Bhajan

Bhajan
   Popular Hindu songs associated with bhakti, an attempt at personal union with God that spread by poet-singers from southern India in the sixth century, at first in reaction to Buddhism, as a kind of Hindu revival. The domination of Islam in the north from the 12th century on inspired another wave. Tyāgarāja composed bhajan, which are still widely sung today, at the turn of the 19th century. {}Bhajan texts are in all vernacular languages and Sanskrit and may consist of repetitions and listings of various names of a deity (japa), as well as supplications and didactic themes. The purpose of the music is to convey the text clearly: the simple tala is four beats, and the melodies are composed on easily recognizable rāgas. Refrains and repeated phrases are common. A responsorial pundarïkam, a melody of only two pitches, marks the beginning and end of a {}bhajan.
   Bhajan may be performed in a building exclusively for them, or they may be heard in a wide variety of places and rituals. Rituals order the bhajan according to local custom, beginning and ending with auspicious mantras or songs. Drums and cymbals are commonly used, as is the harmonium, to provide the melody and drone.
   See also Dhrupad; Kirtana; Kriti.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

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