Combination of Music and Yoga

by - Dr. T V Sairam

‘Ivaiha, Ivaiha’ “here itself, here itself”- ADI SANKARACHARYA (The usage of these words are attributed to Sri Adi Sankaracharya to emphasize the fact that the spiritual bliss can be right here and right now, provided we want it to be so.

All the systems of yoga aim at purifying the mind which is constantly contaminated by the dirt of Ego. To keep the mind shining and pure –devoid of one's ego interference, it is necessary that one adopts the practice of yoga constantly and continuously.

Now, what are the functions of the mind and how can it be purified?
The ancient scriptures have identified three functions that mind performs: intellect, emotion and will. In order to purify each such function i.e., by eliminating the shrouding ego on them, a person is advised to adopt and appropriate yogic path.
For instance, jnana yoga is recommended for the purification of intellect; bhakti yoga for emotions and karma yoga for will.

By doing self-less services to all humans, irrespective of caste, creed or religion – as demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa in the previous century- one could free one’s will from the attachment of ego.

Jnana yoga refers to knowledge and scriptures such as Holy Bible, Quran Sharif, Adi Granth, Zen Avesta and Bhagavad Gita can vacuum-clean the cob-webs of selfishness and ego from one's intellectual horizon. The very utterance of their syllables in these Holy Books with devotion and compassion would make this miracle happen – almost instantaneously!

And comes Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Divine Love! Saint Narada, in his Narada Bhakti Sutra calls the divine love variously. He calls it parama prema rupa, of the nature of universal love- which never distinguishes man from man – for that matter even animals, plants and all inanimate objects witnessed in one’s life are considered as deserving one’s love and affection! Divine love is also referred to by him as amrita swarupa, the Nectar of Immortality, meaning thereby that once you can develop love for others, both humans and animals, plants and inanimate objects in the universe without any distinction, you become immortal instantaneously!

Such love, he says gives siddha or perfection (in this otherwise imperfect existence) and contentment (which cannot be got by sheer purchasing power or money considerations)

Now where comes music in this scheme of yoga?

Music, we all know affects our mind. Many a psychologist has studied on the impact of music on one’s moods and mind. Neuro-musicology is a recent avatar in science which studies the impact of music on the human brain.
It is also widely known now that music affects one’s behaviour.

Yoga which, through the process of cleansing one’s ego brings in tremendous change in one’s personality.

Music waters and fertilizes so that such changes sprout, bud and flower in every individual so that the whole society reaps qualitative benefits.

Devotional music from ancient times, has been used by many religions to smoothly enable one in changing the pace of changing one’s brainwaves from the agitating beta-state to relaxed alpha-levels. It is only at alpha levels that one could cultivate love – the love which extends beyond one’s selfish considerations and moorings. Singing bhajans and kirtans are the time-tested – rather time-honoured ways through which one achieves instant relief from the over-active mind.

Even while doing work one could recall the musical patterns and structures. Without knowing its value workers sing while doing strenuous work; fishermen have their own songs to kill the monotony in the high sea. In rural Tamil Nadu, I have seen the rice-cultivators singing folk-songs while doing strenuous replanting rice. When the paddy was to be de-husked, in old days women used to use a long cylindrical wooden stick (Olakkai) to pound it. Every time the wooden stick falls on the paddy grains, a beat used to be kept and the women used to sing in accordance with such beats. Even in modern day gyms, this knowledge is used. As one jogs, one is advised to listen to the ‘clut-clut-clut-clut’ of a musical piece. Who can forget those lovely tunes that make the monotonous march into a glorious experience?


  • Sairam, T. V. 2007. Self-Music Therapy Chennai: Nada Centre for Music Therapy

  • Swami Tyagisananda (Year Not Mentioned) Narada Bhakti Sutra Madras: Sri Ramakrishana Math.

Dr T V Sairam, A serving bureaucrat and a writer, is from F/48B, Hari Nagar New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam @ gmail. com