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Book: Music in Valmiki’s Ramayana

Music in Valmiki’s Ramayana written by Subhadra Desai, a Hindustani classical vocalist, explores the musical heritage in the epic Ramayan. It must be remembered that Ramayana is presented by Valmiki in the form of a song sung by Lava and Kusha, the sons of Lord Ram and Mata Sita. Sage Valmiki explains in the beginning of the Ramayana that it is composed in a manner that it can be read as well as sung.

Music in Valmiki’s Ramayana consists of five chapters and looks into the traditional tenets of Indian music, development of music during the period, the different prevalent techniques of music and how it is used in the Ramayan and the vast range of musical instruments played during the period and nature of music.

The books delves deep into music in the society – Vedic hymns are chanted as part of rituals and sacrifices; women sing on auspicious occasions; celestial musicians and dancers entertain royal guests; royal women are adept at playing complex musical instruments; reverberant instruments are played during wars to inspire warriors; many references exist of orchestras, dance and drama guilds; ballad singers sing eulogies; and musicians are extended royal patronage. (Source: an interview by Subhadra Desai in Livemint)

The book also contains four appendices with some wonderful essays on the music topic, references and explanation of technical terminologies. Another highlight is ancient paintings on Ramayana published in the book and quotes from the Ramayana which have reference to music. The author has also given English transliteration and translation of the Sanskrit verses used in the book.

Music in Valmiki’s Ramayana
Subhadra Desai
Shubhi Publications
Price Rs. 1795