In places like Vaishali and Rajgir in ancient Bihar, beautiful girls acted as Nagar-Vadhus or town ornaments (courtesans). That they were not despised is clear from the fact that the Buddha himself accepted an invitation from, Amrapali, the chief courtesan of Vaishali. These Nagar-Vadhus, all experts in music and dancing, went out in ostentatious processions consisting of their retinue, lovers of art and admirers of beauty. Singing and dancing appear to have been the chief amusements of the age.
The Bhagavat religion, which dates from about 500 BC, was a force during the Maurya-Sunga epoch. The followers of this cult in Bihar did not depend on royal patronage as the Buddhists did, but they developed their proselytizing techniques rather aesthetically; making the fullest use of dance, drama, music, recitation and painting, as mentioned by Patanjali in his reference to the popular presentation of the Krishna legend. The Allahabad pillar inscriptions of Samudragupt point out that even princess in those days were educated in literature, the art of warfare and music. The poet, Bana has stated the same thing in the case of Harshavardhana. Women, too, were educated in several branches of learning, particularly in music and painting.
The regular history of Mithila music dates from Nanyadeva (1097-1133), a great patron of music and author of a standard work on this art. He developed the popular ragas on regular lines and influenced Mithila art to a considerable extent. Maithil musicians, who seem to have been more popular outside Bihar, enriched Nepalese music and carried the traditions of their land to Bengal and U.P. Singha Bhupal of Nepal, a writer on music, was, in fact, no other than a Mithila ruler of the fifteenth century. A still greater name is that of Jagadhara, the famous fifteenth century Maithil commentator of Malati-Madhav.
During the Muslim period, music and dance met with many setbacks in Bihar, for both music and dance were tabooed by diehards and puritans among the Muslims. For them dancing and singing were forbidden. But the Chistia and Firdausia orders of the Sufi saints paid little attention to such fanatical religious dictums. Hazrat Sharf-ud-din Ahmad Maneri, the famous saint of Bihar, was not averse to music, vocal or instrumental. The early Sufi saints of Bihar were all well acquainted with the art of Indian music. Folk songs and folk dances and religious songs of the Vaishnavas were also popular in medieval Bihar. Only the plastic and pictorial arts appear to have suffered considerably after the Muslim conquest. The uncompromising monotheism of the Muslim rulers did not permit anyone to make any kind of likeness of living beings.

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