This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Peace by Other Means” demonstrates how, even as religious strife is pervasive in India, classical Hindustani music has remained a transreligious and intercommunal medium. Indeed, music is one of the few domains in which Hindu-Muslim tension is absent: in North India it is common for audiences composed of both Hindus and Muslims to attend performances in which Hindu vocalists sing devotedly of Allah, and Muslim vocalists of Krishna. Hindustani musicians of whatever faith, it is argued, worship Nada-Brahman, the Hindu “Sound-God.” Three kinds of religious tradition in India have nurtured the perception that sound is sacred: Hindu bhakti, Sufism, and Santism, all of which this essay explores in case studies both of the formative period of devotional music in North India and of the current state of the genre and its venues of performance.

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