Music of Indian Ragas – an aesthetic and therapeutic remedy for life
‘Raga is that which pleases all living beings’ so entwine its cultural symbol, be captured by its historical parables and girdle its power of health and healing.
A secular life remains incomplete without the experience of the Raga: from an undeniable first attraction, it magnetically draws the mind, heart and soul releasing a thirsty desire to search out its origins and a constant passion to comprehend the ancient art, science and philosophy. The Raga breathes life for today and fulfils life for tomorrow. Where were you without it yesterday?
Learn to sing Classical Indian Music for Health and Happiness for you, your children, family and friends.
I am fascinated by the Medicinal values of Music: Although my profession dictates following logical scientific formulae, I am also a qualified Educator and have been teaching by a variety of conventional and novel learning techniques for many years - my greatest delight is in learning and teaching Hindustani Classical Raga music.
The Raga form is a perfect distillation between physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual energies: and once involved in this form of music there are proven benefits in your day to day health, increasing life span and memory skills, even your outlook in life is changed with greater spiritual and emotional satisfaction.
Raga music is life-long love and devotion: As a Learner by Guru-bidhya, then exploring new avenues of ideas and feelings; as a teacher, I enjoy teaching beginners and intermediate level starting at any age.
For those living in the UK, if you want any advice on how to begin this journey, delve into an ocean of never-ending knowledge or to progress your life-dedication in Raga music through formal lessons: contact me by text, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 00-44 -7837358016 or 07979454365. I would love to hear from you.
The primary values of the Indian musical tradition are spiritual, with the aesthetic and the sensory being subservient to it. In the hierarchy of music making goals, the primary place belongs to the generation of Rasa at the highest possible level of intensity. A musician shapes and re-shapes Raga-s in order to achieve the Rasa goal. In the process, he also arranges and re-arranges relationships between the individual units of melodic expression, the swara-s.
What is Hindustani Classical Music? Like any kind of music, it is hard to say in a few words.
The basic scale of Hindustani music is similar to the western 12-note scale. The main difference is that the Hindustani scale is not tempered. Thus, the intervals between consecutive notes are not equal. Indeed, they can be varied slightly to suit the particular raga that is being performed. The same note, in different ragas, may have slightly differing positions. The notes themselves have names as in Western music:
Hindustani: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni
Western: Do Re Mi Fa So La Si
These seven notes are like the white keys on a piano keyboard. There are intervals between them: to be precise, there are five intermediate notes. The one between Sa and Re is called "Komal Re" (like Re flat), between Re and Ga is "Komal Ga" (like Mi flat), between Pa and Dha is "Komal Dha" (like La flat), and between Dha and Ni is "Komal Ni" (like Si flat). That accounts for four notes. The fifth lies between Ma and Pa but it is called "Tivra Ma", like Fa sharp.
The final result is shown here:
Sa Komal Re Re Komal Ga Ga Ma Tivra Ma Pa Komal Dha Dha Komal Ni Ni
The four notes marked "Komal" and the one marked "Tivra" correspond to the black notes on a piano keyboard.
The seven notes of Indian music may be the seven wonders of the medical world!
HEALING EFFECT OF RAGAS.....to overcome depression, to enhance concentration and memory in children and also develop intellect and creativity in youth.
Ragas are an ancient tradition and could be a safe alternative for many
medical interventions. Ragas are said to have healing properties, if sung properly. Emperor Akbar’s great court singer, Tansen, is said to have been able to light oil-lamps, bring rain and even save lives with his music. There is also a historical reference to how he brought a dead man to life by singing a particular raga.
What is the science and art of Raga music?
According to an ancient Indian text, Swara Sastra, the seventy-two melakarta ragas (parent ragas) control the 72 important nerves in the body. It is believed that if one sings with due devotion, adhering to the raga lakshana (norms) and sruti shuddhi, (pitch purity) the raga could affect the particular nerve in the body in a favourable manner.
Why is a Raga used for health and healing?
A Raga is a scientific, precise, subtle and aesthetic melodic form with
ascending and descending movement consisting of only 5-7 notes. A
combination of such notes has a collective frequency which when understood can be used to heal the body.
A group of London based physicians has scientifically experimented on
different aspects of music therapy. In their views, the shastric 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.
The field of health care by Music Therapy has evolved. Simple iterative
musical rhythms with low pitched notes are capable of leading to relaxation(evidenced by alpha-levels of the brain waves and favourable hormonal changes (Crandall, 1986). Somatic or physiological impact of ragas (Sairam, 2004b) recently shown benefit, for cancer patients, children with ADHD, pain management, reduce depression, to calm and to ease muscle tension.
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, etc. and empowers the immune system as well as the auto-regulatory healing mechanism of the body.
This is how classical music generates new hope, joy and enthusiasm in the otherwise dull or depressed mind and removes the disorders and relieves one of the untoward pressures and excitements of inferiority, despair, fear, anger, etc.
Certain ragas are believed to have curative properties and effects the vocalist and the listener, restore sagging spirits and bestow a feeling of well-being both on the singer and the audience.
Indian classical music can be classified into two forms: kalpita sangita or composition, which is previously conceived, memorized, practised and rendered and manodharma sangita or the music extemporised and performed - it conceives both spontaneity and improvisation during performance.
Ragas in Indian music are known to have healing properties.
If you have experienced the healing effects of Ragas, I would like to hear about it.
If you would like to experience Music Medicine - Raga for Health and Healing (useful for any personal or social distress) then see further details on Asian Arts Academy site or contact me to arrange a Health and Healing workshop in your area.
Further recommended reading is 'Raga Therapy' by TV Sairam 2004
Raga and Disease(s) it helps cure
Ahir Bhairav - a sampuran Raga (blend of Kafi and Bhairav) for de-stressing role, transcendental bliss (P. Bharathi, Rheumatic Arthritis,Hypertension
Asavari to build confidence levels (M Sundaram 2004; treatment for headache, mental tensions (K Subramaniam 2002; can help in low BP
Bageshri reflects moods of midnight; feelings of darkness, depth, calm; can help insomnia (Sundaram 2004)
Basant Bahar for complementary treatment in Gall Stones (Cholecystitis) (Sundaram 2004)
Bhairavi - a soothing reducing violent forms of schizophrenia (Tambe 2002); discourages attachments to material possessions (preferred by shadus in bhajans); useful in Rheumatic Arthritis,Sinusitis;colds TB, cancer (Subramanian 2002); Abdul Karim Khan's Bhairavi recitals caused plants to grow by 430% more than others.
Bhimpalashi for Anxiety, Hypertension
Brindabani Sarang - moods of midday reflecting majesty,joy,devotion, peace; helps relax at work and is helpful in Depression
Chandrakauns - joy and peace, could improve Anorexia (Sundaram 2004)and helps cardiac pain
Darbari has a calming effect, a Sedative, relieves mental tensions
Darbari Kanada for anti-stress; Headache, Asthma (Sundaram 2004)
Deepak has many properties and can ignite fire; fiery tendencies; Indigestion,Anorexia,Hyperacidity, Gall Stones(Cholecystitis)
Gujari Todi may help Cough (Sundaram 2004)
Gunakali is all rounder - Rheumatic Arthritis,Constipation
Piles or Hemorrhoids
Hindol for devotion, peace with tinge of melancholy; boosts self-confidence; Arthritis,Spondylitis,Backache,gastritis; Cell degeneration due to ageing can be controlled (Mythili 2002)
Jaunpuri for Intestinal Gas, Diarrhoea, Constipation
Jaijawanti - Rheumatic Arthritis, Diarrhoea, Headache
Kafi - humid, cool and deep mood; can help Sleep disorders
Kausi Kanada - Hypertension, Common Cold
Kedar could relieve Headache,Common Cold,Cough,Asthma
Khamaj helps Sleep disorders
Madhuvanti - Piles or Hemorrhoids
Malkauns - Intestinal Gas
Malhar - Asthma
Marwa - Indigestion, Hyperacidity
Nat Bhairav - Indigestion, Rheumatic Arthritis,Colitis
Puriya - Sleep-inducing Raga; combats stress; Colitis,Anaemia,Hypertension; can help hysterics
Puriya Dhanashri - Evokes a Sweet, heavy and stable state of mind. Anaemia,hysterics (Sundaram 2004)
Ramkali - Colitis,Piles or Hemorrhoids
Shree - Anorexia, Common Cold, Cough, Asthma
Shudh Sarang - Anorexia,Gall Stones (Cholecystitis)
Shyam Kalyan - Cough, Asthma, bronchial problems
Sohani - Ecites tears and cures Headache
Tilak Kamod - a raga for relaxation
Tilang - moods of passion, bliss, fear loss of consciousness; can relax
Todi - induces mood of devotion, majesty, compassion with tinge of sorrow; benefits circulatory system; regulates high BP; treats hysteria
Yaman - moods of devotion, passion and peace; can be relaxing
Feelings and Emotions - Rasa in Raga
The Raga is capable of emoting and expressing feelings and thoughts. This happens through the clever use of the appropriate srutis, swaras and pakads (the most important phrases of a raga).
This emotional quality of the raga is known as the rasa, or the quality of that emotion. Raga and rasa go hand-in-hand in Indian classical music. If rendered properly, every raga is capable of giving rise to some emotion, both in the person singing it and among the general audience too.
The Natya Shastra, an ancient treatise on Indian Performing Arts (believed to have been written by Bharata Muni, somewhere between 400 BC and 200 AD), talks about the ‘navarasas’ - nine types of rasas or emotions. These are:
- Shringara (Love/Eroticism)
- Hasya (Mirth)
- Karuna (Compassion/Pathos)
- Raudra (Anger)
- Veera (Valour)
- Bhayanaka (Fear)
- Bibhatsa (Disgust)
- Adbhuta (Wonder/Amazement)
- Shanta (Peace/Serenity)
Each raga admits of one predominant rasa. One raga might even portray more than one emotion, if treated in different ways. Oscillating one note feebly may give rise to veera rasa, while shaking it more vigorously could give rise to raudra rasa.
The exposition of the raga and the resulting rasa(s) all really depends on the caliber of the musician and the extent to which his imagination stretches to define the boundaries of the raga.