārgī pauravī hṛṣyakā tathā madhyamagrāmajā hyetā vijñeyā saptamūrcchanā 28.31

Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni- Sa-Ri-Ga Sauviri
Pa-Dha-Ni-Sa- Ri-Ga-Ma Harinasva
Dha-Ni-Sa-Ri- Ga-Ma-Pa Kalopanata
Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga- Ma-Pa-Dha Shuddha-Madhya
Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma- Pa-Dha-Ni Margavi
Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa- Dha-Ni-Sa Pauravi
Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha- Ni-Sa-Ri Hrsyaka


The Murchanas of the two Gramas add up to fourteen.

The Gandhara Grama also gave rise to seven Murchanas. However, it was obsolete by the time of Natyashastra.


[The explanations by about the seventh century seemed to be slightly different.

Matanga (7th century), in his Brhaddeshi, described   Murcchana as  the elaboration of ‘the seed form of the raga’ (murcchamoha-samucchrayayoh) . And, he said , such elaboration is  possible when the seven Svara-s  of a Raga manifest in the processes of  ascent (aroha) and descent (avaroha).

The Murcchana-s , according to Matanga,  evolved from the Gramas as their base. And, twenty-one Murcchana-s evolved from the three main Gramas-Shadja, Madhyma and Gandharva. Each Murcchana possessed a special unit of aesthetic sentiment.

Matanga said: Murcchana were of two kinds: one, having seven Svaras and the other having fourteen Svaras (sa-Murcchana dvi-vidha; sapta-svara-Murchanat  dvadasha-svara-Murchana cheti).

The Murcchana with Seven Svaras  was divided into four parts: Purna, Shadava, Audava, and Sadharana, The Purna contained  Svaras (hexatone ) ; Shadava , six Svaras (heptatone ) ; Audava , five  Svaras (pentatonic ) ; and the Sadharana , two displaced (vikrita} Svaras :  antara-gandhara and kakali-nishada.

The Murcchana with Twelve Svaras manifest in three registers (Sthana): low, medium and high (Mandra, Madhya and Tara).]


[As regards the Gandharva Grama which went out of use quite early, Naradiyashiksha and Sangitaratnakara mention the names of its seven Murchanas as: Nandi, Visala, Sumukhi, Chitra, Chitravati, Sukha and Aalapa.

According to Shri KV Ramachandran the noted music-critic of yester years, the high pitched Ga Grama was used for gods and heavenly beings, Narada, Urvashi etc. That perhaps explains why Ga Grama came to be associated with heaven in the later works.

And, in a similar manner the Jaati, Grama, Murcchana etc system of Music based in two Gramas (Sa and Ma) came to an end by the time of Sarangadeva (13th century). Thereafter,  the scholar-composers derived the Ragas only from Sa Grama ; and discarded the Ma Grama . It was said; Ma Grama had become defunct as its Panchama was but a mere variety of Madhyama.

For instance; Ramamatya (16th century) derived all the Desi Ragas from Sa Grama.  Pundarika Vittala (16th century) also said that all Ragas are derived from Shadja-Grama . And, Venkatamakhin (17th century) who followed him said that Ma Grama does not seem to exist. And, he recognized only the Sa Grama. According to Venkatamakhin, all the Desi Ragas originate from Sa Grama.]

10.2. In the Gandharva Music, it is said, the Murchana of one Grama could be derived from the other. Thus, if the Panchama (Pa) of the Shadja Grama is lowered by one Sruti, it would result in Madhyama Grama. In a similar manner, Murchana of Madhyama Grama could be converted into Shadja Grama by lowering its Daivata (Dha) by two Srutis.

[The Daivata that is so lowered is now named Gandhara (Ga). Then Nishadha (Ni) and Shadja (Sa) would be called Madhyama (Ma) and Panchama (Pa), respectively.]

Abhinavagupta comments: In Gandharva, dropping of notes in two Gramas, as also on the basis of Amsa notes, was governed by definite rules. For instance; Daivata (Dha) was indispensible in Shadja Grama; and, in Madhyama Grama, Panchama (Pa) could never be dropped from any Jaati.

10.3. In addition, there was also the practice of using one or two Svaras more (in addition to the seven) in a Murchanas. Such additional (overlapping) Svaras were called Sadharana Svaras.

[It’s too cold in winter and too hot in summer. But, there is also a comfortable season which is neither cold nor hot; it is neither summer nor winter.  It is between the two seasons. And, this is the Sadharana Kaala – the common season. And, so are the Sadharana Svaras.]

In the Murchana, the additional Svaras between two Svaras – (Sadharana Svara) are not separate individual Svaras, but are chosen from among the seven. They are resorted to only when the respective Grama-Svaras are weak. And, Sadharana-Svara is weaker than the Grama-Svara, and therefore it cannot become the commencing Svara of a Murchana.

[It is said; there would also be Murchanas with Sadharana Svaras (with Antara Ga and Kakili Ni) of two scales.]


11.1. Apart from the Seven-Svara Murchanas and Murchanas with Sadharana Svaras, there were also some Murchanas which had only six Svaras (Shadava) or five Svaras (Audava). And, these were called Taanas (from the root tan = to spread out), which formed the basis for various musical forms.

For instance; Sa Grama will have four Taanas when Sa, Ri, Pa and Ni are dropped successively. Similarly, there will be three Taanas in Ma Grama when Sa, Ri and Ga are dropped successively.

As regards Audava Taanas, Sa-Pa, Ri-Pa and Ga-Ni are dropped in Sa Grama; and Ga-Mi and Ri-Dha are dropped in Ma Grama.

Matanga says that the five-note Audava Taana could be obtained generally by omitting the Samvadi (consonant) Svara; and, in some cases it may be obtained by omitting the Anuvadi (assonant) Svara also.

In all, the Murchanas of the two scales would be 35.

[Taana-s are said to be twofold: Shuddha and Kuta. when Svaras are sung in a regular order it is Shuddha; and. when sung in an irregular order it is Kuta.

Matanga explains the difference between Murchana and Taana as the difference in the order (karma): the former has an ascending order while the latter has descending order. The purpose of both the Murchanas and the Taanas are was to provide pleasure to the listener as also to the performer. Perhaps, I think, these (Murchana and Taana) variations related to Veena plying than to human voice. ]

11.2. How the notes are to be omitted for the sake of Taana is given in Taana-kriya on the Veena (Dattilam. 36). The Taana-kriya, the technique is twofold (Taana-kriya dvidha tantryam) – Pravesika and Nigraha.  Pravesika (entering) is raising the lower note or lowering the higher note. Nigraha (abstaining) is not touching the string (asamsparka tu nigrahat) , i.e.  , not producing the middle note as the middle note would denote Murchana. The Ma-note of the Veena may never be omitted as it was essential for indication of Murchana-s of the two Grama-s.

(Taana-kriya dvidha tantryam praveshena nigrahat tatha I tatra pravesho dhvanyaikyam asamsparka tu nigrahat II)


[The scanty information posted here about Murchanas, Gramas and Jaatis was, roughly, according to Natyashastra and Dattilam. In the later centuries, just before  the time of Matanga‘s Brihad-desi ( 6th  to 8th century) , the concept and the method of deriving Murchana, as also the  connotation of Jaati and its further evolution  had changed much.

And, by the time of Brihad-desi, the concepts of Grama, Murchana and Jaati had all but gone. After this period, the Ragas came to be regarded as the melodic-base of the songs. Initially, the Ragas were treated as janya-s (derivatives) of the Jaatis. But, in due course the relation between Ragas and Jaatis tapered out, and then ceased. Similarly, the Svaras that gave form to Ragas came to be described in terms of Shuddha or Vikrta Svaras; and, the relation between Svaras and Gramas of the past was also lost.]



Gandharva – Music forms

12.1. The following were said to be the song- formats of the Gandharva Music (Giti): Gitaka; Nirgita; Jaati-gita; Kapala-gana; and, Kambala-gana. Of course, all these forms vanished long ago. And, even historically, the scholars are not sure of their origins. Each of the four forms seemed to have come from a different tradition. The relation or the link between the forms is also rather hazy or uncertain.

12.2. Among these, Gitaka and Nirgita type were said to be songs with definite structure. The Jaati-gita, on the other hand, was said to be a song-type with no specified format. Kapala-gana and Kambala-gana were said to be simpler songs.

[In another context, it is said: the relationship between the Gana and the Veena playing is called Giti (when Veena playing is not accompanied by singing, it is A-giti). Abhinavagupta explains: every type of Giti can be played on Veena, And, there are three types of Giti:   Tatva , Anugata and Ogha. When the Gana is prominent and the Veena follows Gana completely , it is Tatva; When the Veena follows Gana in some part and then shows its own craftsmanship , it becomes Anugata; and , when the playing techniques becomes A-nibaddha and the Karanas become more prominent  and the Gana becomes secondary then the Giti becomes Ogha . Thus in the rendering of the Giti, Veena performs an important role.]


13.1. As said; Gitaka is a well structured song format. There were major divisions or groups of Gitaka-s, each group having seven song-forms. The seven forms of the first Division were (Sapta-rupa): Madraka; Aparantaka; Ullopyaka; Prakari; Ovenaka; Rovindaka; and, Uttara. And, the seven forms under the second Division were: Asarita; Vardhamana; Chandaka; Panika; Rik; Gatha; and, Sama.

13.2. Every Gitaka, in turn, had two sections: Vastu and Anga. The different forms of Gitaka were classified according to the variations of their Vastu (section of the text) and Anga (styles of rendering the texts). The other distinguishing features were: Svara; Taala; and, Pada.

13.3. The ways of rendering the Gitaka had components (Anga) such as: Upavartana:– the end portion of a section of the text rendered in double speed; Prastara :- the concluding portion of one  section is repeated as the opening of the following section; and, Shakha-Pratishaka:-  certain sections are to be rendered twice – each in a different style- the first rendering is called Shakha and the other was called  Prati-shakha.

14.1. In the Gitaka, the terms such as Svara; Taala; and, Pada have their own connotation. And, they do not carry the meaning that we now associate with those terms.

For instance; Taala in a Gitaka does not mean rhythmic patterns or beats; but, it is the measure of time-span (duration) of the Gitaka. The sections of the Gitaka were divided into smaller time-units, marked by specific action by hands (kriya), either by making sound (Sa-sabda) or without sound (Ni-sabda). These were said to be four-fold, each.

Nishabda: (a) Avapa: contracting fingers with the palm turned upwards; (b) Niskrama: spreading the fingers with the palm turned downwards; (c) Viksepa: moving hands swiftly as in Niskrama; and, (d) Pravesha: taking back the hand pointing downwards.

Sa-sabda: (a) Samaya: clapping by the right hand; (b) Taala: clapping by the left hand; (c): Sannipata: clapping with both hands together; and, (d) Dhruva : movement of the hand with the snapping of the fingers according to threefold Kaala.

[It is said; cymbal plying with its neutral yet audible sound, usually, accompanied the hand gestures during Gandharva, for attainment of Saamya (the moment of precise coordination of Taala, Svara and Pada).]

14.2. Similarly, Svara was not mere notes. It is, here, related to Taala (as explained above). The melodic-lines of the song were broken into segments to match the Taala (time-units) or the duration assigned to that section..

14.3. Pada, the verbal elements of the song were also important. The object of the songs was to praise Shiva (Shiva-stutau prayojani). The duration of each section of the Gitaka and that of the meaningless syllables (jham, tum, tha, ka etc) employed were also prescribed.


15.1. Nirgita, also called Bahirgita or Shska, too had elements of Svara, Taala and Pada.  The Nirgita was a song form (Gita) suitable for dance (Nrtta) consisting vocal part (Dhruva) and instrumental part (Vadya). The instrumental part of the song (Veena- vadya-prayoga) was more prominent as compared to the verbal part (Dhruva-prayoga).The Vadya part was characterized by specific strokes (Karana) on the Veena.  According to Abhinavagupta, the Svaras that are produced by striking (praharavishesha janyah) the strings of Veena in a specific manner is called Dhatu.

15.2. The Dhatu-s had four elements: Vistara (high pitched), Karana (low pitched), Aviddha (duration of the note) and Vyanjana (different ways of employing each finger), each of which had its variations. Such variations depended on whether the stroke was made on the upper end (uttaramukha) or lower end (adhara) of the Veena; the number of strokes made on the strings; the time span (guru and laghu); and, their sequences.

Pada, here, meant both the verbal text (Dhruva-prayoga) and the passages of instrumental play (Vadya-prayoga).

15.3. As regards Taala in Nirgita, it has the same connotation as in Gitaka. The entire time-span of the verbal composition (Dhruva) is broken into smaller segments; and each is measured in time –units (kaala pramana). The instrumental part of Nirgita was, however, free from restrictions of Taala.


16.1. Jaati-gita seemed to be simple songs with no marked division or refrain ( in contrast to Gitaka) . Jaati-gita songs were based in one or the other Jaati, class of melodies. They were perhaps illustrative representation of a Jaati group.  For instance; a Gita based in Shadja-jaati represented the Shuddha variety of the Jaati.

Jaati-gita too had elements of Svara, Taala and Pada.

16.2. The Svara aspect of Jaati-gita-s exhibited the characteristics of the jaati-s to which they pertained. The Tala organisation (time-management) of the Jaati-gita was not as complex as that of the Gitaka and Nirgita. The Pada aspect of the Jati-gita-s was also fairly simple. The text consisted of Stuti pada-s addressed to Siva.


17.1. Kapala-ganas were simple songs just as the Jaati-gitas, without any sectional organisation. They were based on melodic structures called Kapala-s. The seven Kapala-s were derived from Shuddha variety of seven Jaati-s.

The Pada of Kapala-ganas were all in praise of Shiva, particularly the Kapala adorned form of Shiva; and were interspersed with loud Hoonkara and sounds such as : Hum, Ha, Hu , Avu etc.

The Kambala–gana

18.1. The Kambala–gana, just as the Kapala-gana, was based in derivatives of Jaati known as Kambala. The Kambala-gana were said to be derived from Panchami-jaati. And, in their structure they resembled the Kapala-ganas.


19.1. The Gana of the Natyashastra had its roots in Gandharva Music. Several of the Gandharva – songs were adopted into Drama. For instance; in the Purvanga, that is during the preliminaries before the commencement of the Drama per se, the Gandharva songs of the type Nirgita were sung , to the accomniment of instruments, offering prayers to Shiva. This was flowed by a song in Gitaka format ; and by a Tandava dance of Shiva or a Lasya of Shiva and Devi to another Gitaka-song. Thereafter, the Sutradhara (Director and Stage-Manager) and his troupe enter the stage move in a rhythmic  dance like steps   and sing Gandharva-songs praying to the gods for successful enactment and completion of the play. However, during the entry and exit or at important junctures Dhruva  songs were sung.

Tandava2 lasya

Some say that Gandharva or the sacred Music Marga performed during worship, in due course, gave place to Gana, the songs that were not so rigidly bound and were meant to entertain.

But, Abhinavagupta strongly refutes such a view; and, asserts that Gandharva and Gana flourished side by side even during later times. Though Gana owed to the Gandharva, there were differences between the two. In his commentary on the 33rd chapter of Natyashastra, Abhinavagupta draws a four-fold distinction between Gandharva and Gana Music-s.

According to Abhinavagupta , the two differ in their : in Svarupa –  structure and ways of employing Svara, Taala and Pada; in Phala –  the  benefits or the objectives ;  the one is in praise of Shiva and pleasing gods  while the other strives to gladden the hearts of  the audience in a theatrical performance;  in Kaala – the context or the occasions of their rendering , one is for worship and the other is for entertainment; and , in Dharma – in their distinctive nature and functions.

[Gāndharvasya ki lakaam? uktam adhyāyacatuṣṭayeu muninā |tathāpy anusandhāna-vandhyam mahā-bhāgam bodhayitum anusandhīyate |svara- tāla-pada-viśeātmaka pravtti-nivtti-pradhāna-dṛṣṭādṛṣṭa-phala-sāma-veda-prabhavam anādi-kālavttim anyonyoparañjanā-guatā-vihīna gāndharvam iti svarūpa-phalāt kālād dharmāc ca bhidyamānam avaśyam gāna-vailakaya bhedaika-sampādanam]



In the next part of this series,

Let’s talk of Gana with particular reference to

 The Music of Natyashastra.


References and Sources:

I gratefully acknowledge the following

Wonderfully well researched works:

Grama – Murchana – Jaati by Dr. Premalatha Nagarajan

Gandharva Form by Prof. Dr. N. Ramanathan

Abhinavagupta’s contribution to the solution of some problems in Indian Musicology by Shri Jaideva Singh


Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music edited by Emmie te Nijenhuis

Studies in the Nāyaśāstra: With Special Reference to the Sanskrit Drama in performance By Ganesh Hari Tarlekar

Sonic Liturgy: Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition by Guy L. Beck

Sruti in Ancient, Medieval and Modern Contexts by Prof. Dr. N. Ramanathan

Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music  edited by Emmie te Nijenhuis

 Pictures are from Internet


… Music in Natyashastra

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Music, Sangita


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