Highly interesting and most popular among the forms of Nadopasana, is Sangeeta (Music). It is in Sangeeta or Sankirtana that Sreya and Preya, otherwise antagonistic to each other, meet. Sreya is that which leads to the Eternal Good of man, viz-, Self-realisation. Preya is that which is immediately pleasant. It is generally recognised that what is Preya is nor Sreya and vice versa. But here in Sangeeta or Sankirtana, Sreya and Preya are found together. Sangeeta pleases the ear, is a rich treat to the senses and the mind— in fact, so much so that the senses and the mind are tamed and controlled by it ; and Sangeeta ennobles the soul and reveals the Self within. Music is, therefore, regarded as the best form of Nadopasana.
That prince among musicians, the emperor among composers, the crest-jewel among saints, the Bhakta-Siromani who adored the Lord with sweet, soul-stirring and perfect music—Sri Tyagaraja whose inspiring songs in praise of Lord Rama and on the fundamental truths of spiritual life, are sung throughout India by every lover of music for inspiration and entertainment, has repeatedly pointed out the divine glory of music. He has again and again stressed the fact that music is not food for the senses alone, but is food for the soul.
Tyagaraja says in the Kriti " Nadopasana " : " It is through Nadopasana that the Trimurties, the sage-authors of the great scriptures, the Maharishis who have propounded Dharma, the seers who are masters of the arts and sciences, and those who are devoted to music with its three integral parts of Bhava, Raga and Tala—all these are experts in Nadopasana." It is a great truth worth remembering that all our great scriptures—-the Vedas, Smritis, Puranas, etc., are all set to music and are metrical compositions. There is rhythm, metre and melody in them. Sama Veda,
-TYAGARAJA ON NADOPASANA
difficult practices like Yaga, Yoga, etc., can bestow on you, you will easily get through Nadopasana. They are Jivan-muktas who have realised that Music which is nothing but Omkara born ofthe Self and which has Nada for its body— this Music adorned by the Sapta-Swaras is itself the Form of Sadasiva." Therefore it is that the Sadhaka is exhorted to realise the Siva-Tattva which is the Substratum for music.
One cannot but be deeply moved at the wonderful tribute that Tyagaraja pays Music, the Nadopasana, in his song, " Intakannaanandamemi " in which he says : " Singing thy glorious Names in melodious tunes and dancing in joy with the sole aim of having thy Darsan—will this not do ? Is this not the state for which even sages aspire ? " For, Tyagaraja declares, Nadopasana itself bestows Advaitic realisation on the Sadhaka. He says in the same song : " In thee I perceive the world and I merge myself in thee, with my intellect clear and illumined."
May you all realise the Self through Nadopasana.
especially, is unrivalled in its music. That is why Sri Tyagaraja regarclsall the Maharishis and seers as Nadopasakas.
Tyagaraja says : " The knowledge of the science of music is capable of bestowing on you the State of Sarupya" (in his Kriti : Sangeeta Sastra Jnanamu). Why ? Because " All sounds have emanated from Om." (In his Kriti " Nadasudha ") He continues : " This nectar (Sangeeta) which is the essence of Pranava—the Om-kara which is itself the essence of all Vedas, Agamas, Sastras and Puranas— can remove all your miseries and bestow eternal bliss upon you." He crowns this declaration with the marvellous revelation : " It is this Sangeeta that has taken form in this world as Rama." That is why he said in another Kriti that he who adores the Lord through Sangeeta will attain Sarupya Mukti. For, Sangeeta is identical with God ; and in accordance with the truth that you become what you intently meditate upon, the Nadopasaka becomes Nada-swarupa or God.
Sangeeta is not mere nerve-titillation. It is a Yoga. Emphasising this truth, Sri Tyagaraja says in his " Sri-papriya " : " Music which is composed ofthe seven Swaras is a treasure for the great Tapasvins who have cooled the Taapa Traya (Adhyatmik, Adhidaivik and Adhiboutik Taapaas)."
In fact, Tyagaraja would go so far as to declare that Moksha is impossible for one who has no music in him ! He says in " Mokshamugalada " : "Is there Moksha for those who have no knowledge of music which is based on Bhakti, who do not realise the truth that the Sapta-Swaras have emanated from the Pranava which is born of the union of Prana and Agni, and who have a liking for the mere melody of the Veena, but have not understood the Siva-Tattva ? " Thus, whilst music is'exalted to the status of a potent Sadhana for Moksha, Tyagaraja does not fail always to point out that the mere utterance of sounds will not bestow Moksha upon the songster and that the realisation of the Source and Goal of Music ought to be sought after.
If one realises this Truth, he attains Jivanmukti. Tyagaraja says in his " Ragasudharasa " : " Drink the nectar of Ragam and get enlightened. Whatever Siddhi, the most
Geeta, Vadya and Nritya—these three make up Sangeeta which is offered in the service of the Lord.
Music captivates the mind. Music elevates the mind to sublime heights of divine splendour. Music causes Laya or dissolution of the mind in Brahman or the Absolute.
Harmonium, Veena, Sitar, Saranghi, Dilroba, Violin, Villu, Yal, Swaramandal, Harp, etc., are the various kinds of musical instruments which express the various tunes that help the Laya process.
Music is an aid in the treatment of diseases. Music has an extra-ordinary power over disease. Harmonious rhythm caused by sweet music has attractive property. It draws out disease. The disease comes out to encounter the music wave. The two blend together and vanish in space.
Music soothes the brain and the nerves. It lulls the whole system. It stimulates, energises, invigorates, galvanises and vitalises the w7hole system. It affects the emotions and arouses the impulses to action and thereby influences all the vital functions. It consists of a series of harmonious vibrations, electrical in their nature and make up.
Music relaxes nervous tension and makes those parts oi ihe hotly affected by tension to resume their normal functions.
Music is highly beneficial in the treatment of nervous disorders, sleeplessness, etc.
Music has tremendous power to bring comfort and solace when one is in a state of despondency or pain.
Music is Sabda Brahman.
Mark the power of gentle, sweet sounds,
Sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa.
Music has charms to soothe a ferocious tiger.
It melts rocks and bends the banyan tree.
It enraptures, lulls and energises.
It elevates, inspires, strengthens and invigorates.
Music is Nada Brahman. Sama Veda is full of high class music. Ravana chanted Sama Veda and propitiated Lord Siva.
Bhava, Raga and Tala—these three constitute the whole conception of Nacla Laya which leads to Nada Brah»-man.
,,'NCE OF THAAN
'I' he Moghul Empire under Akbar, the Great. Thaan s' " ,s Akbar's Court musician and a great favourite of lb'- I ,peror. He developed this intricate science to the higln peak of perfection. The countless thaans that Tha., Sen created are claimed by his followers to number "Iй" [Jnnchas Koti Thaan," viz., forty-nine crores. What cvci , ke degree of validity of this claim, yet, it is undeniable thai gifted master who had attained the highest Siddhi in S;i ,„eeta has left behind innumerable thaans to posterity wiiii, ц down by him in voluminous manuscripts, some of whii i are said to be in the close custody of the line of musicians desci lc[ent from him. They style themselves as belonging to th, " Thaan Sen Gharana." A great living exponent of this . ;ence of Thaan is Swami Nada Brahmananda.
1 sv-a-mi Nada Brahmanandaji has attained a rare mastery over jhJs most difficult science by an extremely painstaking :Uiviz-, for a period of three years under the venerable Alladiya Khan of Kolhapur State, and under the aged Tata Bua of Banaras for another period of seven years. These were years of unremitting toil, training! personal service and laborious practice. Nada Brahmanandaji practised clay and night. He could hardly get enough sleep. He kept practising far into the small hours ofthe morning. He has now attained such a degree of mastery in this line that he shines as a unique phenomenon am<,llo. exponents of to-day. He manifests an amazing control over the vocal system. Manipulating his articulation jn most intricate manners to perfect and split second tilth,,gs, he is able to produce thaan of astonishing types thai ^ald be hardly thought capable of being produced.
ГЬе secret of Nada Brahmanandaji's genius may be said to lie in his control over the rate of vibration and its lo(.mio,i in any part ofthe body at will. By this technique it i claimed that various diseases affecting different parts of the t)0dy can be cured as well as prevented through this inii - nal vibration. The impulse of vocal vibration is diverted :)|'ц . any limb or the trunk to any part of the anatomy even.
THE SCIENCE OF THAAN
Swami Nada Brahmanandaji's Rare Mastery (By Sri Swami Chidananda)
The term Thaan implies, to put it simply, a musical flourish executed vocally by a songster, rendered either in Sahitya form or through pure Alapana. It is usually made up of a chain of successive note patterns that are either made to culminate in a sudden climax, or made to synchronise to a marvel of most accurate timing or gracefully worked round into a circle, as it were, to a logical conclusion that could be anticipated to a nicety by the experienced hearer with a trained ear and musical maturity. Two points may be noted here, viz-, that the thaan is a medium employed solely by the vocalist, and secondly, in the process of weaving out the notational pattern, the singer does not pronounce the Swara or musical note, but just intones it. Each thaan forms a unit by itself or rather, a unitary series of notes linked together to form a complete pattern. It is mostly executed with rapidity and is perfectly and accurately timed when in the course of a song (Geet) with its definite taal. It may be observed that thaan and its variants, ulta-pulta, are always executed only in the Chaupat or the higher ' kaalaas ' or tempo, and not in the first two lower tempos, or the Chauka and Madhyama kaalaas, as they are known in the Dakshinadhi or Southern schools. The mode employed for ' Visthara '* in these two kaalaas usually take the form of the Aalaap and the Gamak and Khatak. The first, viz., the Aalaap is in the Vilambit or Chauka kaalaa. The second and third, viz., Gamak and Khatak arc in the Duppat, approximating to the Madhyama, also known as the second kaalaa.
The Science of thaan had its greatest exponent in Thaan Sen, the Master songster, who flourished in the hey-
* Musical elaboration.
THE SCIENCE OF THAAN
as a current of electricity is directed along the circuit to any desired place or object. The peculiar feature here is that the vocal vibration thus directed is of the same rate of the corresponding thaan that is being produced by the singer at a particular moment. Swami Nada Brahmanandaji is himself a living testimony to this claim and he has not known a single day of illness.
The following are some of the Thaans from the repertoire of Sri Swami Nada Brahmanandaji :
Ratt Thaan : It is produced in the centre of the throat region by a rapid vibration of the vocal chord, which are brought together in a short clapping movement within the throat. The sound thus produced is in the nature of a short, hacking note, giving a staccato effect. It clears out all phlegm. The practitioner becomes free from ' kapha ' roga or diseases arising from the disbalance ofthe phlegmatic humour specially in its manifestation in the region of the chest and above it.
Cala-ka-thaan : This is produced in the central region of the throat in the gullet portion in front of the neck and involves the manipulation of the Adam's Apple in a most extraordinary manner, setting it into an oscillatory motion of the utmost rapidity. Notes thus oscillated produce the strange effect of a chord of music echoing and re-echoing within the multiple arches ofthe ceiling of a Gothic Cathedral. Gala-ka-thaan is a reliable weapon in the hands of the vocalist. It is a great desideratum of the voice culturist. From simple soar throat to congestive and inflammatory conditions ofthe larynx give wa\ before the regular and systematic practice of this thaan. Unlike the ' ran thaan,' there is comparatively lesser sacrifice of melody in the employment of this thaan.
AandolanThaan : The location now is the actual mouth cavity. Aandolan is the vibrant notation produced with the help ofthe uvula or the small tongue, which is set into motion at an incredible rate. Hence, the significant name Aandolan, which means ' swinging suspended ' as in fact the uvula is. This thaan cures all varieties of dry cough, arising out of local irritation of throat and palate and not caused by
phlegm. The exercise ofthe Aandolan thaan gives rise to a novel and not unpleasant sound of somewhat restricted volume.
Ot Thaan : Thaan produced solely by manipulation of the lips or Ot. The volume of sound is still further restricted in the employment of this thaan. It has a stimulating effect upon the entire frontal dental region of the incisors and bicuspids. Dental roots are toned up. Ensures mouth health in the practitioner.
Xasika Thaan : In this thaan the vibration is located within the nasal passage just beneath the bridge. It provides a powerful shake-up to that region and acts as a vigorous cleanser and toner. It combats colds, coryza and rhinitis. It banishes adenoids. It is something in the nature of a ' neti-kriya,' without the use of thread or water ; or in other words a ' Shabdha-neti,' if one may employ such a term.
Bada Jeeb-ka-thaan : As the name denotes this thaan is produced with the help ofthe tongue itself being brought into vibratory motion. It is claimed that stuttering and stammering can be overcome through a regular practice of this thaan.
Danta Thaan : In executing this thaan, the dental thaan, the rapid side-to-side movement of the lower row of teeth is employed to set the notes into vibration. The notes are articulated plain from the throat. They issue as plain notes without any sort of ; gamak' or tremelo until they reach the teeth and here, in their passage between the latter, the vibration is imparted by the singer. This thaan also has the effect of strengthening the teeth.
Bina Jeeb-ka-thaan:Here the tongue is held tightly clenched between the teeth, with the tip projecting outside the lips. Thus, all the movement of the tongue is completely arrested. In this position of fixity, the singer weaves out his thaan with rapidity of execution and rate of vibration. The movement involves the root of the tongue.
Chhati-ka-thaan: Here the voice is brought out powerfully right from the lungs with vigorous impulse imparted from the region 'of the chest. This is not uncommon among Gawais. One who practises Chhati-ka-thaan need have no fear of heart troubles. 10
THE SCIENCE OF THAAN
Pet-ka-thaan : This is a powerful exercise by which the practitioner thoroughly shakes up the entire gastro-intestinal system. This thaan depends for its vibration upon the forceful movement of the diaphragm as well as the entire stomach wall. The rectus abdomini muscles are brought into vigorous play during this thaan. No person however strong can succeed in arresting the movement of the singer's stomach despite whatever pressure he may exert upon it. All the abdominal viscera are invigorated and toned up by the Pet-ka-thaan.
Threefold practice of Тага, Madhyama and Xabhi. Now we have a process to perfect which is the ardent ambition of almost all vocal masters. It is a production of sound in three pitches. In the Тага Swara, Swami Nada Brahma-nanda locates the voice vibrations in a most inexplicable manner upon the top of his head. He does this in a mysterious manner and when this Тага thaan is in progress, a person placing his hand on the top ofthe singer's head will be startled to find the skull beneath his hand communicating the thrilling vibration corresponding to the thaan in progress at the particular moment.
For the Madhya, the vibration is located in the central point at the base of the throat between the two collar bones about the region where they join the sternum. Whatever thaan the singer produces with his voice held in this state of Madhya is felt only at this point.
From here the singer suddenly drops down, as it were, and seems to reach into the very root point of articulate sound. The voice, is now seen to issue from deep down out ofthe region ofthe Nabhi or the navel. Holding on to this Nabhi Swara, we see him execute again with the same mastery-all the intricacy of thaan, ulta-pulta, both in ' bol' as well as in the ' khat ' form. .
The above practice of thaan in this threefold Тага, Madhya and Nabhi, Nada is done with a degree of facility, with the singer switching abruptly from one pitch to another with such perfect ease and control, that is at once admirable and astounding. This difficult Triple Sadhana has mysterious effects and benefits the entire system of the practitioner.
The breath vibrations help to awaken various hidden forces in the body, give abundant resistance power against diseases and grant a peculiar immunity to him.
Kundalini Thaan : This thaan is a mysterious and novel variety where the sound vibrations are taken even deeper down than the centre of its issue, i.e., the Nabhi. After seven years of Abhyasa proved futile to achieve this thaan, the Master had all but given it up, but his entry into the spiritual life under the Divine Maha Purusha, Swami Siva-nandaji Maharaj, fired him with fresh zeal to take up the practice. And here some mysterious power helped him along and within a few months' Abhyasa day and night, Swami Nada Brahmananda attained Siddhi in the Kundalini Thaan. This was soon after he had taken the holy order of Sannyas from his Gurudeva, Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.
The Kundalini Thaan brings into play certain inner pranic currents or Nadis generally not active in the majority of beings. During this thaan, the vibrations issue solely from the Moolaadhaara centre, at the base of the spinal column. The entire system is lulled into a state of complete quiescence. It almost seems as though the entire vocal system has taken a holiday and that no part of it above the Nabhi is involved in the production of this sound. It seems to be issuing from nowhere that we know of. A soft glow of peace and serenity suffuces the face of the Swamiji when he is engaged in producing the Kundalini Thaan.
To render the Kundalini Thaan takes some time of preliminary singing. It cannot be done off-hand at a moment's notice. It is only when the singer has his voice warmed up and the Nada gets quickened throughout the system that he attempts the Kundalini Thaan. It has got a mysterious soothing effect even upon the hearer whose mind gets slowly captivated and held by this low and humming Nada. At this time, a sense of ecstasy seems to steal over Swami Nada Brahmanandaji who, when questioned, stated that even a short practice of this Kundalini Thaan has the peculiar effect upon him of a curious, indescribable, integral satisfaction of his entire being. " I feel " said he, " as would feel a hungry man who has just feasted to his fill."
THE SCIENCE OF THAAN
The effect of Kundalini Thaan is more psychic than physical. It achieves the cleansing of all the subtle, inner pranic currents or in other words ' Sarva Nadi Suddhi.'
A peculiar feat : A peculiar exercise painstakingly perfected through much arduous practice demonstrates' to us Swami Nada Brahmanandaji's amazing control over Nada-Sakti. It is an altogether unique feat where he sends clown the vibrations of vocal Nada into remote parts of the body at will. Thus when he directs the rapid vibratory impulse of a thaan he is executing, along the arm, it is found that the impulse travels from the centre of the sound location right along the limb to its extremity where it sets the tendons into rapid motion in perfect rhythm with the thaan in question. At such a time the tendons at the back of his clenched fist and over the knuckles can be distinctly seen in rhythmic motion. Even as many as four pairs of muscular hands of strong young men grasping Nada Brahmanandaji's hand tightly from shoulder upto his wrist have failed to nullify the force of this pranic impulse thus sent under the impelling power of a rapid thaan. This phenomenon has baffled even clever medical men who, with the intention of close observation, have themselves personallv joined in grasping Nada Brahmanandaji's arm during this thaan demonstration.
Before concluding, however, one observation has to be made in respect of these thaans mentioned above. Most of these thaans comprise purely a Sadhana Vidya. They are usually not made in the course of public musical performances. Rather, they are primarily practised by the votary of Sangeeta Sastra as an important part of the training'. They are aimed at the achievement of breath control and perfection in voice culture. Their Abhyasa is in the nature of personal practice involving strenuous and intricate exercise. It is like the gymnasium Work-out of a master pugilist or acrobat who aims ultimately at demonstrating the total resultant perfection of control, balance and action in his or her special act and feature. Thus, it will be seen that they are purelv a subjective matter to the musician and their practice an integral part of his inner development upon the hard uphill path towards perfection. It will, therefore, be a mistake
to seek for melody in most of these thaans. Nevertheless, some of them do have definite musical value simultaneous with their role in the realm of breath control and voice cultivation.
Now, so far we have considered the purely technical and the therapeutical aspects of the Thaan. We shall here try to see the musical aspect of the same. In what relation the practice of thaan stands to the culture of real music and the role it plays in imparting to the artist the gift of the voice beautiful with its thrilling richness of tone and timbre will be now seen. We may say that on the musical side the thaan comprises a matchless foundation for the achievement of sweetness of tone, excellence in melody and superb music.
Three things combine to bestow the stamp of true greatness on a musician ; his success is proportionate to the degree to which he masters these three factors. These three are firstly, the pitch with its threefold gradations of the Тага Stayi (octave), Madhya Stayi and the Mandara Stayi. Secondly, the volume of voice, mainly through the modulations of which the artist is able to express the different subtle shades of Bhav. Thirdly, the tempo. It is here that the thaan Sadhana gives wonderful help to the musician and may be said to be an indispensable requisite to one who is really serious and earnest about progressing towards perfection in voice cultivation and control. As a Sadhana it is unequalled in its ability to enable the singer to achieve mastery over the above-mentioned three factors of pitch, volume and tempo. It is the most effective means by which the singer develops volume of his voice and acquires control over Prana or breath. It is thus found to be an ideal basis upon which to build up the superstructure of perfect and enrapturing music, such as will thrill and move the listeners with its enthralling melody, richness, admirable mastery of technique as well as superb musical value.
The test of a true master may be said to be his ability to sing well in all the three pitches, the Тага Stayi, the Madhya Stayi and Mandara Stayi as well. This he must be able to do with utmost ease, grace and perfection. He must be able to
switch on from one pitch to the other with rapidity as well as unerring accuracy. There should be no blemish in his quick passage from one pitch to the other and also in his rendering ofthe Sahitya in each particular pitch held at the time. The difficult practice of thaan Sadhana is of inestimable help to the musician in acquiring this rare finish. The thaan, when thus rightly understood and intelligently and earnestly practised, is the greatest friend and helper to the wise singer in his attempt to scale the high peaks of perfection in music.
Through Tapas, mortification, due to the destruction of impurities, arise psychic powers in the body and senses.
By Tapas, the mind, speech and Indriyas are purified. Fasts and all religious observances that are laid down in Dharma Sastras and the rules of Yama and Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, etc., come under Tapas. In Gita Chapter XVII, the three Slokas from 14 to 16 describe three kinds of Tapas, viz-, Tapas of body, speech and mind. Psychic powers are the eight Siddhis, Anima, Mahima, etc. All these Siddhis can be acquired by the steady practice of Tapas. Manu says : " He whose speech and mind are pure and ever carefully guarded, obtains all the fruits that are obtained by means of Vedant." By the performance of Tapas, all Kleshas (afflictions) and impurities can be destroyed.