Philosophy in Indian Music is very strongly rooted in Classical Indian philosophy and thought. Since the earliest times, music was treated as a manifestation of the divine. It was considered as a medium of understanding the all-pervading divinity. It is rather difficult to trace the particularities of Indian Music through its growth at every stage of its culture through its 3000 to 5000 years of evolution. However, this does prove to be an extremely rewarding search in that it helps us to understand the various facets of contemporary music as well. Classical music basically has its own classicism with deep roots in the classical period of Indian history, and bears a strong relation to the classical ideals propagated in classical texts.
From this premise, it becomes easier to understand the relationship of music with various other manifestations of the divine. This philosophy of divinity becomes rather difficult to comprehend for the modern student of music. When confronted with the table or relations of the various notes with nakshatras, sages, individuals and rasas, their mythological significance hold no meaning for him. The entire culture of the past is rather strongly associated with Indian Classical music, and this forms one of the most important philosophical elements of the same. This understanding is absolutely necessary to comprehend the full ethos of Indian music, thus permitting a greater training to one's aesthetic sensibilities.
Once this rationale of interrelatedness and cosmological nature of every manifestation is understood in terms of Indian ancient thought, it becomes easier to understand how the nada, svara and its numerous variations form a natural link with other manifestations of life. One can take a look at some of the enveloping, but at the same time interpenetrating, aspects of music. For instance, the origin of different notes has been ascribed to different animals and birds. There is no direct link between the musical note (a particular frequency equals a pitch) and the "noise" quality of the sounds of animals and birds. This only points out the significant fact that sound and sound producing apparatus is not confined to men only; that sound, as energy (as Agni) is found in God's other creations also and provides a perspective on men, animals, birds, etc.-all creatures living a homogeneous life on this planet. It goes to show that all the notes of a scale are a gift of nature around us or that musical notes were realized from the natural cries of birds and animals, or, that svaras were not invented by the human being; they were there in their elemental energy and within the propensity of the sounds of animals.
An all-inclusive understanding of various factors of life is an essential aspect of the philosophy of music. To understand the inner psychology and the stream of consciousness behind our life and arts, an integrated approach is not only useful but absolutely necessary on account of demands made by these arts as living forms. However, it requires to be noted that it is much easier to correlate the written word, of the Veda, philosophy, literature, etc. with the referential arts, or at least to the referential aspects of all the literary and plastic arts. The Indian dance till the present-day uses mythology, Puranic stories and epics; painting and sculpture also use individualized objects. The same approach is possible for music using full import of words. However, the purer aspects of music or the non-referential aspects of music were realized, even before Bharata wrote his treatise, in the conception of jati-gana and later in the conception of raaga. Thus, in a nutshell, ti may be said that the philosophy of music is contained in the living style and philosophy of the enlightened community which experiences life in consonance with nature, other beings and other men who find through music their communication in the membership of the larger society.
(Last Updated on : 08-05-2012)