Stress Management, Prabhata Samgiita and Music Therapy
Stress Management, Prabhata Samgiita and Music Therapy
By Prof. Mrinal Kumar Pathak, Department of Architecture, BIT Misra, India
In this article I want to draw the attention of the readers to using music, and particularly Prabhata Samgiita, over five thousand songs composed by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, as a way to manage stress in life. The different expressions of human life are explored through the power of the melodious journey of symphony and the power of music, or samgiita, consisting of a variety of bháva (idea), sur (melody), chanda (rhythm) and bhaśa (lyrics).
Stress arises when a situation is not in our control. There are two types of stress, local stress and permanent stress. Local stress is temporary, for example, I am stuck in a traffic jam and am running late”, “I don’t remember where I put the keys’’ etc. But this stress is solved soon, like when one finds the keys or finally arrives for example. However there is also permanent stress, for example “I was late to work and my boss fired me, so I have no more job, and then my wife left me’’, etc. When stress becomes a part of our lifestyle, it becomes very harmful to our health. Therefore management of stress is an important issue in today’s world.
Now let’s play a little game and write the word “MANAGEMENT”. Now remove the letter ‘t’ from it. You will obtain “manage-men”. Family, friends, colleagues, boss – if you can manage them you will be happier and said to be a good manager. But how to manage men? Now remove the letter ‘n’, you then have “manage me”. So if I can manage me, I can manage people, and in the end I can enjoy the t (tea).
Let us define what “Me” is. Me is a very powerful word. I am, I exist, I have consciousness. When you encounter multiple Mes, when talking to someone who has his own me, communication happens. There are four types of communication: Intra- communication, Inter- communication, Group- communication and Mass-communication. Intra-communication is when communication happens inside, with Me to myself. Inter-communication happens when Me is talking to some other Me (person). Group communication is communication between more than two Mes (persons), for example between a teacher and students. Mass communication is when one is talking and others are listening, for example a political leader’s rally where a person with a microphone addresses the crowd. It is mostly one sided.
Now if you consider the above model of communication there is always a chance of noise or miscommunication as in Figure 1. Even for intra-communication we have the same risk. If this Me (inner self, will) is strong, confident and has conviction, expression will be better, smoother and there is less chance of conflict in Intra-communication but the question is How to communicate with this Me ? There are so many ways, like yoga, meditation… but it is not easy for everyone to take that step. It may be fulfilling, but it may also appear dull or difficult to concentrate at first for some people. To minimize this risk we use or apply? the fine art of expression for better expression of inner self. Here, MUSIC provides a joyful alternative.
Music is something related to our inner consciousness and expression. Communication happens through music. Music by definition is a combination of notes, rhythms and beats. Analyzing a particular arrangement can lead to the fine art of understanding sound. It is very beautiful and very deep. Understanding the music and the vibrations of a particular song sung by a particular singer with a particular melody with its definite structure is also a very pleasing exercise. Ancient Indians realized the importance of music and its effect on mind and therefore developed a whole science. We find reference of it in Sama Veda, one of the four Vedas dedicated to musical compositions.
It consists of a vast description of melodies, chants and their respective effect on the human mind, body and soul. It also contains various verses from Rig-Veda in a musical manner. Samaveda is believed to be the origin of Indian music. It gives us knowledge of various chants that have a divine effect on our body, mind and soul according to different times of a day.
In Rgveda, there was the science of metre (Chanda). There were seven metres viz., gayatrii, usniik, tristup, anustup, jagati, brahati and paunkti. Shivá, about 7000 years ago, invented the musical sura-saptaka (the oriental octave) and made the world of rhythms sweeter and more delightful. This was a fundamental contribution to the science of music. Ra’ga and Raginiis is a gift of Sada Shivá to the world of music. Based on close observation of sounds of animals, Shivá invented the science of phonetics. Phonetics depends on the science of breath, on inhalation and exhalation. Lord Sada Shivá laid the foundation of Indian music through his inventions of svara-sha’stra. He established harmony between rhythm and dance, and added mudra to them. Shivá observed that in the bodies of different creatures, the various glands were either over-active or under-active, either over-secreting or under-secreting. As a result, these creatures expressed themselves in different ways. Thus, Shivá invented the science of mudra. Each and every mudra affects certain human glands in a particular way and thus influences the human minds accordingly. The introduction of mudras to the world of dance elevated it to the status of classical dance. Therefore, the knowledge of music and its effect on the human body and mind existed since ancient times.
Now if we see all this sound and melody through the windows of applied sciences we know that everything in this world has a resonating structure. If this resonating structure is met, something can be worked on in it, and energy can be transmitted; either taken or given.
Now considering the above fact, pictured in fig 3, our glands also have resonating waves and if we match them we charismatically can deal with the secretion of hormones through the particular gland. The philosopher Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar also said “it is through sound, one of the five senses, that positive energy (microvita) is the best carried”.
Nowadays we understand that most diseases are caused by stress. And stress comes mainly from our thought process. Now, how to work on our thought process? There are some medicines that work on the mind, but although they can be a temporary help they are taking care mostly of the symptoms rather than the source, and in a drifty way that can cause other problems and dull or numb the mind further. To work on thought process, a psychologist or maybe a psychiatrist can be of great help as well; the main point is you need to retake contact with yourself, take a bridge to you and your consciousness with inner communication. And here comes a very useful thing.
Every human body and its glands have a resonating structure and resonating mental state according to the situation, time and place. So, as the inner communication grows deeper, the music starts its therapeutic action. Now let’s take an example of a song (lyrics +melody+instrumental music and rhythm). It is made of words and understanding of an expression. ‘Love’ has the energy that is conveyed with its meaning. If I say ‘hate’, ‘pain’, it has a different energy. If I say ‘happiness’, it has another different energy. It has an impact on your mind.
So here we see ‘words’ work as a boundary in a song, it constricts and limits the thought process hence moods are created. For example a patriotic song will make you feel patriotic, a love song will make you feel love, a sad song leads to pain or sadness, same with devotional songs etc. That boundary is called physical because from physical it is going to the mental world through the different layers of mind. (see figure 4) Lyrics take us from the physical to the mental, because each lyric also carries some idea (bháva). Now this is the journey of words. Rhythm in lyrics also imparts joy to the mind. Like we use mantras to take higher vibrations to the mind and strike directly on the glands (chakras). Now, the wonderful property of music is that it enhances these vibrations. Music boosts the strength of mood in literature just like a motor takes you much faster than just your feet.
Now with music words take you much faster because you are hearing and listening to the melody with resonance and there comes the third layer of mind, psycho-spiritual. There you need a methodological meditation to experience the spiritual part fully, but before that, music took you so far already; this journey throughout the three layers was done with music so easily.
Now as human beings we have likings, my thought process, my environment, my personal condition etc. Some people like some songs, other people like some other songs. Some will like Celine Dion, someone will love deep classical etc. Everybody has differences. Even while growing our likings change, and choices also mature. What does it mean, choices grow, what is mature music? It means understanding music in a deeper way. When you do so, you go deeper towards your heart, towards your consciousness. It isn’t always easy to understand it. But we have a shortcut for that. Suppose you have a feeling, sometimes you need to express it, right? Music can be the medium; it can help you do this expression. Today, psychology researchers have established the importance of feelings, acceptance and expression, and music comes very handy here; it indeed helps greatly, whether it’s pain, happiness, love, sadness. Through words, emotional expression happens.
After looking towards the different segments and parts of music, let us have an example which practically can be practiced in the easiest form as music therapy. There are different feelings which give you the soothing state of mind like respect, love and devotion etc. Here devotion is one of the beautiful expressions of gratitude and affection towards the supreme and there are so many poets and musicians that wrote and sang like Narsingh Mehta, Meera Bai, Swami Haridas, Rabindra Nath Thakur and many more. Considering the fact that they all were great devotees and what they wrote was their expression of their personal realization, so their song goes in a particular manner and feeling.
Now we have a question, do we have a collection of songs which can be considered as a whole in terms of emotion and variety of melodies with full of positivity? Do we have such a school of music? Here comes the answer “Prabhata Samgiita”, also known as Songs of a New Dawn or Prabhat’s Songs, are the collection of songs composed by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. Shrii Sarkar composed a total of 5,019 songs, including the lyrics and the melody, over a period of eight years from 1982 – 1990 in 8 languages. These songs contain many musical styles like Indian Classical Ragas, Gazal, Tappa, Jhumar, Qawali, Jazz, Blues, folk songs from different parts of the globe.
Prabhata Samgiita are so beautifully written that the collection of words and the literature prepare a mindset towards the most positive direction. Hopefulness and blessedness (physical-mental sphere) and composition and melody enhance the mood so greatly, they become so powerful that the emotion drives one to the inner circle of mind so easily (mental – psychic sphere). Even when not in pain, they can give strength. We feel like, oh, I wanted this feeling, this expression, and it is getting me even deeper. It is exceeding my expectations. Words are carefully chosen. You can easily find a Prabhata Samgiita that matches your emotions. Then we feel relaxed, we feel satisfied, because that ‘ME’ has got an expression. And by expressing these feelings, 50% of the self-work is done. Prabhata Samgiita can help us to express, go deeper, go closer to the supreme consciousness and get remedies from it.
To express these feelings more effectively Shrii Sarkar composed many of the songs on different Indian ragas that work on the resonating structure of the human mind.
We also should take care of environmental energy, the energy that surrounds us. Sun heat, positivity, negativity; we receive this energy every day. We also create a part of it. Knowingly and unknowingly we are getting this energy, this flow of vibrations from outside to inside. For example in the morning people mostly tend to like soothing music, while at night they will go to discotheques, dance clubs etc. Certainly, playing drums near someone who is asleep might get us beaten, because his mental energy is not so charged, it is relaxed, as the environmental energy and stimulations are lower at night; we resonate less. And as we grow with the day, energy builds up, therefore we go to bars discotheques etc.
As a music therapist, I can say that exhausting your energy in discotheques etc. is like losing your money in casinos, with only shallow satisfaction. Businessmen don’t waste money in casinos, they invest it, so there’s a higher chance of good return. To become happier, it’s best to invest on a path of felicity; the path of spirituality. And with music and Prabhata Samgiita, one can reach that destination much more easily.
That is why, to go back to what we said, stress management begins with ourselves, and music (Prabhata Samgiita) can be really helpful to us. A happy man or woman can spread this happiness to others and with the collective approach and understanding of melodies, expression of spiritual longing becomes easy and your spiritual goal becomes attainable.
Sarvetra sukhiná bhavantu
Sarve santu nirámayáh
Sarve bhadránii pashhyantu
Na kascid dukhamápnuát
Let everybody be happy.
Let everybody be free from physical ailments.
Let everybody see the bright side of everything.
Let none have to undergo suffering due to the pressure of circumstances
or due to defective social or economic order.
May everybody be blessed!