What Is Nada Yoga?
In today's world, there are many gross and subtle forces and vibrations which disrupt the natural flow, rhythm and harmony of our bodies and energy fields. NADA YOGA is the art and science of utilizing sound and music to bring aboout a state of consciousness which assists in purifying the body and its energy fields, restoring their natural vibrations.
Nada Yoga is a science of sound- a vibrational chemistry
using specific formulas of musically and mathematically exact
intervals and tonal sequences to balance and influence the
mind, body and emotions.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSIC
My guru Roop Verma gives this explanation of why some music has an effect on us that is that is different from other music. The following comes from Swami Janakananda of Sweden:
It had puzzled me that certain celebrated musicians of India today, at least to me, did not seem to communicate any feeling of meditation. I seem to experience a difference between those who "put on a show" or "perform" their music - and such people as the flute player Pannalal Ghosh or the singer Kumar Gandharva, who radiate such a degree of devotion in their music that it places the listener in a deeper state. Roop gave me the answer in an introduction to the music that he was going to play for us:
"Until about a thousand years ago there were no such thing as `concerts' in the Indian tradition. There was no `performance' of music or dance or singing. Music was attached or confined to the temples for sacred ceremonies and rituals. They were not entertainment forms of music, but what I call very potent sound formulas. They are like different elements; you put them together and you get a certain effect. So these sound formulas were used in ancient times to bring tranquility and peace to agitated minds and tired bodies, as well as to change and transform the listener. On the one hand it had a therapeutic effect; to heal disease, to heal sickness. On the other hand its aim was to focus the attention of people who came to the temple - towards onepointedness. When we are centred and onepointed our lives take on a different meaning. When, on the other hand, our minds are scattered, the way we experience things is also influenced. So in order to achieve that focus, music was instrumental.
From the beginning of the eleventh century we see a turn in the history of India. Many foreign invaders came and established their empires there. The Persians, the Moguls, and so on. They liked the music and art so much that they invited the musicians to their courts, to appreciate and honour them. Now here at the beginning of the 11th century something very significant happened. The musicians and the music, which up to now was only played at the temple, was made available to everyone from the king to the common people. People who did not belong to the temples could now enjoy the music.
However, this had one disadvantage. Previously the artist or the musician did not have to prove anything. In the temple you play as part of a ceremony. There is a deity, there is a God sitting there and you don't have to prove anything, because supposedly God knows everything - all the music, and all the variations, all the rhythms. But the king doesn't know, so you have to prove it to the king. So the ego comes along. Now egos began to build up as the art was developing. They became very intellectual. A lot of music started to come from the left brain, and as a result the music took another shape. Because as the inner feelings change so does the art. Expression changes.
From that point onwards there are two branches in music. One became the entertainment branch or what I call deshi. It is mentioned in the scriptures. The other is called margi (marga means a path) when we use the music as a path to evolve ourselves. I had the honour of studying in both the schools..."
Sound therapy, also known as music therapy or sound healing, is an automatic process of deep inner healing set in motion through the right combinations of sounds that resonate within and fill the space around us. Since we are a product of our immediate environment, Nada Yoga music aims to treat the environment first, with music based on the chemistry of sound from the ancient sacred music of India.
The ancient musicologists and mystics of India, who developed sound therapy, observed that Sound has an invincible power. Nothing is an exception to its laws of natural harmony. Sound therapy is an arrangement of sounds, in a specific order and design, to invoke different vibrational states that influence our very DNA.
Much scientific study has been done relating how our feelings affect our bodies and minds. When sounds are arranged according to the principles of the ancient music of India, which are based on natural scales and intonations, they produce pure intervals and tones not found in western music. When these natural tones are expressed in the proper formula by a musician trained in Nada Yoga, a healing vibration is set up that goes beyond the sound vibrations in the air, and resonates within us at the cellular and molecular level. This gives the listener the experience of sound healing.
The music therapy of India is a ‘science of awareness’ and a vehicle to still the mind - the science of using sound vibrations to bring the moving pendulum of the mind to a stop.
Musical sounds, when combined in a specific manner, have a dynamic and powerful effect in balancing the energies of the body. Therefore, the arrangement of tones for different times of day, night and seasons, and how they relate with the changing states of body chemistry, was at the very center of study for ancient Indian masters of ‘sound’ and ‘music’.
The human body is like a musical instrument, expressing numerous frequencies and rhythms in a constantly changing spectrum of life. It responds and resonates in consonance with music, sounds, speech and thought from the environment, and undergoes changes of heart beat, breathing, blood chemistry and circulation of energy in various organs of the body.
Our physical, mental, and emotional systems are relentlessly assaulted by the cacophony of daily life. The physical body responds by retaining tension, which limits our mobility and makes us tired. The mental and emotional systems are thrown out of balance, adding stress and making us prone to anger and depression and weakening the immune system.
When harmful or negative sounds or vibrations are received and processed by the Chakras (bio-electro-magnetic energy centers of the body) and cells, the balance or equilibrium of these systems is disturbed. This abnormality produces stress on various organs and cells and ultimately over the entire body. In this system of Sound Therapy, specific sounds are used that deal directly with the root causes of imbalance by: --Purifying and re-organizing the energy patterns that surround the individual in the form of an ever-expanding and contracting magnetic field (AURA). --Penetrating the human body through the skin, the chief sensory organ, and balancing the frequencies of Chakras and cells, thereby regulating the flow of energy throughout the entire body. Music therapy deals with problems related to the mind and its complexes; to emotional imbalances; and finally to physical problems.
The roots of Raga Music and Sound Therapy
The immense potential of the power of Shabda (cosmic flow of sound) hidden in music was well recognised by the ancient Indian sages and they had devised several musical patterns emanating from the "Omkara" for chanting of the Vedic hymns and for distinct spiritual effects. The Shastric schools of music discovered musical octave (sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa) indwelling in the subtle sounds of Nature and invented the basic classical ragas for activating specific streams of natural powers and effects; a wide variety of musical compositions were generated consequently. Ever since then music has been an integral part of human culture with varied applications and forms. Despite its degeneration into the noisy and destructive kinds of so-called ’modern music’, the creative and soothing role of music has not lost its prominence. The last few decades have seen revival of classical Indian and western music in a big way through increasing interest of researchers in music therapy.
According to the Vedic Philosophy, yoga and music both are part of Nada Vidya. Yoga deals with realisation of anahata nada the sublime sound (extrasensory vibrations) of the eternal force of cosmic consciousness. Music pertains to the perception and expression of the infinite spectrum of the rhythmic flow of the ahata nada (perceivable sonic currents) pervading in Nature. Both have direct impact on the shat chakras hidden along the endocrine column and hence affect our physical as well as subtle bodies.
The seven basic swaras (musical notes) of the musical octave have a one-to-one correspondence with these chakras (nuclei of subtle energy). The lower most (in the kava equina region along the erect endocrine column), viz., the Muladhara Chakra is associated with the swara "sa"; that means, the practice of chanting this particular musical note will have impact on awakening or activation of this particular chakra. Similarly, the chakras successively upwards in this direction namely, the Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Agya and the top-most Sahastrara Chakra… have correspondence respectively with the swaras "re", "ga" "ma", "pa", "dha" and "ni". Significantly, the order of the compositions of these swaras in the "aroha" (ascending) and "avaroha" (descending) patterns of the Shastric musical tunes also match with the top-down (from Sahastrara to Muladhara) and bottom-up (from Muladhara to Sahastrara) directions of the flow of energy or prana.
Some of the sounds naturally produced inside the human body are easily perceivable if one sits quietly at a calm place. Usually these are felt in the heart (beat), throat and head (cerebral region). In the state of deep meditation, while concentrating on the internal sounds of the body, one can distinctly feel these and several otherwise non-audible sounds; their rhythmic compositions are also said to be in tune with the musical octave. The subtler sounds of the heart are said to be musical expressions of the emotions. Also, it is said that humans feel, recognise, create and express music only because of the emotional sensitivity of the human heart. Moreover, music
also happens to be the best means for expressing the inner feelings. This is why good music is often described as the voice of the heart.
The original ragas of the Indian classical music (Shastric Music or shastriya Music = Divine knowledge of Prana movement & sounds emanating from it) are created according to the deep knowledge of harmonious consonance between the seven swaras and chakras. This is why shastric musical compositions are found to have significant positive effect on the mind-body system and also have the potential to awaken the otherwise dormant faculties.
Interpretation of the Vedic scriptures on Nada Vidya implies that Shastric Music helps synergetic augmentation of the panch pranas (the five major streams of vital energy in a human being). In concordance, research in energy medicine (pranic healing) and classical music shows that specific shastric ragas enhance the level of vital energy. It is the deficiencies and disorders in the vital energy distribution in the mind body system, which is the root cause of its ailing state. The smooth and increased flow of vital energy rejuvenates the mind and empowers the immune system as well as the auto-regulatory healing mechanism of the body. This is how classical music generates new hope, joy and enthusiasm in the otherwise dull or depressed mind and removes the disorders and relieves one of the untoward pressures and excitements of inferiority, despair, fear, anger, etc. Because of its fast remedial effects, which lead to eventual cure of the psychosomatic disorders, music therapy based on classical ragas is being used or advised these days for the treatment of insomnia, migraine, hypertension, chronic headache, anxiety, etc. and empowers the immune system as well as the auto-regulatory healing mechanism of the body. This is how classical music generates new hope, joy and enthusiasm in the otherwise dull or depressed mind and removes the disorders and relieves one of the untoward pressures and excitements of inferiority, despair, fear, anger, etc. Because of its fast remedial effects, which lead to eventual cure of the psychosomatic disorders, music therapy based on classical ragas is being used or advised these days for the treatment of insomnia, migraine, hypertension, chronic headache, anxiety, etc.
There are several historical examples of the immense remedial power of the shastric ragas. For instance, in 1933, when the Italian dictator Mussolini was terribly suffering from insomnia, no medicine or therapeutic mode could help him get sleep. Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, a great shastric musician was visiting Europe around that time. When he heard of Mussolini’s affliction, he agreed to perform remedial musical programme to allay the latter’s sufferings. His performance of the raga puriya indeed worked magically and Mussolini went into deep sleep within half-an-hour. This and similar incidents attracted the attention of many contemporary musicians, scientists and physicians and triggered research in music therapy.
Because of its impact on the chakras (and hence on the pranas), shastric music not only vibrates and soothes the mental strings, but also energises and balances the organs of the body. According to Dr. W. H. J. Wales, the Indian classical music can cure the problems of the digestive system, liver including the diseases like jaundice. Dr. Jane remarks that this music
Apart from the classical ragas played on musical instruments, the rhythmic sounds of temple bells and shankha (conch shell or bugle) produced during devotional practices have also been found to have therapeutic applications.
Rock, pop, jaz, rap and disco types
Indian classical music is most suitable and beneficial in this respect and also for spiritual elevation because of the soothing and harmonising impact of the shastric ragas on the sat chakras and the pranas. The findings of research laboratories on immense potential of the shastric ragas in music therapy scientifically support these theories.
Deeper research on the spiritual aspects of the Indian classical music and compositions of the shastric ragas might also give some clues about the lost links of the knowledge of the Vedic Science of mantras. This might also open new avenues of reviving the applications of mantra-therapy, as elaborated in the Scriptures.
The power of sound
Sound has the power to affect the body, emotions and mind. What affects one aspect has ramifications on the others. This is because the universe is a manifestation of sound. Yogic texts talk of the power of aum manifesting the universe, having pierced through bindu, the infinite point or centre of creation. If we can understand the science and power of sound we can master ourselves and the universe. This is that aspect of the science and art of tantra called mantra, and can be studied in many old texts (shastras).
The power of sound to affect matter was developed by the great singer Caruso who could shatter a glass. To do this he would strike the glass to discover its resonant frequency. Then standing in another part of the room would powerfully intone the note so that it would resonate the glass, causing it to shatter.
Music is an important aspect of sound in our lives. Used properly it can be a powerful means to promote health, but used unwisely it can lead to dissipation of mind, unhinging of the passions and degeneration in the body. It can also kill if certain very low frequencies are utilised. To understand how the power of music can be utilised to enhance growth we can read in the ancient texts how Lord Krishna's flute playing promoted the bewitching verdure in the forests and gardens of Vrindavan. Mian Tan Sen, one of the nine sages in the court of the Moghul emperor Akbar, could make plants blossom as though spring had arrived, just by intoning devotional songs (ragas) to them. He could also make rain fall and light oil lamps in the same way. Tan Sen cured many diseases withhis singing. He took the disease onto himself, then another singer would take the disease from him, and so on, until it had been passed around, shared, and thereby dissipated of its negative, disharmonic force.
Many modern day researchers have shown that sound affects growth. P. Tomkins and G. Bird in their book The Secret Life of Plants report on experiments conducted by Mrs. Dorothy Rettalack of USA. She set up three sets of plants listening to 'rock and roll', classical western music and classical eastern music. Loud pop music caused the plants to lean away from the sound. Western classical, Bach organ preludes, caused the plants to lean 35 degrees towards the music. The sitar playing of Ravi Shankar, however, caused the plants to strain towards the sound at angles of more than 60 degrees, "the nearest one almost embracing the loudspeaker".
Music has a hypnotic effect, subduing not only man and plants, but also the most vicious and irrational brute in the animal kingdom as well. For example, snake charmers are famous for their flute-entranced cobras. The rhinoceros, camel, elephant and horse have also been tamed by instruments such as the stringed veena and the pungi (trumpet). Birds, of course, are music lovers and adept musicians in their own right.
Ragas Of India
Ragas are pieces of classical Indian music. Compositions (gita) of pleasing sounds (swara) convey definite sentiments and possess the power to create pleasant impressions in the mind, calm the emotions, and therefore, affect the body. Listening to these most beautiful, intricate and powerful pieces, has a great deal of practical application in the field of therapy.
Much information on Indian classical music is to be found in the ancient ayurvedic medical books such as Sushruta, Charaka, and so on, which date back to the second millenia BC, and beyond. Ragas were used to ease and erase conflicting mental disturbances. They were also used in physical disease in combination with other therapy. One great physician, Dhanvantari of Ujjaini, during the reign of King Vikkramadittya said that musical sounds pleasing to the ear should be used as therapy for mental ailments.
Ayurvedic philosophy is based on the concept of the three doshas - vata, pitta, and kapha - which have been literally translated as wind, bile and phlegm respectively. These elements are found in every part of the body in the combination appropriate to that part. Imbalance in these combinations leads to disease, and the ragas act by altering and regulating the balance of these three elements. However, there is more to them than their literal meaning. For example, the Charaka Samhita states the following:
"Vata is the source of both structure and function. It is that which is represented by the five forms of body energy: prana, udana, samana, vyana, and apana... the controller and guiding force of consciousness; the stimulant of the senses; the companion of sensations; the organiser of the elements of the body; the principle of synthesis; the storage battery of speech; the cause of feelings and perceptions..." (1, 12 : 8)
"Kapha is the nectar. It is the fertile water for the play of life; it is living fluid, the protoplasm which sustains all life processes." (1, 12: 12)
"The normal function of pitta causes : power of cognition, fire of digestion, fresh complexion, clarity of thought, body temperature, hunger and thirst, and nimbleness of mind." (1, 18 : 50)
Any healing which can affect, and thereby regulate the balance of these three elements deserves investigation to establish its practical value in the healing sciences. For example, it is said that raga Bhairava controls ailments arising from dominance of
The ragas are also associated with different times of day, different plants, animals, and the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. Thereby the elements themselves can be influenced when ragas are performed according to certain rules. They do this by coming into harmony with the outer world and the cosmos
The knowledge of Indian music extends into the field of kundalini yoga. The basic scale (bilaval) balances the three elements when it is sung. It does this through vibration of the body at the point where mind and the neuro-endocrine system intersect at chakra points on the sushumna nadi, within the spinal cord. Resonance of the chakra stimulates it into action, and therefore different chakras can be stimulated according to need. For example, kirtan (chanting) of the name Ram will help people with peptic ulcer, constipation, and other digestive disorders as it stimulates the manipura chakra.
We can demonstrate this phenomenon for ourselves by singing the scale and concentrating at each chakra as we ascend and descend. The vibrations felt during this exercise stimulate the nerve plexuses and endocrine glands throughout the body, calming the nervous system, and bringing harmony to the whole body.
In the yogic tradition, the science of vibration and sound has been developed into an exact science called taan. The practitioner has the ability to control the rate and location of sound vibrations in his body. The voice is synchronised with complex rapid note changes, and sound vibrations can be directed so that they emanate from the mouth, nose, skull and spine.
One master of taan is Swami Nadabrahmananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. After initiation into sannyas and seven years of practice, he accomplished the most difficult of all aspects, kundalini taan, in which vibrations are made to vibrate the mooladhara chakra. This, he states, keeps him in good health and full of energy, even at the age of 82 years. Swami Nadabrahmananda has the ability to suspend his breath completely and not blink his eyes while playing tabla for half an hour. At the end of this time, while playing the last note he directs energy to the top of his head and makes a coin that has been resting there since the beginning of the session, jump into the air. The state of consciousness he has achieved through these techniques has been studied by Elmer Green, Ph. D., of the Menninger Foundation, USA, who reported :
"While wired up to our portable psychophysiology lab, he demonstrated an important kind of nervous system control (evidenced by the production and maintenance of alpha and theta brain waves) normally associated with a state of quiet reverie, while he was performing a complex and demanding raga, a musical performance". *1
Ottawa University tests have shown that he does not dream, and he has shown his ability to control the autonomic nervous system by consciously raising his blood pressure to 240 millimetres of mercury, thereby demonstrating the power of nada yoga to expand conscious awareness.
In modern life
Though very few of us can ever become masters of music, we can all enjoy and appreciate the effects of music in our lives. If we utilise mantra with music, as in kirtan, chanting of spiritual songs, We have a powerful means to affect and calm the mind, emotions and nervous system, releasing pent up, stored, stale and stagnant energy, and thus experiencing a 'release' or 'catharsis'.
At a purely therapeutic level the effects of music could be easily used in hospitals to help the convalescing and those who are ill to relax and thereby speed up the healing process. Doctors could help anxious and nervous parents to relax and music could even be prescribed instead of valium and other tranquillisers. Mental hospitals could only benefit by the introduction of kirtan and other forms of music' therapy.
Bring spiritual music into your home and you will find that it can have an amazing effect on your whole personality and inter relationships. This occurs especially when music is sung by the whole family as one unit. Growth of children is enhanced and their minds are made positive and dynamic. By creating harmonious vibrations we begin to resonate more and more in harmony with the cosmos, opening up to prana, the life giving energy. Our understanding and wisdom increase and knowledge of life is gained.
"Kirtan is like incense on the astral plane."
From teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati
Music is the most ancient of arts. It is the medium for expressing emotion. Music kindles love and infuses hope. It has countless voices and instruments. Music is in the hearts of all men and women. Music is on their tongues. Music is in the wind and the waves. Music is in the nightingale. It is in cinema stars and musicians. It is in the concert, orchestra and theatres. There is music in the running brooks. There is music in the crying of children. There is music in all things if you have ears.
Sound is the first manifestation of the absolute. Super charged with transcendent soul force, sound is the one powerful principle in all creation that widely influences and effectively brings under control all other manifestations. Many examples can be quoted to bear testimony to this claim of sound regarding both the individual and the cosmos.
We have heard how Tansen was able to make it rain through the Megha Raga, how he lit the lamp through singing in Dipaka Raga. There are accounts of how the Tibetan lamas drove away and dispersed rain-bearing clouds, or gathered the clouds and made them rain by blowing horns and trumpets and beating drums.
We have also heard how the deer is entrapped by sweet sound, how the cobra is enchanted by sweet music. Nada entraps the mind. The mind dissolves in sweet nada. Mark the power of the gentle, sweet sounds: Sa, Re, 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 energizes. It elevates, inspires, strengthens and invigorates. It vibrates in the memory.
Music fills the mind with sattwa. Music generates harmony in the heart. Music melts the hardest heart. It softens the brutal nature. Music comforts, soothes and cheers the afflicted. It comforts the lonely and the distressed. Music removes worries, cares and anxieties. It makes you forget the world. Music relaxes and elevates.
Music is not an instrument for titillation of the nerves or satisfaction of the senses. It is a yoga sadhana which enables you to attain Self-realization. Music should be treated as yoga. True music can be tasted only by one who has freed himself from all taints of worldliness, and who practises music as a sadhana for Self-realization.
Tyagaraja was a devotee of Lord Rama. Most of his devotional songs are in praise of Lord Rama. He had direct darshan of Lord Rama on several occasions. Mira came face to face with Krishna. She talked with her beloved. She drank the Krishnaprema-rasa. She has sung from the core of her heart the; music of her soul, the music of her beloved, her unique spiritual experiences.
Music is nada yoga. The various musical notes have their own corresponding nadis or subtle channels in the kundalini chakras. Music vibrates these nadis, purifies them and awakens the psychic and spiritual power dormant in them. Purification of the nadis not only ensures peace and happiness of mind, but goes a long way in yoga sadhana and helps the aspirant to reach the goal of life very easily.
Sweet melody exercises a powerful influence on the mind and physical nature of every living being. Trapped in music, the mysterious mind with its thousand hoods of vasanas and vrittis lies quiescently in the lap of the sadhaka; and he can make it dance to his tune, control it according to his will, and mould it as he pleases. The mind, the magic wand of Maya, the terror of all spiritual aspirants, is under perfect control in the hands of the music yogi.
The wonder of wonders is that not only is the mind of the musician thus controlled, but also the minds of all those who listen to the music. They become calm and blissful. That is why great saints like Mira Bai, Tukaram, Kabir Das, Tyagaraja, Purandara Das and others wove their experiences into sweet music. With the sweet music these sublime thoughts would easily get into the heart of the listener, which at other times is zealously guarded by the cobra of worldliness.
The rishis of yore have invariably written their inspiring works either in the form of poetry or in the form of songs. The vedas, smritis, puranas etc. are all set to music, and are metrical compositions. There is rhythm, metre and melody in them. The Sama Veda, especially, is unrivalled in its music. Music is an aid in the treatment of diseases. The sages affirm that many diseases can be cured by the melodious sound of a flute or violin, a veena, a sitar or a sarangi. Harmonious rhythm caused by sweet music draws out disease. The disease comes out to encounter the music wave. The two blend together and vanish in space.
Music relaxes nervous tension and makes the parts of the body affected by tension resume their normal functions. When all other medicine has failed to cure a disease, kirtan will work wonders. Try this unique medicine and realize its marvellous benefits. If you do kirtan near the bed of someone suffering from a disease, they will soon be cured.
Music melts the heart of even a stone-hearted person. If there is anything at all which can change the heart
in a very quick time, that is music and dance. This very method is made use of in kirtan bhakti; but it is directed towards God instead of towards sensual enjoyments. The emotions are directed towards divinity. The heart is easily purified.
A Nada Yoga Concert with Roop Verma
Many thanks to Shel Stein for posting this wonderful movie on google.
It was a magnificent experience, Nada Yoga at work!
nada Yoga Concert /Roop Verma">nada Yoga Concert /Roop Verma"><a href="http://stephanmikes.com/publicfiles/sitar_music_-_Google_Video_1.flv">nada Yoga Concert /Roop Verma</a>