Stay Connected
To subscribe our monthly newsletter, please enter your contact name and email address below:
Follow Us FacebookTwitterYou TubeFlickr

From the Courts of Mewar

Rana Raj Singh I

Rana Raj Singh I (1652-1680) displayed passionate love for music that is distinctly visible in the art and specially architecture of his reign. The 'Nauchauki' pavilion, the artistic monuments constructed along the banks of Lake Rajsamand stand testament to the late Rana's interest in visual depictions.

Facial expressions, body postures, and the stylised position of the hands (mudras) in the form of indian classical dance, along with musical instruments and groups of singers are all carved on the chattris, pillars and arches. The Nauchauki represents the attention and ardent support lent to music at the time.

The Rana himself composed a set of miscellaneous verses known as 'Kutkal Chand'. 'Chappay' a type of metre composed by him can be seen inscribed in the balcony of the palace at Rajsamand. Rana Raj Singh I had an indirect though effective role to play in introducing the tradition of the temple music of Vallabh Sampradaya.

The origins of the temple music are found in the Vedas. The principle source of Vedic music is found in the Samveda. The one thousand sections of the Samveda provide the main system of classical indian music. By analysing the origin and later development of Indian classical music, it is amply clear that Chaand singing led to Vishnu Pad singing and ultimately to the singing of Dhrupad music.

It is this Prabandh singing which grew to became the rich foundation for the traditions of Dhrupad and Dhamaar gayaki in Mewar. Carrying the idol of Shrinathji from Mathura to Sinhad Village and then to Nathdwara in Mewar (1672 AD), Rana Raj Singh I helped to protect the idol from the vandalism of Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor.

This was important in the development of music in Mewar as this occasion introduced a new style of temple music called ‘Haveli Sangeet’ to the court of Mewar. Nathdwara is the main centre of Krishna bhakti (devotion of Lord Krishna) of the Vaishnava sect.

The lilting melodies and refined notes of music based on the ragas, set in accordance with the seasons and time of day and different Jhankis (displays) according to the code of Pushti Marg, echo in and around the temple. These bhajans (devotional songs) are based on the padas composed by the Ashtachaap (a group of eight great poets of the Vallabha sect). These poets were in fact singers of devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna. The Dhrupad legacy is one of the most ancient systems of clan singing. The style was to sing praise to the gods and goddesses in Shringaar, Veera and Shant Raasas. This was a pure form of Bhakti sangeet.

The Dhrupad and Dhamaar traditions of music displayed extraordinary dexterity with the musician's vocal techniques such as the 'nom-tom'. Devotional music concentrated on becoming one with God in a natural and serene manner.

Originating in the temples, this style of music reached the courts of the Maharanas in the form of Dhrupad and Dhamaar. This then became the pride of Mewar, and from here, India received remarkable vocalists and instrumentalists along with the Rudra Veena and Sursingar.