Hindi classical music has roots in Hindu Kush’s Pashtoon belt: Dr Rashid

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Dr Rashid Ahmad Khan, the first ever PhD scholar on Pashto music, has claimed that Hindi classical music had its origin in the Pashtoon belt of the Hindu Kush region the folk melody of which is as old as the Gandhara civilization, dating back to 1500 BC.

While summarizing the finding of his 8-year research work on “Critical Analysis of Pashto Music”, Dr Rashid, who is also a known singer and poet, observed that the breeze wafting above the Hindu Kush mountains region became melodious rhymes flowing down to the flat region between river Amu and river Aba-sind.

After successfully defending his PhD thesis on December 15, 2022, at Pashto Department of Peshawar University, Dr Rashid became the first-ever PhD scholar of Pashto music in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. The research and critical thesis was the maiden attempt to explore Pashto music and to define the nature of the variations between its different traditions, Rashid told a state run news agency in an interview.

Referring to his claim, Dr Rashid said the origin of Indian classical music dated back to the sacred Vedic scriptures over 3500 years ago where chants developed a system of musical notes and rhythmic cycles.

“It is an agreed history fact, which was also proved in my research that the Vedic initial phrases are written in Pakhtunkhwa mountainous terrain as the holy book also has mentions of different rivers of our region like Swasto for Swat, Somo Kromo for Kurram and famous Kabul river,”

said Rashid to substantiate his viewpoint.

Mention of these locations also substantiated the viewpoint that the initial phrases of Vedic were related to areas including Hindu Kush, Nangarhar, Mardan, Swat and Peshawar valley, he reckoned. At that time the elders of the Hindu religion formed three rhymes: Odat, Anudat and Swarit which marked the beginning of Hindi classical music learning and later transformed into the very basic lesson of ‘Sare Gama Pa da ni Sah’, he maintained.

The Hindi classical music had a very close connection with Pashto folk music which tuned finer and finer with the passage of time and with the progress of civilization, he went on to say. In his research study, Dr Rashid also argued over the meaning of ‘Gandhara’ which was widely taken as `Perfume’. According to him, the original name was `Gandharvas’ which meant ‘beautiful deities’ of melody, who were in heaven.

The name Gandharvas later transformed into Gandhav which meant `music’ and finally became Gandhara, a place where music was played, he opined.

He argued that after the arrival and spread of Buddhism in the region during the Kushan dynasty, the Hindus migrated to other parts of the sub-continent along with their religious as well as musical instruments and norms.

Dr Rashid visited different cities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and interviewed over 2,000 musicians, experts and folk artists for his research thesis on Pashto music. “I travelled to many cities and museums in KP.—NNI