Official Name: Republic of India
Capital City: New Delhi
Population: 1,095,351,995 (July 2006 est.)
Government: Federal Republic
National Language: India has over 16 Official Languages including: English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit
Two music traditions co-exist in India, that of the North (Hindustani) and of the South (Carnatic). They share the same basic systems but differ greatly in the instruments used, by the Ragas played, and by the concept of musical expression. It is very rare for musicians to master both traditions.
Carnatic is the music of South India, six states. The name comes from the Carnatic wars fought in the state of Karnataka centuries ago. The state of Karnataka just north of state Kerala had the origins of this music. The father of this stream of music was Purandara Dasa of Karnataka who laid down the grammar of this stream of music.
Purandara Dasa was a vaishnava saint meaning one who was a worshiper of Lord Vishnu (The Preserver among the Trinity) and created several compositions in His Praise. He was actually a sinner turned saint and originally was an usurious moneylender rolling in considerable wealth. But good sense dawned on him one day and he became a renunciate wandering about in the streets and singing the praises of Lord Vishnu.
Although the music evolved in Karnataka, it was enriched with ornamental compositions by another Saint named Thyagaraja from the State of Andhra Pradesh (North East of Kerala). He sang several songs in praise of Lord Rama (seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu). However, in later years the musicians who practiced this great art were from Tamil Nadu the Eastern State of Kerala. Even today, Tamil Nadu is the seat of this great art holding most of the annual functions in connection with this glorious art.
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