Taus or mayuri veena
Mayuri veena
Taus or mayuri veena
Other namesMayuri veena
Classification Bowed string instrument
Related instruments
Tā’ūs or Mayūrī (`Peacock vina'), St Cecilia's Hall

The taus, originally known as the mayuri veena,[1] is a bowed string instrument from North India. It is a form of veena used in North India with a peacock-shaped resonator called a mayuri, and is played with the neck of the instrument on bow.[2]

References to the mayuri veena have been found in Malavikagnimitra,[3] written by the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa between the 4th to 5th centuries CE.[4] The name taus is a Persian translation of the word 'peacock', or mayura in Sanskrit.[5]

It is believed that the taus was being played and adopted by for the Sikhs by Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs.

Origin story

Bhai Avtar Singh, a well-known taus player and ragi who practiced the historic style of kirtan,[6] tells the story of the invention of the Taus in the following quote:[7]

"The taus was conceived by and designed by the 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji. [...] The Guru and his Sikhs were singing outdoors under a tree enjoying God and nature. As was the old tradition, they were playing some string instruments. After a while, the musicians took a rest, and they leaned their instruments up against a tree. A peacock waddled into the group and he cried in the wailing sound that belongs only to the peacock. All of the stringed instruments resonated with the sound of the peacock cry, and the strings started humming. The sound was so ethereal and Guru Sahib liked that sound so much that he said, 'Let us design an instrument that sounds like this-- a combination of the resonation of all the string instruments and the plaintive cry of the peacock.' And that's how the taus was invented under the supervision of Guru Hargobind Ji." (who is the sixth Guru of the Sikhs)

Relation to dilruba and esraj

Mayuri, 1903.
Photograph of Bhai Jawala Singh Ragi playing accordion (vaaja), Bhai Gurcharn Singh on Jori, and Bhai Avtar Singh on Taus at Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore, ca.1935

The dilruba originates from the taus and is the creation of the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.[8] The dilruba was designed to be a compact version of the taus, making it more convenient for the Sikh army to carry on horseback. The esraj is a modern variant of the dilruba.


The Taus is an instrument whose identifying characteristic is the peacock shape of the body. It is played with a bow made of horse hair.[9] There are four main strings which are above the metal frets, which are the main strings. Only one of these strings are played with the bow.[10] There are a number of sympathetic strings between the frets and the neck, which provide additional resonance. These are tuned according to the raag being played, in a similar manner to the sitar.


  1. ^ Edgerly, Beatrice (1942). From the Hunter's Bow: The History and Romance of Musical Instruments. G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  2. ^ Chib, Satyendra Krishen Sen (2004). Companion to North Indian Classical Music. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. ISBN 978-81-215-1090-5.
  3. ^ Bhagyalekshmy, S. (1991). Lakshanagrandhas in Music. CBH Publications. ISBN 978-81-85381-13-8.
  4. ^ "Kalidas". www.cs.colostate.edu. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  5. ^ Kasliwal, Suneera (2001). Classical Musical Instruments. Rupa. ISBN 978-81-291-0425-0.
  6. ^ "Bhai Avtar Singh". Sikhnet. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  7. ^ Kaur Khalsa, Nirinjan; Cassio, Francesca (2019). Singing Dharam: Transmission of Knowledge in the Sikh Sonic Path. Lanham: Lexington Books. p. 271. ISBN 978-1498564847. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  8. ^ Dutta, Madhumita (2008). Let's Know Music and Musical Instruments of India. Star Publications. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-9058-6329-7.
  9. ^ Kipling, J. L. (Oct 1886). "THE ART INDUSTRIES OF THE PUNJAB". The Journal of Indian Art. London: W. Griggs & sons. 1 (1–16): 76–8. ProQuest 6970182. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  10. ^ Kaur, Inderjit (December 6, 2008). "Multiple Authenticities in Motion: Styles and Stances in Sikh Sabad Kīrtan". Yearbook for Traditional Music. 48: 71. doi:10.5921/yeartradmusi.48.2016.0071. S2CID 193661465. Retrieved 8 December 2018.