India is a story in synthesis. Different people with different cultures came to India periodically and got absorbed in the mainstream of Indian culture. The Dravidians, the original Homo-Sapiens, were the first to lay the foundation of a superstructure that got constructed in different decades and times. The architects of Mohenjo Daro and Harappan culture were these Dravidians who enriched Indian life and civilization with the choicest hues and colors. The civic life was endowed with unimaginable amenities and town planning; the social life was all a splendor with clothing, jewelry, toilet, combs, crockery, cutlery, and earthen-ware; the economic life was full of activity in trade- and commerce, and even overseas trade; religious and educational progress was marked with a script as in the seals, Bhakti cult being the religion of the people. Even some historians have gone to the extent of saying that Vedas were pronounced, recited, and followed by these people. The great Dravidian culture had also symphony and music and some historians trace the origin of “Sama Veda” to these stalwarts. Drum, lute, and cymbals, as instruments, were perhaps in use during the Dravidian era and after.

Then came the Aryans, a nomad race with no cultural emblems or attainments. Gradually, step by step, they got absorbed in the Dravidian culture of India and enriched it with their own intelligence, elaborate rites, and rituals. The Dravidian script was slowly replaced and perhaps the Vedas were transmuted into an Indo—Aryan language. Sama Ved still remained the Alpha and Omega or Indian music.

Then many other people and countries transgressed the Indian soil but their contribution to Indian culture and civilization does not scent to be very pronounced till the Muslims made a debut. The Muslims were totally different people with different religious and social backgrounds. Their living conditions, eating and drinking habits, clothing, manners, customs. rites and rituals and marital traditions were in sharp contrast to those of people living in India. The Indian culture being basically Dravidian in texture stood as an antipode. Yet they came to live together and after the first boomerang of the Muslim expansionism, basic reconcilables were mapped out and encouraged to cement the ruler and the ruled into one unified agency of endeavor. It was realized that Muslims being so few in numbers could not possibly rule a huge country like India. Further, while the compatriots could be found to man the upper echelon of bureaucracy the administration, by and large, as also agriculture, trade, and commerce had to be left in the able hands of the local population. Some Muslim states even employed Hindus in high positions-Madina Rai in Malwa, Purander, Roop, and Sanatan in Bengal, and many more under the Bahmani Sultans. The Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur entrusted prominent Marathas like Shahji Bhosle with offices of high responsibility and retained Marathi as the official language. Their Ibrahim Adil Shah was ‘Jagadguru’ who issued his Farmans with a mention of `Saraswati’. Golkonda kings were no fewer promoters of cultural and political synthesis. Their administration was run by the local Hindus and they also learn and patronized the Telugu language. The Hindu kings of Vijayanagar, on the other hand, employed Muslims in military service. Rana Sanga had a contingent of Muslim troops under him.

Soon this was ushered in an era of peace and understanding between the conquered and the conqueror. A process of giving and take marked the beginning of the synthesis of the Muslim and Indian cultures. The social antipathy of the Muslims towards the Hindus slowly disappeared. The Muslims learned the Hindu sciences (particularly medicine, astronomy, astrology, and mathematics), agriculture trail and commerce, town planning, architecture, and sculpture They went so far as to change their eating and drinking habit, and no wonder Babar was surprised that they like Hindu “Ghalla ba ghalla mi khurand”. In addition, fruits and vegetables, milk, and curds, which formed an essential part of the menu of a Hindu meal, became popular with the Muslims. Even in the matter of religious customs and rituals the Muslims adopted the line of least resistance and in a good many cases followed the colorful and rich Hindu traditions. 

Sufism made a strong impact on the religious sensibility of people and brought Hindus and Muslims together on a common platform. The Hindus learned the lesson of brotherhood from the Muslims and through spiritual teachings or otherwise diluted the rigors of a rigid caste system. Equality of men and one god-head came to be recognized as the summum-bonum of religious thought. The Hindus learned Persian and the Muslims the local dialect. Malik Md. Jaysi wrote on Padmini in Hindi as Rai Bhana Mal employed Persian in describing the Muslim literary tradition. As a result of all this Urdu came to be born as a symbolic admixture and synthesis of different languages. 

In architecture, apart from the arch, the dome, and the minaret, which the Turko—Afghans brought, everything remained indigenous. Different styles of architecture grew in India and the inter-mingling of Hindu and Muslim basic ideas remained pronounced everywhere. Apart from Urdu, the synthesis in architecture has been the most elegant, impressive, and grand. Sir John Marshall correctly remarked:

“Seldom in the history of mankind has the spectacle been witnessed of two civilizations, so vast and strongly developed, yet so radically dissimilar, as the Mahammaden and Hindu, meeting and mingling together. The very contrasts which existed between them, the wide divergencies in their culture and their religions, make the history of their impact peculiarly instructive. In varying degrees, the Hindus and Muslims influenced one another. As far as music is concerned, the Muslim influence has also been quite substantial. The Hindu music, as enunciated in the Sama Veda, was mainly devotional. `Desi’ came to be born later. It is also established from Panini that the Indians followed the seven notes. Sir Willian Hunter emphatically states that these seven notes were unknown both to Arabia and Europe and were soon passed on and introduced in those regions. In India, these are called `Svaras’ or notes with ‘Si re ga ma pa dha ni’ corresponding to the notes of the other regions like ‘do re me fa so la ti’. In India, these seven notes in a certain combination are called a raga. Then later, in northern India, the ‘raga’ got subdivided into ‘raga, Ragini and Putra’s. 

During the Hindu period, music was at its vortex. Whether a house or a court, a temple or an ashram, the musician had the pride of place. In India, music has always been a part of life whether religious or social; it cleanses the soul from the dust of everyday life. It was not so in Arabia and the other Islamic States, in fact, music was discouraged as a form of entertainment and as a medium for obtaining spiritual bliss. When the Muslims came to India they saw a different acceptance of music in the social and religious life of the country. They, in due course, accepted the fallacy of their dogma, discorded it, and recognized music as a form of highest exhilaration. Even though Alauddin Khilji was a bigot, he inducted many musicians into his court and encouraged them.

It is to this period that Amir Khusrau belongs. About Amir Khusrau very little reliable historic material is available. The Muslim chroniclers had always a jaundiced eye and they really concentrated, perhaps for pecuniary reasons, on kings whom they extolled to skies. All their geese were swans and, in the process, the satellites never got their due share. The little that is available of Amir Khusraw is quite insufficient to enable one to draw a correct picture, though his writings throw light only on the prevailing conditions of society and the Mongol scare. Without splitting hairs, we have, therefore, to put everything in a proper historical perspective. 

A Sufi, a poet, and a saint, Amir Khusraw learned Indian music and became a musician of a class. The Indian music those days had three main styles, Dhrupad, Dhamar, and Khayal. The literary meaning of Dhrupad is a song sung in a fixed tempo. It had four parts, Asthaee, Antara, Sanchari, and Abhoga. Both the words and musical notes have to be rich and in full expression. Dhrupad got into four different houses for perfection and Tansen’s is one. Raja Man Singh of Gwalior is considered to be the exponent of this style. It may be interesting to mention here that Dhrupad is usually sung in Chautal, Rupak, Sotal, and Jhuptal. After Man Singh, many Muslim Ustads, like Zakir Uddin Khan, Alla Bande Khan, Nasiruddin Khan, and Kalak Khan, were the leading preceptors of this style. 

The other style, Dhamar, is usually sung at the holy festival. It is enlivened to a measurement of tempo and can develop itself into numerous mathematical proportions. Apart from the above-mentioned Muslim Ustads of Drupad, lately, Fiaz Hussain Khan sang Dhamar excellently. 

The third style, Khayal, appears to be of recent origin. There is however a controversy about this and there exist today three schools of thought. One school believes that Amir Khusrau, attached to the court of Alauddin, was the originator of Khayal style, while some think that Nimet Khan and later Sultan Hussain Sherque of Jaunpur were responsible for Khayal style singing. Nimet Khan, however, is still remembered as Shah-Sadarang and numerous Khayals composed by him are still in vogue. The slow and fast Khayal is sung on almost all the “tals”.

 Amir Khusraw was a great Persian poet and musician. He took to Indian music and if Shibli’s version is accepted, he remained unrivaled for about two centuries. He combined Persian with Indian music and produced many new melodies. Even among the Indian ragas, he attempted many combinations, unknown to the Indian school of music. Bando Upadhyay in his ‘Evolution of Songs’ mentions the following new ragas introduced by Amir Khusraw :

(1) Mayir (2) Sazagiri (3) Yaman (4) Ushashag (5) Muwafique (6) Zilaf (7) Fargana (8) Sarparda (9) Bhakra (10) Firdaus (1 1) Ghanam (12) Manam

Most of the modern scholars of Indian music are of the opinion that the above, mentioned ragas are mixtures of two or three ragas. 

Amir Khusrau is accredited with the introduction of Tarana in Indian Music. It is mentioned by Captain Willard in his “Treatise on the Music of Hindustan” that when the famous Indian musician, Nayak Gopal, was invited to the court of Alauddin Khilji, Amir Khusraw was hiding and listening to him. After some time, in perhaps another session, both of them were made to sing together. Nayak Gopal adopted the tune and the tal, dropping the wordings and thus introduced in Indian music what is called `Tarana’.

Amir Khusraw was a Sufi; he took to devotional music and introduced the present Quawali style of singing. 

Pakhawaj, the Indian drum, was a common instrument used in those days. Since the sound produced was very loud and jarring, Amir Khusrau divided the original into two parts. tabla and banya, and adopted a modified system of tals. Tabla still enjoys the pride of place in Indian music and the credit for this should go to Amir Khusrau. In his book “My music -My life” the great sitar wizard Ravi Shankar, mentions that during the time of Amir Khusrau three-stringed veena called `Tri Tantri’ was in use. Amir Khusrau made certain alterations and instead of three, perhaps, added three more strings. Further, he reversed the order of the strings and added movable frets. 

Amir Khusrau’s contribution to Indian music, thus, has been very substantial. By introducing Khayal type of singing by applying Brijbhasha as the language of the songs; through the improvement of sitar and introduction of tabla and banya, and by introducing Qawwali style of singing, he not only attempted to improve the theory and practice of Indian music but also synthesized it to such an extent that it created a niche in the hearts of both Hindus and Muslims. Music came to be recognized as a national art belonging to both the communities, indeed a common cultural heritage.

Rome was not built in a day. Indian music today is a treasure that has grown over a period of time to which Hindus and Muslims have contributed largely in varying degrees. Music is strength, ecstasy, and joy; it is the universal language of mankind. In its magical hermitage, here in India, the locals and the aliens both lost their individuality and class consciousness. The symphony and melody rolled them into one. Indian music, like the sea, accepted all the rivers, and today in its trailing clouds of glory one can see the silver lining of a Tan Sen and Palusker as much as of Khusrau, Abdul Karim, and Bade Ghulam Ali.  

Twitter Feeds

Facebook Feeds