Indian Classical Music and Indian Philosophy

“It would be a great mistake to dwell upon the multiform nature of Hindu philosophy and miss the common theme running through the systems. Indian music is a helpful analogy of Hindu philosophy In classical Indian music, the musicians start with raga, i.e., a melody composed of notes in a specific order and with specific emphases, and a tala, i.e., an organized group of beats on which the rhythm structure is based. Raga corresponds approximately to scale in Western musical theory; tala corresponds to measure. The musicians are challenged to weave a woof consistent with the given melodic and rhythmic pattern.

Whereas a concert of Western music is a re-creation of an original creation, a concert of Indian music is a creation with the framework of the raga and the tala. Raga and tala constitute the invariable; the musicians supply the variable. Indian music thus is a revealing of the pluralities within oneness; it is the manifold manifesting of the Cosmic Oneness. So is Indian philosophy. The primary texts of Hinduism, the Vedas and the Upanishads, supply the raga and the talas. This is the speculative insight that reality is the integration of values.

In Indian music, creativity demands the deliberate variegation of the effects of beauty within raga and tala; variety with structure, freedom from law, liberation within discipline, plurality within unity, many-ness within one, diversity within simplicity, many-foldness within the single, finite within the infinite, relative within the Absolute, the informal within the formal, particularity within universality, unpredictability within predictability, pluralism within monism, variegation within evenenss, creativity within staticity, difference within sameness, change within the unchanging, flux within stability, novelty within the established, movement within the unmoved, alternation within the unalterable, jiva within atman!”

Troy Wilson Organ in The Hindu Quest for the Perfection of Man.

Quoted by Rajiv Malhotra in the book “Being Different”


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