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Maharashtra’s Sangeet Natak Tradition



  Jan 29, 2024

Maharashtra’s Sangeet Natak Tradition



Historical Context and Origins:

Initiation: The tradition commenced in Sangli on November 5, 1843, with Vishnudas Bhave’s musical drama ‘Sita Swayamwar’, drawing inspiration from Ramayana.
Roots in Ancient Texts: Tracing its lineage to the Vedas, particularly the Natyaveda, and Bharat Muni’s Natyashastra from 2nd or 3rd century BCE.
Influence from Sanskrit Dramas: Influenced by ancient Sanskrit playwrights (5th century BCE onwards), integrating elements from Marathi traditions.

Evolution and Influences:

Cultural Interactions: Exposure to Western ideas post-1857 (foundation of the University of Mumbai) led to adaptations of English and Sanskrit plays into Marathi.
Development of Modern Form: Annasaheb Kirloskar’s ‘Sangeet Shakuntal’ in 1880 marked the evolution into modern sangeet natak.
Integration of Music and Drama: The tradition flourished in the 20th century with prominent figures like Bal Gandharva, Master Dinanath Mangeshkar, and Keshavrao Bhosale.

Social and Political Impact:

Commentary on Social Issues: Plays like ‘Sangeet Sharada’ (1899) addressed social issues, notably child marriage, influencing legislation like the Child Marriage Restraint Act (1928).
Political Allegories: Dramas such as ‘Kichaka Vadh’ (1907) used allegory to comment on contemporary political issues, like the partition of Bengal.

Documentation for Posterity:

Gazetteer Department Project: Maharashtra’s gazetteer department is documenting this tradition in a three-volume history, led by Dilip Balsekar and Vandana Ghangurde.
Comprehensive Coverage: The volumes cover the period from 1843 to the present, highlighting significant contributions and changes.

Significance in Marathi Culture:

Cultural Marker: A key component of Maharashtra’s cultural identity, blending music, drama, and social commentary.
Legacy of Great Artists: Produced legendary figures who significantly shaped Marathi theatre and music.

SRIRAM’s


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