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POST INDUS MUSIC

Updated on November 30, 2011

POST INDUS MUSIC


The historian says that during the second millennium B.C. the Indus civilization was gradually decaying. The intermittent floods causing widespread devastation of their cattle and cultivation, often inundating dwelling horses, rendered the one time prosperous life of the Indus people rather impoverished. In a desperate bid to survive, the people made new houses of shoddier quality on the top of the remains of earlier ruined ones. During this period Mahenjodaro was steadily being worn out by its landscape and “trade particularly with the markets of Mesopotamia seems, in the second millennium, for reasons unknown, to have become more indirect and complicated and, no doubt, proportionately less profitable than in the earlier days of more direct shipment. In one way of another Mahenjodaro was declining to a fall.”

The results were that during this period no longer the dancing girl used to enchant the tired merchants returning home from the markets along the course of Tigris and Euphrates. No skin or stringed musical instrument belonging to this period provided any faint hit as to the prevalence of continuation of this fine art which became so conspicuous by its robust exercise in the preceding period. The people were struggling hard to survive against the repetitive natural calamities of flood, salinity and interrupted irrigation system. In this desperate struggle between men and natural, the choice was, if not totally forsaken, became dull and obtuse. The Indus people became indifferent ting the drawl of the curtain on the stage hitherto so vibrant and throbbing.

The final blow, the coup de grace, was believed to have been dealt to this sinking civilization by Indra, the Rig-Vedic Aryan war lord, who acted as the final agent of destruction. Besides this, there was “no sigh of a final cataclysmic submergence of the topless towers whether of Manenjodaro of Harappa.”

Hari-Yupaya as mentioned in Rig-Veda was the place where the non-Aryan inhabitants of pre-historic Indian sub-continent were defeated. The Rig-Vedic Hari-Yupaya has been identified as the Harappa where the ancient inhabitants of Indus were decisively defeated by Indra. There are certain evidence which show that the Aryan hordes led by Indra annihilated the people and destroyed everything beyond revival.

Indra was mentioned in Rig-Veda as the Puramdara, the fort destroyer, and he was said to have destroyed ninety forts of purs. Where were these forts which Indra was acclaimed to have destroyed? “The discovery of the fortified mounds at Harappa and Manenfodaro, at Harappan Satkagen Dor in Makran, Ali Murad in Sind and now at kalibagan in Rajasthan (in modern India) has suggested that those may represent the strongholds of Indra’s enemies. At any rate, up to the present, no rivals to them have been identified.”

Surpassing all these evidences there is a clear and conclusive material proof rendered by a number of human skeletons found in the upper layer of Mahenjodaro. The historians and archaeologists, including the discoverer and excavator, Dr. G F. Dales, are of the opinion that the inhabitants of the Indus Valley, when its material heyday was on the wane probably around 1500 B.C., net a sudden and violent death at the hands of Rig-Vedic Indra and his marauding marauding hordes. There were axe marks of the skull and the people, including women and children, were slain on the streets, stairs and hiding places. All these slain people belonged to the last phase just dying out. And this was the final blow---sudden, violent and decisive. There was hardly any survival, if there was any; they became slave to the Aryans.

The Indus civilization in its original splendor and majesty did not survive the Aryan invasion. “At Harappa the Indus city was succeeded, perhaps after an appreciable interval, by a culture of inferior quality. Eighty miles south of Mahenjodaro, the little Indus town of Chanhudaro was succeeded by two successive squatter-cultures of low grade. In Kathiwad of Saurashtra, at Lothal, Rangpur, Rojdi, Somnath and other sites, the Indus culture shaded off tnto sub-Indus and successor cultures which Sir Mortimer Wheeler calls Saurashtrian Indus. In these successor cultures we came across a kind of painted pottery showing human figures in dancing style. The figures were in the posture of group dancing. Beyond this we have no trace either of their music or of dancing.

It has become evidently clear that at the hands of Indra and his people the existing civilization along the course of Indus and its successor cultures gradually were wiped off the scene. The Aryans were Nordic people. The term Aryan is, in fact, a linguistic term indicating a speech group of Indo-European origin and, as such, is not an ethic term. They were the last among the six main races in the sub-continent, the earlier ones chronologically being the Negrito, proto-Australoid, the Mongoloed, the Mediterranean and the Brachycephals. The Nordic of Aryans was pastoral tribes and knew agriculture, practiced rigid caste system and for the sake of life and living accommodated little of no compromise and compassion. They were said to have been contemptuous of the people belonging to the other linguistic or ethnic group and used to subjugate people as slaves. The wholesale destruction of various sties and cities of the Indus civilization did not implore in their mind any pity of penitence. The coming of the Aryans to this sub-continent, observes a modern had been far more advanced than that of the Aryans who were as yet per-urban.”

After the Indus civilization it was the Aryans, who developed a highly systematic style of music through what may be called a trial and error method, borrowing the local elements and transplanting them of their own. It is indeed a story of three thousand year of development. That is precisely the reason why we should have background knowledge of these Aryan people.

Romila Thapar in her valuable treatise, A History of India, observes that the Aryan “leisure hours were spent mainly in playing music, singing, dancing and gambling and chariot racing for the more energetic. The Aryan interest in music can be seen not only from the variety of instruments mentioned---the drum, lute and flute being the normal accompanying instruments, with cymbals and harps as later additions---but also form the highly developed knowledge of sound, tune and pitch which was used in the chanting of Sama-Veda. The Aryans were familiar with a heptatonic scale”.

The drum, lute and flute seemed to be the oldest instruments with the Aryans when they came to this subcontinent. As observed by Romila Thapar, cymbals and harps were subsequent additions, probably borrowed from the local people whom we have seen using the cymbals in particular. “The three types of instruments, percussion, string and wind, were represented by the drums, used among other purposes, to terrify the foe on the battle, the lute, and the flute, the last-named instrument being said to be heard tn the abode of Yama where the holy dead dwell”. This apart, we have no information about other musical instruments with which we are acquainted subsequently. Perhaps those instruments were developed much later.

Although the Aryans possessed a highly developed system of music, its performance was fanatically tied to religion and rituals. No one can deny the fact that the Aryans were the first people to present an outline of the musical system and developed the notes one after another to complete the scale after centuries of ceaseless practice. In the estimate of a modern musicologist the approaches might sound erroneous today, but for a beginner there was hardly any better choice. They were in the beginning a ruthless were equally an innately gifted people. After settlement in the new surrounding, they accepted the local customs and practices in a spirit of accommodation. This is equally true in the field of music.

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