Haveli Sangeet, Ashtachap and Darbar Sangeet

The impact of Bhakti Movement on Indian music was through the Ashtachap and Haveli sangeet along with the Bhajan and Kirtans.

Haveli Sangeet

  • The Vaishnav tradition has a form of devotional music called Haveli Sangeet. Haveli, literally means “mansion” and also refers to a temple of the Pushtimarg sect. More popular devotional music genres include bhajans and kirtans.
  • Nathadwara in Rajasthan was the main seat of this Vaishnava devotional cult. The cult has created a rich historical tradition of ‘Haveli sangeet’.


  • The Astachap poetry and music is named after the eight musical acharyas or preceptors who composed the music of the Rudra Sampradaya or the Pushtimarga. It’s worth note that Vallabhacharya had propounded the Shudhadvaita Vedanta (pure non-dualism) or Pushtimarga (the road to grace).
  • The cult was called Rudra Sampraday. The religious and musical procedures of the cult were systematized by Vallabhacharya’s son Goswami Vitthalnathji (1516-1698 AD). The four of the eight acharyas of Astachap were diciples of Vallabha while four other were diciples of Vallabha’s son Goswami Vitthalnathji. Legendary poet Surdas was also one of the diciples of Vallabhacharya. The impact of the cult was such that Miyan Tansen also came under its influence.
  • The impact of Bhakti Movement on Indian music was through the Ashtachap and Haveli sangeet along with the Bhajan and Kirtans.

Using the regional language, Braj, Avadhi or whatever, as the vehicle, saint-composers were able to reach to people in social strata otherwise impervious to the influence of art and music. The works of composers like Jayadeva (11th century), Vidyapati (1375 AD), Chandidas (14th-15th century), Bhakta Narasimha (1416-1475 AD) and Meerabai (1555-1603 AD) were used as literary bases to the music. The advent of the Dhrupad, Khayal and Tappa, the dissociation of dance from music, and the shift from the pakhawaj to the tabla, all happened during the Bhakti Movement period.

Darbar Sangeet

During the Mughal period, and especially under Akbar’s reign, temple music was largely overshadowed by the Darbar Sangeet, in which music was composed mainly to eulogise patrons.

The court of Akbar employed many musicians Indians as well as Persians. The musicians were divided into seven orders. There was one for each day of the week. Headed by the legendary Tansen, there were 19 singers, three who chanted and several instrumental musicians. The main instruments, as per records of Abul Fazal, were the sarmandal, been, nay, karna and tanpura.

The times of Akbar are known for a complete fusion of the Persian and Indian music systems.

Jehangir was genuinely interested in music and generously patronised the art. Same was with Shahjahan. However, puritan Aurangzeb baned the court music. Still, some literary works on music were produced in his times, such as Persian translation of Makutuhal.

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