Music, to put in a gross way, is a group of musical notes of different frequencies or pitch arranged in a particular pattern and rhythm. However, this gross description is incomplete as it is limited only to the subjective aspect of music. In reality, music is a means of finding the Self.
The purpose of music is to transport the listener (and the musician) beyond the mechanical sound of the notes to the inner silence, another realm of one’s being. That’s why music is also known as nadyoga. Through music one can attain the transcendental. It is an important aspect of life like bhakti, gnana and karma. A nadayogi focuses on nada as the absolute brahman of which this entire creation springs out.
The evening before the day of Maha Chandi Homa a musical bliss dawns when Sri Sri plays Veena, the instrument of Goddess Saraswati. It is an out-of-the-world experience by itself. One can literally feel that the strings in one’s heart are being played that resonates throughout one’s life. Sri Sri’s Veena rendering is followed by the offerings of devotees in the form of dance, music (instrumental and vocal), Vedas, ancient scriptures,stotras in praise of the Mother Divine!
It’s not just a divine rendition of Veena, but elevating music as a form of worship. Goddess Sarawati is worshipped on the last three days of Navratri as the sattvic expression of Devi, known to bring self knowledge.
The Goddess, who is worshiped as the deity of music, is depicted to have a veena, the symbol of music, in one hand and a book, the symbol of knowledge, in the other. Knowledge is the subject of the left brain. Knowledge is not complete without music, which is the subject of the right brain. Music balances knowledge. For the journey of life to be complete, both music and knowledge are essential.
During the sacred Navratri celebrations at Bangalore Ashram, music is intricately intertwined with the invocation and worship of Shakti – the pure energy.
The ancient scriptures say, ‘Shruti is the mother, and laya is the father of music.’ Shruti is translated as pitch and laya is translated as rhythm. But they are much more than pitch and rhythm.
Shruti and laya are not separate. They merge into each other and have to remain indivisible throughout for music to exist. Laya, the rhythm, is in the soul of the universe. Everything in this creation changes, and this change follows a very precise rhythm. The universe itself revolves in a rhythm.
Laya is the attribute of music that is beyond the tangible rhythm of the music. Laya means to let go, to unite. Laya is complete cessation. It is the merger of all the different rhythms at the levels of one’s body, senses, mind, intellect, memory and ego to the one consciousness, the non-dual brahman. It is through this laya that the notes in the music are absorbed into the ‘swara’.
Music ‘happens’ when swara takes over! There the music, the musician and the listener, if any, with all the instruments cease to exist as individual entities, and dissolve into the one brahman, the nada!Swara is subtler than and far beyond the subjective sensation of the musical notes. Swara translates the subjective ‘anubhava’ to the objective ‘anubhooti’.
‘Swa-ra’ in Sanskrit means, ‘that which illumines itself’. It cannot be obtained through mere practice or penance, nor can one be trained to get it. It has to dawn by itself! And when it dawns in the musician, it shines forth itself through his music.
It is the swara and not just the technical correctness of the pitch or the quality of tones or the voice of the musician that makes music transcend and transport one to its destination.The sound that is beyond the finest vibration, the seed form of all the sounds is the state of absolute stillness, the nada, which can only be attained, not perceived through the physical ears.
Posted by Dr Manikantan Menon; Dr Mani promotes ‘Holistic well-being’ thru a blend of Ayurveda, Music and Indian Spiritual Knowledge & Yogic Practices