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Suman Bhattacharya

Sitarist from Imdadkhani Gharana

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Creativity is all about allowing yourself to make mistakes; and art is, knowing which ones to keep. Any form of creative art is immensely valuable in an emotional, sentimental and cultural way. Art enhances an ability to communicate ideas and feelings in ways that words fail. Being creative is the true value of being artistic, and its in itself a valuable talent and trait. An artist expresses his ideas through innovation, inspiration and imagination, to which there is no restriction. The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, i.e. life by artificial means so as to hold it fixed, so that after a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is ‘life’.

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Nava Rasa in Indian Classical Music

Posted by suman-bhattacharya on February 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Indian art evolved with an emphasis on inducing special spiritual or philosophical states in the audience, or with representing them symbolically. Of particular concern to Indian drama and literature are the term 'bhava' or the state of mind and rasa (Sanskrit रसlit. 'juice' or 'essence') referring generally to the emotional flavors/essence crafted into the work by the writer and relished by a 'sensitive spectator' or sahṛidaya or one with positive taste and mind. Rasas are created by bhavas. Rasatheory blossoms beginning with the Sanskrit text Nātyashāstra (nātyameaning "drama" and shāstra meaning "science of"), a work attributed to Bharata Muni where the Gods declare that drama is the 'Fifth Veda' because it is suitable for the degenerate age as the best form of religious instruction.


A rasa is the developed relishable state of a permanent mood, which is called Sthayi Bhava. This development towards a relishable state results by the interplay on it of attendant emotional conditions which are called Vibhavas, anubhavas and sanchari/ vyabhichari bhavas. The production of aesthetic rasa from bhavas is analogous to the production of tastes/juices of kinds from food with condiments, curries, pastes and spices. Vibhavas means karana or cause. It is of two kinds: Alambana, the personal or human object and substratum, and Uddipana, the excitants. Anubhava,as the name signifies, means the ensuants or effects following the rise of theemotion.


Nava Rasa

Bharata Muni enunciated the eight Rasas in the Nātyasāstra,an ancient work of dramatic theory. Each rasa, according to Nātyasāstra, has a presiding deity and a specific colour. There are 4 pairs of rasas. Forinstance, Hasya arises out of Sringara. The Aura of a frightened person is black, and the aura of an angry person is red. Bharata Muni established the following.

Śringāram (शृङ्गारं Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green

Hāsyam (हास्यं Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Pramata. Colour: white

Raudram (रौद्रं Fury. Presiding deity: Rudra. Colour: red

Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यंCompassion, mercy. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour: grey

Bībhatsam (बीभत्सं Disgust, aversion. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: blue

Bhayānakam (भयानकं Horror, terror. Presiding deity: Kala. Colour: black

Vīram (वीरं Heroic mood. Presiding deity: Indra. Colour: yellowish

Adbhutam (अद्भुतं Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow


A ninth rasa was added by later authors. This addition had to undergo a good deal of struggle between the sixth and the tenth centuries, before it could be accepted by the majority of the Alankarikas, and the expression Navarasa (the nine rasas), could come into vogue.

Śāntam Peace or tranquility. deity: Vishnu. Colour: blue

Shānta-rasa functions as an equal member of the set of rasas but is simultaneously distinct being the most clear form of aesthetic bliss. Abhinavagupta states it to be the string of a jeweled necklace; while it may not be the most appealing for most people, it is the string that gives form to the necklace, allowing the jewels of the other eight rasas to be relished. Relishing the rasas and particularly shānta-rasa is hinted as being as-good-as but never-equal-to the bliss of Self-realization experienced by yogis.


In addition to the nine Rasas, two more appeared later:

Vātsalya (वात्सल्य Parental Love

Bhakti (भक्ति Spiritual Devotion

However, the presiding deities, thecolours and the relationship between these additional rasas have not been specified.


Rasa & Spirituality

Rasa is a Sanskrit theological concept specific to Krishna-centered bhakti traditions, such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The theological use of the word can be found early, about two thousand years before the Nimbarka or Chaitanya schools of bhakti, in a phrase that Chaitanya traditionsfrequently quote: "Truly, the Lord is rasa". This statement expresses the view that God is the one who enjoy the ultimate rasa, or spiritual rapture and emotions.


It is believed Rupa Goswami developed, under the direct guidance of Chaitanya, the articulated andf ormulated theology of rasa as "the soul's particular relationship with the divinity in devotional love".


Rupa's text draws largely from the foundational theory of rasa formed by Bharata Muni, the originator of NatyaSastra. These relationships with the divinity in devotional love, rasa,can closely resemble the variety of loving feelings that humans experience with one another, such as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, and master-servant.

 

Bhakti Rasa

Bhakti is a Sanskrit term that signifies an attitude of devotion to a personal God that is similar to a number of human-human relationships (difference is that in bhakti relationships is soul-Supersoul, soul-God) such as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, and master-servant.

The Bhagavata Purana teaches nine primary forms of bhakti, as explained by Prahlada

(1) śravaṇa("listening" to the scriptural stories of Kṛiṣṇa and his companions)

(2) kīrtana("praising," usually refers to ecstatic group singing)

(3) smaraṇa ("remembering"or fixing the mind on Viṣṇu)

(4) pāda-sevana (renderingservice)

(5) archana (worshiping animage)

(6) vandana (paying homage)

(7) dāsya (servitude)

(8 ) sākhya (friendship) and

(9) ātma-nivedana(completesurrender of the self)

These nine principles of devotional service are described as helping the devotee remain constantly in touch withGod.


The Narada Bhakti Sutra is a well known sutra venerated within the traditions of Hinduism, purportedly spoken by the famous sage, Narada. The text details the process of devotion (Bhakti), or Bhakti yoga and is thus of particular importance to many of the Bhakti movements within Hinduism. Firstly bhakti itself is defined as being "the most elevated, pure love for God" which is eternal by nature and through following which one obtains perfect peace and immortality (release from samsara). The symptoms of such devotion are that one no longer has any selifsh desires, nor is affected by the dualities of loss or gain for himself being fully content with (and experiencing ecstacy through) the process of bhakti itself. Naradad escribes that lust is absent in one who executes bhakti purely because they naturally have no personal desires to fulfill. An important point is made inverse 30 in regard to the relationship between bhakti and knowledge:


"But the son of Brahma [Narada] says that bhakti is its own fruit".


In hiscommentary, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada further describes in regard to this verse that "bhakti is not dependent on anything else for nourishment" being complete in itself, without dependence on the paths of either knowledge or renunciation.

 

Rasa Lila

The Rasa Lila is part of the traditional story of Krishna described in Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana, where he dances with Radha and her sakhis. The term, rasa meaning aesthetic/s and lila meaning act, play or dance is a concept, which roughly translates to "play (lila) of asthetics(rasa)," or more broadly as "Dance of Divine Love".


The rasa lila takes place one night when the gopis of Vrindavan, upon hearing the sound of Krishna's flute, sneak away from their households and families to the forest to dance with Krishna throughout the night, which Krishna supernaturally stretches to the length of one Night of Brahma, a Hindu unit of time lasting approximately 4.32 billion years. In the Krishna Bhakti traditions, the rasa-lila is considered to be one of the highest and most esoteric of Krishna's pastimes. In these traditions, romantic love between human beings in the material world is seen as merely a diminished, illusionary reflection of the soul’s original, ecstatic spiritual love for God, in the spiritual world.



The emotion of Bhakti as a feeling of adoration towards God was long considered only a minor feeling fit only for Stothras, but not capable of being developed into a separate rasa.In the tenth century, Aacharya Abhinavagupta mentions Bhakti in his commentary on the Natya Shastra, as an important accessory sentiment of the Shanta Rasa. Shantha Rasa attained a state of primacy that it was considered the Rasa of Rasas. Bhakti Rasa also soon began to loom large and had the service of some distinguished advocates, including Tyagaraja. It is the Bhagavata that gave the great impetus to the study of Bhakti from an increasingly aesthetic point of view.

- From various sources

Music - A Spiritual Journey - Part 1

Posted by suman-bhattacharya on February 11, 2012 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Music is the purest form of art. Therefore many poets who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music. The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life.They are not materials gathered from outside.

-Rabindranath Tagore

 


Gods favourite sound is the sound of His inner Music. This inner Music is the music of earths transformation and humanitys Life perception. Music is a miniature of the harmony of the whole universe, for the harmony of the universe is Life itself, and humans being miniature of the universe show harmonious and unharmonious chords of pulsation in the beat of their hearts, in their vibrations, rythm and tone.


Man goes from truth to higher truth. In this journey of spiritual evolution, perfection plays a major role. To achieve perfection is to touch the horizon. But is that so easy to achieve? The closer you seem to go towards the horizon, the further it seems to move away.


Then why is this obsession to achieve perfection so ingrained in human nature? According to Hindu Philosophy, to attain perfection is to attain mukti or enlightenment.

We need to be born a million times more to reach that state.

-AdiShankaracharya , Vivekachudamani


A state where you go beyond time and space. Then why this pursuit of such a Herculian task? You can attribute this to the undying spirit of Man. Indian Classical Music is all about hitting that perfect swara, though it is not restricted only to that, as raga, laya, taal etc are other of its important aspects too. But above all being in perfect sur is what music is all about.


Let us reflect on these two words: Asur and Sur. If we remove the letter A, we get Sur. Asur being the demon, and Sur denoting God. Being in sur means being one with God. God is the one who is always perfectly tuned and always in tune.


To find the swars sthaan is nothing short of a miracle. It is a walk on a double edged sword. You can hit the wrong edge if you falter a bit, and that becomes besura and if you touch the right swara, its a miracle-as the sword no longer remains one. Its edge becomes smooth, expanded, broad, It opens into a vast space - shoonya. One can bask in this shoonyata in pleasure, and continue to stretch it further and it remains ever so perfect on that note. This is Swar Sadhana. A student of music is sadhak, who is polishing this coal of imperfection to the glitter of a perfect diamond, meticulously polishing every note, till it shines with the tejas andaura of the sheer purity of the sound of that note.


Swara, a sanskrit word: swa- meaningself, ra -meaning to bring forth or throw light upon.


Meaning the artist or sadhak goes deep within himself to bring out the essense of Self to the surface. Only then it reaches out to the other to touch the core, and one is moved by this music. Its like a candle, once lit, throws light on all others around. Soulful music works miracles.This is the only way by which we are touched by music.




Words or sathiyaa does not make music spiritual, anymore than virtuosity would. Music needs no language, no gimmicks, or mastery over techniques. There are very many singers who have had no formal training in music, yet how pure and simple and in sur their songs were.


Words, virtuosity, control, mastery over taal, laya, harkat, etc. are all fabrics with which a musician clothes that swara for people to enjoy, just like swagun is nothing but clothed version of nirgun niraakaar.


When the musician is egoless, humble, surrendering, in a state of perfect self, with the perfectly placed swara, he is one with the Eternal spirit. That is spirituality in music. This can be achieved in any kind of music.

Music is the highest form of art, and those who understand it, the highest form ofworship

-Swami Vivekananda


Forme Sur is namaaz and namaaz is sur

-Ustaad Bismillah khan


Music is the wine, which inspires one to new generative process, and I am  Bacchus, who passes out this glorious wine for mankind and make them spiritually drunken.

-Beethoven


I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy

-Plato


Concept of Raga in Indian Classical Music

Posted by suman-bhattacharya on February 11, 2012 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Raga is a noun derived from the Sanskrit root ranj, meaning to colour, to delight.

Raga implies the emotional content of a song which delights the listener. King Nanyadeva of Mithila (1097-1147)wrote that the variety of ragas is infinite, and their individual features are hard to put into words. He described Raga as:

"Just as the sweetness of sugar,treacle and candy cannot be separately described, but must be experienced foroneself."


His predecessor Matanga played a crucialrole in the history of ragas. He is quoted by virtually all later scholars as the foremost authority on raga. Brihaddeshi, a Classical Sanskrit text on Indian classical music (dated ca. 6th to 8th century) attributed to Matanga Muni is the first text that speaks directly of the raga. It has the best definition of raga:

”In the opinion of the wise, that particularity of notes and melodic movements, or that distinction of melodic sound by which one is delighted, is raga.”


In other words, ragas have a particular scale and specific melodic movements; their 'sound' should bring delight and be pleasing to the ear.


A raga can be regarded as a tonal framework for composition and improvisation. It is far more precise and much richer than a scale or mode. A raga usually includes a large number of traditional songs, composed by great musicians of the past. But ragas also allow today's musician to compose new songs, and to generate a variety of melodic sequences.


Structure of Raga

Indian Classical Music has two related, but distinct, traditions: Hindustani and Carnatic.

The basic scale of Hindustani music, like Western scale, has 12 notes.

Sa Re' Re Ga' Ga Ma Ma' Pa Dha' DhaNi' Ni

Raga is a subset of these notes together with a set of rules to combine these notes effectively and create a particular mood. It must have atleast 5 of these 12 notes.

They must contain the tonic (Sa) and at least either the fourth (Ma) or fifth (Pa). A raga is described by its ascent-descent pattern (Aroha-Avaroha) from middle Sa to high Sa.

In many ragas, number of notes in ascent and descent are not identical.


A note that is frequently used or that is held for a long duration is usually referred to as the Vadi or sonant. Strong note at a perfect fourth or fifth from the vadi which is called the samvadi('consonant'). There may be disagreement about which note-pair should be sonant-consonant in a given raga. So we use terms such as 'important', 'strong' and 'weak' to denote musical functions of tones.


Each Raga has a name. It also has a character and Rasa which can be devotional, erotic, bold and valourous, tragic, etc. A raga typically is associated with a time of day when it is best performed, usually spaced at a 3 hour interval. However the beauty of the raga is not affected by the time of the day it is sung. Some Ragas are related to seasons e.g. Raga Malhar.


Some can be traced back to ancient or medieval times, others originated only a few centuries or even a few decades ago. Ragas have originated across various places and have marked resemblance/ influence of musical tunes/ melody of other countries or culture.  Howewer, all ragas have undergone transformations over the centuries. Many of them have fallen into disuse.


Ragas have often been illustrated through paintings over centuries, famous being the Rajasthani paintings.The paintings have inscriptions, for example

”Out of the lake, in a shrine of crystal, she worships Shiva with songs punctuated by the beat. This fair one,this bright one is Bhairavi.”

 

Classificationof Ragas

Ragas can be classified using different criterias. For example, on basis of the number of notes used.

Ragas that contain all 7 notes are Sampurna,

Ragas that contain 6 notes are Shadav,

Ragas that contain 5 are Audav.

All ragas are divided into two groups as Poorva Ragas and Uttar Ragas.

Poorva Ragas are sung between noon and midnight,

Uttar Ragas between midnight and noon.


Another division of ragas is the classification of ragas under the principal ragas:

The rāga-rāgini scheme is a classification scheme used from the 14th century to the19th century. It usually consists of 6 'male rāgas each with 'wives' (rāginis) and a number of sons (putras) and even 'daughters-in-law'. As it did not agree with various other schemes, and the 'related' rāgas had very little or no similarity, the rāga-rāgini scheme is no longer very popular.

These are listed is as follows

(1) Parent Raga: Bhairav raga

Wives: Bhairavi, Bilawali, Punyaki, Bangli, Aslekhi. Sons: Pancham, Harakh, Disakh, Bangal,Madhu, Madhava, Lalit, Bilaval.

(2) Parent Raga: Malkaus raga

Wives: Gaundkari, Devagandhari, Gandhari, Seehute, Dhanasri. Sons: Maru, Mustang, Mewara, Parbal,Chand, Khokhat, Bhora, Nad.

(3) Parent Raga: Hindol raga

Wives: Telangi, Devkari, Basanti, Sindhoori, Aheeri. Sons: Surmanand, Bhasker,Chandra-Bimb, Mangalan, Ban, Binoda, Basant, Kamoda.

(4) Parent Raga: Deepak raga

Wives: Kachheli, Patmanjari, Todi, Kamodi, Gujri. Sons: Kaalanka, Kuntal, Rama, Kamal,Kusum, Champak, Gaura, Kanra [36].

(5) Parent Raga: Shree raga

Wives: Bairavi, Karnati, Gauri, Asavari, Sindhavi. Sons: Salu, Sarag, Sagra, Gaund,Gambhir, Gund, Kumbh, Hamir.

(6) Parent Raga: Megh raga

Wives: Sorath, Gaundi-Malari, Asa, Gunguni, Sooho. Sons: Biradhar, Gajdhar, Kedara,Jablidhar, Nat, Jaldhara, Sankar, Syama.

 

Thaat System of Classification

An important way of Raga classificationis the Thaat system. A certain arrangement of the seven notes with the change of shuddha, komal and teevra is called a Thaat. Every raga has a fixed number of komal or teevra notes, from which the thaat can be recognised. There are several opinions in this matter. According to Pandit V.N. Bhatkhande, the 10 thaat's used to classify ragas are

1 Bilaval : All shuddh or naturalnotes.

2 Khamaj : With ni note as komal.

3 Kafi : With ga, ni as komal.

4 Asavari : With ga, dha, ni askomal.

5 Bhairavi : With re, ga, dha, ni askomal.

6 Bhairav : With re, dha as komal.

7 Poorvi : With re, dha as komal andma as teevra.

8 Todi : With re, ga, dha as komaland ma as teevra.

9 Marwa : With re as komal and ma asteevra.

10 Kalyan : With ma as teevra only.


 

Raga & Spirituality

God is one. He is realized by guru’s grace. There is one tune (God). The whole world sings His praise in classical Tunes - The ugly the beautiful and the devotees of God; all are the children of the same flower The God. God pervades in everyone.

 

The first major tune is Bhairav - Devotee’s tune.

The second major tune is Malkaus - Acquired knowledge

The third major tune is Hindol - joy

The fourth major tune is Deepak - enlightenment

The fifth major tune is Shree - honour God

The sixth major tune is Megh - tune of guru's grace


The salty land, jungles, the religious shrines, the land of warriors the magiciansand the land of rivers; everywhere the devotees and the prophets sing God’s praises.

 

- Compiled from various sources

Performing Arts and Creativity

Posted by suman-bhattacharya on June 20, 2011 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind,
from inner stillness.

- Eckhart Tolle



Performing arts is just another way by which a musician paints their pictures on melody. All over the world to many people in many cultures, music and other performing arts like dance, drama, etc. are inextricably intertwined into their way of life. Music itself has a great power for bringing people together. Through the various forms of performing arts, one is introduced to the richness and diversity of their vast culture and to the myriad rhythms of life. Every form of performing art has its uniqueness in aesthetic  understanding, its immediate association with religious thought and its all prevading spirituality. The aesthetic idea of a performer must not only be the idea of artistic perfection, but also its potency in terms of spiritual expressiveness. Its fanaticism, conflict , drama and expressiveness that makes a performer interesting to an audience. The wonder of an artist's performance grows with the range of his penetration, creativity and his abilities to dramatise his performance .Performing arts is not only about expressing ones ideas and talents, but its also a bridge for connecting souls. The thing about a performance, even if its only an illusion is that its a celebration of one fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.

 

Practise what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.

-Rembrandt 


Creativity is all about allowing yourself to make mistakes; and art is , knowing which ones to keep. Any form of creative art is immensely valuable in an emotional, sentimental and cultural way. Art enhances an ability to communicate ideas and feelings in ways that words fail. Being creative is the true value of being artistic, and its in itself a valuable talent and trait. An artist expresses his ideas through innovation, inspiration and imagination, to which there is no restriction. The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, i.e. life by artificial means so as to hold it fixed , so that after a hundred years later , when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is ‘life’.

The artiste’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere,far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.

– Paul Strand.


Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art etc.) that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as "valuable" is similarly defined in a variety of ways.

 

It is generally thought that "creativity" in Western culture was originally seen as a matter of divine inspiration. In Greek culture, for instance, Muses were seen as mediating inspiration from the Gods. Romans and Greeks invoked the concept of an external creative "daemon" (Greek) or "genius" (Latin), linked to the sacred or the divine. This probably came closest to describing what the modern age views as creative talent. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, creativity was the sole province of God; humans were not considered to have the ability to create something new except as an expression of God's work.

 


The traditional Western view of creativity can be contrasted with the traditional Eastern view. For Hindus, Confucianists, Taoists and Buddhists, creation was at most a kind of discovery or mimicry, and the idea of creation "from nothing" had no place in these philosophies and religions.


Note:

The article has been contributed by Miss Megha Chowdhury

Music - A Spiritual Journey - Part II

Posted by suman-bhattacharya on April 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

"Raga” in Indian Classical Music is derived from the Sanskrit root “ranja”, meaning to colour the mind with the sounds emanating from the cosmic vibratory Nada called "AUM" transmitting pranic energy. The immense potential of the power of Shabda (cosmic flow of sound) hidden in music was well recognised by the ancient Indian sages and they had devised several musical patterns emanating from the "Omkara" for chanting of the Vedic hymns and for distinct spiritual effects. The Shastric schools of music discovered musical octave (sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa) indwelling in the subtle sounds of Nature and invented the basic classical ragas for activating specific streams of natural powers and effects.


According to the Vedic Philosophy, yoga and music both are part of Nada Vidya. Yoga deals with realisation of anahata nada the sublime sound (extrasensory vibrations) of the eternal force of cosmic consciousness. Music pertains to the perception and expression of the infinite spectrum of the rhythmic flow of the ahata nada (perceivable sonic currents) pervading in Nature. Both have direct impact on the shat chakras hidden along the endocrine column and hence affect our physical as well as subtle bodies. The seven basic swaras (musical notes) of the musical octave have a one-to-one correspondence with these chakras (nuclei of subtle energy). The lower most (in the kava equina region along the erect endocrine column), viz., the Muladhara Chakra is associated with the swara "sa"; that means, the practice of chanting this particular musical note will have impact on awakening or activation of this particular chakra. Similarly, the chakras successively upwards in this direction namely, the Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Agya and the top-most Sahastrara Chakra… have correspondence respectively with the swaras "re", "ga" "ma", "pa", "dha" and "ni".


Significantly, the order of the compositions of these swaras in the "aroha" (ascending) and "avaroha" (descending) patterns of the Shastric musical tunes also match with the top-down (from Sahastrara to Muladhara) and bottom-up (from Muladhara to Sahastrara) directions of the flow of energy or prana. Ragas are designed to help activate specific chakras, which allows the Kundalini energy to rise easily and energize and nourish the chakra. The raga also influences the chakra to maintain its optimum spin and balance, ensuring a balanced energy supply to different organs that are connected to the specific chakra.


The raga Shyam Kalyan helps activate the Muladhara chakra. Chastity, innocence and wisdom are established in the process.


The raga Gurjari Todi has a capacity to cool down the Liver. This raga and the raga Yaman help activate the Swadishthan chakra that governs our attention. Both ragas help focus wandering or wavering attention, which is crucial for effective meditation.


The raga Abhogi helps activate the Manipura chakra and stimulate the digestion process. When the Kundalini enters this Chakra, the Chakra is cleansed, bringing about a change of attitudes and inner transformation. This raga is also known to help one give up vices and impulsive or compulsive habits.


The ragas Bhairav and Durga have a power of Divine bliss and protection. Both help activate the Anahat chakra. When the Kundalini touches the heart chakra, Raga Bhairav activates spirituality in the person.


The Raga Jayjaywanti helps activate the Vishuddhi chakra, the controller of the sensory organs. This raga also develops the expression of voice, and helps make one's personality loving and sweet.


The Raga Bhupali helps purify and open the Agnya chakra. It helps relieve tensions, anger and mental fatigue. The mood created by this Raga helps the Kundalini pass through the Agnya chakra and enter the Sahasrara in the limbic area of the brain. This causes the person to reach a state of thoughtless awareness and has a tremendous impact on our ability to forgive.


Ragas Darbari and Bhairavi are helpful in prolonging the state of meditation and thoughtless awareness. The Kundalini energy then soothes and nourishes the Sahasrara chakra and the brain. The result is that one feels, joyous, energetic, peaceful and relieved of tension and depression. The person also enjoys the sensation of a cool breeze on the finger tips and achieves the state of Self-Realization or enlightenment.


References:

http://www.shankarramani.com/music-and-chakras.html 

http://ayurveda2yoga4healing.blogspot.com/2008/11/indian-ragas-awakening-of-chakras-music.html

Music - As a Medium of Communication

Posted by Ranjan on March 29, 2011 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (3)

Feelings have no meaning unless expressed”


I heard this saying some time back. It immediately caught my attention. Its true. Expressing our feelings is as important as feeling them in the first place. Expressions result in communication. Effective communication, whether its with an external entity or with one’s self, plays an important role in understanding ourselves and our surrounding. We often refer to it as growing up, or developing maturity.


Having been blessed with a baby recently I have realized this more than ever. The first thing nature teaches a baby is to communicate, understanding and expressing its feelings. It is amazing to see how fast they learn this art and with every passing moment improve on it. First, it screams when it feels any discomfort, then it slowly learns to distinguish between the various discomforts and learns to communicate them differently and then it learns who is who in its life and which feeling should be communicated to whom and how for faster and more effective resolution.


As we grow up, we slowly learn more and more ways of expressing our feelings and a blessed few learn the art of effective communication through music. In this article, I would like to express my thoughts on music as a means of communication.


First of all, why do I say Music is a means of communication? If its true that music is an expression of feelings, then its obvious that it’s a way of communication. So does that mean music follows all the basic principles of effective communication? In my understanding, it does. There are two basic aspects to an effective communication and both are equally important.


1. How well its being expressed

2. How well its being comprehended by the listener


These are the building blocks of an effective communication, but problem is, can we really have a measuring stick to judge the effectiveness? When I have a feeling, no matter what, is it possible to ensure that any entity outside me is getting exactly the same feeling? Books say that’s where the effectiveness of communication comes into picture. The onus of expressing it correctly depends on me, for the listener to comprehend it correctly. Myself and the listener both need to have a common medium. This is where language comes in with all its grammar and other rules - to build a common platform, a protocol where the two parties involved start understanding each other. The best part about music is, the language is universal. How? We have fixed number of notes, we have the differences between each note defined, we universally understand what tempo is. Of course, there can be variations, which make it even more interesting. Indian classical music (especially in Carnatic Music) there is extensive use of few extra notes (Shrutis), Experimental rock bands like Pink Floyd have used experimental, undefined chords, maestros in the field have used off tempo and fractional rhythm cycles, etc. These variations are accepted with open arms in music circles. They help in creating some expressions which are otherwise difficult or more often than not impossible to express. Apart from this common grammar there is something else which makes it universal. Every living being, hears sounds right from the time its body develops the power to hear, even before birth, inside the mother’s womb. It learns what tempo is, by hearing its mother’s heartbeat, it enjoys the sounds of the amniotic fluid around it, the gulp of food going into the stomach, the bowel movements, the tap of fingers on the womb from outside, etc, and it learns to react to them! After coming into the outside world, it hears sounds even before opening its eyes and seeing things around it! Its amazing how a colicky baby is calmed by the buzz of a running washing machine or the running engine of a car even when no medicine is able to do the trick! Music is built on sound and tempo. This is what makes music so much universal. We learn to appreciate sounds and rhythm and tempo even before we learn to understand who our mother is, let alone speaking up the first words.


This common platform, makes Music one of the most effectives means of communication. But like any other means of communication, it has its limitations and boundaries. It is said that feelings are common universally, but I have my doubts on that. On a light note, when I am happy, I know how I feel, but how can I be sure if someone else feels exactly the same way when he/she is happy? Keeping exactness of the statement aside, lets accept that yes, basic feelings are universal. When it comes to expressing the feeling, there are other complications. If I have to express my feeling, what is more important, to express exactly what I am feeling, or to express something which will make the person to whom I am expressing feel the same.


Whoa! That was a confusing statement, I admit. Idea is, for a complete communication, it is important to make the listener comprehend what I want to communicate. So is it not true that in an effective communication, understating the listener is equally important as understanding my own feelings or what I want to communicate? I believe, yes, it definitely is. As long as the communication is with self, its simple, but the moment the listener is not myself, it becomes more complicated. This is where other external factors like culture, background, upbringing, mentality, mood, and other innumerable variables will come in. According to me, this point is equally valid for Music as it is with any other means of communication. If this is not kept in mind, it may bring in communication gap, even in Music as in any other form of communication. Australians and Americans are typically known to talk more to the point and harsh, whereas Europeans and Asians are more courteous. Given this fact, I have a question, does that mean, Americans are better communicators than Europeans or vice versa? Is it fair for an European to criticize the way Americans talk? Is it fair to say that one mode of communication is better than the other? Similarly, in music, there are so many different forms. The different musical forms have their own specialties, factors which make them more suitable mode of communication, may be for a specific culture, a specific age group, a specific mood. It’s a fact that in Indian Classical Music we have so many different ragas to express different moods and feelings. Similarly there may be feelings which are expressed best with a peppy number from Justin Beiber or the rhythmic Arabic tunes, or the hard drum beats and screeching guitars of Metallica or the scratches of a DJ in a night club. Except from the person who is expressing himself and the listener who is appreciating it and getting a feeling, whatever that feeling is, from that music, is it fair for anyone outside to say anything more than “I fail to understand this form of music”? Can we really be judgmental? If this is because of ignorance, then suitable exposure may be given, but still it is very much possible that I am not interested it knowing this form of communication at all. People living in a foreign country is exposed to the foreign language, to the extent that after some time they start understanding the language to certain extent, but is it fair to force them to learn the language saying it’s the best! It may be the best for people who find it as the best way to communicate themselves, but it may not be the best for all. This holds true for music too.


We take pride in our mother tongue, we take pride in our country, we take pride in our religion - noone is stopping us from doing that. Its fair to debate or argue how my language or my country or my culture is good, out of passion, out of pride, but is it fair to be judgmental? Is it fair to believe that some other culture, some other language, some other country is inferior to mine? Is it fair to believe one form of music is inferior to some other? Is it fair to believe someone’s expressions are inferior, just because I am not able to comprehend it or the feelings expressed do not hold much value to me?


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