Buddhist music

Music genre / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Buddhist music is music (Sanskrit: vàdita, saṅgīta) created for or inspired by Buddhism and includes numerous ritual and non-ritual musical forms.[2] As a Buddhist art form, music has been used by Buddhists since the time of early Buddhism, as attested by artistic depictions in Indian sites like Sanchi. While certain early Buddhist sources contain negative attitudes to music, Mahayana sources tend to be much more positive to music, seeing it as a suitable offering to the Buddhas and as a skillful means to bring sentient beings to Buddhism.[3][4]

Relief of musicians from Sanchi.[1]
Tibetan illustration of Saraswati holding a veena, the main deity of music and musicians in Mahayana Buddhism.

Buddhist music retains a prominent place in many Buddhist traditions, and is usually used for ceremonial and devotional purposes.[5] Buddhist music and chanting is often part of Buddhist rituals and festivals in which they may be seen as offerings to the Buddha.[6]

Most Buddhist music includes chanting or singing, accompanied by instruments.[7][2] The chanting is often of traditional texts which include: sutras, mantras, dharani, parittas, or verse compositions (such as gathas, stotras, and caryagitis). Buddhist instrumental music does exist, though it is less commonly heard in temples.[7]

Examples of Buddhist musical traditions include the Newari Buddhist Gunlā Bājan, Tibetan Buddhist music, Japanese Buddhist Shōmyō, modern Indian Buddhist bhajans, and Cambodian Smot chanting. As there are many different traditions of Buddhist music and chanting, the musical instruments used vary widely, from solely relying on the human voice, to many types of classic instruments used in Asian music (such as the ancient Indian veena) as well as modern instruments (keyboards, guitars, etc).

In the modern academy, the study of Buddhist music, sometimes known as Buddhist Musicology, has become its own field of academic research.[8]

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