Svara (Sound, Note, Tone, Voice, Vowel)

In accordance with Bharatiya philosophy sky (Akasa) — the fifth of the Pancabhutani
(five gross elements) — has its distinctive quality as ‘ word (sabda) ‘. The
manifestation of the word as Sound (dhvani) is the svara. Svara has also been called
Nada-Brahma (the sound that heralds ‘ the Absolute Being ‘ i.e. ‘ the Cause of all that
is ‘). Sangita sastra (the treatise on music) mentions the basic sound (mula-dhvani)
unit as sruti (phonetic revelation) and such units are considered to be 22 in number.
The musical collections of more than one revelatory-sounds is known as Svara. In the
one saptaka (octave) of Sangita (Music) there are seven Svaras and they are named
as : Sadja, Rsabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata and Nisada. While one
plays an instrument or sings, the notes those represent their sequential order are : sa,
re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni (the parallel notation in Western Music runs as : do, re, mi,
pha, so, la, ti which obviously is of a very late and secondary origin based on the
svaras in Bharatiya Musical traditon). The utterance (uccharana) of them is performed
three times in a raga in the same sequential order with the two repetitions made with
double loudness — of the second from the first and of the third from the second – with
no pause within them. The seven Svaras are regarded as the Pure ones but to them
are added modified ones — such as : Komala (low-key) Rsabha, Komala Gandhara,
Tivra (high-pitched) Madhyama, Komala Dhaivata and Komala Nisada, making the total
of the Svaras as 12 in the Bharatiya musical tradition. The three Saptakas are
respectively known as Mandra Saptaka, (low-key octave), Madhya (intermediatelypitched)
Saptaka and the Tara (high-pitched) Saptaka

In grammar, the alphabets of Bharatiya languages, (such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi,
Gujarati, Punjabi etc.) the letters like a, aa, i, ii, u, uu, etc. — 14 letters — are
distinguished as svara(s) (vowels) from the others known as the vyanjana(s)
(consonents) such as K, Kh, etc. on the basis of they (vowels) being capable of being
uttered independently as well as of being helpful in the utterance of the consonents by
joining them and making their utterance possible.

In utterance, according to the expansion of Naada (the sound, tone) the Svaras
(vowels) are considered to be of three kinds as : short (hrasva), long (dirgha) and
protracted (pluta). From the point of view of the sharpness (tivrata) of utterance also,
again, the Svaras (vowels) are spoken to be of three kinds as : udatta (sublime, lofty,
or acute), anudatta (lacking sublimity or loftiness i.e. unaccented), and svarita (having
been accented).

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