Classical Music & Dance

Today modern music and dance-forms are taking popularity leaving behind the traditional art forms. The days when music meant classical raagas, rhythmic taalas and meaningful lyrics have gone and anything that makes instrumental noise with witty words are called songs. Same goes for dance. The graceful mudras are replaced by vulgar body-movements. Why is this happening?

They say, the world outside is a projection of the world within. Life was calm and peaceful then, and it’s full of chaos and stress today. And music is no exception to it. All the rock and pop gives our mind a high like a stimulant, which only adds to our nervous tension of the present times. In fact, life has become so stressful that most of us just want to escape living, forget about enjoying life.

In European countries, they have started using music as a therapy. They have discovered that if a new-born listens to classical music regularly, it is good for the entire nervous system and brain-development of the baby. The effect of music has even been experimented on plants. Plants that were exposed to melodious music started giving more blossoms.

When one starts learning classical music or dance, he cannot perform until he has learnt the art for many years and practised it well. No doubt, dedicating many years of effort is indeed a tapas that one has to undergo to master the art. It only teaches him a lesson that nothing can be accomplished easily and that he has to strive hard for success. Anything that is achieved without difficulty vanishes in the same speed. And today, the tendency is the same towards life – easy money, short-cut to success, etc. When a song is released today, it goes hit on the charts for a few weeks and then it’s totally forgotten. No one remembers it later. May be if it has some funny or meaningless words, people might even carry it as a hit song for some more time. But is that what music is all about? Is that what music made for?

It’s really sad, especially for a country like ours where spirituality has emerged through science, music, mathematics, dance, yoga, and what not. In India, education & arts were not just means of employment or entertainment, but a way to get nearer to God. The ancient seers captured the rhythm of the universe into taalas, the moods of the nature into raagas and emotions into bhaavas. With these raagas, taalas & bhaavas, the senses don’t go wild but are directed towards one’s own Self. Classical arts go into the soul and bring inner peace. After enjoying them, one does not feel tired but gets their spirits rejuvenated. When we see a classical dancer dancing on a song based on an epic, we are automatically transported into a realm where we imagine ourselves staged in the epic. The dancer is merged with the dance. Classical art forms not only satisfies the eyes and ears but is styled to create imagination. We are taken to a meditative mood.

ramaa bharadwaj

The power of classical music is beyond our imaginations. bhimsen_joshiTansen brought down rains by singing Malhaar. The west saw the power of music manifesting through Beethoven who was speech & hearing-impaired. The classical music has come through people defying religions and castes. The corporate world has started organizing workshops on classical music for relieving stress, improving concentration and employee performance. If the power of music is so great, why are we not able to tap it?

Nowadays the media produces music and dance that provide pleasure to the sense organs. How are they to be blamed because they supply only as per the demand. The theme of the music is sometimes wild, violent or vulgar and it manages to capture our mind. When the mind gets its source for entertainment, it does not want to listen to its intellect. We tune into televisions or go for a movie for the sake of entertainment. We just want to kill time or forget the tensions of the past week. Most of us turn into entertainment as a means of escapism from our present lives. Elders do it for this sake but unknowingly, the young children at home are also open to this media. From childhood itself, they see beautiful women dancing in skimpy clothes to item-numbers. Even in a school annual function, when young girls dance to the latest bollywood item-numbers, all the audience (including their teachers) clap, and peers cheer and whistle. A young performer, who receives such a kind of appreciation, might end up thinking that if she behaves in such ways she’ll get noticed and appreciated. How can we blame them when they grow up and start following this trend? Psychologists say that whatever is fed into a child’s brain till he is five years old, will define his character, likes and dislikes for his entire life. What we feed into these young brains…are they good in character? Is it going to help them improve their quality of life? This is a question we need to ask ourselves.

It is upto us as to what we can supply the coming generation with. If we expose a child into classical arts since childhood, it will go a long way with them. We need to catch them young. It will not only create an interest for classical music or dance in them, but also improve their nervous system, listening skills, concentration, memory, learning skills, etc. This is not only essential to revive our ancient culture but also to build a better future for them as well as for the nation.

Note: Image used with permission from Ramaa Bharadvaj for illustrative purpose only and does not necessarily reflect the view of the artist