Lesson 6 : OUR INDIAN MUSIC – STORIES AND ANECDOTES

Lesson 6 : OUR INDIAN MUSIC – STORIES AND ANECDOTES – R. Srinivasan 

UP Board 10th English book lesson 6 Our Indian Music – Stories and Anecdotes written by R. Srinivasan.

PARA – 1

The history of Indian music is brimming with stories and anecdotes. Why, the very origin of music and other fine arts is in itself a story. The creator, Brahma, made this universe. He created a variety of wonderfully beautiful and enchanting things.

PARA – 2

He created the majestic mountain ranges, the thundering water-falls and the giant forest trees, as also the nimble deer, the colourful peacocks and the exquisite flowers. He filled his creation with beauty, charm and splendour. But he was sad. His consort Saraswati asked him the reason for his sadness.

PARA – 3

Brahma said, “It is true I have created all this wonder and charm and showered beauty everywhere. But what is the use? My children, the human souls, simply pass them by; they do not seem to be sensitive to the beauty around. It seems to have been wasted on them, this creation sees to be purposeless.”

PARA – 4

Saraswati understood his feelings and told him, “Well, let me do my share in the great work. You have created all this beauty and splendour; I shall create in our children the power to respond, to appreciate and be uplifted by them. I shall give them music and other arts which will draw out form deep within them the capacity to respond to the majestic splendour and exquisite charm and wondrous beauty of all creations.”

PARA – 5

The great muse then gave us music and the other fine arts, in the hope that through them man would understand something of the Divine in his manifestation. A strange story? Yes, but it has a great moral.
One of the basic truths on which all Indian art is developed is that true art is never made to order; it comes as a result of an irresistible inner urge.

PARA – 6

We hear a song of Thyagaraja and are enthralled, we see a majestic temple tower and gaze on it with wonder; we see some of our ancient sculptures and feel thrilled. Why? Behind all such works of art is a great spiritual urge. The artists who gave them to us poured their devotion into the shape of such exquisite works of art; it was an act of self effacing dedication.

PARA – 7

A story is told of Tansen, the great bard of Akbar’s court, which illustrates this point vividly. Tansen was a great musician and Akbar was very fond of his music. One day when Tansen was in particularly good form, Akbar went into ecstasy and asked him, “What is the secret of this sweet concord of notes which takes me out of this world and transports me to Divine regions? I have not heard anyone else who can thus cast a spell of magic and make a slave of our hearts. You are really wonderful, Tansen.

PARA – 8

The great bard replied, “Sir, I am only a humble pupil of my master, Swami Hari Das; I have not mastered even a fraction of the master’s technique, grace and charm. What am I beside him whose music is a rhythmic flow of Divine harmony, beauty and charm in sound?”

PARA – 9

“What! The emperor cried, “Is there one who can sing better than you? Is your master such a great expert?”
“I am but a pigmy by my master’s side,” said Tansen.

PARA – 10

Akbar was greatly intrigued; he wanted to hear Hari Das, emperor though he was, he could not get Hari to his court. So he and Tansen went to the Himalayas where in his ashrama dwelt the Swami. Tansen had already warned Akbar that the Swami would sing only if he wanted to.

PARA – 11

Several days they stayed at the ashrama; but the Swami did not sing. Then, on day Tansen sang on of the songs taught by the Swami and deliberately introduced a false note. It had almost an electric effect on the saint; his aesthetic nature received a rude shock. He turned to Tansen and rebuked him, saying, “What has happened to you, Tansen, that you, a pupil of mine, should commit such a gross blunder?”
He then started singing the piece correctly; the mood came upon him and enveloped him and he forgot himself in the music, which filled the earth and heaven. Akbar and Tansen forgot themselves in the sheer melody and charm of the music.

PARA – 12

It was a unique experience. When the music stopped, Akbar turned to Tansen and said, “You say you learnt music form this saint and yet you seem to have missed the living charm of it all. Yours seems to be but chaff beside this soul-stirring music.”

PARA – 13

“It is true, Sir,” said Tansen. “It is true that my music is wooden and lifeless by the side of the living harmony and melody of the master. But then there is this difference – I sing to the emperor’s bidding, but my master sings to no man’s bidding but only when the prompting comes from this innermost self. That makes all the difference.”

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