The idea of life
without "emotions" is just inanimate. We often use words
to express emotions. We paint words so beautifully, yet sometimes fail to
express the right emotion. Art is a means of expressing emotions to the fullest.
One element that is common among all performing arts is their ability to
express the emotions which make up different slices of life. Emotions
characterize life as well as art. Music is one such language of emotion.
Music without emotions is lifeless and an
emotion without music is inadequate. Navarasayutha krithiche ...A famous phrase from Thyagaraja's
"Sogasuga mridhanga thalamu" states that the nine emotions ("Rasas") are very essential aspects of a krithi. The present
focuses on the emotional power of music & the science behind these
of emotion: The effect of music on emotions is a result of embodied mind
thesis. According to a theory, an embodied philosophy or embodied mind thesis
proves that the laws of thought are metaphorical, not logical. What this
means is the truth would be constructed from metaphorical reasoning and is
not an attribute of reality. The truth would be an outcome of feelings of
certain situation, not attributed to facts, science or religion., say for
instance the chirp of birds, cry of a child....There is no science written
from where these emotions or feelings are derived, but they raise from
situation. Each time we hear a piece of music, we are actually
re-experiencing the emotion which we would have experienced earlier. So, the statement
"Music brings out emotions" is wrongly termed. The
correct way of stating this is- we reflect emotions on hearing to a piece of
music. The first time when an emotion is aroused, it creates a pattern in
certain part of the brain and each time a similar emotion is felt, this
pattern/template is invoked.
of emotions: Emotions in music need not be associated with the phrases
and the words that make up the song. Pure music i.e., music without words
(instrumental, aalaapana or swara kalpana) can bring out emotions too. To
site a good example, the tone of a person on the other end of the phone can
make us get a feel of his/her mood. Whether it is a face to face conversation
or a phone conversation, gesture and tone constitute around 90% of what is
being conveyed. In a similar way tone & its quality constitute a major
part of what is being expressed in music. Perhaps the brain identifies and catches
the gestures employed in music; gestures here being referred to the aural
gestures and not the body language. On recognizing the gestures, the brain
tends to imagine if it were to bring out these gestures, what would its
emotional state be? That explains how music creates emotions. To quote the
theory in a nut shell,
ears capture the music and its tone
brain listens and analyses the musical content
what feelings/emotions would have produced that configuration of music
If Raga is the soul of Carnatic music,
rasa or bhava is its emotional quality. Good quality rendering can arise intense
emotional feelings in both the person rendering the music and the person
listening. Nine types of rasas are identified predominantly in Carnatic arts,
be it music or dance.
Each raga is associated with a rasa.A raga
can portray more than one rasa if handled tactfully. Oscillating the relevant
swaras vigorously could give rise to "Roudhra"
rasa, while managing the same notes feebly could mean "Veera" rasa.Though rasa is an inbuilt trait of
music, the extent of its exposure lies with the musician, his imagination and
his control on the raga boundaries. Raga kamach maps to "shringara" Rasa and that is one good reason to have many
successful javalis in this raga.
Rasa could be associated with raga
as well as the tone and the phrases in case of verbal music.
Shantha rasa is the base of all emotions.
Some people term it as a passive state, devoid of all emotions. To put it the
right way, all emotions emerge out of Shantha rasa when their excitation
state is achieved and merge back to Shantha rasa when they are withdrawn.
Presence of all rasas in the right proportion or devoid of all rasa is
equivalent to Shantha rasa. This is like saying white is a combination of all
colours and black is devoid of any colour; we don't term either white or black as a colour J
Let me try to interpret and explain
the Navarasas with a close relevance to human life, its fabrics and flavors.
their interpretation and Navarasas in Carnatic music (Thyagaraja's compositions)
Life is the true testing ground. Emotions
are as large as life and twice as natural.
As soon as a child is born, the awe
that it feels while coming across every new act, every new incident is
something that is felt for the first time and is a matter to wonder and
ponder about. "Adbhutha
rasa" is the curiosity of man, the astonishment
caused by something not imagined earlier or felt. The emotional outpour of
Saint Thyagaraja in his various compositions appeal even to the lay listeners.Thyagaraja,
the king of Carnatic music has remarkably depicted Navarasas in his various
compositions on Lord Rama.In his composition in raga "Kapi"-"Raama raghukula jalanidhi", he says he is wonderstruck
Rama's greatness that it isn't possible even for Brahma,
the creator of the Universe to know the vastness and boundaries of Rama's great achievements.
Love is an indispensable part of
life. It encompasses every relationship and influences all actions."Shringara rasa" represents love and beauty; any element of beauty evokes love. This
emotion can be used to paint love between friends, love between a mother and
her child, the love for god or the love between a Guru and his disciple.
Thyagaraja has made so rich use of this emotion and expressed Love in all
forms to Lord Rama, seeing Rama as his father, mother, friend, teacher and
the most interesting being a beloved lover. In his composition "Chera raavadhemira" in raga reethigowla, Rama is addressed as
his divine lover and Thyagaraja yearns to keep gazing at his lotus face.
When love is not reciprocated, the
definite feeling would be anger. This brings us to "Roudhra rasa", anger, which could be out of concern for another or out of
experience of injustice.Thyagaraja couldn't target the
of his anger at Sri Rama. However he used nindha stuthi to express his
anguish against Rama for the indifference shown to him. One such composition
is his "Chalamelara saaketharama" in raga Marga Hindolam, where Thyagaraja
questions why Rama is so emotionless with him when he has shown so much of
love and sung his praises all the way.
Anger, most of the times is a result
of fear. The subtle feel of helplessness, the anxiety of being dismissed can
be expressed better in no form than through music. In the plaintive and
melancholic notes of raga Chakravakam, in composition "Etulabrothuvo theliyaa", Thyagaraja expresses the "Bhayanaka rasa".He says he
despicable record of sins and he is afraid how Rama is going to give him
refuge and save him from his past deeds.
The next essence is the feeling of
compassion. The sympathy and fellow-feeling that sorrow generates is "Karuna rasa".Thyagaraja is very tactful in praising Rama before he seeks compassion
from him in most of his compositions. He chooses the somber tones of raga
Amrithavahini in "Sriraama paadama" and says it is
enough if he secures His grace.Rama has been so compassionate to Ahalya
and redeemed her in the past and why not he show the same sympathy towards
The sixth emotion is Disgust. This
emotion is evoked by anything that is a symbol of repugnance, nausea .In his
composition in raga Kalyani, "Nidhichaala sukhama",
Thyagaraja expresses his deep aversion and disgust to material wealth
through "Bibhatsya rasa", when the Maharaja of Tanjore attempts to buy him and his
music through money.
To fight disgust, one needs Valor. To
be/become a hero doesn't need shining weapons. Heroism should be in body
and soul. Any person who has courage to take a stand exhibits "Veera rasa".Rama, the hero of Ramayana is the embodiment of Veera
rasa.In the composition,"Rama bana thrana" in raga Saveri,
Thyagaraja has beautifully described Rama's manliness
his arrows' valor, the arrow that killed the army of Ravana,
the arrow that destroyed the evil on the Earth.
The ability to express amusement or
laughter is one thing that separates the human species from animals. Teasing
and laughing with a friend is one face of "Hasya rasa".Thyagaraja enjoys Hasya with his friend Sri Rama in
the composition "Vararagalaya" in raga Kamboji
expressing amusement at empty boasts of people who have scant knowledge of
Music and brag themselves as scholars and experts.
Beyond all these emotions lies the
emotion of peace and serenity."Shantha Rasa" represents complete harmony
among mind, body and the universe. This is a state where the mind is in rest,
a state of tranquility. In his composition, "Shanthamuleka"
Sama raga, Thyagaraja has pleasingly delivered the essence of Shantha rasa.
An attempt to depict emotions has
evolved more rasas than the above mentioned 9 flavors. "Bhakthi rasa" and "Gana rasa" could be considered
as derivatives of the Navarasas. The beautiful compositions namely "Ragasudharasa (raga: andholika)","Shobillu
saptha swara (raga: jaganmohini)","Sripapriya sangeethOpasana (raga: atana)" conveys the nectar of music brings pleasure that is
equivalent to the beneficent results of all the Navarasas.Further moving
on to Bhakthi rasa, we have a range of compositions, quoting a few, "Ramabhakthi saamrajya(raga:shuddha bangala)","Apparamabhakthi(raga:panthuvarali)".How great and grand is the
essence of devotion. It stops the wanderings of the mind and provides a
protective shield as eyelids involuntarily serve to eyes.
I have tried to provide my own
interpretation to Navarasas to underscore two topics-their relevance to the
mundane actions that characterize everyday life and their presence in
Carnatic music through various examples from Thyagaraja's golden collections.
Nothing in this paper is new, but
the attempt is to combine the scientific, emotional and spiritual aspects of
this vast ocean of music in one shell for easier consumption.
Music, we can experience emotions and add expression to our experience"