Friday, June 12, 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.


Jay said...

Great article. Some times listening to music brings tears in eyes for no reason. Makes you feel light after that. You have a natural flow in all the articles, may be it is because your writing is from your heart.
Look forward to your posts every week.

Veenaagayathri said...

Whatever I am writing is from my heart,thank you for your kind compliments,Gayathri

Unknown said...

Dear Gayathri ji,
Very nice article. This answers another question I have always had: why is it that some non-classical songs really sound very good and invoke a lot of emotions, but you don't feel very good or happy after listening. You made a very good point about the primary quality of any music being 'rajasic', 'tamasic' and 'sattwic'. That answers it all. No wonder, many of us feel just happy/elevated after listening to carnatic music. You hit the nail in the head :)
Thank you for thsi wonderful article.
Music Lover

Unknown said...

Dear Gayathri ji,
Your description of 'bhava'/feeling of the artist resulting in 'rasa' of the listener is another good point. It very analytically shows how music is registered in a listener and is is thought-provoking. On the same token, I think how well/how much any music/artist can spiritually elevate a listener also depends on the listener. There are some people who may not be as moved by a superb rendition of a beautiful Tyagaraja song by a great artist compared to a listener who is filled with bhakti. If that is the case, then the whole musical experience for the listener depends on the artist, the music and the listener. I don't know if I am going off on a different tangent, but that is what I concluded from your article. Reading your article itself was an enjoyable experience!
Thank you,
Music Lover

Shabari said...

very well-said Veena Gayathri Ji!
I have seen quite-a-few people crying inconsolably after listening to certain 'sorrowful' songs..
Most noted would be the 'kaNNe-Kalaimaane' by Jesudas, 'Thenpandi cheemayile' by Ilaiyaraja, 'Kurai ondrum illai' by Smt M.S. Subbalakshmi
Music touches the very soul of an individual..

Mrs Mythili Srinivasan

Veenaagayathri said...

It is true that the mindset of a listener is vital,even in case of listeners who are not looking for anything specific,an inexplicable joy(which they are unable to identify as "sattwic" due to ignorance) is bound to assail their being.

Unknown said...

"If materialistic pursuit is the drive behind the rendering of the artiste,she or he attracts listeners who are essentially materialistic by nature." Now I understand why I am struggling to attract more people.

I have seen my mother becoming so emotional when she listened to KVN particularly in the song "karuna cheivan endu"by Irayinmman thambi,originally in the raga Sri and many others when he rendered "varugalaamo.

Your analysis is ultimate.Please keep writing,it is very educative.I wish to retire earlier so that I can spend more time to understand & practise all this.Lack of proper knowledge of this to a large number musicians is the prime reason for their inability to steel the hearts of vidwans or a common men.You are giving lots of practicable tips.My knowledge is limited but I am sure I have the characteristics of a good listener and I don't like many of the present day musicians.

Regards TCN

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Narendran,I understand and appreciate what you mean to convey.Material pursuit as basic income is absolutely necessary and many musicains who make a living out of music have no option but to earn through music.Even in such cases,there is no reason why the 'bhakti'aspect should be over looked.Bhakti is the inherent quality of our music.
KVN Sir's music is the ultimate expression of his state of yoga,his music is proof that he had attained 'samyoga'very long back.I am in a state of bliss listening to his great music,his "Suma sayaka" never fails to move me.
Thank you for your support and encouragement,regards,Gayathri

vajra said...

Hi Gayathriji

Few great souls like you alone can bring the bhava and rasa of the songs made by Saint Thyagaraja, muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri etc. Your music renderings along with such posts are not only informative but also gives us peace of mind. Keep posting more like this Regards Vajra

Veenaagayathri said...

Your affection for me and my music makes you think that I am one of the great souls.I am a very small person,sharing whatever little knowledge I have with you,please do not credit me with anything more than that.Nothing gives me greater contentment than to know that my postings are giving you peace of mind.Thank you very much,Regards,Gayathri

ShyamalaSajnani said...

As I was going through this blog agian, I realised something and wanted to share it with you.
Why is music called the fines of fine arts, I gues it is because it is subtlest of all forms of art. Every other form of art, as beautiful, touching, elevating as it may be, are still gross. One needs to see it or use the body to dance etc. But Music is, as you rightly said, directly from the subltlest form of Nada and can only be felt within. Therefore I guess it's reach is also much greater.

Veenaagayathri said...

Dearest Sham,I have not analysed about other arts,though what you have shared here is true.
Music is instrumental in tapping the abstract sound(anahatha nada) and is the best form of meditation.Love,Gayathri


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