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abhang Marathi devotional song

acharya religious master

adhyay chapter of a book

advaita non-dualistic

ahl-e bait the family of the Prophet Muhammad

‘alam standard that is part of Muharram commemoration of Imam Husain’s martyrdom

alankara figure of speech

alankarashastra lit. science of ornaments, rhetoric

arilla short poetical form in Brajbhasha

arthav exposition

azan call to prayer

bada notebook

band baja music with brass band

bandijan musician

basti neighbourhood

batin hidden, esoteric

bayaz poetic scrapbook

bhajan devotional song

bhakha lit. language, term for Hindi

bhaktamal biographical compilation of devotees and saints

bhakti lit. “sharing”, devotion

bhang drink laced with marijuana

bhanita poet’s signature line at the end of a poem

bhattarak head of Digambara Jain institution

bhava emotion

bhramargit lit. “songs of the bee”, song-poems in which Krishna is compared to a bee which sucks nectar from many flowers

bol syllable, drum/dance mnemonic

brahmachari celibate

brahman the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena

buzurg elder, important man

charan panegyric singer and genealogist in the Rajput domains

charya Bengali sung poem

chaumasa, chaturmasa the four months of the rainy season, in which itinerant ascetics do not travel

chaupai quatrain

daitya, dait race of giants who fought against the gods; in Persian translations of Sanskrit texts usually assimilated to asuras and rakshasas, demons

dapha genre of Newar devotional singing

darbar court

dargah lit. threshhold, sufi shrine, see also khanqah

darshan polysemic word, may mean ritual and mutual viewing of god/spiritual master and devotee or system of philosophy

dastan story

devata god

dhadhi musician specialising in drum and sarangi accompaniment and panegyric and martial singing

dharma religious duty

dhatu the melodic component of a song (as in dhatu-matu)

dhrupad (also dhurpad) preeminent courtly song genre in Braj language

dhyana, ragadhyana poetical description of the iconic form of a raga (see below)

din faith

divan, diwan book of poetry

doha verse couplet

drishtant example, verse used as an example

dunya, duniya the world

gaddi seat

ghazal Persian and Urdu lyrical poem

gita song

goshti, goshthi (religious) discussion

gotra clan lineage

gunigana knowledgeable audience

guru master, teacher

guthi voluntary society

gyan goshti knowledge discussion

hadis traditions of the Prophet

hun kar lit. “hmm”, listener’s assent that prompts a storyteller to continue

‘ibadat worship

imam the twelve leaders of Shi‘a Islam; leader of a mosque

imambara, imambargah Shi‘a commemoration hall

islah critique and correction of poetry

jati caste, community (see also qaum)

jawab response (as in call and response, Q&A)

jinn spirits, lower than the angels, who appear in human and animal form

kahani story

kalam discourse

kalawant hereditary court musician of high status

kalima, kalma Muslim declaration of faith

karamat miracles performed by saints

Karbala location of a battle in 680 CE which gave rise to the split between Sunnis and Shi‘is and which Shi‘is commemorate every year during the month of Muharram

karma lit. action, and the consequences that each action has in one’s past, present, or future existence

katha story

kathak, kathakar, kathavachak storyteller (kathak only began to designate a dance form in the twentieth century)

kavi poet

kavitt, kavitta poem, which may also be sung

kavya poetry

Kayasth professional scribal caste

khanqah sufi monastery, see also dargah

khandan family, hereditary lineage

khatima concluding section of a text

Khatri professional caste of scribes and merchants

khayal virtuosic courtly song genre

kinnara celestial musician in Buddhist and Hindu mythology

kirtan religious song form

kirtankar religious public performer of kirtan

lazzat taste, pleasure (see also zauq)

lila dance, play

madrasa school, teaching institution

mahant head of a monastery (math)

mahatmya text describing the greatness of a place, a god/goddess, or a sacred text

mahfil, mehfil assembly, gathering

mahotsav (devotional) festival

maidan public park

majlis (pl. majalis) assembly, gathering

maktab literary school or circle

malfuz (pl. malfuzat) sayings (of a sufi saint)

manaqib an Arabic biographical-hagiographic genre about the qualities of noble individuals

mandali small group

mandir temple

mangalkabya Bengali genre of narrative poetry about the relationship between gods, humans, and places

mansabdar Mughal officer

marsiya sung or recited Muharram elegy in poetical form

marsiya-go performer of marsiya

ma‘sumin pure and flawless ones

masjid mosque

masnavi Persian or Urdu narrative poem

matam physical self-mortification during Muharram ritual

math monastery

matu the textual component of a song (as in dhatu-matu)

maulvi, mawlawi person who has completed full course of Arabic and Persian studies

mazhab belief

mela fair

mo‘jizat miracle stories

mohajir, muhajir migrant to Pakistan from India, usually at Partition

muktaka independent verse

musha‘ira Persian and Urdu poetry recital

mushkil-kusha resolver of difficulties

naga warrior ascetic

nama Persian narrative, chronicle

namaz prayer, one of the five mandatory Islamic prayers

naqqal actor, mime

nayak hero, protagonist

nayika heroine, protagonist

nayika-bhed poetic genre detailing the different types of heroines

nazar offering

niqabposh hidden, in disguise

niti lit. ethics or policy, genre of instructional texts

nitya lila lit. “eternal play”, the notion that Krishna is eternally playing with the milkmaids of Braj in a higher sphere (loka)

niyaz ritual offering

niyaz kahani ritual stories

nritya dance

ojas martial spirit

pakhawaj double-headed barrel drum that accompanies dhrupad songs

pan digestive made of betel nut and leaves

panchali Bengali genre of performed poetry

pande, pandit educated Brahmin or (among Jains) temple ritual specialist; scholar

parchai biography

parhna to read

paryushana season of sermons given by Jain monks during the rainy season

patur(a) courtesan, female singer/dancer

pir sufi master

pirzada living descendent of a sufi saint

pothi manuscript book, often compilation

prasad offering received back with god’s blessing

prasang, prastav context of an example

pravachan spiritual discourse

prem-katha love story

Purana lit. old, compilation of narratives about gods, communities, and places

qasba small town

qasida Arabic, Persian, or Urdu ode/praise poem

qaum caste, community (see also jati)

qawwal, qavval professional sufi musician who also performed at court

qawwali song performances of qawwals, usually at sufi shrines

qiyamat, qayamat the Day of Judgement in Islam

qissa story

qissa-khwan storyteller

raga melodic mode

ragamala lit. garland of ragas; 6 male ragas each with 5 wives called raginis

raja king (also maharaja, great king)

rajguru royal guru

rakshas demon

ramat itinerancy in a group of followers

ramshala place where Dadupanthi ascetics spend the rainy months

ras lila performance of Krishna’s life

rasa juice, sentiment, one of nine affective essences

rasika connoisseur

rishi seer, sage

riti lit. style, courtly style of poetry in Brajbhasha

ritigranth manual of poetics

sabad lit. word, devotional song-poem

sadhu ascetic

sadhvi female ascetic

sajjada-nishin current head of a sufi shrine

sakhi poetic couplet, often gnomic in kind

sakhi the female confidante of the nayika

salam greeting; the first item in a series of performances

sama‘ lit. audition, sufi musical assembly

samasyapurti poetic game in which poets are given a word or part of a verse and have to complete it to a set metre

sampradaya religious group, association

samskara polysemic word which means life-ritual and ceremony, and the trace and influence that actions and thoughts leave

sangita music, dance, and drama; lyrical arts

sangitashastra musical science, music treatise

sant lit. “good man”, holy person in a devotional context

saqi-nama poems addressed to the saqi or cup-bearer

sarvangi comprehensive compilation of devotional songs

satsang congregation of devotees with music and discourses

savab religious merit

sayyid descendant of the Prophet Muhammad

seva service

shakti the power of the goddess

shauq desire, pleasure

shudra lower caste

silsila lit. chain, lineage

sipara chapter of the Qur’an

soz Persian or Urdu elegy to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain (the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson) and his family at Karbala

stotra hymn

sufi mystical branch of Islam, based on observance of a path under the guide of a pir

sukhan speech, discourse

sunna to listen, to hear

svadhyaya self-study

tabarruk blessed food

tabla set of two drums that is the pre-eminent accompaniment to classical music genres

takhyil deception

tala rhythmic cycle

tamasha spectacle, and a Marathi performance genre

tappa courtly Panjabi song genre

tarikh chronogram

tariqa sufi path and organisation

tasha drum associated with Muharram

ta‘sir effect, impact

taza-gui “fresh speech”, new style of Persian poetry in Safavid and Mughal times

ta‘ziya, tazia replica of a mausoleum used in Muharram processions

tazkira biographical dictionary, prosopography (usually of poets or sufi saints)

tirthankara one of the 24 founding Jinas

‘urs lit. “marriage”, death anniversary of a sufi saint.

ustad master

vacana speech

vaggeyakar song-poet

vani (also bani) lit. speech, collected sayings of a saint or poet

varnashrama the system of four major castes (varna) and four stages of life (ashrama)

varta story

vira heroic, the heroic sentiment (rasa)

virah the longing and pain of separation

virahini woman pining for her absent beloved

virakt renunciant, in the specific case, Dadupanthi itinerant sadhu

virudavali panegyric genre panegyric made of linked chain of epithets

vistar exposition (of a raga)

vrat-katha ritual story with vow and fast

wazn rhythmic emphasis in a poetical or musico-rhythmic cycle

yuga epoch

zahir apparent, exoteric

zakir one who remembers

zauq taste, pleasure, see also lazzat

zikr, zekr repetitive chanting in sufi ritual practice

ziyarat pilgrimage