Buddha contemplates in silence. His peaceful countenance and cherubic smile radiate his inner bliss. His unnatural long ears, symbolic of a beautiful reality, are listening intently to some sublime music. One can get a glimpse of this music in the sound of the temple bells, the cadence of the waves, the thunder of the clouds, the chirping of the birds, the quiver of the breeze and even the throbbing of the heart. The same melodies flowed through Krishna’s flute which entranced the Gopis of Vrindavan, the meadows, pastures, cows, peacocks and even the angels hovering around.
The entire cosmos is drenched in this eternal music. This sound is the source of all sounds. It is the unstruck or Anahata sound. Budhists call it “The Sound of Silence”. Sikhs name it “The Shabd” or “Bani”. Aahat means sound which is created from outside. Anahata is the subtlest of sounds which is heard from within. At times, when I sit for meditation, I try to listen to this cosmic sound and all I can hear is the cacophony of traffic and my inner chatter. But these sounds fade away on close scrutiny as these are all unreal sound. The real or Anahata sounds are not evanescent. They proceed from the Anahata center of the Sushumna Naadi and are of ten kinds.
- The sound of “Chini”.
- The sound of “Chini-Chini”.
- The sound of a bell.
- The sound of a conch.
- The sound of a lute.
- The sound of cymbals.
- The tune of a flute.
- The sound of a drum (Bheri).
- The sound of a double-drum (Mridanga).
- The sound of thunder.
Initially you might hear some sort of gibberish. As you meditate more and more, you will start hearing The Anahata sounds. They will become subtler and at last you will hear the subtlest of sounds which is “No Sound”. At this stage your entire being annihilates and you merge with the music and the existence. You can even tune in to your real self by the transcendental chanting of OM as it is believed that the entire cosmos was born through the Omkar Dhvani. The best time to meditate is the “Brahma Mahurta(early morning) OR “The Ambrosial Hour” in which the entire existence helps you.
Listening to the music around us can also connect us to The Anahata Naad. The basic purpose of any form of music is to pacify our pain and to elevate us. But in this sybarite society, most of the music we listen to makes us either listless or restless. One must note that different musical instruments have an impact on our different body parts. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji has talked about this phenomenon in one of his discourses stating that the metallic instruments affect our lower body parts, drums, the stomach region, string instruments act as an anodyne for the heart area. The conch and flute kindles our throat and forehead region and the sound of bells soothes our eyes.
Satsang, a congregation of devotees who sit and chant hymns and exchange knowledge, is a beautiful way to connect to the Inner Satsang. I had experienced the resplendence of satsang many a time but had not realized its true significance until I did my advanced course with “The Art of Living”. Swami Sutantranand who conducted the course, gave us an analogy to illustrate the importance of satsang. He explained, “In a forest where there are few trees, it doesn’t rain much. But in a dense forest housing a myriad of trees, a downpour is inevitable. Similarly, when a group a of people chant hymns together, they are overwhelmed by the showers of blessings from the heavens. Satsang is an intrinsic part of many cultures like Hinduism, Sikhism and even Christianity.
Lord Caitanya (born 500 years ago in Mayapur in India and regarded as the incarnation of Krishna and Radha) is the pioneer of “Sankirtana” or “Congragational Chanting”. He induced people to chant the holy names of Lord especially the “Hare Krishna” Maha Mantra. Absorbed in immense love, a group of people sang and danced to portray the pastimes of Shri Krishna. His movement is still alive in different parts of the world.
Once a person hears the celestial music, he cannot stay silent. He shares his felicity with the world, he sings and dances, imparts knowledge and love. Most of the Bhakti yogis, absorbed in the Anhata Naad, have celebrated their exalted state through music. Guru Nanak advocated the path of Bhakti through Kirtan and Simran. He sang the glories of the Almighty while Mardana played on the Rabab. Nanak talked a lot about Ajapa or the unstruck sound. He once stated, “Search for the sound in the body, and you shall be saved.” He has given a wonderful description of the Lord’s abode in Japuji Sahib.
So dar keha so ghar keha,
Jit beh sarab samaale.
Vaaje naad anek asankha, kete vaavanhare.
kete raag pari siu kahiyan, kete gaavanhare.
Nanak first asks the Lord, “Where is that abode from where you nurture this creation?” He then answers that lords abode is full of joy and celebration. Many sounds are resonating and many are the musicians. Infinite singers are singing infinite melodies.
Here Nanak is referring to the kingdom which resides in every heart. The melodies, the singers and the musicians are all present. We just need to listen intently.
Even Mira, an epitome of love and devotion, practiced Ragatmika Bhakti. Her songs, hued in the love of Krishna, arose from her “Inner Brindaban”. It seemed that the melodies of Krishna’s flute were manifested in Mira’s songs. She had to undergo many ordeals in her lifetime but she did not succumb as Krishna was by her side. Mira was ultimately absorbed in the image of Krishna at the temple of Ranchod.
Buddha entered the kingdom of joy and jubilation through the womb of silence. Christ through his immense love and Mira through her chaste Bhakti. You can take any path you like and reach there. May your life be filled with music and celebration!
Payal Walia Hattar
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