Identifying the celestial quality in music

One sometimes chances upon those seemingly divine pieces of music which seem to mystically inundate the heart and transport the soul into a reverie.  It is as if their vibrations were suffused with some enchanting je ne sais quoi.   This can happen even if the song happens to be sung in some alien language.  The reason this exaltation occurs, according to the Mother Mirra Alfassa, is that there are certain universal associations of sounds which, when present in any devotional music, can magically open the doorway to the soul.

Persian miniature painting. Click image for source

In the following passage from her conversation with a disciple Satprem, she expatiates on the celestial sounds in music

Mother Mirra Alfassa: Yesterday, while I was working here in the morning, they made me listen to music by Sahana Devi (an Indian singer; see a short bio) a hymn by their group which is in the line of “religious music.” There are sounds, certain sounds that may be called “religious sounds”; they are certain “associations of sounds,” which are universal, that is, they don’t belong to a particular time or a particular country. In all times and all countries, those who have had this religious emotion have spontaneously given out this sound. While the music was playing, that perception came to me very clearly (it’s an association of two or three sounds), it came with the very state of consciousness that produces these sounds, and which is always the same: the sounds reproduce the state of consciousness. The whole instrumental accompaniment is different, and naturally that always, always spoils it. But these two – two or three – sounds are wonderfully expressive, in a precise, exact way, of the religious feeling, the Contact (gesture to the Heights), the adoration: the contact of adoration.

And in her (Sahana’s) piece, this sound recurs two or three times. All the rest is padding. But that … And I’ve heard it in churches, I’ve heard it in temples, I’ve heard it in mystic gatherings, I’ve heard it … Always mixed with all kinds of other things, but that’s … And these sounds are absolutely evocative of the effect – in fact it’s the other way around: it’s the state of consciousness that produces these sounds, but when you hear the sounds it puts you in contact with the state of consciousness. So then, I understood why people like to listen to this music: it’s because it suddenly gives them … ah! they feel something unknown to them.

How different everything becomes! You live in the state of consciousness, and then everything becomes different. You see things … yes, I think that’s what Sri Aurobindo calls seeing things from within outward.  One causes the other.

In Sunil’s music there are two or three of those associations of sounds that are evocative associations, and in his music it’s the splendor of the future creation, oh, it comes like a dazzling sun.

But even in very old music, or disjointed music, there is that association now and then: two sounds, a relationship between two sounds (two, sometimes three). And I don’t think people are aware of it, but that’s what puts them in contact with the state of consciousness.

(From the Mother’s Agenda, October 29, 1966)

Hmm…so how does one identify these two of three associations of universal sounds that evoke the soul within ?  Such questions must be brooded upon in solitude by each individual.  These knots are spontaneously unraveled when one rises to a higher plane of consciousness.   All revelations are ever-present in the Universe awaiting discovery.

The Mother with Sahana Devi, who lived in the Ashram from 1928 until 1990.

See Also

  1. Archive of Sunil’s music referred to above.
  2. Songs of Sahana Devi
  3. Music page
  4. The subtle sounds which indicate progress in Yoga
  5. The occult forces behind artistic movements
  6. Art as an aid in Yoga
  7. Developing discernment on which actions are spiritual
  8. How to know the Divine Will?
  9. The greater powers of the sense-mind (Manas)

2 thoughts on “Identifying the celestial quality in music

  1. Pingback: The psychic joy derived from a selfless act | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  2. Pingback: On popular music and movie songs | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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