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Why There is Unity in Multiplicity


Time, according to western thinkers, is what passes between two events. This is a linear view of time, the reductionist approach, as some call it. Indic tradition, however, presents a cyclic concept of time. Time is not restricted to something that occurs between two events, as proposed in the reductionist view. Secondly, whether we acknowledge it or not, time exists beyond our capacity to comprehend it. That we think time exists is not its only manifestation.

In the cyclic concept of time, since the super-structure of time is cyclic, tangible and intangible events keep getting repeated in smaller cycles and are subjunctive to time. The world around us is divided in categories; material existence itself is a category. In the material world, we differentiate between things on the basis of categories. Within these categories, there is scope for creativity. The evidence of creativity at a macro level and at the micro or individual level is the fact that categories exist, whether we like them or not.

In north Indian art music (NIAM), avartan is its 'cyclicity' and is the source of creativity. The heavy demand for extempore improvisation forces a performer to continually view her immediate musical act and improvise based on each of these, creating a different present and promising a new future.

With every attempt at improvement, a spiral of creativity is generated. Then, at a point of time the artiste realises that she needs to break away from this cycle just as an aircraft takes off from the runway after gaining enough momentum. At a very secular level, this process replicates an urge for freedom from routines in life despite their relative variability. The artiste begins to hanker for a routine with a different pace and set of rules, a process that fuels her creativity.

There is unity in multiplicity; we begin with one, go up to 12 and then again come back to one. Since one cannot value freedom without being shackled and finding a tool to gain a threshold frequency for the final release, a tight meter with stringent pace and aesthetic dictums is recommended in NIAM.

Avartan also provides a dynamic process of observation, retention, and recall which forms the structure of memory itself, cyclical.

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