Yogananda writings about music and its divine presents in life.
The Sama Veda contains the world’s
earliest writings on musical science. In
Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, is
symbolized as performing on the vina, mother of all
The foundation stones of Hindu music are ragas or fixed melodic scales. The six basic ragas branch out into 126 derivative raginis (wives) and putras (sons). Each raga has a minimum of five notes: a leading note (vadi or king), a secondary note (samavadi or prime minister), helping notes (anuvadi, attendants), and a dissonant note (vivadi, the enemy).
Each of the six basic ragas has a natural correspondence
with a certain hour of the day, season of the year and a presiding deity who
bestows a particular potency. Thus, (1)
the Hindole Raga is heard only at dawn in the spring,
to evoke the mood of universal love; (2) Deepaka Raga
is played during the evening in summer, to arouse compassion; (3)
The ancient rishis discovered these laws of sound alliance between nature and man. Because nature is an objectification of Au , the Primal Sound or Vibratory Word, man can obtain control over all natural manifestations though the use of certain mantras or chants. Folklore of all peoples contains references to incantations with power over Nature. The American Indians developed effective sound rituals for rain and wind. Tan Sen, the great Hindu musician, was able to quench fire by the owner of his song.
Charles Kellogg, the
Historical documents tell of he remarkable powers possessed
Indian music divides the octave into twenty-two srutis or
demi-semitones. These microtonal
intervals permit fine shades of musical expression unattainable by the Western
chromatic scale of twelve semitones.
Each of the seven basic notes of the octave is associated in Hindu
mythology with a color, and the natural cry of a bird or beast—Do with green,
and the peacock; Re with red, and the skylark;
Indian music outlines seventy-two thatas or scales. A musician has creative scope for endless improvisation around the fixed traditional melody or raga; he concentrates on the sentiment or definitive mood of the structural theme and embroiders it to the limits of his own originality. The Hindu musician does not read set notes; at each playing he clothes anew the bare skeleton of the raga, often confining himself to a single melodic sequence, stressing by repetition all its subtle microtonal and rhythmic variations.
Bach, among Western composers, understood the charm and power of repetitious sound slightly differentiated in a hundred complex ways.
Sanskrit literature describes 120 talas or time measures. The traditional founder of Hindu music, Bharata, is said to have isolated thirty-two kinds of tala in the song of a lark. The origin of tala or rhythm is rooted in human movements—the double time of walking, and the triple time of respiration in sleep, when inhalation is twice the length of exhalation.
Hindu music is a subjective, spiritual, and individualistic
art, aiming not a symphonic brilliance but at personal harmony with the
Over-Soul. All the celebrated songs of
The sankirtans or musical gatherings are an effective form of yoga or spiritual discipline, necessitating intense concentration, absorption in the seed thought and sound. Because man himself is an expression of the Creative Word, sound exercises on him a potent and immediate effect. Great religious music of East and West bestows joy on man because it causes a temporary vibratory awakening of the one of his occult spinal centers. In those blissful moments a dim memory comes to him of his divine origin.