Music Is Divinity

"Music is divinity," the Norwegian adage articulates the sublime nature of music. Originated from the Arabic word 'mausiqi', which originally means 'soft, rhythmic ripples from heaven', music has the power to transport the listeners to the seventh heaven and on cloud nine. Listening to music is a humanising process. It declutters the mind. The great psychoanalyst of the twentieth century, Carl Gustav Jung always interacted with his patients with Bach and Mozart playing in the background.

Jung's official biographer Matts Cohen described an incident in his biography of Jung, 'A Clinical Perspective'. Once Jung sought special permission to meet a condemned prisoner, Wilkies Banber, in Vienna (Austria), when capital punishment wasn't abolished. He asked the young man whether he liked music? "Yes, I love it to the hilt," the condemned prisoner said. Jung immediately wrote to the government that, " a person who loved music couldn't be put before the firing squad. His innatedivinity is still alive." The man's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Only hardcore criminals and murderers have been found to have a natural aversion to music. Even animals and plants gravitate towards music. Plants grow faster when music is played. This has been successfully proven by Punjab University's agriculture research unit. Agriculturist Dr Shridhar Dabre of Nagpur university concluded in 1973 that when light vocal music was played at the orchards of oranges in Nagpur, they became juicier as well as tastier! Cows produce more milk when music is played in the background.  

But what makes music so ethereal and soothing to the senses. Music is said to have the mythical serenity of the very first dawn of human civilization(sukoot-e-subh-e-azal). Its notes are voices of god. The erudite scholar of Sanskrit and father of Indian classical music, Abhinavgupt wrote in his treatise on music 'Saptarangini' that, "Music is the most distilled form of the noise of universe." It's the antithesis to the cacophony, that prevails and pervades the cosmos. That's why all divine songs, hymns and hosannas are conceived in a manner that they can be easily put to music. The seven types of reciting 'Holy Qura'an', called Qeerat in Arabic, is completely based on the musical rendition of Quranic verses. 'Allah doesn't approve of unmusical prayers," states one of Muhammad's teachings, mentioned in Hadith. Tukaram, the Maharashtrian saint-poet's 'abhangas', the Baul folk songs of rural Bengal, the trance like music of the Sufi mystics and the euphonic azaan(call for prayer) are instances of Music's uncanny power to connect you to your higher self and a universal spirit.

 The Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi told his dancing darvesh (ecstatic disciples) that music was devotion and devotion was music (mausiqi taz bandagi, bandagi taz mausiqi). Shikarpur, in Pakistan's Sindh province, has a tomb of Baba Darvesh. It's said that, if you ask for anything there, your wish is granted, provided, you pray musically! He's also known as the Mutrib(singer) baba. What can't be said, should be sung. When music is played, it creates a harmony; a cosmic harmony. Our universe hinges on harmonious motion. Music keeps this harmony alive, active and forever awake.

Music has a positively stubborn quality to survive the onslaught of time to echo in our consciousness forever. Didn't John Keats so beautifully put it , "Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in our memory." The nature of music is such that it has a therapeutic effect on the collective consciousness. The operas in Europe were also called 'harmony clinics' as those, who attended them, returned with no discordant notes in their lives. 'Music therapy' is therefore the best remedy to get rid of melancholy. Even plangent and pensive music has the capacity to please the senses and elevate the moods. Music has a cathartic effect.

It has a transforming quality. The legendary composer Chopin's sublime symphonies are still used to tranquilize the violent streaks among lions and other ferocious animals at New York Zoo. Imagine, even a lion can be tamed and a rogue elephant can be pacified by music!!

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled in the first century AD, had a retinue of musicians in his court, whom he called 'angels on earth', like Gandharvas in Indian classical context. Music is the apotheosis of mental faculty and the most benign face of mankind. Alas, the same ethereal music has become the most cruel face of mankind, thanks to its modern practitioners and a new crop of macabre singers who labour under the misconception that cacophony is a cadence and noise is a nuance. They don't understand that noise is a nuisance. This is unalloyed sacrilege and a sheer blasphemy!