By Rebecca Rowell
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Extra info for Ancient India
The Mahabharata details a musical scale with seven notes. And both Buddhist and Jain texts mention singing. During the Gupta era, in approximately 400 CE, a book of music known as the Dattilam was created by the sage Dattila Muni. It describes a system for music that includes notes and how to arrange them. DANCE Like other forms of expression, dance often related closely to religion. Dance in ancient India dates back at least 4,500 years. Artwork and Vedic literature, including the Mahabharata, mentions dance.
The Rigveda, “Knowledge of Verses,” is the oldest Vedic Samhita, dating to approximately 1200 BCE. Its ten books contain 1,028 hymns, which cover a variety of topics. “The Waters of Life” acknowledges the importance of water: Waters, you are the ones who bring us the life force. Help us to find nourishment so that we may look upon great joy. 2 The Yajurveda, “Knowledge of the Sacrifice,” has mantras for a priest to recite when leading a sacrificial ritual. The Samaveda, “Knowledge of the Chants,” contains verses for chanting.
Like other art from the time, music during the Vedic era focused on religion, serving two purposes: to please the gods and as part of sacrificial rituals. The Rigveda includes spoken hymns. The Samaveda, “Knowledge of the Chants,” is a Hindu book of songs. Its hymns are chanted, using seven musical notes. Vedic music includes pieces for individuals and groups. Literature reveals some of music’s history, but few specific details are mentioned. The Ramayana discusses a lute. The Mahabharata details a musical scale with seven notes.