Humanities and Arts

Singing in tune with God: Bengali vais_ n _ ava musical scholarship in the eighteenth century

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Over the seventeenth century, scholars working for courtly patrons extensively produced new treatises on the theory and practice of music in Sanskrit, Persian, and vernacular languages. This arena of musicology grew through to the eighteenth century, when Bengali vaisnava poets and lyricists began curating extensive song anthologies and expounding the aesthetic considerations derived from canonical works on poetics and the performing arts. This article explores the scholarly connections between non-sectarian, courtly intellectual arenas and vaisnava religious communities by examining the musical works of Narahari Cakravarti (c.1698–1760), who lived in Vrindavan in the first half of the eighteenth century. His Sanskrit and Bengali works gesture to the transregional circulation of conversations and texts about musical aesthetics between northern and eastern India, and how intellectuals accommodated contemporary scholastic developments and trends in musical performance in their theology and religious practices.