The Tradition Of Music in Mithila
The history of music of Mithila takes us back to 11th c. when we find a definite source in the Karnat period when its ruler Nanyadev (1097-1133A.D.) had a keen interest in music. Though in the 7th-8th c. the Siddhacharyas' Charyapad mentions the Raga in which a particular couplet is to be sung. The couplets were based on lyrics, which followed the tradition of Bharata's 'Natya Sashtra'.
Nanyadev used to compose music himself and was himself a singer of high order .He classified and analyzed the Ragas and left a distinct mark on the development of music. He wrote a treaty on music'Saraswati Hridayalankar' which has been preserved in the Bhandarkar Research Institute of Pune, till the modern time. This is also called 'Bharat Bhasya'. He mentions a village -Gandhar where certain raga was evolved. He mentions about a particular Rag giving rise to a particular lyric: -"Kiyanto niyata ragalayesu pratipadita rasanurodhadanyepi raga karyamanisibhi." Nanyadev opines Madhya laya is chosen for Hasya (humorous) and sringar (libido) rasa, Bilambit is chosen for karun (compassion) rasa and Drut is chosen for veer (brave), Rodra (anger), Adbhut (marvelous) and Bhayanak (fearful) rasas.
Maharaja Shubhankar (1516-1607 A.D.) of Kharoure mul (dynasty) wrote another important book Sri Hastamuktavali that deals with a companion art of dance.
Jyotirishwar Thakur (14th c.) the minister of Maharaja Harisinghdev, the last king of Karnatas, was also a singer, describes in his encyclopedic work 'Varnaratnakar' the term Vidyavant as a Kalavant.According to Dr. Suniti Kumar chatterji, the editor of 'Varnaratnakar', a vidyavant used to be professional singers and teacher of music. His rank was that of highly posted Bhat.Jyotiriswar has described fourteen types of defects in a song and seven types of defects in singing. He has mentioned many ragas which are prevalent even now as for example: -koushik, bhairbi, hindol, ramkali, sri, dipak, gujari, dhamachi, malar, desakhi, vasant, kamod, gour, karnat, bangla, mansai, mulki, varati, toki, patmanjari, khambabati, gandhar, pancham and nritya. Here he describes various types of dances, musical instruments like various Mridangas and Veenas, metric prosody to obtain different tunes and rhythms.
The renowned exponent of Mithila music Lochan kavi, who wrote 'Ragatarangini' has also described the first fourteen ragas described by Jyotiriswar mentioned above in addition he describes: -lalit bivas, ahirani, gopidattal, kodar (kedar), aswar (asavari) bhupali and raj-vijay.
Raja Shivasingh of oiniwar dynasty, the patron of Mahakavi Vidyapati, had a courtier, Jayat by name, he was a great singer and he used to sing the songs of Vidyapati in various ragas and talas, which has been mentioned by Lochan in Ragatarangini.This book was written during Muslim period and mentions the foreign ragas like yaman and fardost. It shows the impact of Muslim music on the maithil music. Lochan propounded new system of raga-ragini and this became the pioneer work for the music of later period.
Here a glance on the Ragatarangini will not be out of context. There are five "taranga" (chapters) in this book. The first taranga deals with the form of a Raga. The second one deals with the Raginis.The third chapter deals with their origin, examination of Nada. We also find here the usual raga, lyric tala and rhetorics used in Tirhut desh. The fourth chapter deals with description of Sankirna ragas usually sung in Tirhut desh. In the fifth chapter the author deals with the voices, Veenas, audition, the institution of ragas, period of the day and night when a particular raga is to be sung and at last he describes the type of Nayikas (heroine). Lochan, following the theory of Hanumat School, has described six ragas and thirty raginis in toto.
He has described Khambhati and for the first time Adana raga. According to him some of the Sankirna Ragas are only prevalent in Mithila.
There is no doubt that barring aside the treaties on music of Karnat period the Ragatarangini is the best book amongst all treaties available on music in north India.
Maithil musicians were called up in the court of kings of Nepal, Bengal and Madhyadesh (U.P.) Jagaddhar (1414-75A.D.) the maithil translator of 'Malati Madhab' wrote 'Sangit-Sarbaswa' the manuscript on music has been well preserved in Nepal.
The kings of Darbhanga, Banaili and Bettiah were fond of music and patronized musicians of high order. Some of them were themselves good musicians.
Dhrupad was well developed by the Mallik gharana of Bettiah and Darbhanga.The rare and incomparable composition of Khandar Vani and Seniya traditions have been preserved by the Mallik singers of Amata (Darbhanga) and Bettiah even in the modern times in the original form.