Veena: the sacred divine Hindu instrument | Daily News

Veena: the sacred divine Hindu instrument

Veena, an ancient historical instrument, is traced back to 1500 BC. Initially, the total number of strings range from one string to one hundred strings. There is some evidence about Altharvana Veda.

Before the existence of Veena, another string instrument named Yazh was in use. Yazh was replaced by Veena with the passage of time. One of the oldest treatises on Indian music named Sangeeta Ratnahara clearly indicates another Veena called Eakantri Veena and its construction.

Earlier Veena was played in a vertical position. Veena with vertical positions is still depicted in ancient temple decorative sculptures. According to ancient history, the great Carnatic maestro Muthuswamy Dkshitar was the first one who played the Veena in the horizontal position.

Royal instrument

Veena was considered as one of the more sophisticated instrument to display the different nuances of different Ragas. The present-day Saraswathi Veena instrument was brought into use during the regime of King Ragunatha Nayaka.

In his royal courts, it is said that his prime minister named Govinda Dikshakar was the first one who constructed the Veena. Initially, the Veena had twenty frets. But Govinda Dikshakar constructed the present-day Veena with twenty-four metallic frets.

Numerous varieties of Veenas are mentioned in numerous ancient texts. Among them, Saraswathi Veena is considered one of the most divine instrument. Goddess Saraswathi is always depicted with a Veena in hand.

This variety of Veena is quite popular in the present day Carnatic music world. It is a South Indian musical instrument. Chitra Veena, Vichitra Veena, and Rudra Veenas are some of the Veena varieties that are also much more popular in the music world. Saraswathi Veena and Chitra Veena are now in use for Carnatic music.

The total number of strings for Saraswathi Veena are seven in number. Four strings are the main strings. These four main strings are especially attached to the peg of the neck. For the rhythmic purpose, three strings are allocated. These three strings are served for drone and rhythmic purposes. Meanwhile, the supportive strings are very much needed for the instrument which is seen over the body part of the string instrument.

Modification and construction

According to the great Indian musicologist Prof Sambamoorthy, Saraswathi Veena was developed out of one earlier form of Veena known as Kinnari Veena. Saraswathi Veena is also referred to as Ragunatha Veena. Because this particular variety of Veena was developed and introduced during the Nayaka ear of Tanjore.

The Veena was first modified and constructed during the Nayaka regime of King Raghunath Nayak. That’s why this Saraswathi Veena is often called Raghunath Veena or Tanjore Veena. Goddess Saraswathi is often depicted with this string instrument, that’s why this string instrument is called Saraswathi Veena. One of the very important concepts in Carnatic music is Tanam.

It is a technique of using a Raga, in three different tempos. These tempos are in slow, medium and fast tempos. Playing tempos through Veena is a unique style. During his regime, his Prime Minister Govinda Dikshitar constructed the Veena with twenty-four frets. Earlier total number of frets used in Veena was twenty.

Today Saraswathi Veena has twenty-four metallic frets. It was stated that this was the main cause for the development of seventy-two Melakaratas in the Carnatic music system. It is stated that the style of presentations in the Carnatic music system has more or less developed out of the Veena technique. All the great Carnatic music maestros of yesteryears were the outstanding Veena players.