We all experience the enchanting effects of good music. The classical compositions (ragas) of music create deep impact on our mind and emotions. The melody of vocal and instrumental music soothes our mind and heart. Music can awaken or intensify specific kinds of emotional streams and mental tendencies and thus influence the habits and nature of the engrossed singers and audiences. The immense potential of the power of Shabda (cosmic flow of sound) hidden in music was well recognised by the ancient Indian sages and they had devised several musical patterns emanating from the "Omkara" for chanting of the Vedic hymns and for distinct spiritual effects. Carlyle had once said "God walks behind good music". So, how could there be any disease or suffering where God is? There will only be a constant flow of bliss all over. His feelings seem to be true if we look at the marvelous effects of sonorous, calming musical compositions on the soft cores of emotions and subtle layers of the mind and also on physiological processes, as observed by some music therapists in the modern laboratories. In this respect, the effects of music can be likened to that of yoga.
The seven basic swaras (musical notes) of the musical octave have a one-to-one correspondence with these chakras (centre of subtle energy). The Muladhara Chakra is associated with the swara "Sa"; which have impact on awakening of mind. Similarly, the chakras successively upwards in this direction namely, the Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna and the top-most Sahastrara Chakra have correspondence respectively with the swaras "Re", "Ga" "Ma", "Pa", "Dha" and "Ni". Significantly, the order of the compositions of these swaras in the "Aroha" (ascending) and "Avaroha" (descending) patterns of the classical tunes also match with the top-down (from Sahastrara to Muladhara) and bottom-up (from Muladhara to Sahastrara) directions of the flow of energy. Usually these are felt in the head, throat, heart, and abdomen. In the state of deep meditation, while concentrating on the internal sounds of the body, one can distinctly feel these and several otherwise non-audible sounds; their rhythmic compositions are also said to be in tune with the musical octave. This is why good music is often described as the voice of the heart. The original ragas of the Indian classical music are created according to the deep knowledge of harmonious consonance between the seven swaras and chakras. This is why classical musical compositions are found to have significant positive effect on the mind-body system and also have the potential to awaken the otherwise dormant faculties.
There are several historical examples of the immense remedial power of the classical ragas. For instance, in 1933, when the Italian dictator Mussolini was terribly suffering from insomnia, no medicine therapeutic mode could help him get sleep. Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, a great classical musician was visiting Europe around that time. When he heard of Mussolini's affliction, he agreed to perform remedial musical programme. His performance of the “Raga puriya” indeed worked magically and Mussolini went into deep sleep within half-an-hour. This and similar incidents attracted the attention of many contemporary musicians, scientists and physicians which triggered research in music therapy. A group of London based physicians has scientifically experimented on different aspects of music therapy. In their views, the classical ragas could induce healing of all kinds of ailments. They argue that the immediate benefits these ragas offer is mental peace by alleviating tensions and providing an enchanting and creative diversion to the mind.
Because of its fast remedial effects, which lead to eventual cure of the psychosomatic disorders, music therapy based on classical ragas is being used or advised these days for the treatment of insomnia, migraine, hypertension, chronic headache, anxiety and pain abdomen. Because of its impact on the chakras (and hence on the pranas), classical music not only vibrates and soothes the mental strings, but also energizes and balances the organs of the body.
According to Dr. W. H. J. Wales, the Indian classical music can cure the problems of the digestive system, liver including the diseases like jaundice. Dr. Jane remarks that this music rhythmically vibrates the tissue-membranes of the ear and, relaxes the nerves and muscles; as a result the sensory and motor systems are energized and activated.
Effects of Raga on different diseases- The therapeutic evaluation of the classical ragas have shown interesting results. Singing or listening of Raga Bhairavi has been found to uproot the diseases of kapha dosha e.g. asthma, chronic cold, cough, chest infections and sinusitis. Raga Asavari is effective in eliminating the impurities of blood and related diseases. Raga Malhar pacifies anger, excessive mental excitements and mental instability. Raga Saurat and Raga Jaijayanti have also been found effective in curing mental disorders and calming the mind. Raga Hindola helps sharpening the memory and focusing mental concentration. It has been proved effective in curing liver ailments. Apart from the classical ragas played on musical instruments, the rhythmic sounds of temple bells and shankha (conch shell or bugle) produced during devotional practices have also been found to have therapeutic applications. A research study in Berlin University showed that the vibrations of the bugle sound could destroy bacteria and germs in the surroundings. More specifically, it was found that if the shankha is played by infusing (through the mouth) twenty-seven cubic feet of air per second, within a few minutes it will kill the bacteria in the surrounding area of twenty-two hundred square feet and inactivate those in about four-hundred square feet area further beyond.
Dr. Balaji, who has been a part of music therapy research teams in Sweden and Germany, has said that although, listening to such a music for five to ten minutes removes lethargy and instantly generates new alacrity, listening to it for longer periods and frequently has damaging effects on the ear drums and the spinal cord. Further, as this kind of music induces sexual and other kinds of negative and unnatural excitements, its harms on mental health and spiritual well being.
Indian classical music is most suitable and beneficial in this respect and also for spiritual elevation because of the soothing and harmonizing impact of the classical ragas on the shat chakras and the pranas.
1. M.A. (Ravindra Sangeet), M.A. (English)
2. M.D., Ph.D (Pursuing)
Lecturer, Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar,