Genre in Hindusthani Music (bhajans) as Used in the Roman Catholic Church

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This study examines the uses of indigenous music in the various services of the Rites of the Catholic Church in India since the Second Vatican Council. It is based on the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the post Conciliar documents of the Roman Curia and the documents of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, as well as interviews with those involved directly in the implementation of these documents on a national level in India. It examines the uses of the Hindu musical forms of bhajan (an antiphonal form of congregational singing) and kirtan (a form almost identical to the Western concept of hymn) in the liturgies of the Church. It deals both historically and speculatively with what is permitted in the Church's liturgies. Includes musical examples.


"This work is the finest academic treatment of the subject of Christian (Catholic) bhajans that I have seen. . . . One of the work's unique contributions is the way the author shows the cross influences between the Church and the indigenous musical traditions. . . . I do not see how any library of ethnomusicology, South Asian Studies, or Asian musicology could be complete without this book." – Dr. David Courtney, Texas Institute for Indian Studies

"There is strength here, and simplicity. There is a refined and deep appreciation of the theoretical complexities and the rarefied beauty of Indian music. And there is a sense of holy adventure, a delight in telling the old story in a way that is new to Westerners. Ironically, this 'new way' is found through music that is older than much traditional Western music and may even be older than the story itself." – John David Peterson, DMA, FAGO, University of Memphis

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Foreword by John David Peterson, DMA


2.The Second Vatican Council

3.The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India

4.Indian Prayer Forms

5.On Ragas and Rasas

6.On Rhythm and Talas

7.Indigenized Prayer


Sources consulted: Published Materials; Interviews; Discography

Appendices: Letter from the Holy See Approving the Twelve Points of Adaptation; Letter from the Chaldean Bishop of the USA; Brief History of Catholicism in India; Index, Figures

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