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An Analytical Study of Sangitasamayasara of Sri Parsvadeva

An Analytical Study of Sangitasamayasara of Sri Parsvadeva
Item Code: IHL713
Author: M. Vijaylakshmi
Publisher: Raj Publications
Language: Text with English Translation
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788186208755
Pages: 274
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.8 inch X 5.6 inch
weight of the book: 490 gms
From the Jacket

Sangitasamayasara is a treatise on desi (local or folk) music and dance prevalent in 13th century. This work is ascribed to Sri Parsvadeva, a Jain Acharya who was widely acclaimed for his musical knowledge. This work is exclusively devoted to the topics, terms and technique of the prevalent desi music (vocal and instrumental) and dance. The author favours the artists of desi music and dance more than the artists with the knowledge of only margi music. We find a number of number of unusual names of thayas and their description in chapter 3. The names are meaningful and expressive. Numerous compositional forms known as prabandhas of local music, dance and instruments are included in the chapter dealing with the compositional form which is a unique feature of this work. The playing techniques of percussion instruments are described with the help of the hand postures of dance gestures of Bharata. The syllabic sound produced by the replacements of the hands are also given to help the students to learn the techniques easily. Similarly, there are various novel concepts related to generally known topics are presented with an original yet in an unusual way.

The margi and desi music are clearly specified and the difference between these are well established in this work according to their topics.

DR. M. Vijaylakshmi is a retired senior reader of the Faculty of music & fine arts of Delhi University, now settled in U.S.A. She has been a student of Banaras and Delhi University. She has published many works and articles both in English and Hindi on music. Her main area of work is related to ancient treatises on music.

Sangitamakaranda, Aumapatam, Raganirupanam, Indian music and Sangitanibandhamala are some of them.

Dr. Vijaylakshmi is adept in practical and theoretical sides of Hindustani classical music. She is well versed in Carnatic music also.



Sangita samaya sara is a Sanskrit work on music ascribed to Parsvadeva, a Jain dcarya (pontiff) of digambara sect. Sangita samaya sara is an ancient and unique work comprising various topics related to desi (local or country) music and dance. This work might be taken as the earliest contribution of a jain author dedicated to sangita (vocal, instrumental music and dance).

Sangita samaya sara has ten chapters dealing with dance, instrumental and Vocal music of his time. The tenth chapter seems to be a later interpolation by some unknown person. The tenth chapter contains an incomplete description about tala which is described earlier in 8th chapter.

Chapter wise contents of the work

First chapter: A salutation to Lord Vasudeva followed by a brief description of ancient music known as margi music is given in this chapter The chapter comprises a short definition of some terms of margi music such as sthanas (registers), sruti (micro tones), svaras (notes), grama-murchanas (scales), tanas (half scales), jatis, gramaragas (melody types) and gitakas (song Firms).

Second chapter: The chapter deals with the desi music which was prevalent at that period. Parsvadeva gives a brief account of the formation of human embryo as it is the origin of the sound (human voice).

Third chapter: This is an important chapter which deals with the thayas, (Various types of phrases formed with a group of notes) the essential ingredients used in alapti (elaboration of melody types).The types of alaptis are defined in short.

Fourth chapter: A small chapter on ragas, their classification and description.

Fifth chapter: It deals with the nibaddha sangita (pre composed music). It is a long chapter consisting of some unique classification of prabandhas. Parsvadeva deals with suda prabandhas only.

Sixth chapter: Instruments, their classification and playing techniques with illustrations.

Seventh chapter: Though the nrtya (dance) is described in this chapter yet it is a little different in the sense that the author gives more preference to desi types of dances.

Eighth chapter: Parsvadeva gives a brief description of tala (rhythmic pattern) in this chapter and he gives due importance to the subject.

Ninth chapter: This chapter is named as vada nirnaya (judgment of elocution contest). It is a unique and a unusual topic dealt extensively.

Tenth chapter: Incomplete repetition of topic tala. Parsvadeva has taken a great effort to bring forth the practical side of the desi music (vocal and instrumental) dance.

About the Author:-

Parsvadeva was the son of Adideva and Gauri. His spiritual Guru (teacher) was Sri Mahadeva Arya who was the deciple of Abhayachandra muni (12th century A.D.)

Parsvadeva was awarded the title of “Sangitakara” (ocean of music) because of his deep and vast knowledge of sangita (all the three branches of music). This elaborate and extensive work is the proof of his proficiency of the subject. He had traveled wide and far and was well received by the scholars and honoured by all. These informations are gathered from the internal evidence provided by the author himself in the first chapter and the colophon appearing in the end of the chapters.

Time and place of the author: Parsvadeva has mentioned the following names of ancient authors and music scholars which may help to decide his time. The names are• Dattila, Kohala, Somesvara Anjaneya, Tumburu, Bhoja. Matanga, Kasyapa and Yastika, He has mentioned the name of Jagadekamalla, the son of Somesvara and the author of Sangita Cudamani as Pratapa prithivibhuja. Jagadekamalla was the king of Kalyan (Hydrabad) who reigned from 1138 to 1150 AD. Parsvadeva has followed the work of this king on many accounts like ragas, prabandhas, etc.

There are many instances where he has borrowed many verses from Matanga muni and presented them as it is. As far as Jagadekamalla is considered, Parsvadeva followed his tradition of music .Yet he has not indebted to anybody fully .He has his own originality and unique theoretical knowledge based on practical music dance of his time

In the list of ancient authors name, he has excluded the name of Abhinavagupta and Sarngadeva. Though Parsvadeva does not mention the name of Sarngadeva yet at many places he contradicts some specific ideas of the latter, i.e. the naming of the prabandhas (compositional-forms) as taravali etc, this shows that the work Sangita Ratnakara of Sarngadeva (of 13th century) was known to him.

Simhabhupala a well known commentator of Sangita Ratnakara quotes Parsvadeva frequently in his commentary. Simhabhupala was a scholarly king of recherla dynasty. He was supposed to be the earliest commentator of Sangita Ratnakara. Sangitasudhakara, the commentary belongs to 14th century AD. while Sangita Ratnakara is a work of early half of the 13th century AD. It seems that the work Sangita samaya sara was well received and accepted by the music scholars. Therefore the work Sangita samaya sara should be placed a little later than Sangita Ratnakara, i.e. later half of 13th century AD.

Though Sangita samaya sara is a work of Sanskrit language yet it contains many words of` local language of Maharastra or near around. Mostly they are related to the general term names of playing techniques of Instruments or the names of technical terms. The sthayas are presented as; thayas.Moda modi. Chitta ce thaya phella phelli, joda ce thaya are some of the names of thayas used by him which are not Sanskrit words. The term name viruda which is the anga (part) of prabandha is defined according to the meaning of the marathi word "viru”. There are many more such instances which confirm his being a maharastrian or his residing in a place where marathi was the language spoken by local people.

The manuscripts of the work Sangitasamayasara
Sangita samaya sara has three manuscripts preserved in three libraries. They are as follows:

1. Oriental Research Institute of` Mysore: It has 149 pages written by hand in telugu (Andhra Pradesh) script. This ms. is a complete one and has all the chapters including the 10th chapter.

2. The second manuscript is preserved in Punjar Palace in Kerala. This manuscript is two to three hundred years old and is written in Malayalam script. It was the earliest manuscript found in 1917 and was published in 1925 under the Ananthashayanam Ayyangar`s Granthavali by T. Ganapothy Shastri. According to Mahamahopadhyaya. Ganapathy Shastri, it was the solitary manuscript available at that time .This ms. is incomplete in the sense that the first chapter and first 16 verses of the second chapter are missing. The published version of this work begins from the 17th sloka of2nd chapter.

3. The third manuscript is kept in the Madras Government Oriental Manuscript Library. It is a transcription in Devanagari script. It is a complete one with all the 10 chapters.

This present work is based on the published version of Sangita samaya sara edited by T. Ganapathy Shastri (published under Trivendram Public Series). As the edition does not contain the first chapter and the beginning of second chapter, the first chapter and I5 verses of second chapter has been added with the help of` the other Ms. and the existing published book of Sangita samaya sara edited and translated in Hindi by Acharya Sri Kailashchandra Brahaspati. Rest of the edited text, its translation cum explanation are the original work of the author of this book.

The present published book of Sangita samaya sara is a revised edition of my previously published book in 2003, it has to be revised to make some necessary alterations, additions, amendments. Much effort has been taken to provide an accurate, correct and simple interpretation of the ideas presented in the text through this work to the readers. This is the main purpose of this book.




  Introduction 7
  Chapter 1 12
  Chapter 2 36
  Chapter 3 55
  Chapter 4 87
  Chapter 5 109
  Chapter 6 147
  Chapter 7 181
  Chapter 8 228
  Chapter 9 241


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