The Power of Music

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Music is the most ancient of arts. It is the medium for expressing emotion. Music kindles love and infuses hope. It has countless voices and instruments. Music is in the hearts of all men and women. Music is on their tongues. Music is in the wind and the waves. Music is in the nightingale. It is in cinema stars and musicians. It is in the concert, orchestra and theatres. There is music in the running brooks. There is music in the crying of children. There is music in all things if you have ears.

Sound is the first manifestation of the absolute. Super charged with transcendent soul force, sound is the one powerful principle in all creation that widely influences and effectively brings under control all other manifestations. Many examples can be quoted to bear testimony to this claim of sound regarding both the individual and the cosmos.

We have heard how Tansen was able to make it rain through the Megha Raga, how he lit the lamp through singing in Dipaka Raga. There are accounts of how the Tibetan lamas drove away and dispersed rain-bearing clouds, or gathered the clouds and made them rain by blowing horns and trumpets and beating drums.

We have also heard how the deer is entrapped by sweet sound, how the cobra is enchanted by sweet music. Nada entraps the mind. The mind dissolves in sweet nada. Mark the power of the gentle, sweet sounds: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. Music has charms to soothe a ferocious tiger. It melts rocks and bends the banyan tree. It enraptures, lulls and energizes. It elevates, inspires, strengthens and invigorates. It vibrates in the memory.

Music fills the mind with sattwa. Music generates harmony in the heart. Music melts the hardest heart. It softens the brutal nature. Music comforts, soothes and cheers the afflicted. It comforts the lonely and the distressed. Music removes worries, cares and anxieties. It makes you forget the world. Music relaxes and elevates.

Music is not an instrument for titillation of the nerves or satisfaction of the senses. It is a yoga sadhana which enables you to attain Self-realization. Music should be treated as yoga. True music can be tasted only by one who has freed himself from all taints of worldliness, and who practises music as a sadhana for Self-realization.

Tyagaraja was a devotee of Lord Rama. Most of his devotional songs are in praise of Lord Rama. He had direct darshan of Lord Rama on several occasions. Mira came face to face with Krishna. She talked with her beloved. She drank the Krishnaprema-rasa. She has sung from the core of her heart the; music of her soul, the music of her beloved, her unique spiritual experiences.

Music is nada yoga. The various musical notes have their own corresponding nadis or subtle channels in the kundalini chakras. Music vibrates these nadis, purifies them and awakens the psychic and spiritual power dormant in them. Purification of the nadis not only ensures peace and happiness of mind, but goes a long way in yoga sadhana and helps the aspirant to reach the goal of life very easily.

Sweet melody exercises a powerful influence on the mind and physical nature of every living being. Trapped in music, the mysterious mind with its thousand hoods of vasanas and vrittis lies quiescently in the lap of the sadhaka; and he can make it dance to his tune, control it according to his will, and mould it as he pleases. The mind, the magic wand of Maya, the terror of all spiritual aspirants, is under perfect control in the hands of the music yogi.

The wonder of wonders is that not only is the mind of the musician thus controlled, but also the minds of all those who listen to the music. They become calm and blissful. That is why great saints like Mira Bai, Tukaram, Kabir Das, Tyagaraja, Purandara Das and others wove their experiences into sweet music. With the sweet music these sublime thoughts would easily get into the heart of the listener, which at other times is zealously guarded by the cobra of worldliness.

The rishis of yore have invariably written their inspiring works either in the form of poetry or in the form of songs. The vedas, smritis, puranas, etc. are all set to music, and are metrical compositions. There is rhythm, metre and melody in them. The Sama Veda, especially, is unrivalled in its music. Music is an aid in the treatment of diseases. The sages affirm that many diseases can be cured by the melodious sound of a flute or violin, a veena or a sarangi. Harmonious rhythm caused by sweet music draws out disease. The disease comes out to encounter the music wave. The two blend together and vanish in space.

Music relaxes nervous tension and makes the parts of the body affected by tension resume their normal functions. When all other medicine has failed to cure a disease, kirtan will work wonders. Try this unique medicine and realize its marvellous benefits. If you do kirtan near the bed of someone suffering from a disease, they will soon be cured.

Music melts the heart of even a stone-hearted person. If there is anything at all which can change the heart in a very quick time, that is music and dance. This very method is made use of in kirtan bhakti; but it is directed towards God instead of towards sensual enjoyments. The emotions are directed towards divinity. The heart is easily purified.