Classical music and dance in India had
a well developed theoretical and practical system right from ancient times.
There has been various books and treatises on music and dance. They deal
with all facets of dance and music right from dress, make-up, background,
stage condition, voice, instruments, qualities required of artistes, teachers,
rasikas and so on. The books are called Lakshanagrandhas, lakshana meaning
aspects and grandha meaning treatise. The lakshanagrandhas provide the
basis for structural framework relating to classical music and dance. The
fact that dance and music have maintained their classicsm over the ages
is proof enough for the importance and impact of Lakshanagrandhas on the
practical aspects of dance and music.
There have been many literature
on music and dance right from vedic times. Infact the vedas are the earliest
literature available on music and dance. The Lakshanagrandhas may be classified
on the basis of period as, Vedic literature till 9th century literature.
Then from Matanga's period (9th century) to medevial 16th century. Modern
period 16th century (Purandaradasar) till the present time.
: The oldest known comprehensive literature on classical arts
by Bharatha Muni. Very little is known about the author. The work must
have been written between 2 BC - 2 AD. This treatise principally deals
with dramaturgy. It has 36 chapters with 6000 verses. Music, dance, semantics,
morphology, dialects and their phonology, play writing, play construction,
production, rehearsal, dramatic criticism, audience are some of the topics
dealt with. It begins with the origin of drama. Different aspects of music
are dealt with in the 28th chapter. This treatise is a comprehensive book
on arts and is yet to be surpassed by any other book in terms of content
: This treatise stands as a proof for the highly scientific
system of music prevalent from early times. This is a very informative
book and traces the evolution of music. This book must have been written
after Natyasastra. The author of this book is believed to be Narada, about
2,000 years ago. The time theory of ragas, Ganagunas, doshas, classification
of ragas and raginis are the interesting aspects of this book.
: This literature by Dathila has 244 verses. The language makes
one feel that this may be an edited version of a voluminous work. The author
has adopted traditional as well as rational method in analysing the subject.
It has 12 chapters dealing with sruthi, swara, grama, murchchana, tana,
sthana, sushka, jathi, varna and alankara. The author has mentioned his
work as a mere attempt to join the system propounded by his predecessors
and teachers. One interesting aspect is that the author has mentioned that
users are at full liberty to use his work, edit and amend it.
: A 9th century work on music. This is the first major treatise
giving importance to music. But unfortunately, it is incomplete, may be
portions of it are lost. The author has based his work on the Natyasastra
of Baratha. This is the first book to deal with ragas in music. The purpose
of this book was to highlight many aspects of music which were omitted
MAKARANDHA : This 11th century pre Ratnakaram-period work has
seven sections. Nada, sruti, swara, raga, veena, tala, nartana, etc. This
book is highly systematic and scientific but suffers inaccuracy in some
respects. In this book mention is made of the merits of a good singer.
SUDHAKARA : This is a work by Haripala in the 12th century.
This has 5 sections. This work is a modification of the existing works
and is a compilation of them in a concise and comprehensive way. Angabhinaya,
tala, musical instruments, natya and gita are the subjects dealt with.
SAMAYASARA : This is an authentic work on theory of music by
Parsvadeva during the 12th century. It has 10 adhikaras (chapters) with
1400 verses. The work establishes the importance of music and reveals the
highly advanced system of musicology and musical traditions prevalent during
: This work by king Someswara gives useful information on the
prevalent type of music and the system of singing and theoritical aspects.
The patronage of music in olden days is also dealt with. It deals with
instrumental music, dances, ragas.
This is a major work on music by Vidyaranya. Ragas are dealt with in detail
in this work. Importance of raga alaapanas and the ways of doing it are
dealt with. The ragas are classified as ragas and raginis on the basis
of chandas. This is the first work to stress the importance of raga.
SARODDHARA : This is a rare treatise on music and dance written
by Sudhakalasa. The period od the work is 1350 AD. It reveals the contribution
of Jain monks in the field of music and fine arts. It has 6 chapters dealing
with gita, tala, raga, vadya, nritya and nritta paddhathi. This book shows
the interrelation of music and dance.
RATNAKARA : This is the most authoritative and important work
on music. It deals with almost all aspects of music. Authored by Sarangadeva,
it has 7 chapters titled Saptadhyayi, out of which 6 are devoted to music
and 1 to dance. The titles of the chapters are Swaragatadhyaya, Ragavivekadhyaya,
Prakirnakadhyaya, Prabhandhadhyaya, Taladhyaya, Vadhyadhyaya and Narthanadhyaya.
This treatise has been a trendsetter for all future Lakshanagrandhas.
SUDHAKARA : This treatise has been authored by Simhabhupala.
This was written within a century after Sarangadeva's period. The author
has tried to clarify the topics dealt by Sarangadeva in a clear manner.
There are 7 chapters that deal with nada, raga, quality of composers, prbhandha,
talas, instruments and dance.
: This is a work by Maharana Kumbha between 1433-1468 AD. He
has tried to codify the materials available during his time and use them
in a critical and useful way.
: This work by Ramamatya during the 16th century is known for
its brevity. It puts in proper perspective the importance of theory as
well as practice in music and assigns a proper placing for both. It has
5 chapters - Preface, Swaraprakarana, Veenaprakarana, Melaprakarana and
DARPANAM : Written by Chatura Damodhara in the 16th century
it throws light on the important fundamental facets of music. The author
has dealt with types of music, voices, swaras, tanas, alaapana, instruments,
talas, dance in 7 chapters.
: This work by Lochana is an authentic work on the theory of
music. Importance is given to raga and its various aspects. It has 5 chapters
called Tharangas. Of this, 4 tharangas deal with pictorial forms and illustrations
by means of songs composed in six principal ragas and 36 raginis.
: The author of this work is Somanatha. It has 470 verses in
3 chapters. The period of the work is 17th century A.D. Each chapter is
called a viveka. This work is of very high standard and order. It serves
as a reference source and foundation for North Indian music.
This 17th century work is by Govinda Dikshitar. It is supposed to have
7 chapters but three chapters are missing. The author has applied his knowledge
of theory to practice. He has followed and adopted the contemporary development
of music. This work proves to be a useful link in the chain of history
PRAKASIKA : This is an important work (17th century) and has
been writtwen by Venkatamahi. Venkatamahi established a system of procedure
and rules for ragas and Prabandhas based on the careful study of the system
of music prevalent before and during his time. Some parts of the work are
missing. He has dealt with sruthi, swara, mela, raga, aalapa, taya, geetha,
prabandha, talaprakarana and veena. This book is considered as the Bible
VIBODHA : This illustrious work is authored by Srinivasa, a
contemporary of Venkatamahi. This grandha deals with aspects of North Indian
music. It has 9 chapters. This book is very useful in enumerating the various
fundamental technical aspects of music.
PARIJATHA : This is a 17th century work by Ahobala. This book
deals with the system of music during his time, especially Hindusthani
music. It has 8 chapters devoted to swara, grama, murchchana, alankara,
jathi, gamaka, samaya and raga. The author has done many experiments to
establish theoretical facts in a scientific manner. He has dealt with the
topics of sruti and swaras in detail.
DAMODARA : This is a book by Damodara Misra. On the request
of Jehangir, the Mughal king, he worked on co-ordinating both sastra and
sampradaya and wrote Sangeetha Damodara. He has also dealt with dance.
: The exact date & name of the composer is not known. But
since there are references to Chaturdandiprakasika, it is understood to
be a work later than Chaturdandiprakasika. Here the author has tried to
innovate and adopt srutis instead of the Universal 24 srutis.
MALIKA : This work by M'med Shah deals with both dance &
music, but unfortunately only the chapter on dance is available in full
SARAMRTHA : This book by king Tulaja stands foremost among the
lakshanagrandhas during modern times. This work serves as a source material
for reference in the field of dance & music. It has 14 chapters.
CHUDAMANI : This book by Govindacharya deals in detail on music
& musicology. This is considered to be one among the last works written
on the theory of music. The work consists of 2 sections. The work has an
index on the mela ragas and many janya ragas with Arohana & Avarohana.
SAMPRADAYA PRADARSINI: This work by Subharama Dikshitar can
be considered a vast reference book, wherein the vast information on music
is written in a scientific and systematic manner. It has 76 biographs,
exhaustive details on 72 melas, murchchana, gamakas, talas, science of
music, etc. He has included Lakshanageethas, select kritis of musical trinities,
his own compostitions, varnas, padas, etc. He has also given some svaraprasthanas
for practice by musicians.
KALPADRUMAM: This book by Muthiah Bagavathar earned him a doctorate
degree. It is a rsult of arduous effort for nearly 50 years. In this work
the author has tried to condense the essence of previous Lakshanagrandhas.
it encompasses almost the entire field of music and helps in thorough understanding
of the subject.
CHANDRIKA: This work by Krishna Pishandy has 467 slokas. It
has 12 chapters called Prakasa. The commentary and explanations given for
each verse enable the ordinary people to understand the theoretical facts.
Even today our classical arts derive
their strength, classicism and special qualities from these Lakshanagrandhas
which serve as valuable guides.