Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hazrat Inayat Khan/Saraswathi Veena

Hazrat Inayat Khan ,who was born in a family of musicians in Baroda on July 5th, 1882, was a sufi teacher from India who started the "Sufi Order in West"(nowcalled "Sufi Order International" in the early part of the 2oth century).Though his family background was Muslim,he was also steeped in the Sufi notion that all religions have their value and place in human evolution.
Very early in life Inayat Khan shaped into a versatile linguist with a remarkable mastery over a several languages such as Sanskrit,Gujarathi,Marathi,Urdu,Hindi,Persian,Arabic and English!Alongside his academic studies,young Inayat did excellently in the five years music course of the Baroda Music Academy and excelled in both instrumental and vocal music.What was more remarkable was that he excelled in both Carnatic as well as Hindusthani music.He composed beautiful religious songs and poured his soul into them as he rendered them.He wanted to attain God through his music.In 1909 he had recorded his music in India,during one of his concert tours.
During my brief stay in Delhi last year(during my husband's assignment in Jindal Steel),I had set out on a massive hunt for his recordings,but could not find them.I was pleased to find a book of his on music,in an old,dilapidated book shop in the middle of a busy market area,and that too in the basement!
What he said:-
"I GAVE UP MY MUSIC BECAUSE I HAD RECEIVED ALL I HAD TO RECEIVE".To serve God one must sacrifice the dearest thing,and I sacrificed the dearest thing to me. I had composed songs,I sang and played the veena; and practising this music I arrived at a stage where I touched the music of the spheres(I shall elaborate on this in my next posting).Then every soul became for me a musical note and all life became music.Inspired by it ,I spoke to the people,and those who were attracted by my music listened to them instead of listening to my songs.Now if I do anything,it is tune souls instead of instruments;to harmonize people instead of notes."
Legendary musicians, musicians who have been practising the art in privacy and away from the media/public glare,renowned and not so well-known teachers are all nada yogis even without intending to be so!The fire of knowledge has been kindled within them at some point of losing themselves (samyoga) in the sheer melody of their own music.The sadhana over a period of time ( it is not the period of time,but the intensity of involvement that matters) results in the practitioner becoming his music ("You become your subject").Hazrat Inayat Khan's statement in the same book-"I played the veena until my heart turned into the same!" bears testimony to the fact stated above.
I cannot help but understand the feelings of shock and remorse any musician could go through when he or she is unable to pursue nadayoga(due to ill-health/ageing/accidents/black magic by a third person),especially at an advanced stage.At this juncture, it is important to realise that the nada once established within,is bound to remain forever within them ,and that they themselves become the embodiments of nada.All the practice in the past would have accumulated the fire of knowledge within the core of their beings to lead them towards the most supreme of all nadayogas,"AUM".


Unknown said...

Interesting. I haven't heard about Inayat Khan elsewhere.
I have read about nada yoga, anahata nada etc. in text books while preparing for some music exams in college. Never exactly understood some of the details. Based on your writings, I thought maybe you can help. Here are a few questions:
1. Who exactly is a nada yogi? (or maybe what is nada yoga?) Anybody who practises classical music (carnatic or hindustani) is a nada yogi?

2. There is so much importance given to 'anahata nada' or 'unstruck' sound in all literature. If anahata nada is the sound that you hear after a lot of intense sadhana, then the music we hear in concerts, i.e. the sound that is physically heard by any lay person is not 'anahata' nada. Is that what we call 'ahata' nada? Does 'ahata' nada have any significance at all spiritually?
Music Lover

Veenaagayathri said...

Practice of ahata shabda(the music which our ears can detect),like classical music or any music of good order and harmony are meant to tap the anahatha (unmanifested) from within.That is why,early morning or "brahma muhurtha" practices are highly recommended,because music practice is equated to meditation.What we hear on concert platforms are ahata,except when performed soulfully or when the artiste is able to bring out even shades of the unmanifested through "nabhi" singing or playing of any instrument due to intense sadhana and involvement in the melody.
Nada yogi is one who is in the quest of fulfillment through music,he or she may not be even aware of their own enquiry,but as we all know every musician has a certain "drive" to sing or play and that by itself will form the path towards nadayoga.
Ahata nada is the best form of exercise to activate the unmanifested sound within,like how mouna vratham is the first step towards controlling the flow of thoughts in one's mind.Thank you

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear music lover,
Certainly there cannot be a superior music than our carnatic,especially the compositions of the trinity,to tap the anahatha shabda.But the world is full of great mystics belonging to various other forms of art and religion who have all heard the anahatha shabda.

Unknown said...

Gayathri ji,
Thank you so much for your clear, detailed and patient explanation. That was really a lucid explanation of a complex concept.
Thank you very much.
Music Lover

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