Friday 12 June 2009

Aahatha Nada/Its role in elevation

Art is the most powerful medium capable of conveying the artiste's feelings to the listener.The origin of music is therefore 'feeling',musi-cally termed as 'bhava'.Every 'bhav-a' has a 'rasa' in it.

'Rasa' is the experience that arises in the emotional core of a listener as he registers the 'bhava' conveyed by the artiste.Therefore from the'bhava' of the artiste music flows and ends up in the same 'rasa' of the listener.This is the ideal of music.If the 'bhava' of the artiste is ennobling,his or her music can certainly elevate the listener's conciousness to great heights.For this reason alone,great composers like Sri.Thyagaraja,Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar,Sri Syama Sasthri and many other composers/devotees whose hearts were filled with love of God chose music to reach the feet of their chosen deity.

The 'bhava' or thought in praise of God is the lyric or sahithya and the music on which the sahithya is based is the 'rasa'.The core of devotion has found expression through lyric in thought andthrough music in experience.Raga and rasa being identical,the Indian science of music developed a language of its own to express any emotion or rasa in music.

Many times we have felt elevated by listening to few artistes.The bhava with which they render is evident through the feelings that arise in us while we listen to them.Whenever I wish to travel to Srirangam,Smt.M.S.Subbulakshmi and Smt.D.K.Pattammal not only take me there,they bodily(here the body is "sookshma shareera") lift me and take me all the way to Srirangam to place me right in front of Lord Ranganatha,and that too in His sanctum-santorum!!!Smt.M.S.'s "Ranga pura vihara" in Brindavana Saranga and Smt.D.K.P.'s "Ranganayakam" in Nayaki literally transport me to the Lord of the Universe.Which means they have rendered the compositions with such a magnitude of 'bhakthi bhava' for such a 'rasa' to result in the core of my being.To mention a few more,I literally have a vision of Kalidasa's darshan of the Goddess while listening to Smt.D.K.P.'s Syamala Dandakam,Sri.Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer's rendition of "O Rangasayi" once again transports me to Srirangam,Smt.D.K.P.'s rendering of "Panchashat Peetha Rupini" and her pause at the 'rishabha' in the anupallavi,"Padmanabha Sahodari" gives me dazzling visions of the Goddess in all Her beauty.
My Guru.late Sri.T.M.Thiagarajan,created a divine atmosphere around him during my class sessions that used to last for over an hour everytime.I felt I was going to a temple instead of a music class,when I used to learn from him.Every note he breathed had a divine aura and his musical intellect came from his Higher Self that was within him!There are many many more examples to quote,living and past musicains,who havetaken me to all the temples and gave me darshan of so many deities in India through their music.These great artistes,through the intensity of 'bhava' have rendered service of the highest order to their listeners.By imparting "Brahmanandam" to the listeners ,such artistes have reduced their 'karma' by leaps and bounds,and that by itself is a great penance!
All forms of popular music tend to provoke the senses,some make us sad,a few give us the illusion of happiness, a few are simply nerve-shattering(heavy metal and rock), certain musical approaches to God are essentially "rajasic" in nature,and there maybe a few that are even "tamasic."Carnatic music is one of the best forms of music that has the ability to bypass senses to attain the soul directly,because it is "sattwa guna pradhana."
There is music that simply does not contain any bhava and leaves the listener feeling listless and flat. If emotions of the artiste are sattwic and noble,their music elevates the listeners to great heights.If materialistic pursuit is the drive behind the rendering of the artiste,she or he attracts listeners who are essentially materialistic by nature.In music as pious and sacred as ours,it is essential to emphasise on its "sattwic" undertones through 'bhava' resulting in'rasa' of the listener that will lift him/her to spiritual heights.
The photograph above is of my Guru,late Sri T.M.Thyagarajan,who has attained heavenly abode through his lifetime of meditative and spirtually high-gnana singing and compositions.