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Mahabhutas in Sangita-Sastra 

With Special Reference to Yoga and Ayurveda


Prem Lata Sharma


You are the Sun, You are the Moon, You are Air, You the Fire (hutavaha - the one who carries that which is put in the sacrificial fire). You are Water, You are Space, You are Earth and you are the Ëtman. Those who have taken refuge in you may use the above speech that is thus limited. We do not know any entity that is not your Manifestation.

áivamahimnastotra, 26

The five elements have been said here to be the manifestation of Siva, the Supreme Being.

An enquiry into the role of Mah¡bh£tas in Music is essentially a quest for the relationship between the 'outer',  'inner', and what is beyond the two. Roughly, the human organism is the 'inner', whatever is outside the body is the 'outer' and both are closely interrelated. That which permeates both of them and is yet intangible is beyond them. In understanding the 'inner', both Yoga, and, Ayurveda have made a deep study of the psycho-physical centres in the human body as well as the physiological structure of the body in terms of the Mah¡bh£tas.[i] The unity of the 'inner' and the 'outer' has been established by expounding that the sense-organs, their objects and their functions are all manifestations of the Mah¡bh£tas. The following passage from Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara makes this very clear.

The Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara (1.2.56c-71b) d escribes the structure and functions of the human body in terms of the five Mah¡bh£tas as follows:

The body is a composite of the (five) great elements (Mah¡bh£tas) and has therefore acquired their qualities (as herein described):

(i) Ëk¡¿a Sound, the faculty of hearing, porosity, individuation, intelligence and hollowness are derived from Ëk¡¿a.

(ii) V¡yu - Touch, the sense-organ for touch, five types of motion, viz., upwards, downwards, contraction, linear movement and expansion have been derived from air.

The ten modifications of air (breath in the body) viz., pr¡¸a, ap¡na, vy¡na, sam¡na, ud¡na, n¡ga, k£rma, k¤kara, devadatta and dhanaµjaya and r£kÀat¡ (roughness caused by the scarcity of oily matter) as well as lightness are derived from air.

Of these (ten) pr¡¸as, that which is the most important is stationed below the root of the navel and it operates through the mouth, the nostrils, the navel and the heart and (thereby) causes the verbalization of speech, the inhalation and exhalation of breath and also sneezing and coughing.

Ap¡na is stationed in the anal region and the genitals, waist, legs, abdomen, the root of the navel the groin, thighs and the knees. Its function is to discharge urine and excretion etc., (from the body).

Vy¡na dwells in the eyes, ears, ankles, waist and the nose and its function is to draw in, hold and to push out breath.

Sam¡na pervades the whole body; and running through the 72,000 nerve-channels of the body accompanied by the (digestive) fire, helps to nourish it by carrying essence of lymph-chyle (rasa) of the food and drink (to the tissues) and distributing it proportionately.

Ud¡na a.bides in the hands, the feet and the joints of the limbs; its function being the lifting of the body upwards and breathing the last i.e., dying etc.

Presiding in elements such as skin etc., are the five (other) modifications of the vital breath such as n¡ga, etc., performing the function of eructation (such as spitting) etc., sneezing etc., lassitude etc., and swelling respectively.

(iii) Agni - From fire, the body acquires sight, r£pa (colour and form), bile, digestion, lustre, wrath, sharpness, heat, vigour, splendour, valour and intellectuality.

(iv) Jala - From water (it derives) the sense of taste, relish. Coolness, sneha (roughly, viscidity), fluidity, perspiration, urine etc., as well as softness.

(v) P¤thivi - From the earth, (it acquires) the sense of smell, odour, stability, fortitude and heaviness (weight), beard, hair (on the head etc.,) nails, bones and such other hard materials.

(tr. by R.K. Shringy and Prem Lata Sharma)

All this is from the point of view of Ëyurveda which itself is not dissociated from Yoga. With reference to Yoga, SR, 1.2.120-148 and I.2.149163b sets forth the point of view of Yoga, specially Ha¶hayoga.

Ten Cakras (psychophysical centres):

1 . Ëdh¡ra-cakra and ku¸·alin¢: Situated in-between the anus and the genitals is the basic psychic centre called the 'foundational cycle' (¡dh¡ra-cakra), a four-petalled lotus as it were. The petals named ¢¿¡na etc., are invested with the fruits of supreme bliss, spontaneous happiness, heroic joy, and the divine unity respectively.

In the centre of the foundational cycle lies the creative power of the Supreme Being called ku¸·alin¢, which in the event of being unfolded bestows immortality.

2. Sv¡dhiÀ¶h¡na-cakra: Situated at the root of the genitals is the six-petalled lotus, the psycho-physical centre called 'self-abiding cycle' (sv¡dhiÀ¶h¡na-cakra). The consequent fruits of (concentration on) the eastern and the other petals are re-spectively said to be courtesy, cruelty, freedom from pride, stupor, disrespect and distrust. This is the seat of passion.

3. Ma¸ip£raka-cakra: The ten-petalled lotus, the psycho-physical centre called the 'navel cycle' (ma¸ip£raka-cakra) is located around the navel. The results flowing out of (meditation on) the eastern and other petals respectively are dreamless sleep, craving, jealousy, fault-finding nature, boastfulness, fear, hatred, stupidity, impropriety and dejection. This centre is the seat of a particular pr¡¸a called bh¡nu.

4. An¡hata-cakra: In the heart is located the psycho-physical centre called the 'cycle of the umnanifest' (an¡hata-cakra) with twelve petals which is considered to be the place of worshipping áiva in the form.

The consequences meeting the mind concentrated upon eastern and other petals respectively are freedom from fickleness, clear thinking, repentance, hope, light, worry, desire for warding off evil, equanimity, vanity, mental instability, discernment and will.

5. Vi¿uddhi-cakra: The psycho-physical centre with sixteen petals, called the 'cycle of purity' (vi¿uddhi-cakra) is situated in the throat-larynx and is known as the abode of Bh¡rat¢, the goddess of learning. Contemplation on the eastern and other petals offers the following results respectively: pra¸ava udg¢tha, huÆpha¶, vaÀa¶, svadh¡, sv¡h¡namaÅ, nectar, the seven tones Àa·ja etc., and poison.

6.Lalan¡-cakra: The psycho-physical centre called lalan¡ with twelve petals is situated in the back of the neck. The conseqence sequences emerging out of (concentration upon) the eastern and the other petals respectively are- arrogance, haughtiness, affection, sorrow, agony, greed, disenchantment, emotional excitement, the basic urge for living, devotion, satisfaction and cleverness.

7.Ëjµca-cakra. The psycho-physical centre called the 'cycle of supreme command'  (¡jµ¡-cakra) having three petals is located in-between the two eye-brows. The results of (contemplating upon) the various petals respectively are the manifestations of the three gu¸as-sattva, rajas and tamas.

8. Manas-cakra: Even higher than that is situated the psycho-physical centre called the 'cycle of the mind' (manas-cakra) having six petals. The consequences attendant upon the eastern and other petals respectively are dreams and the palatal enjoyment, olfactory sensation and the perception of form, touch and sound.

9. Soma-cakra: Over and above that is located the psycho-physical centre called the 'cycle of the moon' (soma-cakra) with sixteen petals enshrining the sixteen phases (of the moon). The consequences, for the individual, attendant upon  the eastern and other petals respectively are: grace, forgiveness, straightforwardness, forbearance, detachment, patience, cheerfulness, mirth, horripilation, tears of fixed gaze, stability, profundity, endeavour, purity of heart, generosity and one-pointedness.

10. Sahasrapatra-cakra: 'The thousand-petalled lotus' (sahasra-patra) which is the source of nectar is located in the cerebral aperture (brahmarandhra). Spilling innumerable streams of ambrosia, it nourishes the body.

11. Meditation of cakras as related to the cultivation of music. The embodied soul established in the (contemplation of) first, eighth, eleventh and the twelfth petals of the 'cycle of the unmanifest' (an¡hata-cakra) attains proficiency in music etc., while (by concentration on) the fourth, sixth and tenth of the petals one destroys one's capacity for music etc.

In the 'cycle of purity' (vi¿uddhi-cakra) contemplation on eight petals from the eighth onwards leads to success in musical arts etc., while the sixteenth petal is destructive for the purpose. The tenth and the eleventh petals of the psycho-physical centre called lalan¡ bestow success in the musical arts, while its first, fourth and fifth petals are known to be detrimental.

The embodied soul whose attention is focused in the aperture of the upper cerebrum, being immersed in ambrosia, finds fulfillment and should therefore cultivate the musical arts with great excellence.

The embodied soul cannot in any way accomplish anything (worthwhile) in the field of musical arts by concentrating on any other petals or psycho-physical centres. Brahma-granthi: Two finger-length above the base and two finger-breadth below the genitals in the space of one finger-breadth is the centre of the body, shining like molten gold.

There is located a slender flame of fire at a distance of nine fingers from that centre, and it is there that the life-source of the body is found, four fingers in elevation as well as in ex-tension. This has been called brahma-granthi by the ancients.

Right in its centre is situated the 'cycle of the umbilicus' (n¡bhi-cakra) with twelve spokes, and like the spider caught in (its own) net; yonder there wanders the self-conscious being.

 SuÀumn¡ and other n¡d¢s: Mounted upon the vital breath, the self-conscious entity, through the suÀumn¡ keeps on ascending to the cerebral aperture and descending back, moving like a tight rope dancer.

From the life-centre to the cerebral aperture the n¡·¢s, surrounding the suÀumn¡ and enmeshing the life-centre by their network, enlarge the body by developing their branches.

These n¡·¢s are in a large number; but fourteen out of them are important, viz., suÀumn¡, pi´gal¡ i·¡, kuh£, sarasvat¢, g¡ndh¡r¢, hastijihv¡, v¡ru¸¢, ya¿vodar¡; vi¿vodar¡, ¿a´khin¢; p£À¡, payasvin¢ and alambuÀ¡. The first three of these again are considered to be most significant.

SuÀmn¡ is the supreme among these three; with ViÀ¸u as its presiding deity, it leads to the pathway of liberation. It is established in the centre of the life-source and is flanked by i·¡ on the left and pi´gal¡ on the right. The vital breath moving through id¡ and pi´gal¡ is called moon and the sun, for they determine the movement of time; but suÀumn¡ destroys time.

Sarasvat¢ and kuh£ are on the either sides of suÀumn¡. G¡ndh¡r¢ hastijihv¡, are respectively situated behind and in front of i·¡, while puÀ¡ and ya¿asvin¢ are similarly situated with respect to pi´gal¡.

Vi¿vodar¡ lies in the midst of kuh£ and hastijihv¡, and v¡ru¸¢ likewise is in the midst of kuh£ and ya¿asvin¢ exists between g¡ndh¡r¢ and sarasvat¢ and alambuÀ¡ is in the midst of the life-centre.

Now, id¡ and pi´gal¡ (extend) up to the tips of the left and the right nostrils respectively, and kuh£ to the front of the genitals. Sarasvati extends up to the tongue, while g¡ndh¡r¢ is set by the back (of the body). Hastijihv¡ runs from the left eye to the toes of the left foot; while v¡ru¸¢ pervades the entire body; on the right other hand, ya¿asvin¢ extends from the toe up to the right foot; while vi¿vodar¡ pervades the whole body. Sa´khin¢, extends up to the left ear and pusa up to the right eye, while payasvin¢ is extended to the extremity of the right ear. AlambuÀ¡ stands coiled around the root of the anus.

(tr. by R.K. Shringy and Prem Lata Sharma)

Sound, tonal and syllabic, constitutes the body of music. The production, travel and perception of sound is a physical phenomenon, but perception also involves the mind. In the carrying of sound, air is the best known medium. In the process of sound-production in the human body, air is not only the medium of carrying the sound but is also the instrument of sound production as it strikes the various locations. The N¡¶ya¿¡stra combines all this while saying that sound is made of air or is of the nature of air.[ii]

After N¡¶ya¿¡stra, B¤hadde¿¢ introduces Agni (or the kinetic energy in the body) as the element that propels the air as well as p¤thiv¢ that forms the base for this action of the fire and the air and ¡k¡¿a that provides space for all this movement .[iii]

Thus, four elements, viz., ¡k¡¿a or space, air, fire and earth have been spoken of in the context of the production of sound in general and musical sound in particular. The role of air and fire is direct, that of the earth is figurative and that of space is implied or implicit (rarely pronounced).

The áikÀ¡ texts also deal with the production of sound in the human body in similar terms.[iv] The close similarity between the description of the process of sound production in the texts of áikÀ¡ and Sa´g¢ta-á¡stra is notable, though their subtle nuances are also interesting.[v] The process is the same in relation to speech and music. That the two have been taken to be integral constituents of the totality of human expression through the aural medium is also clear from the fact that three basic words are common to them. These are:


In Speech

In Music






Primary melodic unit


Word (Primay semantic unit)

Lexical or non-lexical textual unit, melodic pharase, sub-section of a composition or ¡l¡pa

In language, it is the vowel that embodies interval (high, low tone), and duration (long and short) and the consonant merely holds their reflection. It is impossible to separate tone from syllable. Tone cannot be manifested without the association of syllable at least¡k¡ra (the ¡ sound) will unavoidably accompany the production of any musical sound by the human organism. In musical instruments, the 'stroke' part of the sound produced has invariably been identified with consonants of language in the Indian tradition and the 'resonance' part has been identified with vowels to which nasalization is sometimes suffixed. Similarly, linguistic communication is not devoid of pitch (albeit irregular), loudness, timbre and duration. The holistic approach of the Indian Tradition takes due cognizance of the basic unity of linguistic and musical expression. In music text and melody form combinations of numerous varieties, according to the degree of emphasis on one or the other at any given time.

Both P¡¸in¢ya áikÀ¡ and áa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara speak of the 'will to speak' arising in the atman, although the former is dealing with language and the latter with music. The concept of unity between the two has been discussed above. The subtle difference between the two has, however, been pointed out by Abhinavagupta in Tantr¡loka. That (v¡k) which is made of nada and is beautiful with patterns of svaras, that is verily the gross pa¿yant¢ on account of the non-differentiation of syllables and the like. The potency (¿akti) in the form of being one with non-differentiation is called madhurya. The concrete state (of this vak) comes into being on account of the friction between sthana (location in the body or on an instrument) and air and that is the p¡ruÀ¢¿akti (potency taking the form of harshness).[vi]

Hence, the state of merging in this (v¡k taking the form of n¡da is attained immediately (on its perception) on account of its similarity with saÆvit brought about by the fact of its being of the same category (s¡j¡tya). Those who do not attain this state of merging or identification, they do not know the state of the merging of the body and the like and are ahydayas (as distinct from sah¤dayas) and their saÆvit is subdued or submerged. Whatever sound is produced on instruments covered or fastened with membrane and the like, that is both concrete and non-concrete and is hence madhyam¡ (v¡k) in its gross form. Raktat¡ or the state of being red or delightful comes about on account of the existence of the aspect of non-differentiation present in madhyarm¡. Where there is svaramay¢ (v¡k) characterised by non-differentiation, that (rendering on the drum-instruments) is the bestower of delight. Non-differentiation leads to bliss, which could be seen to be experienced. In the recitation of the t¡la-syllables, one gets delight from the inarticulate sound (in which the syllables are couched).[vii]

That (v¡k) which is the cause of the manifestation of articulate syllables, is the gross vaikhar¢ from which is born the expanse of the sentence and the like. The anusandh¡na (lit. planning or aiming at, here mental image companied by self-consciousness) that constitutes the beginning of these three forms of gross v¡k is distinct in each of the three forms and is given the name s£kÀma or subtle. 'I am making Àa·ja' or 'I am producing svaras', I am playing (on the drums) and 'I am speaking a sentence, these three forms that anusandh¡na (self-conscious will) takes are experienced as being distinct.[viii]

The form of these three that is free from up¡dhi (attribute or qualification) is the para or ultimate state where there is Siva, the embodiment of paracit. (Tantr¡doka, III 237c-248b)

Abhinavagupta speaks of the desire to produce Àa·ja, i.e., a musical note or svara, to play on drums and to speak. These three aural expressions have been identified with three manifestations of v¡k in its gross form, as follows:


Aural Expression
The gross fifm of v¡k

1. Rendering of melody with the voice or on chordophones or aerophones


2. Rendering on drums


3. Speaking


The above three forms of expression gradually proceed from the subtle towards the gross.

The will or self-consciousness of the performer/speaker is the subtle (s£kÀma) form of the above three levels of v¡k. The unmanifest or ultimate form of these three is called par¡.

Ëtman or PuruÀa is the Ultimate Reality that is beyond the Bh£tas which in turn are manifestations of the same. The desire to speak or produce a sound arises in the Ëtman, i.e., the mind, fire, air, etc., start functioning at the behest of the Ëtman or PuruÀa. In other words, the 'action' of the Bh£tas is actuated by the Ëtman or PuruÀa..

The mind is the element that propels the fire or kinetic energy. It is said to be annamaya, equated with anna, the Upani+dic word for 'food'. Primarily, food is the object of oral assimilation by the body and secondarily, it stands for all the objects of sense perception that are 'consumed' or 'taken'. In its primary meaning, anna is directly equated with prthivi and in its secondary meaning with all the five elements. As for water, rasa being the ultimate determining factor of propriety (aucitya) in all creative activity and aesthetic delight or enjoyment, bearing analogy with the sense of taste, its presence is all-pervading.

In instrumental music also, the mind, the kinetic energy as the 'acting agent' the air as the carrier or even producer of sound, the latter in the case of wind instruments like flute, are in operation.

Thus, the mind as a direct 'associate' of the earth is not only responsible for image-making in music or any other art, but is also the propelling agent that, activates the kinetic energy in the body for sound production through the voice or through an instrument. The earth functions through the mind and also as the base for all activity, psychological or physical. The mind in turn is the agent or kara¸a (instrument) of Ëtma, the other two instruments being v¡k and pr¡¸a. In music, all these three agents are directly active. The visual arts, v¡k is implicit, but in music, manas (mind), pr¡¸a (not only vital air but all physical and physiological activity) and v¡k (articulate and inarticulate sound or syllabic and tonal sound) are all explicitly involved. Mind embodies the beginning, pr¡¸a comes in the middle and continues and v¡k is the product that is arranged in structures of svara, t¡la and pada.

When the bh£tas are talked of as being three, instead of five, then manas is identified with anna or p¤thiv¢ pr¡¸a with water and v¡k[ix] with tejas or agni. In this scheme of three Mah¡bh£tas viz., agni, water and earth, water is identified with pr£¸a or air, and ¡k¡¿a is accepted as being implicit.

The figurative representation of the Mah¡bh£tas in the delineation of the impact of sound, as available in Sa´g¢ta-á¡stra is very striking and remarkable. It reveals the psychic process that comprehends the 'inner' and 'outer' in one stroke. Some examples will illustrate this point:

1. High and low in svara is generally termed as t¡ra and mandra. But they are also called d¢pta (lit. brilliant) and prasanna (lit. clear, secondarily happy)[x]. Brilliance is related to Agni and clarity to water. Empirically, higher notes have an association of warmth and lower notes that of coolness both for the performer and the listener. M¤du is another name for lower notes its literal meaning is soft. Softness, primarily, pertains to the sense of touch which is related to air but secondaily, softness could also be associated with water.

2. Madhura (sweet) as an adjective and m¡dhurya (sweetness) as an abstract noun is a very basic quality of musical sound. Sweetness is directly related to water as the sense of taste and the object of taste, both are derived from water or are attributes of the same.

3. Snigdha is an adjective derived from the noun sneha which is difficult to translate in English. Sneha is the basic quality of oil, butter or other similar substances. It is considered to be the opposite of r£kÀa or dry. In the English language 'dry' stands both for that which is devoid of water or oil, butter and the like. But in Sanskrit, there are two different words, viz.,¿uÀka for the former and r£kÀa, for the latter. Sneha also means love and thus the quality of butter is transferred to the mind. Sneha is an attribute of water and butter, oil and the like are said to have an element of tejas or agni. Hence this quality is related to both fire and water. álakÀ¸a (lit. continuous like the vertical flow of oil) is another quality of the voice, that bears the association of water and fire.

4. Ghana (dense) as an adjective of the voice or musical sound is associated with the earth which embodies density.

5. Raµjaka, rakta (red and delightful) as adjectives and raµjakat¡, rakti as abstract nouns are all derived from the root raµja which means 'to colour'. Primarily, colour pertains to visual perception and secondarily, it has been applied to aural perception. The sense-peception of colour has been transferred to the psychological realm as delight. Colour (r£pa) is an attribute of Agni.

6. Pracura (full) as an adjective of voice stands for the fulness or richness of tone like density (ghanat¡). This also is associated with the earth. G¡·ha (lit. closely knit) is another quality that bears association with the earth.

7. Ujjvala (lit. bright) or chavim¡na (lit. lustrous) as qualities of the voice are again related to Agni.

8. The five categories of musicians spoken of in Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara include a triad of raµjaka, the one who brings about mriga or colourfulness, bh¡vuka or bh¡vaka, who delineates bh¡va and rasika, who expresses rasa. The first one is mindful of the interest or taste of the audience, the second one also pays some attention to the expectations of the audience, but the third one is completely oblivious of the audience.[xi]  Ra´ga or colour is related to fire, bh¡va having been figuratively equated with smell, is related to the earth and rasa to water.

Music, being directly related to aural perception and this perception being an attribute of ¡k¡¿a, is primarily related to the same. Conceptually, this relationship is complete in itself. But in the production, communication and enjoyment of musical sound, the other four elements. specially earth, fire and air, have their definite roles. Water is related to the gestalt of music. The qualities of the musical voice have been given figurative names that bear close affinity with one or the other of the five elements.

Sa´g¢ta-á¡stra has attempted to discover the essential unity between the 'inner' and the 'outer' and the Ultimate Reality that permeates both of them.[xii]

[i] . It is notable that not only physical or physiologica, organs, functions, objects etc.,      have been said to be derived from the five elements, but psychological qualities like intelligence, wrath sharpness etc., have also been enumerated in this context

[ii] . Ná XXXIV.28a v¡yv¡tmako bhavecchabdaÅ...

    Sound is made up of air or is of the nature of air.

[iii] ."yaduktaÆ brahma¸aÅ sth¡naÆ brahmagranthi¿ca yaÅ sm¤taÅ  I

     tannaadhye saÆsthitaÅ  pr¡¸aÅ pr¡¸¡d vahnisamudgamaÅ  II

     vahnim¡rutasaÆtog¡nn¡daÅ   samupaj¡yate  II

    n¡d¡dutpadyate bindurn¡d¡t sarvaÆ ca v¡´mayam  II

    kandasth¡nasamuttho hi sam¢raÅ ca v¡´mayam    I

    £rdhvaÆ ca kurute sarv¡Æ n¡dapaddhatimussat¡m  II "

    nak¡raÅ pr¡¸a ity¡hurdak¡ra¿c¡nalo mataÅ      II

    n¡dasya dvipad¡rtho'yaÆ sam¢c¢no mayoditaÅ  II (20)

    anu. 1

tatr¡dau t¡vad deh¡gnipavanasaÆyog¡t puruÀaprayatnaprwrito dhvnir n¡bher£rdhvam¡k¡¿ade¿am ¡kr¡man dh£mavat sop¡napadakrame´a pavamecchay¡' nekadh¡rohannantarbhutap£rthaty¡ catuÅ¿ruty¡dibhedabhinnaÅ pratibh¡sat

"That which is spoken of as the location (sth¡na) of Brahman and which is known as brahma-granthi, pr¡¸a is seated in it, vahni (fire) arises from pr¡¸a; n¡da is horn of the combination of vahni (fire) and m¡ruta (air)."

"From n¡da is formed bindu and from n¡da all v¡´maya (whatever is made of speech or language) is born."

...the air arising from the location of kanda (lit. bulbous root, here brahma-granthi or the centre of energy in the human body situated below the navel) and moving about up and down, produces the intense course of uidn. (B¤hadde¿¢, three verses quoted in the text after verse 19).

"The letter na is spoken of as pr¡¸a (air) and the letter da is known as fire; this is spoken  by me as the meaning of the dual verbal component (pada) of n¡da."

"... There in the beginning on account of the combination of the deh¡gni (lit. bodily fire, battery of energy) and air, the sound propelled by the effort of the puruÀa (¡tman), attacking the ¡k¡¿a (space) above the navel, ascending in many ways, in steps of a ladder like smoke, according to the will of the air, appears to be different by way of being composed of four ¿rutis etc. through being comprised of the inherent pratyaya (assured consciousness) of filling up with air..." (Ibid., Anu. 1)

¡tmecchay¡ mah¢tal¡d v¡yurudyannidhy¡ryate II

n¡·¢bh¢ttau tath¡k¡¿e dhvan¢ raktaÅ svaraÅ sm¤taÅ  II

"By the will of the ¡tman, the v¡yu (that is) moving upward from the base of the 'earth' (n¡bhi, navel) (and) is held on the 'wall' of the n¡·¢s and in the space, is known as svara, the delightful sound." (Ibid., verse quoted after Anu. 15)

The architectural image suggested in the above verse is striking. The centre below the navel has been equated with the earth, the air rising upwards strikes against the 'walls' of n¡·¢s (tubular vessels) and raises its head in ¡k¡¿a (space), represented by the cerebral region, during sound that is gradually rising in pitch.

[iv] .   ¡tm¡ buddhy¡ sameth¡rth¡n mano yu´kte vi´kte vivakÀay¡  I

      manaÅ k¡y¡gnim¡hanti sa prerayati m¡rutam  II

     m¡rutast£rasi caran mandraÆ janayati svaram  I

     pr¡taÅ savanayogaÆ taÆchando g¡yatram¡¿ritam II

    ka¸¶e m¡dhyandinayugaÆ madhyamaÆ trairÀ¶ubh¡nugam  I

   t¡raÆ t¡rt¢yasavanaÆ ¿¢Àa¸yaÆ jagat¡nugam  II

          ...vaktram¡padya m¡rutaÅ  I

  var¸¡µ janayate ...

(P¡¸in¢ya áikÀ¡,6-9)

"Ëtman, having gathered or put together the content, artha (of sound) with buddhi (intellect) activates the mind with the will to speak.

The mind strikes the fire in the body. The fire propels the air. The air, moving in the chest-region, throat and cerebrum manifests low, medium and high sound respectively. Reaching the mouth cavity, the air manifests the var¸as."

[v] . Comparison of the description of the process of sound-production in the human organism as given in the p¡¸in¢ya áikÀ¡ and B¤hadde¿¢ and Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara, brings to light the following subtle nuances:

1. Instead of ¡tman that is mentioned as the substratum of the desire to 'speak' in P¡¸in¢áikÀ¡ and Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara B¤hadde¿¢ mentions puruÀa. PuruÀa is the collection of twenty-four elements viz., buddhi (sixfold perception as as-sociated with the iive sense-orgsns and mind), the ten indriyas (viz., five sensory and five motor organs), mind, the six objects of perception and the ultimate repository of the above twenty-three elements, i.e., ¡tman, according to Ëyuruedn.

2. In P¡¸in¢ya áikÀ¡and Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara the first step is the will of the ¡tman, but in B¤hadde¿¢ the combination of 'fire' and 'air' is spoke of as the first step, without the mention of any activating agent. The puruÀa is mentioned in the second step as the agent that propels the air upwads. Acitaion in the name of Iiohala, quoted in B¤hadde¿¢ reproduced in note No. 4 above, does mention the will of the atman as the first step.

3. In P¡¸in¢ya áikÀ¡, buddhi is mentioned as an agent, that 'gathers' the content of speech. This is absent in B¤hadde¿¢ and Sa´g¢ta-Ratn¡kara; the reason could perhaps be that in musical sound the differentiation of the form and content (meaning) of sound is not pertinent.

4. In B¤hadde¿¢mind has not been mentioned at all. The mention of pratyaya (assured consciousness), however, does bring in the mind, but it is related to the process of hearing in the speaker. (Based on Vimar¿a, p.155 B¤D. Vol.I) Whatever the differences, the direct involvement of 'air' and 'fire' is accepted by all.

[vi] 6 . The resonant quality of svara is called m¡dhurya here and the 'attack' constituting the concrete nature of musical sound is called the p¡ruÀ¢ ¿akti (harsh potency).

[vii] . The rendering on drums is accompanied with an explicit or implicit recitation of the syllables that represent identification of the strokes on the instrument concerned. These syllables are differentiated 01 articulate, but the non-differentiated tonal component of the rendering on drums does give delight, i.e., is rakta.

[viii] 8. Jayaratha's commentary on verse 246 gives the name jig¡s¡ for the first, viv¡dayiÀ¡ for the second and vivakÀ¡ for the third. Texts of Sa´g¢ta-á¡stra have not taken this distinction into account and have thus emphasised only the unity of the process of sound-production in speech aud music.

[ix] . annamayaÆ hi saumya manaÅ I ¡pomay¡Å I  tejomay¢ v¡k II

(Ch Up, VI.7.6)

"0 gentle one the manas is made of anna. The pr¡¸as are made up of water and the v¡k is made up of tejas."

[x] . Abhinava-Bh¡rat¢ on Ná XXIX.35 equates d¢pana or the act of making d¢pt¡ with highness of notes and pras¡da or clarity with mandrat¡ or lowness. The words d¢pa and prasanna have been used profusely in Ná in this chapter.

[xi] ¿ikÀ¡k¡ro' nuk¡ra¿ca rasiko raµjakastath¡ I

      bh¡vuka¿ceti g¢tajµaÅ paµcadh¡ g¡yamnaÆ jayuÅ II

     anyuna¿ikÀa¸e dakÀaÅ ¿ikÀ¡k¡ro mataÅ sat¡m   I

     anuk¡ra iti proktaÅ parabha´gayanuk¡rakaÅ   II

     ras¡viÀ¶astu rasiko raµjakaÅ ¿rot¤rraµjakaÅ    I

    g¢tasy¡ti¿ay¡dh¡n¡dbh¡vukaÅ parik¢rtitaÅ   II

Five types of vocalists are recognised by the vocal experts viz., ¿ikÀ¡k¡ra, anuk¡ra, rasika, raµjaka and bh¡raka. One who is capable of imparting flawless instructions is considered by the wise to be ¿ikÀ¡k¡ra (the educator). The imitator of another's style is called anuk¡ra (the imitator). One who gets absorbed in the aesthetic delight (rasa) is rasika (the aesthete), and one who entertains the listeners is raµjaka (entertaining), and one who is extremely expressive in the delineation of the song is known as bh¡vaka (the inspirer of emotion).

[xii] "Levels of Aesthetic Experience in Music" by Prem Lata Sharma, In Indian Music Journal, April 1964,pp. 19-21


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