Sruti Maata – Sruti is the mother. Mother is the basis of all creation and likewise – Sruti is the base for all musical creation. Sruti is also the name given to the
Vedas – the ultimate aural experience. Vedas are mantras or sound vibrations which were heard by Rishis in their state of oneness with the universal energy and recorded aurally – they are not a visual medium. Sruti or Shruthi in Sanskrit means ‘that which is heard.’
Śrutis have been variously described as a revelation through anubhava (direct experience), or of primordial origins realized by ancient Rishis.
Sruti in music emphasises the importance of listening to the musical sound and understanding that within oneself and experiencing it as a musical melody. In simpler terms, it represents the harmonised sound of the tonic note along with the fifth (Sa and Pa) together. This is represented by the musical instrument – Tambura. When one starts to learn music – either Vocal or Instrument – the first step is to align your voice or instrument to the Sruti. The alignment is called -Layam- to be in sync…in Tamil it is referred to as – layichu irukkanum. Indian music primarily depends on Sruthi – the basic Swara (musical note). Sruthi by the way also means to ‘listen’. Focused nuanced listening – is meditative listening.
Our tradition insists on the concept of listening and interestingly there is no word equivalent to the English word ‘hearing’ in our language. (A non-concentrated form of listening where in the mind is elsewhere and one is only physically present where the sound is produced — most of us are in this state most of the times. Which tells us that people of yesteryears were capable of high level of concentration and were able to stay connected within for a long period of time. They did not need an external devise to register their knowledge and experience. They were able to remember what they learnt and experienced and hence that tradition did not believe in the concept of non- concentrated hearing and hence no word to identity that state of mind in the language. Our culture and tradition is aural based. We have always celebrate the concept of Advaitha and the formless hence the visual representation was always given less importance. It has always been
• Mantra - sound, then • Yantra - the visual representation and then • Tantra - the technology.
Similarly, Music was passed on in this manner from generation to generation and hence we could see multiple ideas, interpretations, innovations in our art form. Also, listening helps in the experience of sound. Music is the embodiment of the formless energy and dimension. So, this alignment also helps in the discipline of the mind, which helps us in the understanding the significance of life and living. When we learn music, the concentration power of the human mind is increased multi-fold and the foundation for a thinking and creative mind is laid as the first step. Practising music helps in the multi-tasking of the human mind and body.
When we are singing or playing an instrument the mind has the following functions
• To align to the tonic note • To sing/play with in the scale of the raga • To keep within the rhythmic cycle • To remember the lyrics, if one is a singer • To remember the melody if one is an instrumental player, etc. • So, at one go we as the practitioner
are able to multitask seamlessly and this increases the human possibility and optimises the potential of the mind and body. All this comes from the basic premise of ‘Sruthi’ – the basic musical note and the deeper philosophy of listening and aligning to the sound. This alignment is the basis for understanding the aesthetics and nuances of the art form.
The more aligned we are to the art form the more refined is the expression. So as always, in our traditional language and way of life, the word itself gives us the direction, process and the character of the subject:
Sruti establishes the art form as :
1) Aural tradition 2) To be understood through the sound 3) and is the most important component of the art form. So, let us all fine-tune and retune our senses – and be in alignment with the primordial Sruthi!!
Drops of Nectar -Fiddlingmonk