Indian classical music is considered as one of the prestigious ancient arts, which is existing since the age of ‘Satayuga’. In all the sacred epics – Rig-Veda, Sam-Veda, Purana, Upanishads etc., it has been clearly stated that the people used to have explicit interest in music; thus could maneuver their attitude towards satisfaction, tranquility, and other positive vibes. In almost all the countries, music has been the source of worship, as it expresses and connects you to one’s religion or GOD. In India, we visualize our Gods holding Damroo (percussion instrument) and Goddess Saraswati holding Veena (string Instrument), which symbolizes that Music had always been a sacred means of Worship and relaxation or meditation. Worship, meditation,Yoga – all these nomenclatures share a similar concept, as all of these implies soulful, calm mind, optimism, knowledge, and enlightenment.
The most important element in Indian classical music is Nada (pronounced as ‘Naad‘) i.e., Sound. Nada is basically a Musical sound, which involves melodic or aesthetical sound. Sound or Nada is the basic element of the entire universe, as it denotes the emergence of expressive utterance. Discussing the excessive suitability of Nada as a means for Mukti or liberation from materialism, Sharangdev in ‘Sangeet-Ratnakar’ extols the relative greatness and facility of Ahata Nada, produced by striking or friction of two objects.
When we talk about music and Yoga, it involves Nada. In other words, Yoga through music can be known as Nada-Yoga, which implies ‘union through sound’. Meditating Sound or Nada develops a focus, concentration, and calm-composed attitude within us. Naad-Yoga comprises of the most important component – rendering of OM.
Om plays a vital role in Nada Yoga. In Indian Tradition, ॐ or Om is a cosmic sound, which is considered as the supreme power or super-natural power. It evolves in our own mind and soul, in order to generate power and energy within us. Om is above all the Gods and deities; it can just be linked as the seed or origin. Mythologically, Om can be denoted as Lord Shiva, but we are free to perceive Om in either terms. In Indian Music, rendering of Om is a great source of Yoga- meditation, music as well as worship. It depends on how we perceive. It’s surely not necessary to assume Om as GOD or almighty. According to me, its my intrinsic voice which creates energy and power within me and inculcates placidity.
Rendering Om in a proper way results in developing great focus, breath-control, voice-sustainability, improving the quality of sound, nullifying aggressiveness, and stabilizing peaceful and soothing attitude within us. It not only strengthens our body but convalesces our tonal quality (voice-texture). In the context of music, the most effective way of vocalizing Om is through the stomach or middle abdomen. There are three ways through which a voice is produced, through head, throat, and stomach. Voice produced through stomach is considered to be most accurate style for the improvement of one’s tonal quality, as the voice automatically becomes full-throated and non-exhaustible. The interplay of the tongue on the meridian points of the upper palate and the action of the lips, nose, throat, and the air passages of the body are directly linked to chemical and hormonal secretions in the brain and glandular system. Gradually Om through stomach develops a resonance and reverberation in our voice and whole body as well. After a certain levels of Om meditation, one can easily realize a sensitivity proceeding throughout the body.
For me, Meditation Through Om is a great path for attaining focus especially while meditating. Throughout the whole rendition, I keep checking my production of voice regarding voice-texture, volume, inner vibration, sustenance, resonance and at last end up realizing less mind distractions overall. The feeling is quite blissful and motivating.
If we take Nada yoga into the scientific world, our ears are designed to carry the exact pattern and frequency of sound vibration, which is funneled through the outer ear and strikes the eardrum, creating a perfect replica of that vibratory rate and frequency. A human ear can bear sound up to 20 to 20,000 hz. It means 20 hz is the lowest sound one can hear and 20,000 hz is the maximum sound one can bear. In the aura of this sound limit, there are thousands and even more sounds which may be good or bad. From this sound limit, the ancient musicians selected 22 fine sounds which we could consider calm and melodic to listen. These 22 sounds are called Shrutis. These Shrutis are the microtones or very minute sound frequencies, which were considered to be selected for creating any music. Among these 22 Shrutis, musicians further selected seven most melodic sounds, which are known as notes or Swaras or saat shuddha swaras. So these seven swaras are basically the most important part of music, which denote the expressions of sound in music.
Delving deeper into the dimensions of music, one can also understand music as comprising of three basic components, the melodic, the harmonic, and the rhythmic component. The melodic component of music comprises of notes sequenced as scales, and ragas. Each scale has a unique influence on the mind of the listener. In Indian Music, there are thousands of ragas, each one designed for a particular season or a specific mood, such as devotion or celebration or romance or contemplation. The harmonic component, comprising of several notes played simultaneously, can strongly influence the emotional center of the body. Instruments like didgeridoo and tanpura create harmonious vibrations that can be very effectively used in healing. The rhythmic component, more related to the tempo or speed of music, is found to relate to the body pulse, and the breath pattern.