Friday, July 7, 2017

Religious Connection between Indian Music and Indian Mind

Music has the power to cause emotions to stir up within us. These feelings are gripping – often irresistible - and seem to emerge from nowhere. These feelings color our moods, affect our perception and generate a behavioral pattern. A musician is an artist. Similar to fine art, a musician also recasts, rearranges and perceives with his mind’s eye and creates something that echoes with his heart content, and resonates with many others. So, what’s the relation between music and religions? Or is there any? In India religion is a life blood of almost every section of society; whether you agree or disagree, religion plays a significant part in the life of Indians.

Indian Classical Musical History & Religious Connection

Indian history from a technical point of view is quite vague because it is difficult look back beyond a certain period because Indian mythology gets woven into reality. Indian music (classical Hindustani and Carnatic music) is believed to have originated from the Vedas. If you study music, you will find the content of Indian classical music, both Carnatic and Hindustani have remained uniform in the last 15 centuries. 

In the 7th century, the Thevarams, one of the earliest forms of Carnatic music formed a part of temple music. The form is still a part of music, consisting of religious lyrics. In the ancient times, temples were the patrons of music along with king’s court. Temples were the centerpieces of cultural activity. Indian culture is deeply rooted in religion, and music was at that time part of worship. In ancient religion and philosophical texts, Vedas and Upanishads, music is an integral part of worship.

Modern Classical Music & Religious Significance

Over the times, Indian Classical music evolved from sacred to more mainstream, but the content remains intact. If we consider Western classical music, it was also originated in churches, but within a short period of time, it has transformed completely. Indian music keeps the integrity though got the natural evolution, religious content carries forward till date.

Bhakti movement in 12th, 13th and 14th centuries really shifted the musical style to more mainstream and popularized with more simple style, and expressions. Bhajans encouraged congregational singing in the temples, and thus, was an effective community building exercise.

The growth and development of Indian classical music through centuries is a testimony to the greatness of Indian mind. The way the music has changed, evolved and at the same time retained its core, is an incredible feature.

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