Can Music Redefine Nationalism? A Discussion on Hindustani Music in Karnataka

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.



Can music resolve conflict?


Tejaswini Niranjana’s 2013 article examines the social role of Hindustani music in Karnataka’s northern Dharwad–Hubli region in the early 20th century, arguing that the promotion of Hindustani music dissuaded Kannada nationalists from a violent uprising against Maratha dominance. Niranjana states that the music took hold of the Kannadiga “cultural imagination,” changing their way of thinking and living.  Vijayakumar M Boratti adds to the discussion, detailing how the Lingayat community overcame communal elements by introducing Kannada vachanas into Hindustani music.


Shashikantha Koudur responds to both Niranjana and Boratti, arguing that there were Kannada nationalists who did not support the Hindustani genre.

A few other works similar to this discussion are:

  1. Unequal Music. T M Krishna, 2018
  2. Crossing the Vindhyas. Kamala Ganesh, 2018
  3. Music and Society in North India: From the Mughals to the Mutiny Jon Barlow, Lakshmi Subramanian, 2007


 To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at with the subject line—“Music and Nationalism”
[Curated by Kieran Lobo (]

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