When we come across the ancient Indian sculptures in old temples, one cannot miss a sight of instruments being adored in the hands of our Gods and Goddesses. Examples include, Vishnu holding the conch, Brahma and Saraswathi always seen with Veena, Shiva with Damaru., the vehicle of shiva, Nandi playing mridangam/pakawaj, Ganapathi playing Dhol, Krishna with inseparable flute in his hand, so on and so forth. Here are few pictures depicting the same.
My questioning brain at work now 🙂
- What may be the significance of such an association?
- Does it imply that music is divine because Hinduism has associated it with Gods and Goddesses or is it divine because it connects the living to the Cosmos, by its virtue?
- Why is Saraswati never seen with a mridangam or Shiva always seen with damaru and not Veena, say?
Given a chance to ponder on this, my way, I would do it thus:
We all know that each individual in this existence, from a tiny ant to a gigantic mammoth, to a dwarf, to a baby, to a man, to a woman is unique and significantly different from each other. So is the way of connecting with the cosmos. When I say connecting with the cosmos, I mean, experiencing the superset (Existence/Nature/Cosmos) of which we are all subsets.
The ways and means that establish this connection are many like music, dance, work (as they say work is worship), intellectual knowledge, yoga, etc etc. That’s the reason in scriptures one finds two ways to Salvation as Bhakti marg and Gjnaana marg. Music and Dance fall under the first category and I am totally blank about the second category J.
Music of any form, be it mantras, chants, Carnatic, Hindustani, instruments, dance etc creates vibrations in the energy centers of our body, as discussed in one of my earlier articles in the blog. The energy around each individual is unique. One may resonate to the vibrations of flute, the other to the vibrations of singing, the third with mridangam and so on.
Our spiritually intellectual ancestors have probably realized this and have basically mapped a band of energy to an instrument and have attributed the vibrations of such instruments to different Gods and Goddesses. A person who has a liking to say Lord Shiva, may resonate to the frequencies of any percussion instrument/dance to connect himself with the cosmos, for Shiva is always seen dancing with his damaru. He need not be a player but could be a good listener too and so may be the case with other Gods and Goddesses too.
To conclude: According to my understanding, music of any form is a way of ‘Discovering oneself’. In doing so, one can find innumerable examples of mapping music to different chakras, colors, Gods, Goddesses, emotions, moods etc., with the ultimate sole purpose of discovering oneself.