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The Power Of Indian Music

The Power Of Indian Music

January 24, 2011

A raga a day keeps the doctor away.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away called Italy, there lived a king. His name was Mussolini. He was suffering from insomnia and had trouble sleeping at night. The best doctors in the world could not heal him. Medicines worked for a day or two but none of them could cure his condition. Then came a sage form India. His name was Pundit Omkarnath and he was not even a doctor. People laughed at his abilities to heal the king. Pundit Omkarnath was a musician and he practiced Hindustani music. He came to the court the court of King Mussolini and started singing some very old 'ragas'. People were mesmerized by the music. They had never heard anything so enchanting. From that day onwards, Mussolini slept happily every night. Everyone lived happily ever after... Well, this is a true story demonstrating the healing power of ragas! Raga is derived from the Sanskrit word 'ranja' meaning 'color of mind'. Ragas are composed of 'shabdas'. A Shabda, contrary to what many believe, is different from words. Shabda is defined as the cosmic flow of sound. According to this definition, silence is also a shabda. The ancient sages of India had discovered an essential cosmic shabda - 'Om'. The seven suras of Indian music - Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni are all derived from cosmic word 'om'. Ragas are essentially composed of these seven suras and are not songs, but framework upon which melodies can be composed or improvised. Indian music composers were once known for their ability to improvise upon the best and the most difficult of ragas. This is exactly the reason why the old classics of Rafi saab and Kishore da never seem to date, whereas modern music has a much shorter life span. Yesterday it was Munni badnam and today it is Shiela jawaan! Each of the 7 suras have one to one correspondence with the 7 chakras of the human body. Ragas evoke these chakras by increasing the blood flow to and from the region. Different ragas evoke these chakras in different proportions, thereby being able to heal different diseases. In terms of acoustics (the study of sound), most ragas have 70-75 beats per minute. This is exactly because the heart beats at this rate. A raga with a standard beat has the ability to normalize the human body. A raga with higher beat energizes a person whereas a raga with lower beat is relaxing in nature. Ragas can aid insomnia, migraine, hypertension, anxiety and nausea. They can also correct blood pressure related problems. Raga Darbari and Asawari can reduce tension. Asawari also cleanses blood. Raga Bhupali, Todi and Ahir Bhairawi can help reduce high blood pressure. Raga Bhairavi can heal respiratory problems caused by asthma, tuberculosis, chronic cold, cough and sinus. Raga Malhar cools anger and stabilizes the mind. Raga Hindola sharpens memory. Raga Malkaun and Asawari helps in low blood pressure. Raga Chandrakaun can cure heart ailments. As of this day, there are many musicians who practice the art of music therapy. These pied pipers believe in the self healing nature of human body. Let's not forget these wonderful practices of our country! Note - Click hereto watch a video of me presenting a seminar on the same topic.

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  • Sammohini
    09.09.13 04:31 AM
    U r right Sourav. Even i hv heard about Mussolini story.
    I m also a s/w Engg but Music passionate!! I am doing my research work on Raga therapy to heal mind and body..
    Will update u on new discoveries if any...ofcourse if u r interested!!:)
  • Robin baldock
    Robin baldock
    17.04.13 04:03 AM
    Hi sarouy,

    Thanks, but Mussolini?!

    It was Genghis Khan, (not one of vilayat's nephews either)!).

    The Musician's name I can't remember. But it happened when Genghis went home, he was bored, melencholy set in and he became listless and ill.

    when the musician came he asked Genghis to tell him his story. Genghis was a big man in those days, ruler of the known universe, not some regional thug like now. he had a long story, war, conquest, death, riches, cruelty and took three days.

    when he had finished the musician went away. He came back three weeks later and was ready to play.

    He played for three days and his music retold the story of the Khans life as he had told it. when it was done the great ruler was at peace with himself.

    That isn't likely to be true either, but it does reflect something more of the truth as any good story should. (In this case: to be healed you must accept yourself, the good and the bad).

    you second story is much better for that reason.

    thanks again.

  • Dr S M Karandikar
    Dr S M Karandikar
    22.01.13 11:48 AM
    It is wonderful with lots of good information
  • Nivedita Murthy
    Nivedita Murthy
    28.09.12 08:43 PM
    I liked what you wrote. I am a student of Hindustani Classical Music and am trying to understand the system of raagas for holistic healing. I am not able to understand what you mean by beats per minute in raags. Did you imply taal? Do let me know.

  • Shikha
    30.05.11 11:36 AM
    Can u please tell me a raga which can cure migraine..??
    Thank you
    01.04.11 10:04 AM
    is there any raga to control ANGER?
  • Sourav Roy
    Sourav Roy
    03.02.11 06:30 PM
    @ Shruti

    Thanks :)
  • Shruti
    02.02.11 11:01 PM
    Beautifully explained and very informative.

    Keep up the good work.
  • Sourav Roy
    Sourav Roy
    25.01.11 05:53 PM
    @ Brian Champness

    I am glad to see someone as closely associated to music as you acknowledging my article. It's an honour, truly.

    @ Azad

    Thanks for the encouragement :)

    Well, this was my topic for seminar in College. I chose this because music is possibly the mist unaltered form of technology in India. It is a living testament of what we had in those days of glory.

    Since I have been living in Bangalore, I recently researched why Karnataka is named so. Here is the article I wrote-

    What amazed me the most is Karnataka itself means 'where ears wander'. Karnataka has been the land of music for time immemorial. Even during the times of Mahabharata, this part of Bharat was named so. Just imagine how old these ragas are, and the good part is, they are mostly unaltered and still passed from generation to generation (in the similar way knowledge was once transferred).
  • Azad
    25.01.11 04:09 PM
    Amazing As usual!
    Beautifully researched and written! We all knew the importance of classical music but you explained 'Why'!!
    And thank you for telling me that i need to listen to 'Raag Hindola' from now on!! ;-)

    Cheers :)

    P.S- Dear NRI, don't let Sourav go! He plays a very important aspect in enriching this beautiful site. Many of my friends living out of India find your site very refreshing! Keep us the good work!
  • Brian Champness
    Brian Champness
    25.01.11 12:48 AM
    "A raga a day keeps the doctor away"! Wonderful; I shall keep it by my music player - and breakfast table - always, (and am glad that you mentioned Hindustani music rather than Karnatic. Both fine, but Hindustani has the edge). One of the finest raga exponents is my sarod playing friend Ustad Wajahat Khan at
    Eight generations, is it? These Indian dynasties produce such rich and deep music.

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