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TRANSRELIGIOUS AND INTERCOMMUNAL Hindustani Music in Classical and Contemporary North India

TRANSRELIGIOUS AND INTERCOMMUNAL Hindustani Music in Classical and Contemporary North India This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Peace by Other Means” demonstrates how, even as religious strife is pervasive in India, classical Hindustani music has remained a transreligious and intercommunal medium. Indeed, music is one of the few domains in which Hindu-Muslim tension is absent: in North India it is common for audiences composed of both Hindus and Muslims to attend performances in which Hindu vocalists sing devotedly of Allah, and Muslim vocalists of Krishna. Hindustani musicians of whatever faith, it is argued, worship Nada-Brahman, the Hindu “Sound-God.” Three kinds of religious tradition in India have nurtured the perception that sound is sacred: Hindu bhakti , Sufism, and Santism, all of which this essay explores in case studies both of the formative period of devotional music in North India and of the current state of the genre and its venues of performance. Hindu-Muslim relations Hindustani music Nada-Brahman bhakti dhrupad http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

TRANSRELIGIOUS AND INTERCOMMUNAL Hindustani Music in Classical and Contemporary North India

Common Knowledge , Volume 22 (2) – May 1, 2016

TRANSRELIGIOUS AND INTERCOMMUNAL Hindustani Music in Classical and Contemporary North India


Hindustani Music in Classical and Contemporary North India Michiko Urita In Varanasi, since Babri Masjid was demolished, riots continued to happen every December during several years, and these riots produced a lot of tension. But on important annual festivals such as Holi and Divali, Bismillah Khan continued to play shehnai [Indian oboe] for Hindus. Because of this and also a picture in the newspaper of him playing shehnai with a tear running on his face, the tension provoked between Hindus and Muslims became decreased and sometimes ceased. This happened because music has no boundary. Music cannot be confined in any community, religion, and country. Music is boundless, delightful, and infinite. In Varanasi, when a Hindu disciple touches his Muslim guru's feet on a stage or a Muslim disciple touches his Hindu guru's feet on a stage, everyone sees and understands that this is music, guru-shishya-parampara [teacher-disciple tradition], humanity, and it has nothing to do with Hindu or Muslim. Like this, people's thoughts and emotions become generous, and more tolerance is produced. In this way, in Varanasi, music has played a major role in reducing communal tension. --Vidhu Shekhar (2005) 22:2 DOI 10.1215/0961754X-3464792 © 2016 by Duke University Press Published by Duke University Press Intercommunal rioting is ordinary and recurrent in present Indian society-- though I should say so-called rioting, because such events have tended to be organized and well planned. They are to be understood not as expressions of spontaneous fury by mad mobs but rather as pogroms.1 The violence of Hindu fundamentalists against Muslims in the state of Gujarat that occurred in February 2002 is an example, as is the December 6, 1992, demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, to which Vidhu Shekhar refers in the passage that I have quoted above. Many witnesses and survivors of such events testify that, with politicians' support, police and Indian army...
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Publisher
Duke University Press
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Copyright © Duke Univ Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-3464792
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Abstract

This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Peace by Other Means” demonstrates how, even as religious strife is pervasive in India, classical Hindustani music has remained a transreligious and intercommunal medium. Indeed, music is one of the few domains in which Hindu-Muslim tension is absent: in North India it is common for audiences composed of both Hindus and Muslims to attend performances in which Hindu vocalists sing devotedly of Allah, and Muslim vocalists of Krishna. Hindustani musicians of whatever faith, it is argued, worship Nada-Brahman, the Hindu “Sound-God.” Three kinds of religious tradition in India have nurtured the perception that sound is sacred: Hindu bhakti , Sufism, and Santism, all of which this essay explores in case studies both of the formative period of devotional music in North India and of the current state of the genre and its venues of performance. Hindu-Muslim relations Hindustani music Nada-Brahman bhakti dhrupad

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: May 1, 2016

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