Friday, 30 January 2009

ILaiyaraaja's Music is Meditative!

Human mind is unique.

Unique not just because it feels things;
not just because it thinks;
not just because it perceives;
not just because it analyses;
not just because it reasons.

These of course are some of the important characteristics of our mind.

But there is yet another aspect that makes it unique and special. It is the capacity and capability to will.

Is this good or bad? Is it positive or negative?
It depends on how we channelize it. I would prefer ‘channelising’ to ‘control’.

But how does one do this? Is this possible at all?

For a moment, let us stop troubling our minds with such questions and think of any pleasant experience.

It could be a visit to any picturesque place..It could be the smile of a child..It could be a look at a painting..It could be listening to good music.

While experiencing any of these, how did we feel?

Happy?? Yes..of course.

But there would also have been moments when we were focussed only on the subject.
Moments when we were totally absorbed in the beauty.
Moments when we were aware .
Moments when we were alive to the situation.

A defining moment though it would have lasted just a fraction of a second.

And this is what is called as Meditation.

Like many wrongly understood and misinterpreted words in English, Meditation also has been misunderstood.

Many still feel the process involves utmost concentration and therefore is difficult.Some also feel Meditation is forgetting oneself.
These are wrong notions for meditation is a process that makes us more aware. It is an experience and the mind automatically gets channelized without any effort.

Bharati calls this as the light that shines brightly in the mind
‘Ullaththanaiththilum UlloLiyai..’(உள்ளத்தனைத்திலும் உள்ளொளியாய்)

AaandaL calls this as the seed sown in the mind
‘Vellathu Aravil Thuyil Amarntha Viththinai Ullaththil KoNdu (வெள்ளத்து அரவில் துயில் அமர்ந்த வித்தினை உள்ளத்துக்கொண்டு).

There are various techniques and forms of meditation and my intention is not to get into all these.

I feel one of the best methods of meditation is listening to music.
Music and meditation have a lot in common apart from the M factor.
While listening to good music, we tend to get totally involved.

We are aware and alive.

Silence envelopes us.

We are in a state of tranquillity.

We are in a state of Bliss.

Saint Thyagaraja- for whom music was a way of life – experienced this state quite often.That is why we are transported easily to that state when we listen to his compositions rendered by great musicians.

He considered Nadopaasana as a form of meditation.

In one of his Krithis, he calls Lord Krishna as Gaana Moorthy-Form of Music.

The Krithi is ‘Gaana Moorthe Shri Krishna VeNu Gaana Lola..’.

There are a lot of great things about this Krithi like the all the first letters in the Charanam starting with the letter ‘na’ and talking about ‘nara’(Arjuna) and ‘narasimha’(half man half animal,an avatar of Lord Vishnu)

But the most significant one is the first word of the Krithi itself. Generally ,we do not find the name of the raga in a Thyagaraja Krithi(unlike Muthuswami Dikshithar’s who made it a point to include the name of the Raga in most of his compositions).

Yes..the Raga itself is called Gaana Moorthi.

Gaana Moorthi is the third Melakartha and the structure is

Sa ri1 ga1 ma1 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma1 ga1 ri1 sa.

It is a Vivadi Raga with the ‘ga’ being the Vivadi swara.

It is this Vivadi Swara that distinguishes this Raga from Mayamalawagowla.
But look how different the two ragas sound!

Another great musician for whom Music is a way of life has given a wonderful composition in this Raga in one of his albums.

The album is ‘ILaiyaraaja’s Geethanjali’ and the composition is ‘VetrigaLin Mudhal PoruLe’ on Lord Vinayaka.

It has no percussion and is sung as a ‘Virththam’.

The composition has a very divine beginning.
We hear the sound of the temple bell.

Our eyes closes automatically as the bell sounds 16 times.Is it just the bell?

What we hear is the Om.

‘Om’ is a combination of ‘A’ ‘U’ and ‘M’.Unlike what is popularly believed, it has no religious significance.It is the base.It is the Life.It is the salvation.

In other words, it is the music.

Another bell joins beautifully at the 14th strike.

The melody that follows stirs us.

The Veena plays the Thaanam .
The heightened resonance gives a sense of calmness.

Then the magic happens....

We hear the divine voice of the Master himself.

‘You are the beginning. You are the Knowledge.
You are the Truth. Arts attain meaning with your blessings.’

The Veena now flows with lucidity; with depth; with crispness; with fluidity.

The voice now continues,
‘You are the remover of obstacles.Your blessings reach even an ordinary man.
You give us all great things in this world’.

It is a dexterous display of Veena as it shows the wonderful vistas of the Raga.

The Raga now glows luminously with the voice lighting up all directions.
The melting phrases follow with the Veena digging deep and bringing out the nuggets of Gaana Moorthy.

Harmonious Precision!

‘Your name is enough to bring us glory.We pray to you..’

We see the silvery expanse of very fine sand.

We see the cerulean blue waters.

The raga enters us imperceptibly and lingers on with tenderness.

We are steeped in tranquillity.

We feel the stillness.

Silence envelops us.

We are focussed and involved.

We are in a state of meditation!

AnaiththiRkum Muthar PoruL Isai..

Music is the beginning and is the ultimate!

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