Sangitaratnakara (Sangeet Ratnakara) of Sarngadeva - Volume I Sold Out

Sangitaratnakara of Sarngadeva: Vol. I

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Sangitaratnakara of Sarngadeva: Vol. I

This monumental treatise from the 13th century sums up and organizes what had gone before, and in doing so provides both a master plan and basic topics for subsequent musicological work, even to the present day. The combination of Devanagari text (from the Adyar edition) running concurrently with English translation, commentary, and footnotes, makes the work very convenient. Dr. Shringy's English translation and commentary, prepared under the expert supervision of Dr. (Miss) Prem Lata Sharma, is more devoted to a direct explication of Sarngadeva's verses. Its guiding principles (as evidenced in this first volume) are two. First, terms and ideas in the treatise are set in the larger general frame of Indian Sanskritic culture - as for instance a presentation of the Tantric metaphysics behind the doctrine of sound, which Sarngadeva took over and elaborated from Matanga's Brhaddesi. Second, complex technical principles are explicated in full - as for instance a demonstration of how to work with the 5040 permutations of kuta-tana "note-series" as Sarngadeva all too briefly set them forth. The work fulfills the urgent need for a standard and authentic work on the theory and practice of ancient Indian music in English.

The translation provides English equivalents for technical terms and makes constant parenthetical references to Sanskrit originals in transliteration. Contains a detailed word index, with multiple senses distinguished, and a glossary.


About the Author:


Dr. R. K. Shringy received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Indian Philosophy and Religion from Banaras Hindu University in 1974. He worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Musicology, at Banaras Hindu University. His published work is Philosophy of J. Krishnamurti: A systematic Study (1977, 1988). He died in 1983.

Dr. Prem Lata Sharma was a Professor of Musicology, at Banaras Hindu University (retired in 1987) and Vice-Chancellor, of Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Khairagarh. She also published the critical editions of Rasa vilasa (1972) and Eklingamahatmyam (1976).



I was inspired to undertake the present project of translating Sangitaratnakara into English by two factors viz. the inadequacy of the available English translation of the 1st chapter by C. Kunhan Raja, and the education and training that I received from Dr. (Miss) Premlata Sharma, Head of the Department of Musicology, Banaras Hindu University, while I was her student for Diploma in Music Appreciation during 1967-69. Even though the textual study of Sangita- ratnakara was not, strictly speaking, a part of the curriculum, she was kind and generous enough to recognize the special position of some of the students, who were also members of the staff of the department, and to extend to them the benefit of her wide learning and research experience by way of initiating them into the art of interpreting original Sanskrit texts on music with the help of available commentaries, and luckily I was -one of them. So, even though I had been working as a Research Assistant ill the Department of Musicology and in the College of Music & Fine Arts prior to the formation of the department in 1966, for about ten years or so, Sanskrit texts on music could become meaningful to and enjoyable for me only after I could avail or this opportunity of learning the intricacies, the technicalities and the symbolism of the language of Sangita-sastra from Dr. Sharma. Hence, the need for a music-oriented, topic-wise, technically precise English translation of Sangita-ratnakara written in a flowing prose style unhindered by frequent Sanskrit inter- sections and accompanied by all elaborate and lucid commentary, was felt by me not as a scholar of Sanskrit but as a student of Musicology. A detailed note on the method and the manner of the translation has been written separately pointing out the peculiarities of the execution of the work.

In 1970, the University Grants Commission introduced a scheme for writing university-level books and monographs, and I took the earliest opportunity of putting forth a proposal of writing an English translation of Sangita-ratnakara in three parts related to music (i. e. excluding the chapter on dancing) under the expert guidance and supervision of Dr. (Miss) Prem Lata Sharma who readily agreed to sponsor the proposal. And the U. C. C. too was kind and gracious enough to grant me a Research Fellowship for three years to undertake this project.

I am happy to say that as the result of the combined efforts of the U.G.C., which provided me the material means to pursue my researches and writing unhindered, the autho- rities of the Banaras Hindu University who granted me leave to work on the project, and Dr. Prem Lata Sharma who has very affectionately, very carefully and very meticulously nursed the whole product, and Messrs. Motilal Banarsidass, who readily agreed to publish this work, it has become possible for me to present this first volume comprising Chapter I related to the treatment of svara, in the service of the learned scholars and the learning students; and I hope it will be found to be of greater help in understanding Sarnga- deva, whose work Sangita-ratnakara is a landmark in the history of Sangita-sastra .

Though the translation was originally planned and written out with an elaborate commentary and critical as well as literary annotations with a view to making it self-sufficient, it has been considered necessary, convenient, and useful to give the Sanskrit text as well along with it. This was considered necessary firstly because the translation is presented in a topic-wise order dealing with homogeneous ideas and concepts in convenient paragraphs in order to make the reading more intelligible and easy to grasp, and secondly because it was found unavoidable to modify some of the readings of the text as published by the Adyar Library in view of the technical accuracy of the readings available in the Anandasrarna edition or other comparable texts like Sangitaraja of Rana Kumbha and so on. Thus, the Sanskrit text has also been partly re-edited in so far as the arrangement of some of the verses has been modified to correspond with the paragraphs as arranged in the translation and also in so far as some modifications have also been made in the text here and there, though very sparingly,



1. Prefatory Remarks If one were to name a single text of Sangita-sastra which embodies the earlier tradition (laksana, body of terms and concepts) in remarkable detail and at the same time incor- porates contemporary developments, which has been cons- tantly referred to in musical and literary texts in the subsequent centuries, which has been 'commented upon profusely which has not only been looked upon with awe and reverence, but has also occasionally been the target of reproach born of frustration, which wielded great influence over later tradition, one would undoubtedly name the Sangita-ratnakara (hereafter referred to as S. R.) of Sarnga- deva.

S. R. has been known as saptadhyayi on the model of Panini's Astadhyayi and has for at least six centuries syrnboli- sed the ancient tradition of laksana. Earlier texts do not appear to have been directly studied by most of the auhtors of laksana in the subsequent centuries. Keen interest in the direct studies of earlier works like Bharata's Natyasastra, Dattila's Dattitam, Matanga's Brhaddesi, Abhinavagupta's Abhinavabharati, Somesvara's Manasollasa and Nanyadeva's Bharatabhasya, has emerged only in the latter half of the 20th. century and S. R. has served as a constant frame of reference in this study. Hence S. R. has re-emerged as a landmark in Sangita-sastra, illuminating its ancient and medieval tradi- tion like a Dehali-pradipa.

2. Date and Identity of the Author Sarngadeva introduces himself as belonging to a family which hailed from Kashmir. Kashmir is the glorious land of Sanskrit learning that dominated for centuries the various branches of study; the land that gave birth to a versatile genius like Abhinavagupta preceded by a host of commen- tators" on N.S. and Anandavardhana, Matrgupta, Mammata etc. Sarngadeva must have inherited from his father and grandfather the rich tradition of various disciplines. He must also have been acquainted with the laksya of Kashmir indirectly and with that of the Deccan, where the family settled, directly. In a way the entire sastra (source of theoretical knowledge) and sampradaya (practical tradition) of the earlier periods must have been accessible to him.

In Deccan, the family lived under the patronage of the Yadava dynasty at Devagiri (present Daulatabad).This dynasty was formally established by King Bhillama in 1145 A. D, It is during his reign that Sarngadeva's grandfather Bhaskara appears to have shifted from Kashmir to Devagiri. One wonders what could have prompted Bhaskara to leave his motherland and move to a distant foreign region. Was it the political persecution which forced him to flee and seek refuge in the other end of the land ? Or was it the special patronage extended by the prince of a distant land to him because of his fame that attracted him to the Yadava court ? P. V. Sharma feels that although there is no conclusive evidence, it may be that the King of Devagiri, impressed by Bhaskara's scholarship in Ayurveda, invited him to his court as a royal physician. Besides, Bhaskara's ,son Sodhala was also appointed the Accountant General (Srikaranagrani) in King Bhillama's court.

King Bhillama died in 1193 A. D. His son Jaitrapala or Jaitugi ascended the throne and ruled for a short period. He was succedeed by Singhana in 1200 A. D. who was not only a very powerful king but also a great patron of arts, literature, and science. It is during his reign that Sarngadeva who continued in his father's (Sodhala's) post as the Royal Accountant, seems to have composed his works. Having had great scholars for his ancestors, Samgadeva's heredity must have provided him with a very rich 'samskara-punja’ (cultural heritage) combining the northern or north-western and southern traditions in learning and arts. Along with his study of Sangita he appears to have carried on the family profession of Ayurveda. He had also written a book on Ayurveda entitled 'Adhyatmaviveka’ to which he himself refers. This work is not available. Besides this and S. R. no other work of Sarngadeva is known.




1 Preface i-v
2 Note on Translation vi-x
3 Transliteration Code x
4 List of Abbreviations xi
5 Introduction xii-xxxii
6 Table of Contents of Svaradhyaya-Chapter-I  
  Sanskrit xxxiv
  English xlii
7 Text and Translation 1-386
  Section - 1:Introductory 1-20
  Section - 2:The Genesis of the Human Embodiment 21-107
  Section - 3:Nada, Sruti and Svara 108-159
  Section - 4:Grama, Murcchana, Krama and Tana 160-228
  Section - 5:Overlapping (Sadharana) 229-239
  Section - 6:Varnalankara 239-265
  Section - 7:Fati-s (Melodic Types) 266-368
  Section - 8:Giti-s 369-386
8 Appendices 387-417
9 Word-index cum-glossary of technical words 418-432
10 Half-time Index to Sanskrit sloka-s 433-448
11 Errata 449-450

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