The Healing Touch of Music

K N R Iyer better known as Raju Valiasala, who focuses on music therapy, speaks to Gouri Prasannan about the power of music in the healing process

Published: 17th June 2014 08:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th June 2014 08:03 AM   |  A+A-


KOCHI: Music is soothing. It alters your mood swings. This might have led to the idea of using music for healing. ‘Raga Therapy’ is known to have been prevalent from ancient times.

Some ragas help in relaxing our mind while some others rejuvenate us. ‘Raga Therapy’ selectively uses compositions in certain ragas for treatment.

Thyagaraja Bhagavathar is known to have cured a bedridden patient by singing a kirtana in ‘Bhairavi’ raga, say ancient scripts, according to K N R Iyer, known as Raju Valiasala, who focuses on music therapy.

“I noticed the power of ragas when my mother was confined to bed. She loved listening to music which had a good effect on her health,” Raju says.

“Being a Baba devotee, I have visited the Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital in Bangalore many times. There I noticed devotees going to patients and chanting songs. I found out that this had a healing effect which led me to research more on ragas. I visited the Manuscripts Library in Thanjavoor (Saraswathi Mahal Library) to collect details and tried to enhance my knowledge in Samaveda which deals with music. Finally I started my works on raga therapy in 2004,” Raju adds.

Raju has composed six CDs of music for various healing purposes. ‘Dealing with Stress’ is a CD which has music that helps you to relieve stress and has a sedative effect. ‘Transcend the Troubles’ is used during counselling people with suicidal tendency and at de-addiction centres. The music in ‘Celebrating Life’ creates a mood of happiness.

“I composed the music in ‘Rejuvenate’ keeping in mind the people in IT field. It has a good effect on people doing jobs with much strain,” he says.

‘Ease your pain’ is meant for arthritis patients while ‘Tranquil’ contains music which is a remedy for sleeplessness and migraine, claims Raju.

“The CDs are particularly useful for terminally ill patients and those under palliative care,” says Dr Kamala Lakshmi, who runs a dental clinic in the capital city.

“When a patient listens to music for sometime, endorphin hormone is released which has pain reducing effect,” she says.

“I do play the songs composed by Raju during my work time. Once a patient who had to extract all his teeth exclaimed in surprise whether the process had finished so soon. The music in the background did the magic, I feel,” Lakshmi says.

“Music is linked to one’s physiology. Veena has 24 metal frets and your vertebral column has 24 vertebrae,” Raju says.

He explained the effects of some ragas: ‘Neelambari’ raga is used to relieve stress and reduce blood pressure. 

Other ragas which were found to have an effect in reducing BP were ‘Yamuna Kalyani’, ‘Ahir Bhairav’, ‘Bhupali’ or ‘Mohana’ raga, ‘Ananda Bhairavi’ and ‘Hindolam’. ‘Bhairav’ and ‘Arabhi’ can be used for anger management; ‘Asaweri’ for confidence building; ‘Bageshri’ raga and ‘Kaappi’  for overcoming sleep disorders; ‘Brindavana Saranga’ for relaxation; ‘Dhanyasi’ for increasing alertness; ‘Durbari Kanada’ is an anti-stress raga and ’ Lalit’ raga for overcoming headache.

“I once gave a CD for relieving stress to a  principal of a private Medical College. He told me that he had stopped taking medicines for migraine after listening to the music ,” says Raju.

Raju further adds that Dr Prasad, who runs a private eye clinic in the city, plays his CDs in his clinic.

Music is an innate part of Raju. An ‘A’ Grade music composer with Akashvani, Raju takes classes in music.

“In my compositions, I have made use of veena and flute. I plan to make use of sitar for my next composition meant for child patients of SAT Hospital, here. I believe music can produce a good effect on differently abled children and those in pediatric oncology,” Raju says.

Raju who was a student of Neyyattinkara Madhavan Pillai, Shanmugham Bhagavathar, Mavelikkara Ramanathan, Mavelikkara Prabhakara Varma, was a music audition board member with Akashvani for 10 years.

“Each person has a different taste in music. Some like to hear songs with a classical touch, some prefer rock music. But the ragas remain the same,” Raju adds.

 “I have referred ‘Music Therapy’ , ‘Ragamritham’ and ‘Ragachikitsamrita’ by Suvarna Nalapat and ‘Ragalakshana Deepika’ by Dr S Bhagyalekshmi. I am much indebted to them,” says Raju.

He had done the music for a dance drama ‘Pancha Kanyakamar’ for Doordarshan years back on. “The drama had won a national award then,” he says.

“Raju Sir has trained many young artists and his students have won many accolades in University youth festivals,” says Jayadasan, who works with the Kerala University.

“I have composed the music for an anti-tobacco campaign. The CD will be soon given to the PRD,” says Raju.

Anyone who is interested in knowing more about music or the CDs may contact Valiasala Raju at 9745186200.


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