Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Dictionary


Home | Rel-Dictionary | Dictionary


Back to S

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P-Q  R  S  T-U  V-W-X  Y-Z


Music. Music indeed brings us closer to divine. Even nature speaks to us in musical notes. The seven principal notes said to be associated with the cries of animals and birds, and are classified as: Shadaj (Sa) - the cry of peacock; Rishabh (Rey) - the sound made by the cow when calling her calf; Gandhaar (Ga) - the bleat of the goat; Madhyam (Ma) - the cry of the heron and the tonic of nature;  Pancham (Pa) - the note of the Cuckoo or Kokilaa, the Indian nightingale; Dhaivata (Dha) - the neighing of the horse; Nishaad (Ni) - the trumpeting of an elephant.

The real aim of Indian music has always been to attain self-realization and through music practiced as Naadopaasanaa. Music was never a form of entertainment, nor a fine art, but it was a mode for attaining eternal beatitude (Moksh, Apavarg, Swarg, etc.). That is why we had a large number of saints, evolved souls and devotees among its best exponents and composers.

Saarang Dev pays homage to Lord Shankar as `Naad Tanu,' i.e. `one whose body is sound' which led to music itself being described as `Brahm Naad'. Naad itself being Ahat and Anahat. Since Anahat Naad being devoid of aesthetic beauty, does not afford pleasure to the mind, hence Ahata Naad alone was studied and meditated upon by us.

Saarang Dev has written as how Naad is caused in the human body. The Aatmaa or soul, desiring to speak or sing, stirs the mind; the mind strikes the fire abiding in the body; the fire strikes the wind; the wind abiding in Brahm Granthi, rising along the upward path, manifests sound in the navel, the heart, the throat, the head and the mouth. I guess he talks about the Anahat Naad which we hear in silence and once we recognize that, we ultimately enjoy the Anahat Naad in a much better way. The success of Mantra chanting also lies in realizing these two Naad clearly and separately.

When one meditates on the silence before the chanting of a Mantra or sound and the silence at the end of the Mantra - one who meditates on the silence, stillness and void can become one with the Mantra Deity. (Beginners can experience this better with Aum chanting).

Origin of Sangeet Saam Ved
[Adapted from]

In India Music, or dance, or painting or drama is considered a Divine art. Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv, the eternal Trinity were the first musicians. The Divine dancer Shiv is scrpturally represented as having worked out the infinite modes of rhythm in his Cosmic Dance of Universal Creation, Preservation and Destruction. Brahmaa accentuated the Time Beat with the clanging cymbals, and Vishnu sounded the holy Mridang or drum. Krishn, an incarnation of Vishnu, is always shown in Hindoo art with a flute on which he plays the enrapturing song that recalls to their true home of the human souls wandering in Maayaa delusion. Saraswatee, the goddess of Wisdom, is also symbolized as performing on the Veenaa - the mother of all stringed instruments. Naarad also sings on Veenaa God's praise.

The Saam ved of India contains the world's earliest writings on musical sciences. The foundation stone of Hindoo music is the Raag or fixed melodic scales. The six basic Raag branch out into 126 derivative Raaginee (wives of Raag) and Putra (sons). Each Raag has a minimum of five notes - a leading note (Vaadee or King), a secondary note (a Samavaadee or Prime Minister), a helping note (Anuvaadee or attendant) and a dissonant note (a Vivaadee or the enemy). Each one of the six Raag has natural correspondence with a certain hour of the day, season of the year and a presiding deity who bestows a particular potency to it.

For example, Hindole Raag is heard only at dawn in the Spring season to invoke the mood of the universal love. Deepak Raag is played during the evening in Summer to arouse compassion. Megh Raag is a melody for midday in the Rainy season to summon courage. Raag Bhairav is played in the morning of August, September and October to achieve tranquility. Shree Raag is reserved for Autumn twilights to attain pure love. Maalkauns Raag should be heard at midnight in Winters for valor. Ancient sages discovered these laws of sound alliance between nature and man, because nature is an objectification of Aum, the Primal sound or vibratory word, man can obtain control over all natural manifestations by the use of certain sounds.

Taansen, a 16th century great court musician in Akbar's court commanded by the Emperor to sing a night Raag while the Sun was overhead. Taansen intoned a Mantra which instantly caused the whole palace precincts to become enveloped in darkness. He was able to quench fire by the power of his song.

Indian music divides the octave into 22 Shruti or demi-semitones. These microtonal intervals permit fine shade of musical expression unattainable by the western chromatic scale of 12 semi tones. Each one of he seven basic notes of the octave is associated in Hindoo mythology with a color and the natural cry of a bird or beast. Sa (Do) with green and the peacock; Re (Re) with red and the skylark; Ga (Mi) with golden and the goat; Ma (Fa) with yellowish white and the heron; Pa (Sol) with black and the nightingale; Dha (La) with yellow and the horse; Ni (Si) with combination of all colors and the elephant.

Three Scales major, Harmonic minor, and Mmelodic minor are the only ones which an Occidental employs, but Indian music outlives 72 Thaat or scales. The musician has a creative scope for endless improvisation around the fixed traditional melody and Raag. The musician concentrates on the sentiment or definitive mood of the structural theme and then embroiders it to the limits of his own originality. The Hindoo musician does not read set notes, he clothes anew at each playing the bare skeleton of the Raag, often confining himself to a single melodic sequence, stressing by repetition of all subtle microtonal and rhythmic variations.

Ancient Sanskrit literature describes 120 total of Time measures. The traditional founder of Hindu music Bharat is said to have isolated 32 kinds of Taal in the song of a lark. The original Taal or rhythm is rooted in human movement - the double time of walking, and the triple time of respiration in sleep, when inhalation is twice the length of exhalation.

India has always recognized the human voice as the most perfect instrument of sound. Hindoo music, therefore, largely confines itself to the voice range of three octaves. For the same reason melody (relation of successive notes) is stressed rather than harmony (relation of  simultaneous notes) The deeper aim of the early Rishi musicians was to blend the singer with the Cosmic song which can be heard through awakening of man's occult spinal centers. Indian music is subjective, spiritual and individualistic aiming not at symphonic brilliance but a personal harmony with the over soul. The Sanskrit word for musician is "Bhagavatar" - he who sings the praise of God. The Sankeeratan which are musical gatherings, are an effective form of Yog or spiritual discipline necessitating deep concentration intense absorption in the seed thought and sound.


Home | Rel-Dictionary | Dictionary


Back to S

Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 09/02/12