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In Carnatic music, all the South Indian languages have been used prolifically, in addition to the ancient classical Indian language, Sanskrit. The Telugu language has been especially widely used in the compositions. There is also a wide repertoire in Tamil and Kannada, and a smaller range in Malayalam. Occasionally, select songs in more northern languages like Marathi, Hindi and Braj Bhasha have been incorporated into Carnatic music. This adds to the rich variety of Carnatic music.


Though music, in general, transcends barriers like religion, caste, creed, sex, language, etc., Carnatic music is strongly attached to and influenced by Hinduism (the predominant religion in India from very ancient times). The basic fact that many scholars have even attributed the origin of music to the Gods (some to Brahma and others to Siva), or to the Vedas, signifies the religious outlook. Besides this, almost all the compositions by various great composers of different eras are also in praise of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Most of the composers led pious, God-fearing lives, performing religious rituals while composing and singing in praise of God to attain salvation. Carnatic music is deeply rooted in the Indian thinking and the basic Indian faith and religion. This strongly symbolises the traditional outlook.


The theme of South Indian classical music is to refine one’s soul and body through discipline, and to make one sensitive to the infinite within one, to unite one’s breath with the breath of space and to unite one’s inner vibration with the vibration of the cosmos.  

Carnatic music is considered spiritual and one that can elevate the individual, both intellectually and emotionally. The lyrics are mainly based on religious themes and talk about various Hindu philosophies.

Carnatic music on its own merit, is a separate entity, and the music itself can be considered to be the supreme way to become one with God. The concept of worshipping through music practice is known as Nadopasana.

Carnatic music can not only evoke all the nine emotions mentioned in literature, but can also be experienced bereft of these common emotions. As it is, this music is both intellectual and entertaining, and appeal to both the qualities of the head and the heart. It is no wonder that such a concept and understanding of music developed into a form of worship, Nadopasana, and has carried many on its wings to self-elevation and merged with the ultimate truth. This sublime integration of various themes, religion, devotion, philosophy, emotions, intellect (science), entertainment and others with music, has created a vibrant life and tradition in this art form.

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