Vedic Classical Music


Meditative Music Heritage

This series of publications from our emerging nonprofit library unfolds ancient Vedic classical music in the light of meditation. It is a rare opportunity for a music lover, an artist or a spiritual aspirant to gain access to such meditative art treasures of the ancient world. The tradition of Sanskritic indigenous knowledge is well known for its seamless combination of art and music with meditation and spirituality. Naturally, the entire Vedic worship paradigm rests upon this exquisite tapestry that culminates with merging into bliss by reposing in lighted silence beyond the shades of beauty.

Our archive project searches out maestros, savants, chanters and adepts who are capable of reproducing the ancient mystique of the Vedic times for the modern seeker. Drawing upon esoteric Sanskrit texts and manuscripts, our monastic council of highly realized Vedic monks guides the conception, recording and production of these music projects. The monks oversee the authenticity of the material as from the hallowed indigenous tradition.


Roots of Vedic Classical Music

Indic classical music has an unbroken tradition and an accumulated heritage of centuries that has been traced back to the Vedic Sanskrit period. Pupils and maestros of Indic classical music recognize Sāmaveda to be the source of music. Both the well-organized classical music and the classical dance traditions consider Sāmaveda to be root of their melodies and rhythms. The unbroken oral traditions claim that during the flourishing times of Sāmaveda lineages (later than the R̥gVeda period that flourished in Āryāvarta, the landmass between Saraswati and Ganga rivers), music was held to be derived from Sāmaveda chants and intonations, and the form of music defined as Sāmagāna was prevalent which involved singing verses set to musical patterns.

The compositions were devotional and often used during community rituals and restricted to worship environs or Vedic fire ceremonies. As in R̥gveda, the hymns of Sāmaveda (saṃhitā) are composed with a liturgical purpose and ultimately aimed at revealing spiritual philosophy. Their metres shift in a descending order and form the repertoire of the Sāmagāna singer (udgātr̥). For example, all seven notes of the Karnatic rāga karaharapriyā are found in this Veda in the descending order. In this respect, Karnatic classical music is said to retain the traditional octave in congruence with the Sāmaveda heritage.

Recommended Reading


Legendary percussion virtuoso, Vikku Vinayakram playing on the baked clay pot accompanied by his grandson, the prodigiously gifted kanjira drummer, Swaminathan Selvaganesh. The musicians offered their compositions while taking audience with His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda, shown seated at the left.

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Rāga-pravāha in Rāga Nattaikurinji and Ādi-tāla on a theme featuring the Lord of time, Shiva. Kumaresh Rajagopalan is on violin, Jayanthi Kumaresh is on vīṇā, and Trichy Krishnaswamy playing ghata or the baked clay pot.

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Music and the Veda


The hymns of R̥gveda are known to be exquisite offerings to the gods through the vāņī, or the essence of speech expressing devotional thoughts through the vocalization of intonated mantra. However, the essence of these hymns is the musical rendering of those Rik sounds into Sāman by way of either intonated singing or music. The stylized singing of Sāman mantra is known as Sāmagāna (psalm songs).

Sāmaveda has far fewer verses than R̥gveda, but is voluminous due to the list of the chants and their modifications in the song form. Sublime expression of the Sāmagāna through voice or music is said to bear the power to replace rites and rituals, and is verily hailed as giving fulfillment to the heart. Sublimation through celestial music is deemed as a way to moxa or deliverance from the cycle of death and rebirth.



Publications Released

MardalaSwanam
Rhythmic Vibrations of a Barrel Drum

MardalaSwanam features percussion maestro Mannargudi R. Vasudevan who is known to be one of the fastest drummers. The composition presents rare meditative rhythmic cycles using a type of mardala, a barrel-shaped drum. The instrument used by maestro Vasudevan is also called tavil, or thavil, which is the Tamil word denoting the brilliant sound that emanates from this drum. His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda, the founding monk of Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, requested maestro Vasudevan to recreate the Vedic rhythmic mystique using the tavil, borrowing his inspiration from the hallowed past of mardala drums. This specially composed meditative music was inspired by the traditional repertoire of Vedic rhythms attributed to Lord Natarāja Shiva.

GhataKalpanam
Entrancing Rhythms of the Clay Pot

GhataKalpanam features the legendary percussion maestro T. H. Vinayakram. The composition presents rare meditative rhythmic cycles on the ghata, a baked clay pot. Vikku Vinayakram, as is he is popularly known, is a disciple of the wondrous monk of India, His Holiness Swami Chandrashkharendra Saraswati. The founding monk of Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda requested Sri Vikku to recreate the Vedic rhythmic mystique aligned with the Chidambaram tradition attributed to Lord Natarāja Shiva on the ghata-vādya-yantra. This album is special for its vocal expressions introducing the rhythmic beats.

VīnāVyoman
Cosmic Resonance of the Violin

VīnāVyoman features the renowned violin maestro Kumaresh Rajagopalan. He is widely regarded in Indian classical music for his collaborative music projects with his elder brother, Ganesh Rajagopalan. Violin is known by the name Dhanurvīnā in Sanskrit, and has preserved its niche role as a solo instrument since the Vedic times, as is evident in the meditative mystique of this music. VīnāVyoman was completed after a year-long study of cosmic soundscapes of deep space alongside discussions on related chanting intonations with the founding monk of Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda.

VīnāSāman
Celestial Melodies of the Vīnā

VīnāSāman features the renowned vīnā maestro Jayanthi Kumaresh. Starting as a child prodigy, Jayanthi has been enthralling music connoisseurs on the world stage for the last 25 years with her soulful expressions through the national instrument of India. This meditative music composition was inspired by the SāmaVeda mantra repertoire and its hidden melodies. The album was completed after a three year comparative study between vocal chanting intonations and instrumental melody inflections, and several academic discussions with the founding monk of Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda.

WHAT YOU SUPPORT

With your support we can bring to fruition enthralling music projects with selected artists, which would be otherwise not available. These publications are only available through hansavedas.org as per the Vedic holistic curriculum. Funds are needed for the project research phase, recording studio rental fees, mix engineering fees, online music hosting fees, Sanskrit textual research and translation, and whenever possible honorariums.