Healing with music

Healing with music

by Sanjay B

Music is the finest of the fine art and so is the poetry. Both are interwoven and form significant segment of India’s cultural opulence. The poem that is sung can soothe, change and redirect energy at the same time almost imperceptibly. Music is regarded as a bridge between the world of matter and the world of spirit. Recognising this mystic connection saints in all religions attuned themselves to God by signing and chanting the glory of the divine. There are Christian carols and psalms, Buddhist and Jewish chants and chantings of Quran. In India, religious traditions of music and poetry have played a devotional role casting a magical spell on the listener with a curative effect. Kabir’s Bhramar Geet, Surdas, Sur Sagar, Tulsidas, Vmaya Patrika / Ramcharitmanas, Jayadev’s Geet Govind, Narayan Teerth’s Krishna Leela Taringini, Meera’s Padmavali, Guru Nanak’s Adi Granth and Guru Arjun Dev’s Gurmat Sangeet are some of the masterpieces, due to their inherent strength to enlighten and comfort, find places m the hearts of millions of the people worldwide. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was one of the exponents of his joyous celebration of God’s love in ecstatic song. All their recitations, ‘Bhajans and keertans’ had simple and fluent expressions having tremendous therapeutic effect both on the singer and the listner.The great composers of Indian classical music have used music as therapy down the years. Legend has it Ustad Bilas Khan, son of great music maestro Tansen, kept his father alive while the latter was on the death bed for many days through his Bilaskhani Todi. Thyagaraja, the 18th century great musician, brought a dead person back to life with his Billashari Raag. The compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyam Sastry are the masterpieces of exquisite melody, musical workmanship and rhythmic beauty having lot of therapeutic appeal. Recent researches have shown the great strength music possesses. Indian Agro scientists have long proved the impact of music on the productivity of banana, rice, sugarcane and other crops.

The psychiatrists, neroscientists and musicians now use music to offer treatment for a wide variety of human afflictions. Controlled medical trials in many parts of the globe including the one at SSG medical hospital, Vdodara reveal that some of the classical ragas positively influenced the body, mind and spirits of the sufferers from Asthma, and other stress-related disorders like insomnia, anxiety neurosis, depression and hypertension. Children down with mental and physical handicaps, learning disabilities, sensory impairment, behavioural hiccups and emotional problems are musically treated in the West and the success rate is quite encouraging.

Music therapy is a science which deals with the use of prescribed doses of music and musical interventions in order to restore, maintain and improve emotional, physical, physiological and spiritual health. Listening to music evokes memories, stimulates thoughts and relaxes mind. It activates brain cells that release endorphins which produce a feeling of happiness and peace. National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore use music along with minor doses of drugs in the treatment of emotional disorders. According to a pilot study led by Dr. OJ. Sehler, University of Rockster, music therapy has been found quite effective on patients who underwent bone marrow transplants. It not only reduced pain and nausea but also quickened the pace at which their new marrow starts producing blood cells. Different ragas of Indian classical music are played for specific patients. For example Ahir Bhairav is played in the morning, while Bhimpalasi in the afternoon, Puria in the early evening and Darbari Kannada at night. In fact music therapy is much more than playing records as it works towards specific therapeutic goals and objectives. Goal areas include communicative, academic motor, emotional and social skills.

Raaga Research Centre (RRC) at Chennai and Music college at Vadodara are some of the prestigious institutions engaged in education and higher research. The RRC has a team of physicians, neuro scientists, psychiatrists & musicians putting their combined effort to find out the efficacy of various ragas in music therapy.

Gujarat has a princely tradition in Hindustani classical music where both communities – Hindu & Muslims have contributed immensely. Moula Bux gave Hindustani Classical music its first notational system. It was where Aftaab Moussiki, Faiyyaz Khan and Nissar Hussain kept the princely state’s cultural flag flying.

Sound heals and music heals better. But not every kind of sound or music heals. British Scientists have in a controlled experimentation discovered that extreme brass sound known as infrasound produces a range of bizarre effects in people such as anxiety, extreme sorrow & chills. Similarly harsh drum beating as practised in many parts of the globe can produce similar sensations not at all beneficial for human system. India is at its nascent stage as far as music therapy is concerned, although the researches are still on. India realises the power of the discipline produced by music and for this reason music therapy is scientifically practised in the West. It is used for a wide variety of individuals irrespective of age, disability or musical background. In the West, music therapy is used in treating cases of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other ageing disorders including sensory impairment. India is catching up fast in this field due to its rich cultural heritage of classical music.

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