The Veena, also spelled as Vina or Beena or Bina, is a multistringed chordophone of the Indian subcontinent. It is an ancient musical instrument that evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers, the many regional designs have different names such as the Rudra veena, the Saraswati veena, the Mohan veena and others. The North Indian design, that has used in classical Hindustani music, is a stick zither. About 3.5 to 4 feet long to fit the measurements of the musician, it has a hollow body and it has four main strings which are melody type, and three auxiliary drone strings. To play, the musician plucks the melody strings downward with a plectrum worn on the first and second fingers, the musician stops the resonating strings, when so desired, with the fingers of the free hand. The Veena has been replaced with the Sitar in north Indian performances. The South Indian Veena design, used in classical Carnatic music, is a lute and it is a long-necked, pear-shaped lute, but instead of the lower gourd of the north Indian design it has a pear shaped wooden piece. It too, however, has 24 frets, four melody strings and it remains an important and popular string instrument in classical Carnatic music. As a fretted, plucked lute, the Veena strings can produce pitches in full three octave range, the long hollow neck design of these Indian instruments allow portamento effects and legato ornaments found in Indian ragas. It has been an instrument in Indian classical music, and one revered in the Indian culture by its inclusion in the iconography of Saraswati. These continue to be used, albeit with different designs, in Carnatic classical music, the Sanskrit word Veena in ancient and medieval Indian literature is a generic term for plucked string musical instruments. Veena is mentioned in the Rigveda, Samaveda and other Vedic literature such as the Shatapatha Brahmana, in the ancient texts, Narada is credited with inventing the Veena, and is described as a seven string instrument with frets. The early Sanskrit texts call any stringed instrument as Vana, the Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, the oldest surviving ancient Hindu text on classical music and performance arts, discusses Veena. The ancient epic Mahabharata describes sage Narada as a Vedic sage famed as a vina player, the Natya Shastra describes a seven string instrument and other string instruments in thirty five verses, and then explains how the instrument should be played. The technique of performance suggests that the Veena in Bharata Munis time was different than the zither or the lute that became popular after Natya Shastra was complete. The ancient Veena, according to Allyn Miner and other scholars, was closer to a harp, the earliest lute and zither style Veena playing musicians are evidenced in Hindu and Buddhist cave temple reliefs in the early centuries of the common era. Similarly, Indian sculptures from the mid 1st millennium CE depict musicians playing string instruments, by about the 6th century CE, the goddess Saraswati sculptures are predominantly with Veena of the zither-style, similar to modern styles. The Tamil word of Veena is yaaḻ and it is in the list of Musical instruments used by Tamil people in Tirumurai dated 6th to 11th century
A temple mural showing veena.
A Mohan veena.
A Hindu temple relief showing a veena player (Akilandeswari Temple).
A Rudra veena, now at Musée de la musique, Philharmonie de Paris.