Marg Sangeet and Pathya Sangeet

Marg Sangeet can be seen as the predecessor word used for Classical Music. It was the accepted and prestigious mode of the music that became prominent in the epic times. For example, in Ramayana, we find Rama describing about the kingdom of Kishkindha to Laxman in a way which refers to various sounds and rhythms of nature such as flute-like resonance of the bees, the rhythmic croaking of frogs and the mridang-like sounds of clouds. This has been called the Marga Sangeet. It was said that it was created by Brahma. It was for the entertainment of God and was to be performed by Gandharvas (Male Singers), Apsaras (Female Dancers and wives of Gandharvas) and Kinnaras (the instrumentalists). The Ramayana epic describes various technical musical terms such as  pramana, laya, tala, samatala , kala , matra and shamya. This describes the rich heritage of Indian music in those ancient times. The Gandhravashashtra or musicology becomes more prominent in the Mahabharata period. In Mahabharata, we learn Arjuna learnt the art of music from Chitrasena, a Gandharva.

Pathya Sangeet

This was another form of Indian music in its early development phase. Pathya means words. Pathya sangeet was neither for rituals nor for the entertainment of the Gods. It was a special music whose aim was to inform and instruct. Thus, this music was created for imparting knowledge. According to the Natyashashtra of Bharat, there are six main features of Pathya viz.

  • Seven notes (saptaswara)
  • Three basic locations for tone-production (sthanas)
  • Four fundamental ways of empowering tonal arrangements (varnas)
  • Two basic intonation modes (kakus)
  • Six embellishments (alankaras)
  • Six aspects (angas).


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