Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Music For The Soul
Sound leads to understanding unity and divinity. Hence the importance given to the recitation of the sacred syllable ‘
Om’. The Sangeetanataka says that consciousness of the Nada Brahman leads to enlightenment. Rishi Matanga in the Brhaddesi says: “Without nada neither song nor dance can exist — the entire universe is the embodiment of nada”. The songs of the Sama Veda are the precursor of all Indian music. The singers of these chants participated in all sacred ceremonies. Positive sound is productive; it creates greater understanding and unity and is closest to the divine. Depictions of gods and goddesses in India reflect the importance of music in spiritual evolution — Nataraja dancing with the damraku , Krishna with the eternal flute, Saraswati, goddess of learning with her veena , Nandi and his maddalam , Narada the singer wandering the earth, tanpura in hand.
Music is an intrinsic part of Indian spirituality. When Maitreyi asked her husband Sage Yagna-valkya, why he was going away to the forest he replied: “When the veena is played one does not try to grasp the sound that is being played, one seeks the player of the veena . When the drum is played one does not grasp the drumming, one seeks the drummer. It is that limitless Self of our creation, the Atman, that I seek.”. The notes of music have symbolic meaning; they evoke varied moods. Sa and Ri are to be used for the rasa s of vira or heroism, adbhuta or wonder and rudra or anger; Dha denotes bibhatsa or revulsion and bhaya or fear. Ga and Ni project karuna or compassion and Ma and Pa, hasya rasa or humour and sringara or the erotic. Each note activates and affects the different cells of the body and mind. Most temples of
South India have mani mantapa s with stone pillars that play music when struck with a thin stick and emit different notes of the musical scale.
The legendary musician Tansen reportedly brought rain to the parched earth by singing the raga Malhar. In the south, Viraraghava Iyer sang the raga Vasanta to allay the heat and was known as Tsallagali (cool breeze) Iyer ever since.
South India’s Thyagaraja reportedly brought to life a person presumed dead, with the raga Bihari. That’s why many believe in the miraculous healing powers of music.
The Sufi poet Hafiz tells us of how God made a model of a clay figure and requested the human soul to enter within. But the soul refused to be imprisoned. But when God asked the angels to play beautiful music, the soul made its entry. Hippocrates, the Greek who pioneered the western system of medicine, used music in the healing process.
Today, it is proven that when used selectively, music can indeed heal. The term, the ‘Mozart effect’ has evolved from the fact that the composer’s music has helped strengthen the mind, reduce tension, enhance creativity and heal the body of those who turned to it for succour. Japa or chanting of mantras has been a traditional daily ritual in
. It helps us connect to the source of all creation and the resonance of the last syllable of India Om is a healing sound.
Whatever the music, if it is spiritually moving, it elevates the spirit and affects positively both mind and body. While good music is highly beneficial, today’s cacophony of loud noises in the environment aggravates stress and will eventually destroy us. Loudspeakers used during festivals and other public functions and the constant noise generated by traffic are all serious health hazards. Remember, sound is a powerful force — it can heal; it can also destroy.