One of the most revered, enjoyed, and vintage sounds that represents one of the facets of Indian spirituality and East Indian culture is the mridanga drum. The mridangadrum had its advent nearly five hundred years ago around the mid-1400s when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared on Earth. It is said that the mridanga is Lord Krsna’s flute incarnated, also an expansion of Lord Balarama, on earth. When Lord Krsna was planning for His avatara as Lord Caitanya, His flute wanted to accompany Him. Lord Krsna said that the flute would not be a practical medium of carrying the spiritual vibrations around. Hence, the mridanga came to existence as a drum that is nice and loud, and easy to play. Since then, Bengali music and Gaudiya Vaisnava kirtans have been blessed with this avatar of the flute of Sri Krsna.
The word mridanga comes from the word “mrit” and “anga” which mean “clay” and “body,” respectively. As one may deduce from the literal definition, the originalmridanga was made out of clay. Throughout time, the term “mridanga” has been used to describe any two headed drum. Midanga either refer to this drum or the South Indian drum. Hence, musicians refer to the drum as khol. Khol literally means “open sound.” There have been various devotional songs where the mridanga drum has been properly identified with the word khol. Hence, the words mridanga and khol are interchangeable.