Mughal Music during Akbar

Music during Mughal Rule of Akbar :  Like Babur, Akbar was devoted to music.  Akbar paid much attention to music and was the patron of all who practice this enchanting art.

The Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, suggests that there were 36 musicians of high grate in the Mughal court of Akbar. Akbar himself was a learned musician. He further studied Hindu vocalization under Lal Kalawant who taught him “every breathing and sound that appertains to the Hindi language.”

Tansen ( also Mian Tansen) was a great musician of Hindustani Classical music . He held a position of great importance in the court of Akbar. Mian Tansen is also regarded as one of the best musician in the history of India. Tansen is said to have invented some new ragas. He is even credited with the power of stopping the flow of the Yamuna with his music.

Another famous musician was Baba Ram Das.He seems to have been attached to Bairam Khan, who was so pleased with him on one occasion that he conferred upon him a big reward.

Another equally, perhaps more famous singer was Baba Hari Das who, though not mentioned in Abul Fazl’s list, was certainly a contemporary of Tansen and Akbar. Akbar is said to have paid a visit to him incognito at his hermitage in Vrindaban. Legend and folk tale have preserved the memory of this great saint and musician.

Sur Das, son of the celebrated singer Ram Das and one of the greatest Hindi poets of all times, was also a musician of Akbar’s court.

The emperor’s interest in and patronage of music led to great progress in the instrumental as well as the vocal art. At his court Hindu and Muslim music mingled and became one. The Mughals are credited for bringing about a fusion of two diverse systems of music and giving birth to the national Indian music.

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