By Swami Harshananda
Niṣāda literally mean ‘one who sits or lives on the outskirts of a village’.
Niṣāda, as per Varṇas
Though the fourfold division of the society, designated as the varṇa-system, is very ancient, mixing up of the varṇas either within the ambit of the sacrament of marriage or outside it, was a real and continuing phenomenon. This gave rise to many new castes and subcastes. The niṣāda is one such.
Niṣādas were the offsprings of a brāhmaṇa male from a śudra woman. They were considered to be outside the pale of the four castes. They are often described as dark in color with reddish eyes and living by hunting wild animals.
Niṣāda as per Rāmāyaṇa
The Rāmāyaṇa mentions that Guha who was the chieftain of the niṣādas, helped Rāma to cross the Gaṅgā river. Later he took Bharata to meet Rāma.
Niṣāda as per Music
In music, niṣāda is the seventh note. It is supposed to come out of the region of lalāṭa and resemble the sound of an elephant.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore