Raga, is a terminology which is used regularly in Indian Music. First of all what is raga? How can raga be defined? How can raga therapy cure diseases?
In the 7th century the term ‘Raga’ was defined for the first time by Sage Matanga “a combination of tones which, with beautiful illuminating graces, pleases the people in general” in his book, ‘Brihadessi of Matanga’.
Raga is referred to as a ‘miracle of microtones’ and the swaras can range between 5 to7 which covers 22 sruti’s in an octave. The flexibility in Indian music provides the performer an opportunity to osculate swaras, which is where Raga music plays the therapeutic role. The frequencies can reach the neighboring swaras which intensifies the listener’s musical experience. Overtime the raga music therapy system can trim a person’s mind and their behavioral pattern.
Every listener will have a connection to their favorite raga emotionally and physically (e.g. nod of the head). The list below provides raga’s which can assist in defusing certain diseases.
The awareness of Raga Therapy is growing in society. Research has embarked to re-discover the therapeutic ragas on a trial and error basis which is already providing promising results. Simple interaction to musical rhythms in bhajans and kirtans is capable of relaxing the mind which can also provide positive hormonal changes in the system. We all suffer from stress due to our hectic lifestyle and music is a safe solution to take some time off.
The earth has various aspects of beauty as well as variety in its sound. Its pitch is on the surface, its form is crescent-like, the sound of earth is dim and dull, and produces a thrill, activity, and movement in the body. All instruments of wire and gut, as well as percussive instruments such as drums, cymbals, represent the sound of the earth.
The sound of water is deep. Its form is serpent-like, and it is best heard in the roaring of the sea, the sound of running water, of mountain hills, the drizzling and pattering of the rain, the sound of water running from a pitcher into a jar, from a pipe into a tub, from a bottle into a glass. All of these sounds have a smooth and lively effect, and a tendency to produce imagination, fancy, dream, affection, and emotion. The instrument called Jalataranga of Chinese water bowls have a touching effect on the emotions of the heart.
The sound of fire is high-pitched and its form is curled. It is heard in the falling of the thunderbolt and in the volcanic eruption, in the sound of fire when blazing; in the sound of crackers, rifles, guns and cannons. All these have a tendency to produce fear.
The sound of air is wavering and its form is zigzag. Its voice is heard in storms, when the wind blows and in the whisper of the morning breeze. Its effect is piercing and sweeping. The sound of air finds expression in all wind instruments made of wood, brass, and bamboo. It has a tendency to kindle the fire of the heart. Krishna's flute is the classic example. The air sound over powers all other sounds, for it is living and in every aspect its influence produces ecstasy.
The sound of ether is self-contained and it holds all forms and colors. It is the basis for all sounds. Its instrument is the human body because it can be audible only through it. Although it is all pervading it is unheard. It manifests to man as he purifies his body from material properties. The body can become its proper instrument when the space within it is opened, when all the nadis are purified. Then the sound which exists externally in space becomes manifest inwardly also. Ecstasy, illumination, restfulness, joy and revelation are the effects of this sound. This sound only elevates those who open themselves to it by the sacred practices of the yogis.
1. One obvious use of music therapy is that of a sedative. It can replace the administration of tranquillizers , or at least reduce the dosage of tranquillizers.
2. Music Therapy / music increases the metabolic activities within the human body. It accelerates the respiration , influence the internal secretion, improves the muscular activities and as such affects the "Central Nervous System " and Circulatory System of the listener and the performer.
Raga Chikitsa was a treatise written in the ancient times,which highlighted the usage of ragas for treatment of various ailments and the methodology to listen to such ragas for cures.
The various Ragas according to Raga Chikitsa for curing ailments are:
Hindol-helps in curing arthritis,due to its vibrations and swinging nature(meends)
Madhmadh Sarang-helps in curing acidity,due to its ability to geberate heat(fighting fire by fire) Todi-due to its contemplative and melodious nature,it cures many ailments like acidity,diabetes,etc Darbari Kanada-Due to its contemplative and plaitive nature it can be used as treatment for depression,and insomnia Bageshree and Abhogi-both Being sweet and melodious ragas,they have a somniatic effect and is used against insomnia Malkauns-An audav raga,Malkauns is used for low blood pressure
Miyan Malhar-Due to the andolita nature and meendkari of this raga,we can use this raga for asthma cure.
Puriya Dhanashri-A sandhi prakash raga,it has widely been known to have the ability to act on High blood pressure and Diabetes Bhimpalasi-Its focus on the madhyam makes it a very evocative raga,and its useful for aiding.
The rest of the ragas (Shree,Yaman,Marwa)are wonderful as listening aids for stress relaxation.