Sunday, December 5, 2021

Ragas for Relief

  • Sree Ragam – 5

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

Music in any of its myriad forms has known to influence life universally. Whether it is folk, devotional, classical…each of the forms is endorsed with a potential to influence human spirit.

Indian classical music is considered a divine art as it is a means for enriching ourselves and experience celestial music. Ragas are the soul of Indian classical music. The expression of ordained swaras depicts the characteristic nature of a particular raga.

It is a well-established claim that listening to ragas elevates our energies and induces a sense of well-being.

History is replete with references to various curative properties of indian classical music.

Saranga Deva in his Sangeeta Ratnakara states that music is the flow of universal energy in the form of ragas.

Also Read : Raga and Rasa

We have heard of legendary musician Tansen in Akbar’s court. He possessed mystical powers that were expounded in his performances. Swami Haridas in 16th century advocated the healing powers of ragas.

Raga chikitsa is the oldest treatise that elucidates the inherent healing power of Ragas in Indian Classical Music. Musicologists claim that it is an expressive medium that exudes therapeutic impact on the listeners. Each raga has been bestowed with exclusive subtle prowess that will influence the mood and emotion of the musician and the listener.

Music for healing purposes was prevalent during ancient times in Greece, Egypt and earlier civilisations. Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras understood the intrinsic therapeutic power of music. Ancient Greeks had one God Apollo for Medicine and Music…Could it possibly suggest that music and medicine are integral aspects?!

Also Read : How ragas were classified

Music therapy when used in conjunction with regular treatment of the ailment, can accelerate the rate of recovery and the most important aspect is that it calms the mind and soothes the soul. Studies to ascertain the curative aspects of music are being conducted by scientists and musicologists along with medical practitioners. Advocates of modern medicine also agree that music does help in combating negative emotions like fear, depression, anxiety and pain.

Among the plethora of benefits, the following are a very few aspects where classical music has proven its worth.

It can decrease blood pressure

Hyper tension associated with fluctuations in blood pressure levels poses a risk to the functioning of heart. Listening to classical music regularly can reduce blood pressure levels and maintain the health of the heart.

Also Read : Raga: the soul of Indian Classical music

Ragas : Ahir Bhairavi, Bhimpalas, Asaveri, Todi

Alleviates Pain

Classical music soothes the nerves and helps in pain management. Persons suffering from chronic pain and patients recovering from surgery can benefit and expedite the healing process by listening to classical music regularly.

Ragas : Hamsadhwani, Kalavati,

Reduces Stress levels

Stress is a common ailment in our everyday lives. Coping with several expectations and responsibilities creates enormous stress on an individual. It is always beneficial to manage stress with a healthy life style and adopt effective activities like music and yoga. Classical music influences the brain and helps in the reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone. It can also help to reduce anxiety in pregnant women who experience several physiological and emotional changes.

Ragas : Darbari, Bhimpalas

Sleep

Insomnia is a chronic problem in modern society. Irrespective of age and life style, many of us experience problems in getting proper sleep. Indian classical music is an antidote for insomnia. It refreshes our mind and helps to fall asleep effortlessly. Our age old tradition of singing lullabies to induce sleep for little ones is a testimonial to the claim.

Ragas : Kafi, Neelambari Bhagesri, Khamaj

Enhances mathematical ability

Indian Classical music also helps to boost memory. Studies have validated that exposure to classical music increases the attention span and rate of absorption. As several mathematical concepts are embedded in the learning of Indian classical music, it helps to engender mathematical ability of an individual, especially children. The rhythmic spans and the musical frequencies in the ragas help to increase an inherent mathematical ability among the students. 

Music therapy in India is still in its nascent stage although it exists as an age old tradition in our culture. Only a minute number of studies are being conducted to integrate medicine and music. Medical practitioners, musicologists, musicians should come together and explore the untapped potential of our classical music.

Also Read : Understanding Music

Indian classical music refines the senses and soothes the soul.  Our mind is like an antenna and how well adopted we are to the frequencies of classical music, defines our receptivity to the divine music. A plethora of benefits are bestowed upon us in the form of sacred sounds as ragas.

Sreelakshmi Avadhanam
Sreelakshmi Avadhanam is a journalist, content writer, freelance translator and is trained in Carnatic classical music. She also holds a Master’s degree in music. Playing the Veena and singing have been a part of her life since childhood. She also performs on stage whenever an opportunity arises. 

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