The decreasing graph of its popularity is like a tragedy where every character makes an inconspicuous exit after a long powerful presence. Thanks to a few alert conservationists and scholars, several ancestral variants of the veena still rest as museum pieces. Sarangadeva in his magnum opus ‘Sangeeta Ratnakara’ mentions ten types. His contemporary, the Andhra poet Palakurki Somanada listed out another forty-one in his ‘Panditaaradhya Charitra’! Almost none exist today, even as artistic impressions. Enough ink has been consumed on stories of its mysterious origins, fanciful myth and recounted history of the veena. By India’s independence, it was deified to become the country’s national instrument. In spite of all the superlatives attributed, the veena has faced a steady decline with its evidently meagre presence on the concert stage and festival circuits.
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