The International Music Day was incepted by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin who had a deep adoration for spiritualism of India. Menuhin created deeper and richer music as he went deeper into yoga.
By Sreejit Datta, Assistant Professor, Director of Civilisational Studies Practice & Resident Mentor at Rashtram.
The International Music Day was incepted by the virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin who, for the most part of his life, harboured a deep adoration for the ethos and holistic spiritualism of India. Menuhin – a celebrated child prodigy in music happened to discover yoga in the most quotidian of circumstances imaginable – in a doctor’s chamber while leafing through a magazine! He read a passage in it on Hatha Yoga, and in his own words – “it struck me with the force of revelation”. Blessed be the author who wrote that magazine entry!
It was perhaps destiny that Yehudi Menuhin arrived in India to attend the invitation of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru just months after he had discovered yoga. In India, in this very birthplace of the five thousand years-old discipline of yoga, Menuhin made the association of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and followed on the path lighted up by the guru. Previously afflicted by a range of aches and discomforts in himself that arose from overstrained playing of the string instrument, Menuhin now experienced a seamless healing process set in motion within, after disciplining himself in the methods of yoga under the guru’s watchful eye. The relaxative pranayamic breathing intrinsic to yoga ridded the musician of his anxiety and also helped him trundle through technical difficulties. His music became richer and truer than ever.
The eternal sruti of the divine is what we know as ‘music’ in India and it has forever been explored as a conduit for offering prayers, as well as a way to engage with the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness. The key components of Indian Classical music – raga, tala, and swara are instrumental in striking the perfect balance which reflects the harmony inherent in the universe. Just as in the discipline of yoga one strives to achieve harmony in the mind, body, and spirit, so does one strive for perfection of the swara as a vehicle of imaginative and deeply contemplative expression in the sadhana of Saraswati – the goddess of speech, music, and learning – through sangeet. It is no wonder then that the intertwined disciplines of yoga and music has enabled a sadhaka as Menuhin reach transcendental heights in his creative vocation.
Today as we commemorate the International Music Day, we invoke Goddess Saraswati to bless us with the resolve to persevere in our sadhana with the following verses:
शुक्लां ब्रह्मविचारसारपरमामाद्यां जगद्व्यापिनीं,
वीणापुस्तकधारिणीमभयदां जाड्यान्धकारापहाम् ।
हस्ते स्फाटिकमालिकां च दधतीं पद्मासने संस्थितां,
वन्दे तां परमेश्वरीं भगवतीं बुद्धिप्रदां शारदाम् ॥
I meditate on Devi Sharada Who is Pure White in Colour, and whose deepest Essence can only be fathomed by inquiring into the nature of Brahman (Absolute Consciousness); Who is Supreme and Primeval, and Her Essence is spread across the whole Universe (as Consciousness), Who is holding the Veena (symbolising the essence of Music) and Book (symbolising the essence of Knowledge), and displaying the gesture of Fearlessness (arising out of Knowledge); the Knowledge which removes the darkness of Ignorance from our Minds, Who is holding a Garland of Crystal beads in Her Hand (shining with Purity), and Who is abiding on the Seat of Lotus (blooming like an awakened Consciousness), I Extol and Worship Her, Who is the Supreme Goddess Who awakens our Intelligence; I Worship Devi Sharada.
- Shuklam Brahma Vicara Sara – In sanskrit with meaning (https://greenmesg.org/stotras/saraswati/shuklam_brahma_vicara_sara.php) accessed on 30/09/2020