(Last Updated on : 10/01/2011)
Religion in Indian Classical Music
has been a very important factor right from the origin and establishment of the music system right down to its present practice. Religion itself is a major feature of the heterogeneous Indian society and has played a very important role down the course of history. India is a country that is dominated by Hindu traditions, but there are several millions of Muslims as well as Christians, Parsis, Jains, Sikhs, and Jews. The musicians are themselves representatives of every point of view. In the medieval courts, especially during the Mughal dynasty
, there were many musicians who converted to Islam
in order to secure a court position. Many of the musicians who have "Khan" as a last name were associated with a Muslim court and may well have converted from Hinduism
. However, no matter what the practising faith of the musician is, the very origin of music is said to be a divine manifestation, a gift from God.
The Hindus will call this aspect of the music Nad-Brahma, "sound as God," or "the language of God." Thus the purpose of music is to bring oneself in tune with the highest planes, and the practice of music is like a prayer. The musician is on a lifelong path (Marga) which has spiritual overtones, mixed with refinement, knowledge, and purification. Hindus would add that this leads to Mukti, or "liberation". Although these ideas are part of the Hindu tradition, one does not hear them contradicted by musicians of other faiths. On the contrary, these principles are often found in the song texts, especially in the texts of songs designed to teach young musicians about the nature of the musical experience.