The Mother Divine
Change Font Size 

By Prashant Iyengar
Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath
Namaskar! I stand before you merely as a seeker (sadhaka) for music and yoga, which whether taken as disciplines (shastras) or arts (kalas) are both adhyatma-kalas, adhyatma-shastras.

Adhyatma is that which pitches the spirit towards God. This is attainable (sadhya) through music as much as through yoga. If the unity of Jiva and Shiva, of Jiva and Brahma is to be attained, it must and by the same token can only be brought about by the advent of yoga in music. Without which music cannot live up to its own promise as an adhyatma-kala.

Modern science tells us that the human being's make-up is a hotchpotch of various systems. But man also has in him a 'circuit' that can bring about that cherished unity between Jiva and Shiva. Two people may be in love, but their relation is one of exteriority; they do not need for their love to enter into the interior circuitry of the soul. But this unity of Jiva and Shiva, when it happens, the happening that 'is' this unity is an event that takes place in our inner citadel, our inner system. Modem science is unaware of this system; only 'metaphysics' or 'metapsychics' has any inkling of this.

'Adhyatma' implies the atman, which in the words of the Gita is an incredibly 'astonishing' substance, one that is to be seen, heard, imparted and understood in a state of 'astonishment' (ashcharya). The atman does not sleep; it does not wake. 'It does not eat; it cannot be eaten,' say the Upanishads. Such a prodigious principle is present here in our terrestrial body (pinda). This prodigious substance, the atman, is the basis of everything, our body, our mind, our senses, our innermost being. Such an inner substance (atmatatva), the atman, is inside us, and that which postulates such a substance is 'adhyatma.'

According to the Upanishads or the Vedas, it is a moiety or a part of the Body Brahman, a sliver of that universal substance (brahmattatvacha sharir) secreted inside us. Which is why God (ishwar) is often described as 'He who is inside us'-'antaryami'. God is within us by virtue of interiority. God is our ruler, our hegemon (shashta). The presence of such a ruler in us, present in us in such an 'astonishing' form, the atman, an eternal and immemorial substance-if the presence inside us of such a substance were to be cognized by us, and if we were to begin to be affected in our lives by its presence, we would be on our way to understanding adhyatma. Until and unless its effect is to be felt in our lives, our lives themselves would remain sublunar, merely sensual (aihika).
But you mustn't forget the worldly in pursuit of the eternal or leave away the eternal entirely to live in a sensuous worldly life.

A yoked co-attunement (yogya samanvaya), an ideal belonging-together of the sensuous and of the supersensuous, of the truth of the lived world and the truth of the ultimate (prapancha ani paramartha), therein lies the basis of our culture.

For that reason if there are any yoga-seekers or music-seekers present among us, one would want to insist that, at any rate, even if only as a kind of foretaste, there ought to be an element of adhyatma present somewhere in their seeking. What I mean to say is that whatever the nature of the seeking one may have yoked oneself to, it must not lack this extra element which is absolutely essential. It could be said that the adhyatmik portion of music has fallen into abeyance: the reason is quite simply the influx of worldly affairs into music. The relation between worldliness and absolution is dialectical. To handle both at the same time is, as our 'sants' remind us is akin to walking a tightrope. The predilection for the worldly in us gives rise to a 'set' toward the worldly (lokabhimukhi). By the same token the predilection for the truth of the ultimate in us gives rise to an inclination toward the atman (atmabhimukhi). World-directedness and atman-directedness are two mutually contradictory things whose reconciliation (sanghada ghatli pahije) is an art, a trial of one's strength, but it is a trial we must undertake at all cost. More crucially we should try and understand their mutual relation. As we settle down to going about doing this in our everyday lives, as we begin to evolve a modus operandi, we should try and see how eminently yoked together (yogya) that particular mode of going about things is which we have chosen to adopt.

Yoga is in the final analysis a jointure (samadhi), of which the conceptual definition is-the cessation of all tendencies in the conscious (chitta-vrutti-nirodha). The ordinary person thinks of this as some kind of inner calibration, worse a discipline, and worse still a brute seizure of the conscious tendencies, their enforced deprivation. But the shastric meaning of jointure (samadhi) has deeper implications. It is true that at the- outset one can't but embrace this idea of discipline, which is to say the regulation of our drives at a point equidistant from what attracts or repels us. But the final horizon of yoga is never attained by the regulation of our drives: it is attained by the essential attunement (laya) of our conscious, by its modulation (vilinikaran). One has to begin with all manner of arduous trials, imposing discipline at one stage and regulating our drives at another.
The final object of yoga is never attained by turning off all the buttons of the mind, the senses, etc. The effective attunement (laya) of our conscious (chitta) happens only in originary accordance, an inner accord that is without origin (nada). Think of it this way: salt does not dissolve in oil; it dissolves only in water. In the same way the attunement (laya) of the conscious (chitta) happens only in accord (nada). It follows that music is an absolutely crucial basis for yoga.

There is a relation between the accordant striving (nada-sadhana) in yoga on the one hand and the yogic in accordant striving, on the other. Let us begin by defining originary accordance (nada).
Human beings have a peculiar facuIty (sanstha) in us, a particular 'circuit' in us of which modem science is totally unaware. Our' yogashastra describes this circuitry in terms of arteries (nadya), spirit-arteries (prana­nadya).
It is we who sway to a piece of music; recording devices to not respond to music in that way. We have within us a whole network of arteries responsive to accordance (nada). The lower strings of a sitar vibrate (ninadatata) when the upper strings are played: they are capable of sympathy (samvedan-kshama), of sympathetic tremors (anukampana), what we call 'resonance.' In a similar way the 'system' in us makes us susceptible to being-affected by music. The extents to which a person's musical ears are trained determine the extent to which those inner cords repel the dust of desuetude and quicken in vibration, are quick to pulsate (spanda pavatata). The pleasure we experience in listening to music is peculiar to usno matter how hi-tech or digital a tape-recorder it cannot move to the pulse of music, there is in us a responsive faculty (sanstha) that is ever for­thesakeof accordance (nadasathi), and that faculty ensures in us a certain susceptibility to being-affected by music (sangitacha parinam).

Our own system (sanstha) is oftentimes freighted with attic dust like a tambura lying in the attic for a long time. Unless we wipe it clean, cleanse it thoroughly, its cords will not vibrate. This is why the yogashastra propounds the idea of purified accordance (nadi-shuddhi). We cannot chance on accordance unless that which resonates in us has attained purity. The Upanishads ask us to close our ears and experience the deafening void inside us.
Here inside us is all 'big city, bright lights,' a mighty roar subtending the great 60,000 mile-long network of vessels circulating blood that ensure the cosmic play (lila) of our physiological being. 6,000 miles of nerves, sending and receiving instructions and nerve sensations from the brain to our organs and from the organs to our brain, this immense activity carries on apace. Sensations traveling like racecars at speeds of 200 miles! Just imagine the noise! The body is an enormous technical (yantrik) complex, an 'industrial complex.' Each organ (avayava) is nothing if not incredibly industrious. A 'chemical complex' too, replete with 'sound pollution', 'air pollution'-all this transpires in our insides on an unprecedented scale. This slight six-foot long frame of man, and so many inner factories, complexes, precincts in there! All working hard 24x7! Above all the ceaseless palaver of the human mind, its desires, needs, ambitions, wants, attachments, stratagems, intrigues, likes, dislikes running/amok-their remonstrate feeding-off of each other: this is what I want, this is what I don't want. The innumerable organs in our body promulgate their distress in cries and urgings of a manifold variety. Amid this infernal din can the mild strains of a tambura really be heeded at all?

So it is because of this clamor that we cannot hear the accordance (nada) inside us. If we can curtail this clamor we could think of coming to terms with that accordance.

Now imagine what a Swami Haridas or a Ramdas would have heard if they had closed their ears. Every cord in him would have pulsated eternally with the sounds of 'Sri Ram Jayaram Jai Jai Ram, Sri Ram Jayaram Jai Jai Ram ... ' And here inside people like us only and ever the universal clamor of the stock exchange! As a result, our faculties (sanstha) remain incapable of pulsating sympathetically with originary accordance (n'ada) itself. For a hundred tamburas may well pulsate around you, but you will hear those vibrations only when poised in concentrated arranging-ordering­inspecting or con-cordance (anu-sandhana). Now the disciplines and practices of yoga (yoga-sadhana) are meant precisely to put to work these moribund faculties, and to make our inner cords resonate like those of the great musicians and holy men of old. Yoga alone helps us reconnect with that primordial interior accordance (antar-nada) toward which it makes its elemental if mystic (guda) gesture.
At the moment at which the mind becomes unattached, uncathected, pure, at that very moment the tambura of the mind no longer needs to be tuned. What has happened is that our mind, rid of its impurities, its desires, its distractions, begins to attune itself, establishing a concordance with that inner tambura which resonates always already with the accordant 'I-myself' (soham-nada) ..

At the point at which the mind 'matches" that interior 'I-myself' (soham) it will have been attuned. This is why this ultimate accordance is described in terms of a primal 'non­discordance,' an un struck or unsounded sound that is ever yet a sound (an-ahat).

Paradoxically, as an accordant nondiscordance (anahat-nada), an accord accorded to us once discord has been dispelled, a double negation of sound. Anahat-nada: that primal inner accord which is accorded to us by the un-sounded sound of our unplumbed depths.

Having consummated a gradual process of purification, our mental procedures of incantation begin to resonate with that inner tambura. Let's reflect awhile on this aspect of accordance (nada), which our adhyatma delineates after the manner of mystic (guda) speech. There is a beautiful smriti-utterance to this effect: 'Nadarupo smruto bhahmal Nadarupo janardanahal Nadarupa parashakti/ Tasman nadatmatama jagat.' This is a metaphysical principle. All of creation is pervaded by accordance (nada). As our material sciences develop, this reality will come to fore. Our ancestors knew of this, ages ago. There is beyond physics a metaphysics, and beyond this metaphysics too something else which we call 'mysticism.' Our tradition of thinking has always allowed for mysticism. Which, is why our ancestors affirm what is really a mystical principle that all creation is in accord, it is in accord 'with' accord (nadatmaka ahe). Our shastras and our traditional philosophies are in agreement that creation emerged from a primordial accordance (adya-nada): that primordial accordance is 'pranava,' the Omkar, OM, HAUM.

The infinite traits and excellencies of the Lord-absolute (param) pity, absolute tenderness, absolute empathy, absolute purity, absolute valor, an absolute sway, omniscience, all-powerfulness-all these traits find in Him their transcendentalization, their infinitization (parakashtai). Yet, despite this aura of the infinite that hangs about the Lord we continue to praise him in our humble way. Our lowly 'pranava' never impugns his majesty: our humble 'om' is miraculously just (it does justice) before the Lord in his magnificence. Such is the great virtue of 'pranava,' of the Omkar, and it is out of this Omkar that creation has come into being.

Our sages and seers said that creation emerged out of 'pranava,' out of accord (nada). They insist that 'pranava' 'is' accord (nada). 'Pranava' is the most excellent of accords (sarvottama -nada), the apotheosis of all accords (sagrya nadancha arka)-in the words of modern science 'the hypostatization of all forms and sounds.' Every discovery of the infinitely subtle or infinitely large has its 'hypostatization' (arka) in 'pranava,' in Omkar. Such is the extraordinary merit of 'pranava' as a principle and guiding rule. Creation itself emerged from such a 'pranava.' And hence too 'tasman nadatamakajagat, our ancient doctrine. And this Omkar is at work in our innermost being (antari). This is what is known as the accord accorded to us by the un-sounded sound (anahata-nada) of our unplumbed depths. The astonishing thing is that our sublunar being, this body, goes along its way physically, mentally, emotionally, all very much on the basis of that inner tambura resonating interminably, unstoppably inside us. Our corporal being rests on those vibrations, for whom 'pranava' is a fundamental catalyst.
The yogashastra tells us of four levels of Speech (vani; vac)-i.e.  The Supreme (para), the Visionary (pashyanti), the Intermediate (madhyama), and the Corporeal (vaikhari).

This accord of the unsounded-sound (anahat-nada) which is underway in us takes the form of a dot, a drop-like alembic of energy (bindu), a dot often described in the yogashastras (familiar to those who have read the yogashastras) as the Word Absolute (paravani, paravac). Alembic energy (bindu) is nothing but the primordial form (adya-swarupa) of the accord (nada) that transpires in the realm of the Word Absolute (paravani). The development or distortion of the Word Absolute takes place successively at the next level of Speech (vani), which is that of the Visionary (pashyanti), thereafter in the Intermediate (madhyama) and still later in the Corporeal (vaikhari). There is even a fifth level of Speech (vani; vac) in the yogashastras. Now what you might call the Corporeal (vaikhari) is the level at which I speak by employing a heteronomous device (para-yantra), the mouth. But the range of sounds, some even nonsensical that we can produce from our mouths are not all uttered at the level of the Corporeal (vaikhari). 'Ka, kha, ha, ma, paksha, ya, ma'-these do not belong to the Corporeal (vaikhari). This fifth level refers us to the 'little mothers' (matruka) or phonemes, the basic constituents of language. Beyond the accordeo\lnsounded sound (anahat-nada) is the Supreme itself (para); its form is that of alembic energy (bindu-rupa).

All this means that there is a very specific way in which the musician must strive after adhyatma. This may even entail that the instrumentalist will have to put aside his instrument. This is because what we have to do is to try to train, to attune ourselves in and around this [arterial] faculty ([nada]-sanstha). Such is the requirement of striving after adhyatma, of which absolutely anyone is capable. Seekers after music must for this reason alone have, as I have said above, at least some sense of adhyatma. The seeker after yoga too should enter into accordant striving (nada-sadhana).

There used to be a time when the art of singing consisted of a training in notes and tones. 'Sa' is a note (swar); 'aa' is a tone (sur). In just the same way language has its various elements. In music everything rests on tones (sur). In the Puranas there is mention of 'sur' and 'a-sur.'
An 'asur' is a demon. A 'sur' is a god.

With the Puranas as ground and using his seven 'swaras' a musician could as well try and set up heaven which is really seven 'swars.' This is the ability inherent in music: it can inaugurate the imminence of heaven.
There is a crucial mystical relation between adhyatma and the pauranik avatars, between adhyatma and that which is enigmatic (rahasyamayi) about avatars. The incarnation of the Lord is hailed by a host of divine and celestial beings. We know of the birth of Krishna, which was accompanied by his emancipation of 16108 women from the cave of the demon Naraka. This seems to us to be a rather worldly tale of a group of captive women and their glorious savior. But 16108 is the number the Vedas suggest for the gamut of seasons (rota). Which is another way of saying that Krishna's coming on earth brought with it the advent of the Vedas. The coming of the Lord Himself is an event that requires a wholly different and quite enigmatic schema of incarnation (avatar-rahasya). When the Lord finds his residence in us He is accompanied by all the 24 elements of universe, and is followed by the seven spheres ruled by all 33 gods. The advent of the Lord in us, an event ordained by the notion of the immanence of God in our terrestrial body ('pinda-brahman') is something like the beginning of 'infra-radio­telescopy' in us. This is the kind of expansive understanding afforded by adhyatma. Our body then is not just our heart, lung, brain, intestines and so on. All of brahmanda ('Brahma's Egg'), the universe, rests inside us, and it has as its basis the Omkar. We have no inkling of this; after all, even if this tambura were to stop playing our daily affairs would continue apace. This is why accorded striving (nada-sadhana) is so important.
Let me briefly take up another theme. Our script is Deva-nagari; and our language Sanskrit is blessed with especially clear shastric normativity. Here every vowel and consonant follows a certain shastric norm. Sanskrit is the language of the Gods, it is not a product of man-supremely and it bears no blemish. It is through this language that we should strive after accord (nada-sadhana).

For example when a song passes through the corporeal (vaikhari) stage of speech (vani) it must undergo the exhaling of one's breath, without necessarily arresting one's breath. Singing happens through exhalation, not inhalation. A singer may claim that he has practiced for 18 hours at a stretch; we can surmise that his actual singing was limited to the total time of his exhalations. But this is not the case with accordant striving (nada-sadhana). Whether you exhale or inhale, such striving continues interminably. In other words, accordant striving (nada sadhana) is uncircumventible (apariharya) in music. Take a deep breath and strike a note unexpressedly in your heart. One feels as though something is climbing down one's face, nose, mouth. Sing all the long notes. All the notes of the AUM generate a constriction in your abdomen. UKAR has a similar effect in your chest; H-U-M, in your brain. [ ... ] In short, use music to make pranayama attainable.

Sri. Prashant S. Iyengar is the son of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar and an authority in yoga. He is presently the director of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) and an authority on Yoga. His knowledge about the scriptures and the ancient texts makes learning yoga very interesting. He is also an accomplished violinist. He has worked a lot with transforming through breathing. Prashantji is also known by his way of expressing and conveying yoga concepts by creating his own terminology in English which may not have a dictionary definition. He has authored many books including Chittavijnana of Yogasanas, Alpha & Omega of Trikonasana, A "Class" after a class:Yoga - An Integrated Science etc.