Classical Music and Adhyatma Tradition of the East
December 7, 2019
Music has been since time immemorial been with humankind. From early man to the mighty kingdoms in past to the modern world, all has been having its own music taste. The messages sent by music is beyond the limits of language. Often we have people in Tamil Nadu who may find taste in soulful Gujarati Song and vice versa. But do you know that the kind of music you like is closely linked to the mind states and your level of consciousness. The patterns of music makes a strong impression on your mind and strengthens the latent patterns of mind (samskaras). Classical music is closely associated with Adhyatma and sadhana process.
Music and Brain
Recent studies have been able to link the functioning of brain and music. Researchers have found that listening to music everyday can help in pain reduction by releasing the tension associated with the pain.
It has also found that it helps in stress relief by reducing the cortisol level in the body which is the primary cause of stress in the body. It has also been found that music helps in increasing the memory levels and helps in the cases of Alzheimer’s.
Indian classical music and adhyatma
Music has been the part of Indian adhyatma since the time of vedic period. Samaveda among the four vedas specially deals with the singing and the types of instruments which must be used for recitation of the vedic chants.
The earliest form of classical music is the form of dhrupad which is associated with Samaveda.
This is the earliest form of Indian Classical Music which has become out of fashion in the classical music circles too.
Indian classical music hence was not invented only for entertainment but also as a means of sadhana. It was the means of connecting oneself with the inner self.
A separate field of Natya Shastra developed by Bharat Muni which focused on dance, music and drama as the means of sadhana. The Natya Shastra was so respected that it was given the status of the fifth veda.
The Classical Music was supported by all the monarchy of the country and new forms of music kept on evolving. However now with the folk music and the bollywood, the classical music has become out of fashion.
The classical music of India has been the part of Indian Bhakti Movement during the middle ages. Still many of the compositions of the Bhakti Saints are sung and performed as dance. For eg, the Kabir nirguna bhajans are still very popular among the people. Also the shabad songs sung in the gurudwaras have enriched the classical bhajan tradition.
Apart from these the where you go from Meera Bai to Surdas to Tulsi Das and in South India from Tyagaraja to Purandara Dasa, their creations have greatly inspired the people to follow the path of bhakti and devotion and sadhana.
We have been promoting such bhajans from various part of India in many languages in the section of ‘Song of the self.’ We will also try to bring more gems from various parts especially who are not well known. Usually they are known among their follower and also the language barrier act as a barrier. For eg people from North India don’t know about Purandara Dasa and people from south India don’t know about Surdasa. However they have same message. We will try to promote such translations. People are also requested to act as volunteer by emailing to us at: [email protected]
Listening to this songs instantly connects you to the fountain of their vairagya and brings about a stillness in the mind.
Classical Music in other Eastern Tradition
Other eastern tradition like the China and Japan too have its own classical music. Among these the zen music is specially developed to help in meditation and greatly soothes the mind. The minimalism of zen music naturally centers oneself into the sunyata of mind.
Recent changes in Music Culture and Cause of Changes
Now with the increasing globalization, the oriental culture of the East has been badly affected. The western music has been spreading its reach all over the world. With the increasing westernization, the people are ignoring their classical music.
New genres of music like Metal, Rock, Punk, Rap etc are becoming increasingly popular among the youngsters. Often the classical music is considered too boring and sleepy for them. There is reason behind this change. The primary being the related to stress in the mind.
With the stress levels increasing in our lives, the western music specially hard rock etc. brings instant relief to the mind stress. The principle being “Like attracts the like.” So the stress and noise in the mind automatically needs noise to quell itself.
However the classical music was designed in those times when people were not stressed out. And thus listening to these music doesn’t excites the stressed out mind which needs instant gratification. Hence the mind which is not used to sitting calmly and enjoying the present moment automatically starts feeling sleepy. Because the modern mind when becomes calm it automatically moves towards to sleep because it is unknown to anything called state of dhyana.
Music tastes can help us identify if we are progressing on the path of adhyatma
One of the best parameters of finding whether we are progressing on the path of adhyatma is to find if we are finding the classical music interesting. When one practices long meditation session and the samskaras in our mind starts purifying then automatically we will be feel drawn to classical music.
If even after practicing long meditation still we need hard rock and other fast music to provide relief to our mind, then it means the purification is not yet done.
How to promote classical music
There is urgent need to revive the classical music of the country. This can be done by some of the few steps like
- The classical music can be promoted by changing the conciousness of the people. This needs more people practicing meditation.
- The temples should become the main center for promoting the classical music. Daily program relating to Bhakti Saints be organised so that people can feel the taste of the classical music. The shabads in the gurudwaras are prime example how soothing classical music can be. Programs in the local language like abhangs in Maharashtra, Carnatic Bhajans in South India, Kabir, Meera Bhajan in Northern India.
- Immediate stoppage of new age culture of Mata ki Jagrata where Film songs are dubbed into bhajans and non-sense is being promoted especially in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Often such programs neither helps in calming mind nor promotes real bhakti. It is of the main reason which promotes the crass culture in name of bhakti.