Archive for January, 2011

Hindustani Music

Posted by on Jan-30-2011

The Hindustani Classical Music is the North Indian style of classical music. It is a tradition that originated in Vedic ritual chants and has been evolving from the 12th century. The hindustani classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line, which is played over a fixed drone. The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas.

The advent of the Islamic rule under the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire over northern India caused considerable cultural interchange. The musicians received patronage in the courts of the new rulers. As the Mughal Empire came into closer contact with Hindus, especially under Jalal ud-Din Akbar, music and dance also flourished. This helped spur the fusion of Hindu and Muslim ideas to bring forth new forms of musical synthesis like Qawwali and Khayal.

Tansen, the magical musician, was one of the ‘Navratna’ at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Tansen is recognized as having introduced a number of innovations, ragas as well as particular compositions. After the dissolution of Mughal Empire, the patronage of music continued in smaller princely kingdoms like Lucknow, Patiala, and Banaras, giving rise to the diversity of styles that is today known as Gharanas. Many musician families obtained large grants of land which made them self sufficient, at least for a few generations.

The major vocal forms-cum-styles associated with Hindustani classical music are Dhrupad, Khayal, and Tarana. Other forms include Dhamar, Trivat, Chaiti, Kajari, Tappa, Tap-Khayal, Ashtapadis, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal and Bhajan; most of these are folk or semi-classical or light classical music, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules and regulations of classical music. There is a significant amount of Persian influence in Hindustani music, in terms of the instruments, the style of presentation, and melodies such as Hijaz Bhairav, Bhairavi, and Yaman. Hindustani music has assimilated various folk tunes. The prime themes of Hindustani music are romantic love, nature, and devotionals.

Justice Krishna Iyer Blasts!!!

Posted by on Jan-22-2011

It’s been months that the Mullaperiyar Dam has wedged on flames. It has become a hot topic among the politicians and the media alike. Today even the laymen in both the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are debating on the issue.  But when someone like Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, makes a statement, it is to be heeded. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, titled as the ‘Living Legend of Law’, is Rotarian in spirit. Every call of his soul is vibrant with the values and ideals of Rotary. Justice Krishna Iyer, the retired Supreme Court judge, has also been honored with the Padma Bhushan Award by the President of India. Renowned for his unbiased judgments, such is his influence on the nation that when he speaks the masses listen.

Recently Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer has emerged with a review report -‘Mullaperiyar Dam – An Answer to Criticisms’ in favor of the Kerala government to build a new dam. He supports the plea of the government stating that the dam would be a major threat to the lives and property of the people residing in three heavily populated districts of Kerala. The safety of the dam and the need for reconstruction is crucial if the dam is too dilapidated.

Justice Krishna Iyer backs his statement with the provisions under the ‘Precautionary Principle’. According to this provision, if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. The principle also implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk.

In the materialized review, Justice Krishna Iyer also points that the rule of law must always support the rule of life. In case of consensus that can harm public, the interests of the public should be favored and not that of political parties. The court should appoint a commission of India’s best engineers to analyze the present condition of the Dam and design creative alternatives which will reconcile the safety of the dam and provision of sufficient water through new engineering devices to Tamil Nadu.

Click here to view Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer’s Review Report

The Lotus Temple

Posted by on Jan-16-2011

Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, is one of the remarkable architectures of Bahai faith. The whole structure is made of white marble that adds to the glory of the temple. The lotus shape of this architectural marvel signifies secularity of all faith and creeds, a collective dream of all religion. The temple was completed in 1986 and since then the temple has received recognition from all over the world for its marvelous architecture and design. The temple is open to people from all religions and has no restrictions for visitors. The place provides perfect environment for meditation, peace and wisdom. Lotus Temple is one among the most visited monuments in India. The credit for building this beautiful structure goes to the Persian architect Fariborz Sahba.

The lotus in the temple not merely meant to give a shape to the edifice but it is a message to the people of India in the form of a manifestation from the almighty. The Lotus personifies peace, purity, love and immortality. It is this particular specialty of Lotus flower which makes the flower an important icon in Indian culture and society. This is why the design of Lotus temple has been inspired by lotus flower. The temple has the capacity to accommodate nearly 2500 people and has nine doors that open in a central hall. It is about 40 meters tall surrounded by nine ponds and appears as if the temple is floating like a Lotus flower in water.

The design looks like a half opened Lotus flower with 27 freestanding “petals” made of marble. The architect, while designing the temple took into account the eternal beauty of Lotus flower. It took almost 10 years to construct the temple. The team comprised of 800 engineers, technicians, workers and artisans who worked diligently to give realization to one of the most complex edifices in the world. The temple integrates the aesthetic values along with the technological influence within the whole structure. There are nine reflecting pools that encompass the temple from outside.

Hindustani Lok Sangeet

Posted by on Jan-8-2011

India has a very rich and diverse tradition of folk music because of its vast cultural diversity. This creates endless varieties of folk styles which are distinct to a particular region.

Tribal and folk music is not taught in the same way as Indian classical music. There is no formal period of apprenticeship where the student is able to devote their entire life to learn music. The economics of rural life style does not permit this sort of a thing. The musical practitioners also attend their basic duties of hunting and agriculture along with a little devotion to music.
Music in the villages is learned almost by osmosis. From childhood, music is heard and imbibed along an individual’s course of life. There are numerous public activities which allow villagers to practice and hone their skills. These are the normal functions which synchronize village life with the universe.

It is an indispensable component of various functions like weddings, engagements and births. There is a plethora of songs for such occasions. Also, there are many songs associated with planting and harvesting. In these activities the villagers routinely sing of their hopes, fears and aspirations.

Musical instruments are often different from those found in classical music. Although instruments like tabla may be found sometimes, it is more likely that cruder drums such as daf, dholak, or nal will be used. The sitar and sarod which are common in the classical genre are absent in folk music. One often finds instruments such as the ektar, dotar, saringda, rabab, and santur being used but they are not depicted by these names, but named according to their local dialect. There are also innumerable instruments which are used only in certain folk styles pertaining in a specific region.

The instruments that folk musicians use are generally not as refined as the classical musicians use. The instruments of classical music are crafted by artisans whose job is fabrication of musical instruments while the folk instruments are commonly crafted by the musicians themselves.

It is very common to find folk instruments that have been fabricated of commonly available materials. Skin, peritoneum, bamboo, coconut shells, and pots are but a few commonly available materials used to make musical instruments.

Lal Quila

Posted by on Jan-3-2011

The largest of old Delhi’s monuments is the Lal Quila, or the Red Fort, the thick red sandstone walls of which, bulging with turrets and bastions, have withstood the vagaries of time, and nature. The Lal Quila rises above a wide dry moat, in the northeast corner of the original city of Shahjahanabad. Its walls extend upto two kilometre, and vary in height from 18 metres on the river side to 33 metres on the city side.

Mughal Emperor Shahjahan started the construction of the massive fort in 1638, and work was completed in 1648. The fort sports all the obvious trappings, befitting a vital centre of Mughal government: halls of public and private audience, domed and arched marble palaces, plush private apartments, a mosque, and elaborately designed gardens. Even today, the fort remains an impressive testimony to Mughal grandeur, despite being attacked by the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah in 1739, and by the British soldiers, during the war of independence in 1857.

Entrance to the fort is through the imposing Lahore Gate, which as its name suggests faces Lahore, now in Pakistan. This gate has a special significance for India, since the first war of independence, and has been the venue of many an important speech, delivered by freedom fighters and national leaders of India.

The main entrance opens on to the Chatta Chowk, a covered street flanked with arched cells, that used to house Delhi’s most skilful jewellers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths. This arcade was also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping centre for the ladies of the court. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk, is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana, or the Drum House. Musicians used to play for the emperor from the Naubat Khana, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here.

The Fort also houses the Diwan-i-Amor the Hall of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit and hear complaints of the common folk. His alcove in the wall was marble-panelled, and was set with precious stones, many of which were looted, after the Mutiny of 1857. The Diwan-i-Khas is the hall of private audiences, where the Emperor held private meetings. This hall is made of marble, and its centre-piece used to be the Peacock Throne, which was carried away to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, the Diwan-i-Khas is only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the famous Persian couplet inscribed on its wall reminds us of its former magnificence: “If on earth be an eden on bliss, it is this, it is this, none but this.”

The other attractions enclosed within this monument are the hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahan’s private working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use. The Rang Mahalor the ‘Palace of Colors’ housed the Emperor’s wives and mistresses. This palace was crowned with gilded turrets, delicately painted and decorated with an intricate mosaics of mirrors, and a ceiling overlaid with gold and silver, that was wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor.

Even today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the Fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence.