This book on Indian music during Delhi Sultanate is an impression of intermingling of Indian Music with Persian and Arabic Music. This was the Persian which marked bifurcation of our hitherto unofirm music into two streams; Hindustani and Karnatak forms. The book deeply observes the role of the Royalty, the Subjects and the Reformists in changing yet preserving the soul of our music system and has tried to rule out the myths. The hallmark of the book is reflected in bringing the original works and manuscripts to the limelight.
Dr. Nisha Wadhwa has been in service of music since 1982. She was appointed as lecturer in Government of Haryana (College Cadre). Since then she is constantly attached with this field. Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, University of Delhi, added to her career as researcher also. In this long vista of time she took deep interest in the history of the subject. She tried to uncover the hidden or less known resources which speak about the cultural history of the period under surveillance. The book is the outcome of that research work.
At present the author is Principal in Haryana Education Services class 1
Music is an integral part of Indian culture. It is said to be one of the oldest and unbroken traditions in the world and is regarded as a scientific and highly refined art form. The advent of historical research has also given us a perspective in the field of music and has shown that Indian music developed within a very complex system involving different people of different races and culture. The present book by the author Dr. Nisha Wadhwa is remarkable in a way that it deals with a period most significant for the history of India as well as it’s cultural history. During this period the major changes were seen in the form of royalty and society, where music played an important role in these changes. This period known as Delhi Sultanate period which extends over the 13th, 14th, 15th and early 16th century, known as pre Mughal or early Mohammedan period. This is the most important epoch of musical history of India starting from Sangeet Ratnaker (A.D. 1210-1247 i.e. beginning of 13th century) by Pt. Sharangdev which is considered the last authentic and authoritative work on Indian music. After that it started showing effects of intermingled culture in music also resulting of bifurcation into two systems i.e. Hindustani and Karnatak Music.
The author of this book must be given applaud for her effort to discuss and bring almost all work of that period but putting more emphasis on, bringing into limelight, unpublished and scantily discussed yet greet works like-Aijaz-e-Khusravi by Amir Kusrau, Maanutuhal of Raja Maan Tomar, Sangeet Shiromani by Pandi Mandi which was a joint effort of scholars to make complexities of music understandable for the commoners, Ghunyat-ul-Munya by an anonymous author who wrote a book on Indian music,in Persian, earliest known of its own Kind and Lehjat-e-Sikandershi by Yahiya-al-Umar Kabuli who was allowed to write a book aftetthe regent Sikander Lodhi’s prime minister was satisfied with the writers knowledge of music. It is difficult to reach the rare and wonderful resources without deep involvement and dedication. She has tried to explore hidden work on musicology of the Sultanat Period successfully.
She has tried to discuss Amir Khusrau from multiple angles of his personality as a great musician, as s Sufi, as a writer and as a musicologist, whose experiments with music system and musical instruments of Indian surfaced new patterns of playing and singing, Settling down of Sufis in India and Chashtiya silsila who believed in Sama singing and used music as a medium of pleasing God and welfare of mankind. Reformist preaching’s of Bhakti saints like Ramanand, Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, Namdeva, Vidyapati Meera etc. through musical hymns and instruments, proved like a balm for the Indian society, who was much in pain due to the foreign intruders. This period marked the invention or revival of new singing styles such as Khaya by Sultan Hussain Shirqi, Dhrupad by Raja Maan Singh Tomar, addition of Qual, Qualbana, Tarana, Gul, Naqsh Nigar, Sohel and Qwali by Amir Khusrau into music. Thus, this period witnessed wonderful changes and evolved as a drastically changed musical tradition in India, in vogue till today.
The book needs to be appreciated as it has given equal importance to the different aspects of the development of music of that period that how social reformists like Sufis and Bhakti saints influenced Indian music, royal interest for this art for, outsiders interest in indigenous music (besides its being prohibited in Islam), their knowledge of foreign music and musical instruments, invention of sitar, table and new ragas, use of Persian instruments such as Chang, Rabab and Barbat in the courts of Delhi Sultanate.
I feel the Author has justice with the work covering all aspects responsible for present forms and styles. Moreover it is an outcome of the serious research of historical evidences prevalent during the period of Delhi Sultanate. Whatever had been emerged and invented in this period has been examined thoroughly and critically. This is interesting to know (creditable for her) that she has tried to collect and explain the available manuscripts of the rarest of rare books of the period.
I am sure this book will be of immense benefit and serve as a meaningful documentation for the students, scholars as well as practitioners of music. Obviously, it will be a valuable addition to the libraries too.
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