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The impact of the Brahmo Samaj on the modern music in India is discussed below.

Rammohun RoyThe credit for laying the foundations of the modern Bengali literature goes to Rammohun Roy. There was no literature for the people - there was no prose and people did not know how to read or write prose. Rammohun broke away from the tradition and started writing in the language of the common people. He wrote a grammar in Bengali for the education of the common man and started communicating useful knowledge to the people with his Bengali newspaper - Sambad Kaumudi and the Persian Mirat-ul-Akbar. It was not until 1815 when Raja Rammohun Roy published his first book of prose called Vedanta Grantha that a break with the tradition was established. The influence of Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian words was minimized. In 15 years, from 1815 to 1830, Rammohun wrote thirty books in Bengali. According to Soumendranath Tagore, "the excellence that the Bengali prose [later] achieved in literary form under Bankim Chandra and Rabindranath owes its beginning to the Bengali prose developed by Rammohan".

Rammohun also composed songs to be sung in the service of the Brahmo Samaj. Thus was born the first Brahmasangeet. The songs were all based on classical ragas like dhrupad, behag etc.. The introduction of singing as a part of religious service was in itself a great act of reformation. The message of the songs were direct and simple but poignant with meaning and adoration for the one Supreme Being. The direct message that was communicated was "service of man is the service of God." The following are the translations of some of his hymns.
Meditate on the Only One
Who pervades land, water and air,
Who has created this universe
Of which there is no bound
He knows all but none can know him.
He is the Lord of the lords, the God of Gods,
And the Master of masters;
Let s know this adorable One.


Ignorance has clouded thy knowledge; What doest thou?
Forgetting the Supreme, takest thou other things as such?
The pursuit of a mirage in the hope of water
Is a fruitless speculation in which I see no gain
Thou hast forsaken the truth in ignorance
And has accepted falsehood in its stead.
During the era of Debendranath Tagore devotional hymns were composed by him and the members of the Tagore family especially his second son Satyendranath. The inspiration that was in these songs was very charming. People were overwhelmed with the feeling of rapturous joy and devout hope in connection with things which were unseen and intangible. The songs were of a deep spiritual nature. In fact the Maghot sav celebrations each year were marked by these new songs which greatly appealed to the assembled congregation.
Satyendranath Tagore I stand as a beggar for thy grace
As rivers flow naturally towards the sea,
And as naturally the flowers do give their scent
So my soul naturally yearns after thee
So does it naturally fasten its love on thee;
It is sin alone that throws me into darkness
The same sun shines on the huts of the poor as on the palaces of the rich;
Thus also is thy grace O Lord - world embracing and universal
And thy gates are open day and night for all.
Debendranath Tagore
When Keshub Chandra Sen joined the Brahmo Samaj he brought in a new devotional fervour with him. The Sangat Sabha which was established in 1860 to promote mutual spiritual intercourse amongst its members - gave birth to a new set of devotional songs. A noted feature was the underlying theme of repentance and prayer that was awakened in the minds of the young song writers by their Christian studies. Keshub opened his heart to the Christian spirit and it begat a sense of sin and a spirit of earnest prayer.
Where art thou, O Friend of the poor and lonely,
Reveal thyself and save me from the sufferings of sin.
I am miserable sinner; I know not how to call upon thee.
If thou, out of thy great mercy
But one come to the abode of my heart,
I may behold thee to my hearts content,
And then would be satisfied my longing of many days.
My mind is restless, do thou reveal thyself, O Father,
None else knoweth the longing of my heart.
Debendranath Tagore
Later on the Vishnava influence became predominant with the association of Keshub with Bijoy Krishna Goswami - who was lineal descendenat of Adwaitya Acharya - friend and disciple of Lord Chaitanya. The Vaishnava mode of singing - the sankirtan became very popular with the use of cymbals (kartal) and percussion instruments (khol). This ushered a spirit of universal theism and opened up a new world of religious feeling and laid the foundation of a new spiritual relationship. Another important song writer and bhakta was Trailokyanath Sanyal. Swami Vivekananda, at that time Narendranath Dutta was a regular visitor to the Brahmo Samaj and would often sing to Ramakrishna Paramhansa the devotional songs of the Brahmo Samaj- like Mono Chalo Nija Niketane - a song by Ayodhyanath Pakrasi, which transferred Ramakrishna to a Samadhi state. Other notable song writers of these period were Manamohan Chakraborty, Satishchandra Chakraborty, Kalinarayan Gupta etc.
Rabindranath TagoreRabindranath Tagore or the songs of Rabindranath added a new dimension to the world of Bengali music. His songs breathe a whiff of fresh air in our worn-out, exhausted lives and imbue us with new spirit and energy and get rejuvenated. The songs of Rabindranath are the purest manifestations of eternal life and all that man thinks, dreams, craves and pines far. Rabindra Sangeet can undoubtedly be regarded as the voice of mankind.

In those days Rabindra Sangeet could only be heard during the prayers and social functions of the Brahmo Samaj. The sole breeding ground of Rabindra Sangeet was the institution in Santiniketan the hermitage of the divine poet. In the musical conferences of the elites Nidhubabu's Tappa songs were much in vogue. In some stray occasions, the songs of Rajnikanta or Dwijendralal could be heard. It took a long time for the average Bengali to realize and evaluate the incredible potential of Rabindranath as a lyricist and music composer.

Jorasanko ThakurbariIn the Thakurbari at Jyotirindranath TagoreJorasanko, an earnest endeavour was made for the resuscitation of original Indian music and Bengali songs in particular. Maharshi Debendranath and Jyotirindranath Tagore (1849 - 1925) of Jorasanko not only took care in preserving the existing schools of Indian music but were also prolific in enriching the world of Indian music with new and innovative creations. Rabindranath was an ideal successor of his father Debendranath. He had an intrinsic proclivity for music and through his divine songs took Indian music to dizzying heights and gave it a new identity. At this time refined classical music with aristocratic fervour along with western education had cast a profound impact on the then Bengali society which had virtually severed all its affinity with the world of Bengali songs. The more popular Bengali songs like Kirtan, Shyama Sangeet, Baul songs etc. had taken the back seat. Except a few religious songs, there was hardly any other variety of Bengali song which were admired by the elites and the middle class people.

The invention of the hand held harmonium by Dwarkanath Ghose, founder Dwarkin & Sons Pvt Ltd., in 1875 also contributed to the growth and popularity of Brahmasangeet. After repeated and arduous experiments Ghose gave the Hand Harmonium, the shape and form now seen (suitable for playing by sitting on the floor). This made it easier to manipulate and repair, and much more durable. The hand held harmonium was a permanent feature in Brahmo Samajes along with the double reed piano organs and congregation were enthralled with the devotional songs sung by the disciples or bhaktas accompanied by these instruments.

Rabindranath made an extensive research on Indian music. He collected exquisite specimens of music from different Indian states and made a divine amalgamation with them using his gifted innovative talent. Rabindranath was very fond of ballads, Nidhubabau's Tappa songs, songs of the kathaks and during his stay of Selaidaha when he came in contact with Lalan Phakir, the legendary Baul singer of Bengal and Gagan Harkara. Another school of music which cast a profound impact on Rabindranath was Kirtan. Tagore's songs were immensely influenced by Brahmo Sangeet and religious songs based on Ragas. We know of his intimacy with Trailokyanath Sanyal who inspired him in the composition of Brahmasangeet. Some of the spectacular songs of Brahmasangeet were directly influenced by the time of regional songs from several Indian provinces like Sikh bhajans (Gaganer Thale Rabichandra Dweepak Jwale), Kannada songs (Baro Asha Kore, Aji Subho Dine, ), Gujrati bhajan (Jao Re Ananta Dhame) and Mysore songs (Anandaloke Mangalaloke, Eki Labonye Purna Pran).

Finally, Tagore composed the national anthem of India Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jay Hey. He was meticulous while composing the national anthem so that the tune could illuminate the hearts of all Indians with the spirit of nationalism, irrespective of caste, creed, community, sex or religion. He made a unique blending of those Ragas which are commonly sung and are most popular and rendered that brilliant literary touch to the song which has made it immortal. Similarly, the versatile poet has written several other patriotic songs which have a universal appeal.

Atulprasad SenBesides Rabindranath Tagore, there were other famous composers of devotional songs. Sivnath Shastri also wrote a number of Brahmasangeet and kirtans. A special mention should be made of Atulprasad Sen (1871 - 1934) and Rajanikanta Sen (1865 - 1910) two great composers of this age. Though not strictly limited to only Shyama Sangeet, probably at a more sophisticated level, devotional songs of Atulprasad and Rajanikanta Sen were directed at educated audience, these songs are deep in devotional spirit, language and tonal variety. Their subject matters too are many and varied. Besides devotional songs they were also composers of a number of patriotic songs which greatly inspired the people of the country.