Clinton’s Saxophone, Gandhi’s Concertina, Ravanahatha Music Instruments

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By - Premendra Agrawal




Ravanhatha was the musical instrument of Ravana as narrated in the Ramayana. Sri Lanka revives Ravana-hatha, a violin-like string instrument as narrated in Ramayana.Clinton and Gandhi and other historical leaders also played music instrument.




“There should be rhythm

There should be melody

But there should be peace

There should be meter and prosody

There should be no confusion

But there should be the love of lord in the song.”


---Purandara Dasa

Sangeet signifies the union of three elements – gita, vadya and nritya or song, percussion and dance.

Sangeet Shastra could be regarded as science and as an art.

According to Indian tradition, sound is god- Nada Brahma. Nada or intelligible sound results from the union of physical breadth with the fire of intellect.

Thus music is viewed as a spiritual discipline that elevates one’s inner self to the attainment of divine peacefulness and goals. Rags are among the means through which god can be reached. Thus most essential characteristic of Gita, Vadya and Nritya is Rakti or the power of reaching out to the heart.


Bharatha's Natya Shastra (200 BC-200 A.D)

  The term Raaga is first found in Natya Shastra, meaning not scale but tonal color - as the colour that fills the heart and mind of man. Natyasastra makes several references such as sringara – love,  veera – valour,  karuna –sympathy, raudra – anger, bhaydnaka- fear, bhibatsa – disgust, hasya – humour, adbhuta - wonder shanti - peace (added later on by Abhinava Gupta)


Valmiki Ramayana, (200 BC- 200AD)

The first Indian epic, Ramayana, was composed by the sage Valmiki. It is dated between 200 BC and 200 A.D, but after NatyaShastra. It was written in shloka form. The word shloka refers to a particular kind of metrical composition known for its brevity, easy tempo and lilting rhyme.

Rama describes Kishkindha, Sugreeva's kingdom, to Laxmana, he refers to the lute-like resonance of the bees, the rhythmic croaking of frogs and the mridang-like sounds of clouds. Rama was an expert in gandharva, the 'classical' music of the time.

Four major types of instruments were identified. Names A wide variety of instruments were used such as the Veena, Venu, Vansha, Shankha, Dundubhi, Bheri, Mridang, Panav and Pataha.

The knowledge of music was widespread. Ravana the demon-leader was proficient in music. So was Sugreeva, the monkey-leader. Occasions of festival music were known as samaj. There were professional classes of musicians such as Bandi, Soota, Magadha and others, whose repertoire included songs in praise of heroes, their deeds, their clans or dynasties.


Vyasa Maha Bharatha (200 BC- 200AD)

Mahabharata used the term gandharva instead of sangeet. The names of the seven basic musical notes (shadja) have also been clearly mentioned. Arjuna, one of the heroes in the Mahabharata had learnt these musical arts from Chitrasen gandharva.

The great epic Mahabharatha says the wife of a demon gifted the kingiri to Bhim, one of the Pandavas for saving her life and by playing the instrument; they invoked nature and natural elements


Ravanahatha (Ravanahatta)

"The primary version of the violin which the West boasts of to be their creation was first played by Ravana of Ramayana. History behind this string instrument is as following:

Ravana's mother Kaikasi, an ardent devotee of Shiva, was eager to go and live in the god's abode on Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Ravana opposed the plan vehemently, but to please his mother he promised to bring Mount Kailash itself to Sri Lanka.

As Ravana was lifting the mountain, an angry Shiva trapped his 10 heads and 20 arms. Writhing in pain, Ravana prayed for mercy. When Shiva let him off, Ravana decided to sing his praise and instantly made an accompanying instrument using one of his heads, an arm and some of his hair.

Ravanahatha and kingiri as crude violin made out of coconut shell and bamboo, with horsehair or a natural fiber serving as the string. Goat and sheep gut and coconut wood are also used.


‘Women Power” is seen on Feb 21 at the Ramliala ground of Delhi:  

Lakhs women gathered in the leadership of BJP Mahila Morcha for getting 33% reservation. UPA Govt may loose power on the question of 33% reservation for women. Ravana lost power when he kidnapped Sita.

There is Resurrecting Ravana an original novel based on the U.S. television series Buffy.


Clinton and Gandhi played musical instruments as Ravan

Bill Clinton (born August 19, 1946) - The 42nd president of the United States was impeached in 1998. He plays the saxophone.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) - Leader of India's Nationalist movement known for his peaceful and nonviolent ways of resolving conflicts. He reportedly played the concertina.

"A similar instrument to ravanahatha and kingiri, known as kamaicha was played by Egyptians and in North India Rawanahatha is played by gypsies. I am highly interested in tracing the relation of this and finding proof to assert our identity in the history of music," the enthusiastic musician Subasinghe revealed his passion to explore.

Subasinghe has undertaken music composition for Channa Perera's new movie too. He will soon release a CD of instrumental music, based on rawanahatha and kingiri. His first media performance came in 2003 with the Dee R Cee Members, a popular youth band led by him. Monalisa was the first hit of the Dee R Cee Members.

"Ravanahatha or Ravana's hand is mentioned in the ancient Indian holy book 'Ramayana'. Its plaintive and melancholic sound touches an emotional chord in me. Musicians in north India play an amazing variety of popular film songs on the one-stringed version of this instrument. But sadly, it is considered a beggar's instrument because it is only the poor itinerant musicians who play it." Subasinghe of Sri lanka said

The instrument was picked by Hanuman and flown to north India, where it is still played in Rajasthan and in the Agra area of Uttar Pradesh and is known as ravanahatha, Sarangi  and Esraj.

From India, the ravanahatha travelled westwards to the Middle East and Europe, where in the 9th century, it came to be called the ravanastrom, according to the website library

From the 11th century onwards, the bowed instrument underwent many changes before it took the shape of the modern violin in Italy in the 16th century.

‘Anti-Ram’ deeds of Anti-Hindu Govt of India inspire Sri Lanka to encourage the trourim of Sri Lanka to popularize the events related to Ramayana.


'Trail of Ramayana’

Coalition compulsion and Rashtra dharm


Resurrecting Ravana

This is an original novel based on the U.S. television series Buffy. It's midterm exam time at Sunnydale High School and tensions are rising high in the usual group. Particularly between Buffy and Willow who seem to have some sort of unspoken dislike of the other. Meanwhile, horrible murders have been occurring throughout Sunnydale; two close friends end up dead, one kills the other and then the murderer ends up as a pile of bones. The murders also coincide with the arrival of a large group of demons called the Rakshasa who seem to have a sort of wicked control over their victims. As Buffy and Willow become more and more violent towards each other, Giles does some research which indicates that the Rakshasa are in town to help with the resurrection on an ancient Hindu demon called Ravana. And when Giles spots Ethan Rayne in town, he knows that something chaotic is at hand.















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