Divine Music

bhajanAcademic Program in Divine Music

Music is an essential part of Hindu traditions. The program is designed to impart instructions both in theory and practice of Indian music with classical base and devotional orientation.

Master’s Degree (Advanced Diploma) in Divine Music Requirements

University Core Courses   –  9 credits
HUC 5001 Principles of Hinduism –  3 credits
HUC 5002 Practices of Hinduism   –  3 credits
HUC 5003 Basic Sanskrit –  3 credits

5 Core Courses in Divine Music   –  12 credits
HDM 5001 The Path of Music –  2 credits
HDM 5002 Devotional Singing – Bhakti gāna  –   3 credits
HDM 5003 Joy of Melody – Raga Singing  –  2 credits
HDM 5004 The Joys of Music Training – Scales and Exercises  – 3 credits
HDM 5005 Life as Music  –   2 credits

Elective Course(s) in Divine Music  –  3 credits

Master’s dissertation or additional Electives   –   6 credits

Doctoral Degree (Fellow Award) Requirements

Doctoral degree or Fellow Award program requires successful completion of at least sixty credit hours of studies. The breakup is as follows

University Core Courses –  9 credits
HUC 5001 Principles of Hinduism –  3 credits
HUC 5002 Practices of Hinduism  –  3 credits
HUC 5003 Basic Sanskrit  – 3 credits

Core Courses in Divine Music  –  12 credits
HDM 5001 The Path of Music –  2 credits
HDM 5002 Devotional Singing – Bhakti gāna  –  3 credits
HDM 5003 Joy of Melody – Rāga Singing  –  2 credits
HDM 5004 The Joys of Music Training – Scales and Exercises  – 3 credits
HDM 5005 Life as Music  –  2 credits

Elective Courses in Indian Music  –  9 credits

Doctoral Thesis  –  30 credits

 HDM 5001 The Path of Music                                                    2 credits

(Available as Distance Learning course also.) Nāda Brahma music as a path to God, steps on this path, Nārada, gandharva-s and other early musicians, God singers stories of more recent bhakta-s and musicians, music as God laboratory, inviting God to sing through you, chanting AUM with tambura tape. AUM meditations, braiding the two strands of Bhakti (devotion) and Svara (essence of tone), field trips to devotional singing groups or concerts of Indian or Western music, journaling, that is relating experiences of readings, chanting AUM, field trips etc.

HDM 5002 Devotional Singing – Bhakti gana                           3 credits

Learn to sing a core group of chants, singing for opening the heart; listening in the whole body, expanding voice inwardly, learning basics of accompanying instruments tāla-s, drums, ektara etc., learning leading skills; each student leads the class in a song, learning about and singing in some of the traditions of kīrtan and bhajan, experience deeper chanting practices that the student gets lost in.

HDM 5003 Joy of Melody – Raga Singing                                  2 credits

Learn to play tambura, basic singing of melody attunements (raga alapana) in call and response, and feeling the support and trust flowing in this – aalaap means communion and conversation, attuning to individual tones (svara-s), feeling dissonance and consonance in the body, the seven tones (sapta svara) and their names, exploring the use of six interval types, singing songs without text (sargam-s) and songs describing ragas (lakshana geeta-s).

HDM 5004 The Joys of Music Training – Scales and Exercises    3 credits

The seven tones (sapta svara) and their names, Bhairav scale (melakarta 15) Śiva’s scale for centering and training, learn exercises from Purandara Dasa (15th century) and other systems of training, surprising ourselves as we discover the joy of attuning through scales and exercises, singing exercises medium tempo (to learn), faster (to train) and slower (to meditate), simple mapping of 7 names to 12 tones (7 svara-s to 12 svarasthana-s), Kafi scale (22 – Dorian mode) ancient most and still the broadest scale of Indian music, learn to tune tambura.

HDM 5005 Life as Music                                                             2 credits

(Available as a Distance-Education course also.) Ordinary life is permeated by sound. Listen, and improvise a life, awake, attuning, improvising in the moment. The theme of this course is choices to be made including a time of day, tempo (laya), melody (raga) and rhythm (tāla) if any. Celestial music needs to be played and heard here – it has been missing for too long, life as music cannot be given, but it can be taken, or stolen, by the student.

Elective Courses in Divine Music

Student’s to select at least one each from the 5200 and 5300 groups.

 HDM 5105 The Joys of Music Training – Svara Jñāna              3  credits

Svara Jñāna means the capacity to hear and sing tones (svara-s) accurately. We achieve this through the joys of singing more scales and exercises. Singing the 10 scales (melakarta-s) in the circle of 10 primary scales, introduction to set of 32 scales (center of the 72 melakarta system), introduction to the array of 5 tone scales, explore some 5 tone scales and also some with 5 notes ascending and 7 descending. Basic understanding of harmonium keyboard and scales.

HDM 5115 Fundamentals of Tāla                                              2 credits

Learn to count on the hands and to recite simple drum syllables (tabla bol s), learn a few simple steps and recite syllables (bol-s) from Indian dance, learn a few of the fixed patterns (theka-s) of basic rhythmic forms (tāla-s), learn to hear the drums and identify bol-s with tapes and at performances. Experience tempos (laya-s) from slowest to fastest.

HDM 5120 Classical Songs and Improvisation                        2 credits

Modern North Indian chota khayal and a taste of tarana, Older North Indian dhrupad-s of Tansen etc, an introduction to hearing and singing the various steps of improvising, South Indian compositions (kriti-s) TyagaRāja and a taste of Muthuswami Dikshitar.

HDM 5125 Instrumental Music                                                2 credits

Class will begin with all students singing, soon they will be invited to bring an instrument they can play in Bb, or they are welcome to continue singing throughout, playing of instrumental compositions (gat-s) Razakhani, Masitkhani, azirkhani etc., beginning to improvise and return to the gat, introduction to string instruments from vina to sitar to violin tunings, design etc., introduction to wind instruments from venu to shahnai to clarinet, harmonium etc. (and the equivalence of keyboards to fingerings of bamboo flutes).

HDM 5201 Beginning Singing                                                   2 credits

For those who need help getting started in music. Conditionings (saṃskāra-s) that constrict musical capacities do exist in Western culture. This course is designed to introduce you to your own voice through the medium of chanting. In chanting we can build up heat enough to burn up conditionings that may hold us backmusically.

HDM 5205 Sanskrit Chanting                                                   2 credits

Basics of recitation – Brahmin traditions of chanting intonations & mnemonic patterns, chanting of Rgveda and Samaveda for fire ceremony (yagya) – have students help with the performance of a fire cermony. Studying texts and singing the Sanskrit names (namavali-s) of various dieties.

HDM 5210 Goddess Flowers – Songs of the Mother                 2 credits

The mother of the universe has so many forms yet remains always one, songs of the mother from Devi Mahatmya, Ramprasad, Adi Śhankara, Ammachi etc., singing and studying texts and translations from different languages.

HDM 5215 God Flowers – Songs of Ganesh, Śiva and Murugan 2 credits

Songs of Ganesh, remover of obstacles – always the first to be worshipped Songs of Śiva from Śiva Siddhanta, Kashmir Śaivism , Alvars etc., singing and studying texts and translations from different languages.

 HDM 5220 God Flowers-Songs of the Incarnations of God    2 credits

Songs of Viṣhṇu and his incarnations Kriṣhṇa – songs from Mirabai, Surdas, Chaitanya etc., and Rama – Tulsidas, TyagaRāja etc., singing and studying texts and translations from different languages.

HDM 5225 God Flowers – Songs of the Unknowable God        2 credits

Devotees of God without form (nirguṇa bhakta-s) have also sung beautifully. Songs from Gorakhnath, Farid, Kabir, Nanak, Raidas, Malukdas etc., singing and studying texts and translations from different languages.

HDM 5235 God Flowers – New Devotional Singing                  2 credits

New music from the innumerable new teachers and groups of the 20th century, singing (some in English) and studying texts and translations from different languages.

HDM 5250 God Flowers – Improvising in God’s Name             2 credits

Improvising devotional singing based on a name or a few names of God or a line of a song. Improvisations in call and response opening into group improvisations, gentle critique by the class of each improvisation.

HDM 5301 AUM – The Great Mantra                                         2 credits

Chanting AUM, the first and last word of Hinduism, experimenting with AUM meditations from various sources, singing one tone (SA or AUM) with tambura while slowly exploring the whole body, perceiving the three levels of sound manifestation.

HDM 5305 Goddess Sarasvati, Mother of Music                      2 credits

(Available as a Distance Learning course also offered as an intensive in the fall, including date of Sarasvati Pūjā.) Initiation into Sarasvati Mantra, Mythologies, icon and songs of Sarasvati goddess of wisdom, speech, and music, meditate on Sarasvati and write your intuitions of who can Sarasvati be for you – your complete conception of the potentiality of Goddess Sarasvati.

HDM 5310 Music from the Heart                                               2 credits

Total immersion – taught as a week-long intensive, connecting heart and voice discovering the heart in devotional and raga singing, three days of Mystic Rose meditation to open our hearts – two two-hour sessions each of laughing, crying and sitting with singing before or after, marathons of singing our hearts out in devotional and raga singing.

HDM 5315 Remembrance (Zikr) from the Chisti Order            2 credits

The Chisti Order of Sufis started in India, and sprang from a blending of musicians and mystics, both Hindu and Islamic. Chanting and movements of Chisti Zikr, carrying us into the one.

HDM 5320 Music, Meditation and Silence                                 2 credits

Drinking up the silence when the music has stopped, sound meditations from the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra and other sources, writings and experience of shabda brahma (the word), Nāda brahma (sound is god) and anahata Nāda (the unstruck sound, the sound of one hand clapping), study of Sanskrit texts from scriptures, ancient music treatises and various mystics, Raga experienced as spiritual expansion.

 HDM 5410 Raga Attunement – Alapana                                    2 credits

Attuning to the whole raga, and learning to create open melody (alapana), experiencing a raga as a crystal of sound, descending from beyond us, emotional expression (rasa) as portrayed in various raga-s, eight watches (prahar-s) of day and night and raga expressions of each- Dawn Bhairav-s, Morning Asavari and Todi, Noon Sarang-s, Afternoon Bhimpalasī & Multani, Dusk Marwa & Śrī, Evening Yaman & Bhopali, Night Malkauns & Darbari Kānada, and Pre-Dawn Lalit.

HDM 5415 Raga Attunement -Poetry and Painting                 2 credits

Meditation poems (Dhyāna-s) of older raga-s, from music theory to iconic descriptions, traditions of raga mala painting and conventions of portraying various raga-s, Raga-s associated into six families – raga-s, their wives (ragini-s), and sons (putra-s), beginning to reviving the traditions of raga poetry and painting by creating new attunements in class, after a deep session of singing alapana in a raga.

HDM 5420 Music for Healing                                                     2 credits

Understandings the inherent healing powers of mantra and raga, applying these powers to the use of sound in one’s own healing process and in relationship and community, Bijmantras for cakra-s and organs.

HDM 5450 Music Performance                                                 2 credits

Performance as ritual to share being (satsang), combining melody and rhythm in solo and ensemble play, etiquette (adab) of performance, manifesting earthly divine sound.

 HDM 5900 Selected Topics in Indian Music (practical & research) 3 credits

HDM 6900 Independent Study or individualized instruction 1-5 credits

Voice, instruments, drums.

HDM 7999 Doctoral Thesis Research                                  30 credits

Research work leading to a doctoral project or thesis in Hindu Studies in Indian Music. Possibilities may include, but are not limited to

Performance Prepare devotional group or small classical ensemble

  1. Seva Design and implement a project to teach children divine music or a project involving healing (divine music therapy)
  2. Design and implement a training seminar Write and teach from a training manual in divine music for your instrument design, carry out and present the results of a study and research project in India
  3. Written thesis of research a combination of above.


Summary of Requirements for the Divine Music Program for Coursework and Thesis Options


DIVINE MUSIC PROGRAMS HU Master’s Degree (or Advanced Diploma)

Program (30 credits)

HU Doctoral Degree (Fellow Award)

(60 credits)

HU Core Courses HUC 5001 HUC 5001
HUC 5002 HUC 5002
HUC 5003 HUC 5003
Program Core Courses HDM 5001 HDM 5001
HDM 5002 HDM 5002
HDM 5003 HDM 5003
HDM 5004 HDM 5004
HDM 5005 HDM 5005
Electives Options Course-Work option Selection of elective courses (3 credits) Selection of elective courses (9 credits)
Thesis option Thesis or additional electives (6 credits) Thesis (30 credits)