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History Of Tabla?


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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

I've heard some Gurmat Sangeet scholars say that the tabla didn't exist before the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and that it's origin is from mridang --> pakhavaj -->tabla.

However, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji mentions 'Tabalbaaj' in Maaj Ki Vaar, ang 142 (and a few other places as well).

So was the word tabla used for other drums or ??

Edited by Matheen
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Faridkot Teeka says:

ਨਗਾਰਾ ਬਜਾਵਨੇ ਵਾਲੇ ਨੇ ਵੀਚਾਰ ਰੂਪ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਭਾਵ ਉਪਦੇਸ਼ ਸੁਨਾ ਦੀਆ॥

It's clearly refering to the player of the ngara.

All photographic and written history contests to the fact that the tabla has only been around for not much longer than a century. Scientifical angle, the tabla can not carry sound, so would not have been used in Gurus darbaar which had sangat of thousands, that aside all shaastri and Sikh ithihaasik texts only mention Pakavaj and Jori, as is evidenced by all puratan photos of kirtanis. All the puratan bol used in Drupadi kirtan are Jori bols and cannot be played on a tabla (unless someone wants to make a clown of themselves).

The tabla has clearly been designed for use in either a small entertainment scenario i.e. kothhi or for the onset of recording media, I am not sure which. No one has really pursued it because its a non issue, but would be good to know.

Funnily enough, until this decade, the majority of the Panth thought that the Vaaja was played in Gurus darbar... and I have personally had little Singhs from a particular anti-Gurmat Sangeet jathaa come and quote the word 'vaaja' to me from Gurbani as some sort of evidence that it existed in Gurus darbar, lol.

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"and that it's origin is from mridang --> pakhavaj -->tabla."

It's actually - mridang --> pakhavaj -->Jori --> tabla.

Jori being invented by Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji Maharaj - and actually being a Pakavaj (which is a modern version of the Mridang) which has been split in two.

Mridang, Pakavaj and Jori to this day are the drums used to play traditional bol which accompany the original kirtan style of the Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji i.e. dhrupad.

Tabla became popular with the latter and more entertainment based khayal/tumri styles, particularly in the Mughal Rajas kothhiyan.

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Thanks Shaheediyan!

Interestingly, quite a few people I know (mostly from India) use 'jori' to refer to tabla.

So I guess Tabla used to refer to drums generally. Tabla is also used on ang 417 by Guru Nanak Dev Ji - but spelled tabela.

What is used as a generic word for drums, now that tabla refers to a particular instrument?

Edited by Matheen
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The above wiki article says it was a persian word, which makes sense - generically used for drum and drum player in Gurbani, and then finally used for the invention of a drum that originated in the Muslim courts/gharanai.

Biggest evidence as the above article points is, is the absence in traditional Karnataka (South Indian) Sangeet, which alongside many other Indian faiths/arts, has remained pure from foerign influence.

I am not aware of any generic word in Punjabi for drum, there is no need for one either, Punjab has a rich, ancient and well known/defined heritage of sangeet.

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