Rudra Veena / Been Miraj

The rudra veena, also called been, is one of the most ancient and peculiar instruments of India. It has a deep, meditative sound and frets for playing the melody.

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The rudra veena consists of a long wooden tube resonator which carries the bridge, frets and pegs. In order to amplify the sound, two big gourd resonators are attached to the tube. The four playing strings are played  on frets, can be pulled sideways and are plucked with wire plectrums. Rudra veenas do not have any sympathetic strings. Our rudra veena Miraj has a medium quality standard ? good for beginners, but not suitable for professional requirements. We do not always keep rudra veenas in our store, but we are ready to order them any time upon request.

The pictures show an older type of rudra veena, not the model currently available from our supplier Paloma.


Tube resonator made of stained toon wood, 20 chromatic frets bound to the tube, four melody strings, three chikari strings, two removable gourd resonators with fully carved decoration in angur patta style, horn bridges, inlays made of celluloid with stained engravings, polished shellac surfaces, carved snake head at pegbox, carved swan head at tailpiece.

General Info

The rudra veena is regarded as the ancestor of many modern instruments and was considered the noblest solo instrument in North Indian classical music for centuries. Its playing technique and repertoire were strictly kept a family secret, and therefore it is no wonder that many legends about magic powers are woven around this instrument. Because of its exclusivity, its very difficult playing technique and its very deep, extremely introvert tone colour, it got nearly extinct in the 20th century. The fact that most instrument-makers today refuse to make rudra veenas since they believe it's unlucky, may have contributed to this development. Good rudra veenas are therefore nearly impossible to get in India today.

The angle at which the bridge surface (jowari) has been sanded down has great influence on the sound of every rudra veena. If the curvature of the surface permits strong partial vibrations of the string on the bridge, a buzzing sound rich in overtones is created, which is called an open Jowari. Ravi Shankar made this sound popular and Westerners often feel that this is the typical sound of an Indian string instrument. A so-called closed Jowari, however, creates less overtones and the sound is clear, pithy and singing. Most Indian musicians prefer this sound today. If played regularly and intensely, the strings dig grooves into the surface of the bridges in course of time, due to abrasion, and thus change the relative openess or closedness of the jowaris. If sanded down later in a specific manner, the original sound can be restored or the instrument can be adjusted to a different sound.

The choice of strings and pitch have a great influence on the sound of the instrument, too. Since rudra veenas are not standardised, there is ample scope for experimentation.

Manufacturer / Supplier

Our rudra veenas are supplied by our partner Paloma. They are made by traditional craftsmen in Miraj, a town in the Southern part of the Indian state Maharashtra. Miraj has a long tradition of musical instruments manufacture and is especially famous for string instruments with gourd resonators like tanpuras, sitars, rudra veenas and vichitra veenas.

PALOMA is the international brand name for instruments made by Haribhau Vishwanath from Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Haribhau Vishwanath was founded in 1925 as a small repair business and developed into one of the leading Indian harmonium manufacturers in the course of decades. In addition, Haribhau Vishwanath makes shrutiboxes, santoors, swarmandals and some drums. Haribhau Vishwanath is also an active musical instrument trader and supplies us with some rarely demanded instruments where a direct purchase from the manufacturer is not profitable. Thanks to his good infrastructure and long experience with instrument manufacturing, trading and international shipping, Haribhau currently supplies all common harmonium models and many other instruments constantly in a high quality regarding workmanship. In addition, he excels through attractive innovations, like e.g. the harmonium Compactina or a particular silk-mat finish. Haribhau Vishwanath is a partner of India Instruments since 2005. Today the company is run by Ashish Diwane.


Measure: length .. cm, width .. cm, depth .. cm, diapason .. cm, weight: .. kg
Each instrument is individually hand-crafted and might differ from our description.

Playing Technique

The rudra veena is traditionally played in kneeling position with the upper resonator resting on the left shoulder and the lower resonator under the right arm. The player sits in between the two gourds. However, Zia Mohiuddin Dagar invented a type of rudra vina with more sustain and resonance in the third quarter of the 20th century. This so called Dagar veena is too large and heavy to be held on the shoulder, therefore it is played in the same position as the South Indian Saraswati veena ? with the lower resonator on the ground and the upper one on the left knee or thigh.

Index and middle finger of the right hand usually wear wire plectrums (mizrabs) with which the playing string is plucked alternately with both fingers during fast sections. The drone strings (chikari) are played with the long nail of the little finger. The thumb of the plucking hand is supported at the base of the neck.

The fingering technique is similar to that of the sitar. The melody strings are pressed onto the frets mainly with the index finger of the left hand. During melodious flows, the whole hand wanders along the neck following the index finger. Ornaments, small intervals and closing notes of rising melody lines are played with middle or ring finger. Ornaments and small intervals can also be articulated by pulling the string sideways on the frets. The highest melody string is the main playing string. The three deeper playing strings are used mainly for notes deeper than the tonic of the main playing string.