Friday, January 09, 2009

Songs the Lord Taught Us

Googling the Giti

It's such a struggle to get on line, half the time I can't remember what I came here for. Oh, that's right, I was going to post something about the Manjushree Charya dance.

In answer to your question, yes, this IS my idea of how to spend a Friday night. (Manjushree is pictured below.)

Obviously, to learn a dance one must know the music intimately. Charya Giti has some uncommon rhythms, even for someone accustomed to the many and varied talas of south Asia.

A quick Google of Charya Giti (the songs accompanying the dance) doesn't reveal much in the way of sources. Evidently there are some old (ancient) Bengali texts, some still found in Bangladesh, that are called Charya Giti.

Also, from the Google front-page there appears to be something in Oriya (Orissa state) with the same name. This would make sense, as Odissi is the "major" classical dance Charya most resembles, and Bengal as well as Assam and Orissa had Tantric Buddhist and Hindu practices at one time (and in some form, still do).

One of the only references to Charya Giti is from Bangladesh. Encylopedia of Modern Asia says in its Bangladesh - Music section:

Twelfth-century Buddhist poems called charya-giti (religious observance songs) and the thirteenth-century Gitagovinda (Songs of the Cowherder), a cycle of songs by the poet Jayadeva, bear the names of the specific melodic modes assigned to each song. Hindu and Buddhist kings in Bengal commissioned poets to compose raso, epic poems, in their honor, which were chanted by the poet-composers themselves.

The Dictionary of Indian Literature says:

Charya Giti aka Charya Pad: 1050-1200...earliest available relics of old Bangla discovered in a manuscript in Nepal in 1916 by Hariprasad Shastri....

Another fascinating section details how the Charya poets, at least in India, wrote under pseudonyms because their work was "much hated by the Brahmins and the elite," and how Charya giti were translated into Tibetan.

1 comment:

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