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A venu is a side blown flute
Other names Muraḷi, Vēṇuvu, pillana grōvi, kūḷalu, pullankuzhal
Classification Indian Woodwind Instrument
Playing range
More than 2.5 Octaves (8-hole bamboo flute)
Related instruments
List of Indian Flautists
More articles
Palladam Sanjiva Rao, H. Ramachandra Shastry, T. R. Mahalingam, T. Viswanathan etc..

The venu (Sanskrit: वेणु; veṇu) is one of the ancient transverse flutes of Indian classical music.[1] It is an aerophone typically made from bamboo, that is a side blown wind instrument. It continues to be in use in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition.[2] In Northern Indian music, a similar flute is called bansuri.[3] In the South, it is also called by various other names such as pullankuzhal (புல்லாங்குழல்) in Tamil, പുല്ലാങ്കുഴല് in Malayalam, and ಕೊಳಲು (koḷalu) in Kannada. It is known as pillana grōvi (పిల్లన గ్రోవి) or Vēṇuvu (వేణువు) in Telugu (Andhra Pradesh).

The venu is discussed as an important musical instrument in the Natya Shastra, the classic Hindu text on music and performance arts.[4] The ancient Sanskrit texts of India describe other side blown flutes such as the murali and vamsika, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. A venu has six holes, is about the thickness of a thumb, and twelve fingers long. A longer murali has four holes and two hands longs. The vamsika has eight holes, between twelve and seventeen fingers long.[5]

A venu is a part of the iconography of Hindu god Krishna.[1]

Construction and technique

A venu is a musical instrument common in Krishna iconography

One of the oldest musical instruments of India, the instrument is a key-less transverse flute made of bamboo. The fingers of both hands are used to close and open the holes. It has a blowing hole near one end, and eight closely placed finger holes. The instrument comes in various sizes. The venu is also a highly respected instrument and those who play it are expected to appreciate it, for it is considered a gift to be able to play it.

The venu is capable of producing two and half octaves with the help of over-blowing and cross fingering. The flute is like the human voice in that it is monophonous and also has a typical two and half octave sound reproduction. Sliding the fingers on and off the holes allows for production of variety of Gamakas, important in the performance of raga-based music.


The flute (Venu) finds great mention in Indian mythology and folklore having been listed as among the 3 original instruments meant for music along with the human sound and Veena (vaani-veena-venu).[6] However it is strange that there is no name mentioned for the typical flute that the Lord plays.

The venu is associated with the Hindu god Krishna, who is often depicted playing it. This kind of flute is mainly used in South India.The Lord Vishnu is portrayed as Sri Venugopala - playing the flute of Creation.

In the Hindustani style, it is known as Bansuri. In the Carnatic style, it is known as flute.


Venu players of the past

Venu players of the present

See also

  • Bansuri: The bansuri from the Hindustani music tradition is a 6 (or 7) holed flute. Lord Krishna was also known as Murali-dhara (one who is carrying Murali or flute) and Venu-gopala (Gopala playing the Venu) and the music from his flute was called as Venu Naadham.[citation needed]
  • Carnatic Music
  • Hindustani Music


  1. ^ a b Lochtefeld 2002, p. 747.
  2. ^ Bruno Nettl; Thomas Turino; Isabel Wong; et al. (2015). Excursions in World Music. Taylor & Francis. p. 691. ISBN 978-1-317-35029-3.
  3. ^ Dalal 2014, p. 163.
  4. ^ Rowell 2015, pp. 99–103.
  5. ^ The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu of Rūpa Gosvāmin. Motilal Banarsidass. 2003. p. 217. ISBN 978-81-208-1861-3.
  6. ^ Tarla Mehta (1995). Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-81-208-1057-0.


  • Beck, Guy (1993). Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-87249-855-6.
  • Caudhurī, Vimalakānta Rôya (2000). The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1708-1.
  • Dalal, Roshen (2014). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-81-8475-277-9.
  • Daniélou, Alain (1949). Northern Indian Music, Volume 1. Theory & technique; Volume 2. The main rāgǎs. London: C. Johnson. OCLC 851080.
  • Gautam, M.R. (1993). Evolution of Raga and Tala in Indian Music. Munshiram Manoharlal. ISBN 81-215-0442-2.
  • Kaufmann, Walter (1968). The Ragas of North India. Oxford & Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34780-0. OCLC 11369.
  • Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2 Volume Set. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8239-2287-1.
  • Martinez, José Luiz (2001). Semiosis in Hindustani Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1801-9.
  • Nettl, Bruno; Ruth M. Stone; James Porter; Timothy Rice (1998), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia : the Indian subcontinent, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8240-4946-1
  • Randel, Don Michael (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music (fourth ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01163-2.
  • Rowell, Lewis (2015). Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-73034-9.
  • Sorrell, Neil; Narayan, Ram (1980). Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-0756-9.
  • Te Nijenhuis, Emmie (1974). Indian Music: History and Structure. BRILL Academic. ISBN 90-04-03978-3.
  • Wilke, Annette; Moebus, Oliver (2011). Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-024003-0.

External links

  • Carnatic Flute Fingering Chart
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