Music As an Expression of Knowledge
What we know could be approached in four ways: introverted, ambiverted,
extroverted, and what I call ultra-extroverted.
The introverted perspective relies on our intuition, and knowledge
in this manner is achieved through practice of ashtaanga yoga
and japa. There is minimal dependence on the senses. The senses
fall silent, as they become part of knowledge itself. The light
of knowledge also annihilates thought.
The ambiverted state of being is when the seeker depends more
on her powers of reason. She enters a state of partial introversion
as well as extroversion and the senses might merely serve to testify
a truth of the world outside or within. In the extroverted method,
the seeker fully relies upon her sensory perceptions, especially
of the material world, though the purpose could be transcendental.
Here, sounds, visuals, odour, taste, touch or all of these play
a role. These are all materials but they might give abstract insights
or even enable Self-realization.
Finally, the ultra-extroverted method is one that does not rely
upon sensory perceptions for collection of physical data and uses
instrumentation as perhaps more efficient and accurate extensions
of our senses. This is the positivistic determinism of the physical
sciences. The data so collected is interpreted with reason and
It is futile to determine which is the best method because what
is knowledge to one may not be even worth pursuing for another.
A yogi might find the efforts to land on Mars meaningless and
would rather look within. He might want to know realities that
the scientist might call subjective experience, and so useless.
Music is one way in which all four methods are used. It is hard
to find a person who does not like music and hence music is an
effective unifying force. While theorising on music, we seldom
find scholars disputing the essential goodness in music although
there may be debate over its substantive and formal issues. Music
is accepted across cultures as a method of accessing innermost
sources of beauty and then relating them with the outside world
to accomplish articulation.
When a singer, for instance, has not expressed her music, musical
sounds are forming in the realm of her consciousness and she is
in an introverted state while listening with her inner ears. The
more clearly she hears the inner sound, the closer she is with
anaahat naad or the unstruck sound. Here her sense of reasoning
When she expresses the svaras she is actually depending on her
senses and physical organs to bring out the sound for all to listen
and appreciate which is somewhat like science; meant to be demonstrated
and replicated by all. She is now dealing with her own aahat naad
or physical sound, yet using reason to a greater extent.
Simultaneously, the singer also gets in touch with the instruments
outside her body to further tune her own vocal chords so that
her articulation is agreeable. Now she establishes a coherence
of an-aahat naad and aahat naad using her intuition, senses, and
external instruments. All this entails a greater use of reason
She finally deliberately makes full use of her reasoning faculties
to articulate an agreeable exploration of beauty while she is
immersed in the melody and affords extempore improvisation, intermittently
taking a dip into the infinite beauty within. This entire process
of knowing through music comprehends all the above methods discussed.
Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita: Among the Vedas I am
the Sama Veda. Sama Veda is the first successful human effort
to formalise and theorise music and it is the string that binds
the other three Vedas together.
February 4, 2010