“Jab sangeet ilaaj nahin kar paayi, to dawa kya ilaaj karegi?” I had heard one of India’s leading maestros utter these words in a live concert in Kolkata, last winter. The immense potential of the power of the cosmic flow of sound hidden in Indian Classical music has been well recognised since time in memoriam. Ancient sages are said to have devised several musical patterns emanating from the Omkara to chant Vedic hymns for distinct spiritual effects. According to mythology, it was the Gandharvas or divine musicians who brought the Ragas from the gods to the humans. Interestingly, Vedic Science actually emphasises on the special healing effect both for individuals and for society as a whole originating from Raga music which at places, forms part of the therapeutic approaches of Ayurveda.
“If music is therapy to the soul what better music than Indian classical can be therapeutic? It soothes the soul as there is a solid grounding of philosophy in Indian classical music. Any form of art that has its birth in deep rooted philosophy is the answer to millions of problems of daily life,” feels maestro Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya. He cites the Raga Kalyan as an example. The raga he says is inspired by the word Kalyan which means good or welfare in a holistic sense in Sanskrit. “As a matter of practice, it is sung or played in the evening after the day’s work is over. A sense of surrender of the self to the Almighty prevails in the notion of movements traditionally. Those who listen and those who play this particular raga find a sense of joy that does not spring from any material source. They feel relaxed, rejuvenated and the mind refreshes. That is a therapeutic effect,” Pt Bhattacharya explains.
Pt Bhattacharya, who is known to be a phenomenon in the history of World Music and Indian Classical Music for creating a trinity of slide guitars, christened as Chaturangi, Gandharvi and Anandi, speaks very passionately about the therapeutic impacts and influences of Raga Music. Ragas, he explains, are known to correspond to specific laws of nature that predominate during the time of performance. Therefore, a raga is not just invented but rather cognized in the state of unambiguous awareness as the structure of sound and melody of creation. Thus, the time of day and year and the elements condensed in the ragas are equally important to accentuate the impact on human psyche. “Ragas have set time scales as it is born from nature and on the soil of the civilization that was spread across continents of today. It has also unified mankind. Persian music may sound different but the time scales are more or less same as ours. Basically it has a psychological effect. And of course, traditionally this has been the practice. If it did not suit us, the entire music would be unacceptable and obliterated. Our music comes from nature and is very scientific yet abstract. That's where it tickles the mind,” he adds.
After having won the BBC Radio Awards for World Music in 2007 and being nominated for the Grammy Awards for 2009, Pt Bhattacharya has recently launched O Sakuntala which is a musical interpretation of Kalidas’ Abhigyan Shakuntalam. We wish him all the best for his musical journey ahead and hope through his improvisations and experiments on Indian ragas, he will continue to heal our hearts and souls and spread the message of humanity, peace and contentment across the globe.
Debashishda and his music are both very close to my soul. Signing off with my thoughts for him...His music touches the audience where it should—the soul. He elevates music to a level where it is no longer restricted to the senses; it becomes a spiritual communion with the Gods.
(For more information on Pandit Debashish Bhatacharya and his music, you may login to http://www.debashishbhattacharya.com)