One of the most ancient Indian string instruments the Rudra Veena Is believed to have been made by Lord Shiva by taking inspiration from the form of Goddess Parvati. The Rudra V eena was so made; the dandi is the hand of Shiva. The frets are the bangles, the strings the Kesh of Shiva. The pegs symbolize the Sapt Rishis, The peacock the vehicles of Goddess Saraswati and the bridge itself Goddess Saraswati. The two gourds are Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.
[From Baha’uddin Dagar’s website, Ancient Indian Strings]
An ancient stringed instrument (albeit one that has
undergone changes over time), the Rudra Veena or bIn is a
large instrument and played by only a few. The bIn almost
fell into total obscurity, but is enjoying a resurgence due
to the efforts of a few dedicated bInkArs (veena players).
Usually, the DhrUpad form of North Indian classical music
is played on the bIn.
The Rudra Veena was probably used as an accompanying instrument for DhrUpad singers and TAnsen (1510-1589), who was one of the navratnas (nine jewels) of Emperor Akbar’s court (r. 1556-1605)is believed to have used it as an accompanying instrument.
Structure of the Rudra Veena (source):
[The Rudra Veena]
belongs to the family of tube zithers, a later development of the stick zither. It consists of a long wooden or bamboo tube (dandi) beneath which two resonators (tumba) made of dried and hollowed-out gourd are fixed. Numerous high wooden frets (sarika) are arranged on the tube with the help of a resinous substance or with linen cords. Four melodic metal strings are stretched out on these frets, while two slender rhythmic strings (chikari) and a drone string (laraj), also metallic, are fastened laterally along the length of the tube, on both sides of the frets…
[go here for more and for an interactive diagram]
How is a Rudra Veena Made?
A short educational film taken from the archives of the Asian Music Circuit.
Holding the BIn:
The BIn can either be held in a diagonal manner across the shoulder or across the lap, depending on the school of Veena playing the BInkar belongs to. The traditional posture is to sit in Vajrasana and hold it across the left shoulder. See/hear videos below of late Ustad Asad Ali Khan and Ustad Shamsuddin Faridi Desai who sit in the traditional posture: