Veena is a very ancient instrument dating back to vedic times.This instrument is in the hands of Saraswathi,the consort of our creator,Lord Brahma. All emotions, feelings and experiences called the rasas have emanated from this instrument in the hands of Goddess Saraswathi.Thus our hearts are fed by our Mother and our minds by our Father.
This instrument therefore is of divine origin and fills our emotional lives.If our emotions are noble and sattwic in nature they find expression in music played particularly on veena.
In the Hindu astronomy,Thula Rasi(in western zodiac system-Libra) contains the star Swathi.This constellation is also described as 'Alpha Cygnus' indicating 'Hamsa' (swan) which is the seat of Saraswathi.The constellation's name Swathi forms the major part of the name of the Goddess ,SaraSWATHI.Swathi means white swan.Swathi also indicates Swetha (white colour), and according to our ancient scriptures the Goddess is always adorned in white garments.White also represents the planet Venus ,which is the lord of Thula rasi or Libra.Also,the constellation Swathi presents the picture of a 'Lyre' or the Veena. Many decades ago scientists and philosophers discovered a cosmic hiss emanating from this constellation.This is the 'nada',the musical resonance that pervades the whole Universe.It pervades the human body also (anahatha shabdha) only to be discovered by oneself within himself.This nada is the mother of all ragas,therefore is like gold in all ornaments.The instrument veena finds description in vedic literature as well as epic literature.
The human body created by God is the 'deiva veena'.The veena made out of wood by human beings is the 'maanushi veena'.The divine veena expresses the emotions of the immortals in the higher worlds.The human veena expresses the emotions of the mortals.Man was also known as the 'Gathra Veena'.'Gathra'here means body and not voice.The veena played by him is known as 'Daaru Veena'(veena made out of wood).
Saamaveda in a sloka says:-"Daaruvee gaathra veena sathve veenagana jaathishu
Saamikee gaathraveenatu thasyashruthyai lakshanam."
That means the human body known as Gaathra Veena and the veena made by wood known as Daaru Veena are meant for divine music.
There are innumerable references in our scriptures to show that the human body and the veena are similarly patterned.
The manushya veena (wooden veena) and the deiva veena(human beings) are equal to each other or analogous to each other.The deiva or gaathra veena which is the human body is permeated with naadam (musical resonance-the pranava naadam). Likewise,the maanushi veena or daaru veena contain dhwani and naadam.Like the head of the body veena also has a shirassu(head),the kudam in tamil.Like the man's udharam,veena also has a udharam(throat). Like the human fingers,veena also has thanthris(which are plucked by human fingers)The ranges,'sa pa' and 'sa ma' swaras permeate both the human body as well as the veena.
The human being attains poornatwa or mukthi with the help of seven dhatus, namely, skin,bone,brain,flesh,blood,semen and shonitha of the female.Similarly veena becomes perfectly tuned for divine experience with its seven strings.The distance between the bridge and the beginning of the frets is 48 inches.Similarly the distance between the centre of the eyebrows to the nucleus and mooladhara of a man is 48 inches.Like the human vertebrae, the frets in the ascending order become narrow and narrower and the swarasthanas from the first fret to the bridge of the veena get reduced in geometric progression.As the space between the frets get narrowed down from the first fret towards the bridge,the naadam gets progressively enhanced.The music gushes forth in merusthaanam(bridge) and consequently the 'prana' floating and touching the mooladhara lingers at a particular distance and only from this music originates. (This phenomenon of music originating from 'prana' has been described in "Silappadikaaram").
According to Vakopanishad the human body measures 96 inches.The centre is prescribed as the place two inches above the mooladhara.The veena resembles the human body both in the 'sthoola' form and in the subtle 'naada' form.The prana in the human body flows in the upper six and the lower six,that is in 12 regions and explains breath.Similarly 'naadam' in veena flows in the upper six and lower six sthaanaas and produces raga moorchanas.The human body is divided into three moolasthaanaas;swargam,marthyam and paathaalam.Similarly in veena there are three sthaayis(ranges ) mandharam, madhyam, dhaaram.
The yogis who practised Vasi yoga played the Yazh or Veena when heat was generated due to yoga sadhana. "Jathis" were rendered in seven swaras in Aarohana and Avarohana and "kumbhakam"(retention of breath) was made possible beyond the proportions of nature.
Conversely speaking the right kind of raga on veena can create sattwic and noble bhava and rasa in human beings. Human beings need to be elevated from the mundane,materialistic and ignoble thoughts and feelings of this material life to nobler and sattwic feelings and conciousness.