Music and Spirituality

A few weeks ago, on a cool November morning, I was invited for a Santoor recital, by the renowned maestro, Shiv Kumar Sharma, at the Gateway of India

It was 6 0’clock in the morning as we drove down Marine Drive to the historic place.

I did not expect too many people to be there.

Do you think I was wrong?

You bet! The place was full!

Why do you think that there were so many people to experience a Spiritual session at 6 am on a Sunday morning?

Let me tell you a little bit about the connection between music and spirituality.

 A Raga is a certain combination of notes that create a certain effect on the listener.

Composers know that a particular combination of notes creates a certain vibration, to give one the desired effect at a certain time.

To imbibe the correct essence of a raga, one meditates until the raga envelopes one in its mystic fold.

Bhoop Raga is a morning Raga. Yaman mostly devotional.

When you sing you have to put 2 things into consideration:

 a)The notes of the raga

 b) You have to be within the beat.

 When one touches on the perfect note, one  touches perfection and perfection is God!

Aalaap: The drums are silent. The singer makes patterns of notes that he creates within the framework of the raga.

First they elaborate the first 2 or 3 notes… until in a thrilling climax the highest note is touched…the whole beauty of the raga lays bare before an enthralled audience.

Many Emotions can be conveyed through music:

 For example: Karuna, (Mercy) Bhakti (Devotion), Romance, conflict, fear, etc.

Guru Nanak believed that singing the Lord’s praises was the best way to pray.

He advocated hymn singing and set His compositions to music in suitable ragas or melodies.

His hymns drew large crowds.

Mardana faithfully reproduced notes on the rabab as Nanak sang his way to the hearts of the listeners.

Music reaches that core of ones heart.

Guru Nanak believed: Musical sounds originate from God. It is holy in every sense. The best way to worship God is to blend the divine word into holy music.

Guru Amaradas talked of the Celestial melody.  He said: Of all the ragas brother, that one is the best through which the mind gets attuned to God…Guru Arjan said: Blessed are the notes of the raga which put the mind in a tranquil mood…the effect of the discourse is enhanced when it is interspersed with shabad  kirtan which elevates the mind to spiritual heights and illuminates the soul with the inherent meaning of the Word…’

The Sufi way:

The Gharana of Indore which Khan Sahib founded believes in first ‘singing for ones soul’. It believes in singing for the ‘guru within’ It believes in singing for ‘Svaantaha Sukh’ (Joy for self, first)…

Music must beckon one, to a cosmic eternity, where one truly belongs.

There are 2 types of sound:

ANAHATA; The unheard sound.

The Vedas believe that the planets move or stand on the balance of sound.

Om was the first Spiritual sound gifted to Mankind.

b) Music is called AHATA; the heard sound.

Sensitive people who created man-made music, got the notes from birds, animals…

c) The Cosmic Dance of Shiva created and destroyed planets.

A magical Musical full moon night with Ms Dhanashree Pandit