"Music is fireworks of the soul."
"Music is the most beautiful of all creations."
"Music enables the ever wandering mind to visit and meet the soul"
~ Sri Swamiji ~
Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda is a renowned composer, singer, and musician. He understands the ancient music system of Rāga-Rāginī, has unparalleled access to melodies, and has created many new rāgas using the ancient system within present musicology. Due to the prolific nature of Sri Swamiji’s compositions, the title Sāgara, ocean, was given to express this form of Rāga-Rāginī.
Sri Swamiji has many great facets to his magnanimous personality; music is at the front and most influential as it impacts the greatest number of people. Directly and indirectly, the benefits of the music are serving humankind. Those who hear the music in concerts and through broadcasts and recordings benefit directly, and indirectly the proceeds from the music provide many services to help those in need. Sri Swamiji is recognized for many charitable activities while pioneering once again the ancient music system of Rāga-Rāginī.
Rāga-Rāginī Nāda Yoga is a compendium that highlights the musical works of Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji with special emphasis on the healing aspects of music and the role of various components employed by Sri Swamiji during healing concerts. The book starts with a brief introduction by the publishers to Sri Swamiji and his magnificent musical, spiritual, and social works, exemplified with beautiful pictures taken over several decades that stand as a testimony to Sri Swamiji’s musical journey across the world. The pictures and text also highlight the various aspects of Sri Swamiji’s persona. This chapter ends with a note by the publishers thanking Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji for bringing out his personal experiences with music and music therapy which has influenced the global audience in the form of this book Rāga-Rāginī Nāda Yoga.
In the foreword Sri Swamiji explains the musical link between the ancient and the modern, the relation between tradition and technology, and the need to explore and understand nature. Sri Swamiji also highlights the arrangement of various chapters in the book into “Musicology,” “Therapeutics,” and “Miscellaneous” sections.
The book begins with Sri Swamiji’s description of the “Nādabindu Upaniṣad,” verses that describe the importance of oṃkāra, the primordial sound, and the merit of chanting it. This is followed by an introduction to the concept of nāda cikitsā (healing through sound) in which Sri Swamiji describes his journey and experiences with music as a therapeutic tool. Sri Swamiji's musical expression began as a child with the influence of his mother and guru, Mata Jayalakshmi. Over the years, this has included the Vedic mantras, bhajans (devotional chanting), and the instrumental compositions known as Music for Meditation and Healing.
In the “Musicology” section Sri Swamiji describes various aspects of music: nāda (sound), śruti (fundamental note), saṅgīta (music), svara (musical note), rāga (musical scale), tāla (rhythm), gamaka (nuances), musical instruments, and Vaggeyakaras (the great singer-composers who contributed to the growth of Indian music, and in particular Carnatic music). At the end of this section is a display of the various musical works of Sri Swamiji titled “Animutyalu” (selected pearls), and a list of Sri Swamiji’s compositions in rare rāgas.
In the “Therapeutics” section Sri Swamiji describes the relationship of music, yoga, and cakras (energy centers in the body) and nāḍīs (metaphysical energy channels); the neuro-endocrine regulation of the body and mind; the five prāṇas (vital energies); the five elements (nature); the relationship of astrology and astronomy to music; the various mudrās (gestures) that help in therapy; the crystals and their vibration properties; the effect of color on the human mind and body; the role of water in music healing; and the effect of the various herbs (mūlikas) on the human body. At the end of this section is a chapter on the findings of music therapy research.
The “Miscellaneous” section deals with the intricacies of the various musical structures constructed by Sri Swamiji like the Nada Mantapam, the Dharmadhwajam, the Birthday Stūpas (stone pillars) and the list of the various musical scholars who were awarded titles by Sri Swamiji for their exemplary contribution to music. Another attractive feature in this section is the list of various Music for Meditation and Healing Concerts performed by Sri Swamiji across the globe, and the unique concept of the Jna Na Bha Yoga conferences propagated by Sri Swamiji to explain the various schools of jñāna (philosophy, knowledge), nāda (music), bhākti (devotion), and yoga (union). The book concludes with a summarizing chapter, Upasamhara, that highlights the scope for further research in this area of healing through music.
Rāga-Rāginī Nāda Yoga
In 2013 Sri Krishnadevaraya University of Andhra Pradesh, India, recognized Sri Swamiji's contribution to the world of music by offering him a doctorate on his treatise, Rāga Rāginī Nāda Yoga.
In 2016 the University of World Languages, London recognized Sri Swamiji's literary works by offering him an honorary doctorate in the field of Literature.
by Yogini Kaliji
Hailing from India, the ancient land that has graced the world with some of the most prolific and elevated composers, Sri Swamiji shines in this light of excellence in music. He has composed several thousand compositions and is a prolific lyricist, singer and poet in nine languages. Wherever Sri Swamiji travels, His music is His Universal Language.
When Sri Swamiji says “music is my language,” He is not being symbolic. It is the way He communicates most directly, most clearly, most effectively.
Like when one has been translating all day, and it’s a relief to slide back into the mother tongue, like that with music for Sri Swamiji—it’s direct…and divine.
Music brings us together. Music has the power to speak to the soul. Inspired composers are like channels that intuit the higher vibration of sound, manifesting it as song to inspire us, too. Such a composer is among us today in Sri Swamiji.
Sri Swamiji’s music is meditation. It has both rhythmic concentration and melody to still the thoughts.
Music inspires, accompanies, and transforms our lives. It is a light on this journey to OM, the soundless sound.
Rāga-Rāginī is based on the understanding that there is a universal sound, oṃkāra, which resonates in harmony with the divine. This pure sound gives rise to śruti, that which is heard or inspired. The specific notes, svaras, are then classified into a rāga. The aim of a rāga is to “please the ear,” to inspire the soul of the listener. The performer aims to deliver clarity in technique while soaring in celestial sound. This should reflect in the listener so they too experience elevated emotion and inspiration.
In nāda yoga, śruti refers to sound that is heard spontaneously inside, as if from inspiration. Śruti is derived from the Sanskrit root śru which means “to hear”. It is the medium through which the Vedas and other profound scriptures were received.
Referring to music, śruti is the musical pitch. Any sound capable of being heard distinctly from another sound is called śruti. Ultimately, śruti refers to hearing a sound or mantra inside, or a series of sounds that flow forth as composition, poetry, or lyrics.
According to the Vedas, there are two types of sounds. Anāhata nāda, unstruck sound, is from the celestial realm and is heard inside by master yogīs. It is śruti, the universal sound. The second sound is āhata nāda, struck sound, when two objects come together. These are worldly sounds, nonmusical and musical.
Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions, dating back to the Vedic time period around 4000 BCE. The essence of Indian music is saṅgīta, the three art forms coming together to express voice, music, and dance.
The South Indian music known as Carnatic music, or karnāṭaka saṅgītam, inspires the soul to greatness. The objective of the singer, musician, or composer is to reach Divinity through music as a spiritual discipline. It is the soul’s journey of progressively becoming more in tune with the sound waves of the Divine. Hinduism teaches sound is God, Nāda Brahman.
Indian music is vast and the compositions will vary in their impact depending on the overall bhava, emotion, of the particular musical piece and the relationship it has with the listener. People have testified to the far-reaching benefits of classical Indian music, from being highly therapeutic to propelling one into sound absorption to ride the waves of meditation. The worship of sound or the absorption into sound is called nādopāsana.
The ancient Rāga-Rāginī system had six main rāgas, each of which had five rāginīs, eight putras (sons), and eight vadhus (daughters). This gave 132 rāgas. As new rāgas emerged, the system was required to expand.
In the 15th to 17th centuries the grammar for rāga led to the classification of the svaras, notes from within one octave. Rāga saṅgīta, another name for Indian classical music, is based on the concepts of rāga and tāla. It is monophonic (has a single melodic line) whereas Western music relies on harmony with various textures and dynamics. The intricacies in both melody (rāga) and rhythm (tāla) that are used in composition and improvisation satisfies the musical ear. The original characteristics of the rāgas are still part of Indian classical music today.
That which colors the mind is rāga
Like each flower is unique in scent, each rāga has its own fragrance.
Rāga is a precise combination of notes, melodic form, and rāginī is the melodic fabric for the improvisation to take place. Indian music is based on rhythm and melody, not on chords, harmony, counterpoint, or other foundational aspects of Western music. A rāga is a frame of reference for improvisation. Even though the guidelines of the rāga are followed, the improvisation makes each performance unique.
Rāga derives from the Sanskrit word rañj which means “to color.” Rāgas are like musical modes with specific qualities. The attributes of the mode form an extended melody called the chalan. The musician learns the chalan, guidelines of the rāga, then the creativity shines forth during manodharma saṅgītam, the improvisation. The rāgas are performed with creative freedom while the bhava of the rāga remains.
Classification of rāgas are based on characteristics:
Rāga is the selection of notes. Each rāga has a scale with specific pitches to be used. Based on the seven-note system, syllables are assigned to each note:
A rāga has a minimum of five notes taken from the octave and will always include Sa, the same as a tonic or root in Western music: it is the note from which all the others are derived.
There is a modal structure, mūrchana, based on the interval relationship between the notes. This is called mela in Carnatic music and that in North Indian music.
Jāti is the number of notes from within an octave included in the rāga. Sampūrṇa (complete) rāgas contain all the seven svaras of the scale in both the aroha (ascending) and avaroha (descending) movements. Śadav are rāgas with six notes, and audav are rāgas with five notes.
The aroha and avaroha of a rāga are the ascending and descending scale structures with various patterns and progressions. In each rāga, aroha and avaroha may differ from one another in the number of notes, which notes from the rāga are included, and how those notes are used.
Vakra (nonlinear) rāgas do not follow the ascending and descending order.
Pakads are phrases that provide the identity of the rāga. One develops the musical ear to hear the recurring melodic motifs and recognize the rāga. Distinct melodic movements, defining a phrase (or a set of phrases), capture the essence of the rāga. Rāgas can be recognized from each other by the prominence of fixed notes, sequences of notes, or phrases. The purpose of the main motif is to bring out the bhava of the rāga.
Musical ornaments within a rāga include: the change of order of notes; the emphasis of a pitch; relative strength and duration of notes; removal of a dissonant note; the use of microtones; different interval patterns between the notes; gamakas (varieties of glissando that glide or slide from one note to the other), and andolan (a sway, not a vibrato).
Tāla is the rhythmic pattern or meter (time signature) of a rāga and ranges from 3 beats to 108 beats per cycle. “Tāl” means “clap”. The variety of Indian drums replaced the clap. The classic method to keep time in Indian music uses patterns of hand movements.
Notes within the rāga have different levels of significance. “Sa” is referred to as vadi, the most important note. The second most important note is called samavadi, the fourth or fifth note apart from Sa. Vadi and samvadi refer to the significance of notes, not the most played notes.
The bhava of a rāga is associated with nine emotions, moods.
The rāga is either associated with the main family of rāgas or is derived from them.
Laya is the tempo (beats per minute) which is set for each rāga.
Pitch movement of svaras will allow slightly different tunings. In western music, there are 12 semitones in an octave. In Indian music, smaller intervals with 22 semitones within an octave are used.
Time of Day
Some rāgas are only performed at certain times of day and during certain seasons, or at certain festivals or other events.
Once the chalan (grammar) has been learned for the rāga, one is ready to expand improvisation.
Applying the accepted characteristics or format of the rāga, the musician will improvise while always returning to the recurrent theme, the leitmotif, associated with the composition in order to maintain the particular bhava.
There are 72 main rāgas with over 6,000 additional rāgas derived from these. There are 250-300 popular rāgas in use today. The brilliance in Carnatic music lies in the proficient performance of the precise rāgas with full freedom of improvisation, kalpana saṅgītam.
Yoga is for control of the mind, and Sri Swamiji's therapeutic music is the great tonic.
Music touches the soul directly, and has proven over eons of time to bring about a physical, mental, and spiritual healing. The healing power of music has always been an integral part of life, from when the baby first seeks comfort with the heartbeat of the mother in the womb, to being lulled to sleep with soothing music after birth. In all civilizations, music plays an important role in society ranging from entertainment to religious events; from peaceful nature sounds to celebrative music; and having the power to invoke all kinds of emotions. Music has always been a comfort to the soul and to one's life.
Thoughts translate as sound in the mind. Through healing music, the mind focuses on the higher sound vibrations and the lesser thought vibrations dissolve, leaving one immersed in nādam prasara, the flow of healing sound. Due to the universal impact of the ability of sound to create specific emotions, music therapy is seeing a rise in today's world. There are more than 5,000 registered music therapists in the U.S. alone. Yet, this form of healing, originally called nāda cikitsā, was taught during Vedic times. Everyone can benefit from music therapy. It has been used to treat all forms of dis-ease ranging from Alzheimer's to strokes to attention deficit disorder to cancer. Uplifting music expands the mind. Now scientists are proving this.
Throughout the world, Sri Swamiji is recognized as the leader of therapeutic music. Sri Swamiji’s music originated from the ancient tradition of the Rāga-Rāginī system, and is aimed at shifting the level of consciousness of the listeners to subtler mental states, thus helping them experience greater health, mental clarity, and spiritual awakening. Playing selected rāgas (comprised of scales with precise notes) that contain the sound vibration needed to awaken the flow of prāṇa through the nāḍīs is at the core of healing music. Sri Swamiji has related specific rāgas (classical melodies) with the healing of specific body organs.
The subtle body contains 72,000 nāḍīs, pathways for prāṇa to flow. Fourteen are considered most important. Nāḍīs carry the energy from the subtle body to the physical body. This prāṇa flow increases life-force in the body/mind to maintain health. If the body/mind is not functioning well, it means there is some block in the nāḍī system. Each nāḍī corresponds with a specific function. When the energy flows, health improves. Any form of dis-ease, whether it be physical or mental, is a result of inconsistent positive vibration.
The root of “nāḍī” is nad, same as the root of “nādam.” Nad means “to flow.” The flow of sound vibration and the flow of prāṇa are masterfully combined in Sri Swamiji’s compositions. The highly charged vibration in Sri Swamiji's music supports the flow of prāṇa through the nāḍīs for greater health in body/mind.
All of creation is in movement, vibrating. This inherent vibration in the universe is called spanda. Thus, sound vibration is present everywhere. Who we are today is the sum total vibration of everything we have done. Thoughts vibrate, and in this frequency the subsequent results are born from our state of mind. Sri Swamiji’s music supports a vibrational change as prāṇa increases its flow through the nāḍīs.
It is said the mind entertains an average of 60,000 daily thoughts. Many are repetitive and often negative, according to recent scientific research. It is often hard to change the unwanted thoughts. Using sound as a medium to introduce higher vibrations to the mind serves as an excellent support to eventually calm the mind; thus, making the body/mind healthy for life and meditation.
listen from inside
the nerve impulses
even digestion is in rhythm
all the other systems are
the rush and flow of
liquids and solids
blood cells and muscle
a fluid motion of
melody and rhythm are
art and science
intuition and logic
yin and yang
moon and sun
when they come together,
it makes a trinity
rhythm alone cannot entice
melody alone cannot sustain
together they make an arrow
an arrow that moves ~
music has the power to change
because it is a cosmic duality
united in accessible form
it’s something everyone enjoys
children, animals - all consciousnesses
respond to music
Let the music move you.
Meditation and Healing Music awakens the listener to anāhata.
Anāhata - the sound with no source
a sense-less immersion into
nādam, pure sound, itself
to dive in and float on
waves of sound
music is math
vibration is energy
energy is the power to transform
To absorb the sound vibrations, let go of thoughts. It makes silence inside.
In emptiness, new connections can be made
Must release; relax
then something new can emerge
only in silence can a new sound be born
Sri Swamiji’s music is unusual - recognizable as music but also so unique -
that’s why sometimes Sri Swamiji says it is okay to sleep during the concert - easier to operate when the patient is unconscious.
Everyone responds to music without thinking, so it can manipulate, massage, and rearrange energy channels,
bypasses conscious mind.
Not every sound is a melody
Not every movement a dance
But what speaks to the
heart will rise up
like a balloon of spirit.