We live in a world of sound. Sound is believed to be the origin and basis of all creation. Many of the world religions and philosophies speak of the creation as originating from sound. Sacred Indian texts have for thousands of years taught that sound holds the key to the mysteries of the universe.
Scientists tell us that when the universe was created with the Big Bang, the single huge explosion created the sound, which even now reverberates as a backdrop to the entire cosmos. There can be sound even without the usual mediums of air, water or a physical matter.
The Goddess of Learning, Sarasvati, is shown with the Veena in her hands; this symbolizes the importance attached to music in education. The Veena is the most ancient and developed musical instrument. Notations of the Vedic hymns were played on the Veena. Lord Shiva is shown with the percussion instrument, the Damroo, in his hand; the Damroo symbolizes rhythm, Sri Krishna Charmed his childhood friends and the Gopis, birds and beasts, with the enchanting tunes he played on the flute. Thus, since ancient times, music has been associated with religion, festivals and spirituality.
Music and other audible sound are an outpouring of a higher or cosmic sound- the Word OM- which is the source of all energy and matter. Sound is the cause and not the effect of all vibrations.
Music is sound, and that sound is a transformative force on several levels. It has been observed that as music changes, so too does the physical , mental, emotional and spiritual behavior of the human being. Music and sound are definitely believed to be ultimately capable even of creating and reshaping matter.
All music is sound but all sound is not music. The various vibrations, which constitute the sounds of a musical rendering, are all in a simple ratio. When the ratio is disturbed then the sound becomes unpleasant and is called noise; it is a cacophony of sounds.
Imagine for a moment that we are standing right in the middle of a busy market place. There are sounds of engines of cars and scooters, of horns blaring, of repair works on the roads and airplanes flying overhead, of constructions or demolition of buildings, of animals and shouting of hawkers. You realize that this is most irritable and exhausting. This cacophony of sounds is a very unpleasant mixture of vibrations. On the other hand, good sounds produced on an orchestra or a group of children singing in unison is exhilarating and enjoyable.
The effect of good music can be felt at three levels:
- At the physical level, it promotes relaxation and refreshes the body. It promotes deep rhythmic breathing for good health;
- At the mental level, it calms nerves and brings in quietness of the mind; and
- At the spiritual level, good music develops intuition and devotion. It releases the energy of Love from within.
Today, some surgeons play music in operation theatres so that their patients become relaxed and feel comfortable. In fact, these surgeons even feel that they can perform operations more efficiently with music in the background.
Research was carried out on cancer patients in Mysore when they were exposed to light classical music during the early hours at dawn, and at dusk during sunset. Amazingly, it was recorded that these patients started showing improvement in health. The story of the Pied Piper of Hymlin forcefully conveys the impact of music even on small animals. In many countries, music is played during milking of cows to produce greater yields of milk.
Three essential components of good music should be well understood. These are Bhava, Raga and Taala. BHA-RA-T, that is India, is an embodiment of such good music, says Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Music has played an important role in the lives of the people of India from the times of the Sama Veda.
Bhava means to sing with full faith and depth of good, positive feeling, Raga means to sing the notes with particular tune and pitch, which is pleasant to the ears. Taala means to sing with a set rhythm, so that all who participate in this activity sing in harmony; hence the tempo should be neither too fast nor too slow.
Children, sit up straight in a relaxed position. Look at the flame in front of you. Breathe in and out slowly and rhythmically. Very gradually close your eyes. With some practice, you will see (visualize) the flame with your eyes closed. This light is pure. It is knowledge and wisdom. Now we bring this sacred flame close into the centre of our forehead in between the two eyes. Now we gradually take the flame within. It fills our forehead with a golden light of love and goodness.
Bring it down slowly inside you, through the throat, upto the level of the heart, but in the middle of the body. This is normally considered as the location of the ‘Spiritual Heart’. Imagine this is in the shape of a lotus bud. With the warmth and light of the flame falling on it, its petals open up one by one. Now the flame comes lower to occupy the centre of the lotus flower. The flower gradually fades away. All we now have is the sacred flame of knowledge, deep in the niche of the spiritual heart, spreading its love and warmth all around.
We now bring the light to different organs of the body to make them sacred and pure. We bring the light to each of the eyes so that they are filled with divine light. We shall now see only good around us. We bring the light to both the ears, purifying them. Now they will listen to good sounds- devotional music, cheerful words, not bad music or criticism of others.
See good; do not see bad
Hear good; do not hear bad
Speak good ; do not speak bad
Think good ; do not think bad
Do good; do not do bad.- Sri Sathya Sai Baba
We bring the light to the tongue and mouth so that they are filled with pure light. May we now speak softly and lovingly; may we sing in adoration of the Lord. May we eat and drink only healthy food and beverages. Let the whole mind be filled with the light of Love.
Thus we take the light to both our arms and upto the fingers. Then we take the light to both the legs, upto the toes, and give them the sacred light. What we do with our hands, where our feet take us, will always be for good. Now bring back the flame to its place in the centre of the spiritual heart.
Our entire body is filled with divine light. Feel the warmth of love within you. Now we can share this love with others. Imagine that this light radiating from you increases to cover your whole body and beyond. Feel yourself enveloped in the light of love. First, the light was in me. Now I am the light.
Let the light expand to cover your near and dear ones – mother, father, brother, sister etc. See them surrounded in your love. Now let the light expand further to your friends, relative and pets. Let your love reach even those with whom you quarrel, so that they become your friends.
Now send the light all around to envelope the whole world. Feel that the warmth of love is all around; only love, peace, happiness. Feels that: “You and the light are one.”
Slowly withdraw the light and bring it back within yourself. Keep it there for a while. Enjoy the calmness, the feeling of joy. Now it is the time to return. Touch both palms together (like in Namaste posture), rub them slowly against each other; and bring them to rub gently against your closed eyes. Open your eyes slowly.
If children have enjoyed this session, they will experience a lot of gain in energy, much peace and tranquility. They would find this an inspiring activity. Ask them to do silent Sitting before writing an exam paper; before going to bed when they pray.
The Sohum Mantra
The practice of Sohum Mantra before a Silent Sitting session will greatly enhance peace, cheerfulness and tranquility. Our breath goes in with the sound Soh and comes out with Hum; We naturally repeat once the Sohum Mantra each time we breathe in and out. The meaning of Sohum is I AM THAT;
thus , we contemplate our oneness with the Supreme Principle while practicing the Sohum Mantra.Universal Consciousness becomes the Prana, the vital force, within us and then through the Mantra, it powers the breathing process within the human body.
Silent Sitting is the most effective form of communication because we are communicating with our inner self. Before sleep we could reflect upon our conduct during the day and seek scope for improvement. And while we sleep, the subconscious is continually working to consolidate the gains, transforming subtle layers of our personality to higher layers of consciousness.