As a system of Indic traditional music going back several thousands of years – with origins in the Veda, Bharatiya Shastriya Sangeeta (pronounced: bhaarateeya shaastreeya sangeet, English: Indian Classical Music) is one of the world’s oldest art forms in continuous existence and flourishing. It is not only a traditional but also a sacred music form whose richness is rooted in the teachings passed on from master to disciple since millennia. A descendant of this tradition, the current form of Karnatak Sangeeta (South Indian Music) can be traced back to the last millennium.
Throughout the history of Bharatiya Shastriya Sangeet, its practitioners have worshipped the Vedantic ideal of the supreme Brahman (brahmOpaasanaa) through the music. Some even worshipped the music itself as Brahman (naadOpaasanaa). Thus, the Bharatiya Sangeetam is not only an art form, rather it is a worship (upaasanaa) called naadOpaasanaa.
Brahman, the perfection, in the form of sound is the ultimate quest of Bharatiya Sangeet. A rich musical tradition has evolved in this quest where the vibrations in the physical world continue to explore the depths of the spiritual world. Both the Hindustani and Carnatic branches of this musical tradition have witnessed great musicologists, composers and musicians who have redefined music, again and again in their quest for Brahman.
Bharatiya Sangeeta doesn’t always need meaningful sahitya (saahityam or lyrics) to enjoy. Its sound itself is enough to elevate our minds to spiritual levels. For example, aalaapanam, the beats of percussion instruments or even the sound of a bell in a mandir. Compared to “gaanabrahman” therefore, “naadabrahman” is more apt and accordingly appears in the motto of Sangeeta Bharati. We perform such upaasanaa of naadabrahman through practice, perform, promote and unite (sanghatan) of Indian music and its musicians. These comprise the four pillars of Sangeeta Bharati.