“Sangeet” or Music had been integral to Indian cultural heritage. If we consider the origin of Indian music then it is for sure that we would be lost in the pages of Indian literature and History. But it is an unspoken fact that since time immemorial we Indians had been associated with music. And it is not wrong to say that religion had been pivotal in driving music into the lives of an Indian.
The four vedas are the purest and finest example and Divine sangeet.
Sangeet has been defined as ‘Gitam vadyam nrityam trayam sangita muchyete‘ i.e vocal, instrumental and dancing comprise of music and the three are inseparable. The unique fusion between the three has been best exemplified by Goddess Saraswati. Also not to miss the ‘tandav’, cosmic dance performed by Lord Shiva and ‘Lashya’ performed by Goddess Parvati, all clearly specify the influence of religion on Indian Sangeet.
The first treatise on music was the “Natyashastra” written by sage Bharata. The legend goes that Indra approached Brahma to simplify the vedas for all those who find it difficult to read and understand. Upon this Brahma entrusted the work upon Bharata sage who created Natyashastra. Thus Natyashatra became a simplified tool for educating the lesser educated about the philosophies of the Vedas. How was this achieved? Well, Natyashastra enabled presentation of Vedic verses in form of dance and drama to the audience. So, this proves for sure how communication was simplified using Sangeet in older times.
Music had been very close to all Indian Gods and Goddesses. To name a few Narad, Tumbru, Urvashi, Rambha and Menka are quite closely associated. Lord Krishna had been the epitome of music and had been the contributor of best of dance forms called ‘Raslila’. Also to note that Arjuna worked as a dance teacher for quite some time. Even so when Amrapali invited Gautam Buddha and he happily accepted her invitation. Why? The answer is simple as being associated to Sangeet was a matter of pride and it was a popular choice of profession then. Vidyadhars and Gandharavs took Sangeet as a part of their profession.
Even the writings of Kalidas, Bhasa and Bharvi are excellent compositions and had soothing effect on heart and soul. Last but not the least Sangeet had been closely associated to spiritual awakening in India. Kabir, Nank, Tulsidas, Surdaas and Tukaram embraced sangeet/music to spread moral and ethical values to the masses.