We have lived all our lives so far running a mad race. A race to get ahead, a race to achieve. We’ve lived an outward-looking life all along. As we increasingly realise that this approach to life has had an adverse effect on every part of our being, right from spirit to body, the time is now ripe to change the paradigm and turn inward for a bit.
And one of the first things we will experience as we quieten down, is an acute awareness of our physical and emotional sensations. Becoming aware of these sensations is one of the first and most important steps toward finding your ‘Sa’.
‘Sa’ the Shadaj, which is the origin as well as the place of rest in Indian Classical Music, is also a space of spiritual awareness. The different emotions that life kindles in us, from pain and sadness to pleasure and joy, from disillusionment and disgust to love and compassion and myriad others, are all familiar to us. But the one thing that we seek above everything else, something that is always elusive, is that inner state of tranquil, peaceful happiness.
This is a blissful state, which differs from other forms of worldly joys in its depth and longevity. This is a coveted state, a state that saints and sinners, men and women, young and old, all aspire consciously or unconsciously for. And Indian Classical Music is able to find a powerful analogy and look for a melodic resolution in 'Sa', just as in life we look for that emotional resting place in our pursuit of bliss.
Through its ability to transform mood states and lead us to our ‘Sa’, Indian Classical Music can be a powerful catalyst for overcoming emotional repression. The myriad inexplicable moods we feel, which cannot be expressed in words, are mirrored in the gamut of emotions we feel through the music we hear.
The nuanced applications of notes in classical music match the nuances in our moods, and allow for us to connect with Raagas, which are melodic structures which mirror different moods. So, when we hear, sing or play classical music, we are able to open up our inner selves to be ‘understood’ by the empathetic tones of the music.
The joy in Raag Yaman, the sadness of Raag Todi, the pride and valour of Raag Bilawal, the longing of Raag Kalavati, the patriotism of Raag Desh, the playfulness of Raag Khamaj, all reflect our inner feelings in a disarming way, and allow us to feel vulnerable and trusting.
Through these Raagas, Indian Classical Music allows for a safe place to feel and connect with something outside of ourselves. As the myriad moods of the music lead to Shadaj or Sa, we symbolically feel in us, a sympathetic resolution to our own conflicting emotions.
Even from a gross physiological stand-point, we can see the immensely positive impact engaging in music can have on our lungs, our breathing, our brains and our motor movements. Psychiatrists across the world endorse the effect of music on the brain.
The release of ‘good chemicals’ like endorphins and dopamine, the activation of motor centres of the brain through engaging in rhythm, and the alpha states of the brain becoming more accessible in a musical milieu.
Owing its origins to the Vedas, Shadaj too has evolved organically, co-opting sounds from nature, as well as imbibing external influences. This innate link to nature means that there is a strong connection between our ‘Sa’ and our emotions.Therefore isolation could just be the blessing in disguise, to tune into the music within and Indian Classical music holds that precious promise to lead us to our own inner state of bliss, our own Shadaj, our own 'Sa'.