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Raga Dhyan - A Concept of Constructing Raga

 Raga Dhyan

    Raga Dhyan in Indian classical music is a term used for imagining the Raga in the form of an alive painting. In other words, it can be said as the visualization of the Raga with understanding its characteristics and nature and the beauty or the aesthetical values that reflect the aliveness of the Raga.  Raga Dhyan is the kind of realization or understanding of the raga with the melody which creates the aura and realization of the enteral beauty. An artist visualizes the raga even at the time of homely practice in order to construct the basic character Swar and its proper combination to frame a distinct melody structure, aesthetically sound good.  

    Raga Dhyan is not a new vocabulary in Indian Classical Music and has been used in terms of understanding the nurturing the melody form long before. The rock Painting of Ajanta-Ellora cave,  Paintings in the Elephanta Cave of Maharastra, Bhimbedka painting, pf Madhya Pradesh and the ancient painting of Sittanavasal Painting of Tamil Nadu are a few examples of visualization of Raga or the elements in the form of Painting. In a similar way when an artist sings a Raga then he/she first realize the beauty of the Raga then constructs the melody with the imagination of that particular structure of the Raga.  As a result, we can find the different perspectives of these visualizations in the form of Painting or in the form of melody/Raga.  The term Raga is firstly used by Matangmuni in his treatise Brihaddeshi but the concept of Dhyan was supposed to be in existence from the beginning of the human civilization in various forms of imagination.

Dhyan means to focus the mind in one particular unit that drives to a realization so the people from the beginning of the human civilization have something they imagine and made the painting/ sculpture in caves or in rocks to realize the existence of their imagination. A similar kind of imagination and creativity in humans drives the artist to imagine and visualize the outlook of the melody. The nature of Raga Bhairav- a seriousness characteristic is visualized as an old sage meditating outside the temple, Raga Megh- furious characteristics showing the black clouds lightning and thundering in the sky, Raga Todi- a garden and deers grazing in the field with a sad and downhearted lady craving for her love. There are so many paintings relating to the Raga and its characteristics created in different phases of the past centuries. Each and every raga has its own character and have a certain concept of imagination that artist visualize while practicing or performing the Raga. It is a legacy of Indian classical music that no raga can be performed or understood without the realization of the melodic structure of that Raga. 



Aesthetics of Indian Music

    Indian Classical Music is a philosophy, an art with multilineage of Rasa and the combination of Sapta- sure and its tiny reverb in the form of shruti. Classical music is not only the subject of singing or playing the raga but also the feeling of the eternal fragrance of mind and soul with visualization of abstract notes in the form of melody. To understand Indian Music, one needs to understand the philosophy of Rasa ( aesthetics), the art of music-making, and the deep knowledge in Naad, Shruti, Swar, Laya, and Tala along with its historical consequences and devotional and traditional perspective of Indian civilization. experiencing and exploring the vibes of music means the realization of joy and rejoicing of beauty in the form of Navarasa( Nine Rasa). 

Aesthetic and Beauty:

    Aesthetic is the term used to understand the impact of the self-realization of any art when one encounters with its abstract or visual form. Its a philosophy of art that describes the intensity of beauty in art form. In Indian classical music, aesthetics can be defined as the imbibement of the Naad with a frame of certain notes and the literature that create beautifulness while listening to the music. For Indians, beauty is not only the physical but the metaphysical and a joy that comes from liberation, the bondage of individual self-sensor from an experience of the eternal, infinite, and the beyond characteristics of the art. The practice of Naad, Swar, and Shruti in music is regarded as worship, a spiritual practice from Aahat to Anahat or live to salvation or self-emancipation. 

    The beauty of classic art and classical music in India is a wide range of observations since from the Vedic period or even earlier with human civilization.  As music, literature, and various arts flourish in society, the attempt to understand the exact nature causes of their appeal to the listener or the connoisseur should also find a place to rethink or reevaluate himself/herself. Beauty is not only limited to joy or pleasure forever but is also introversion to explore the reason for that joy. In India, Natyashashtra is the foundation book that defines the theory of Indian aesthetics and the metaphysical process of Rasanispatti. The primary sentiment - Sthai Bhav as per Bharat is eight. These eight metaphysical elements are the primary causes of feeling and the realization of these eight Rasa. Bharat has illustrated this eight sthai bhav which makes you feel the sentiments. These Eight Sthai Bhav are Haas , Shok, Krodh, Utsaah, Bhay, Jugupsa, Ascharya, and Nirved. These eight Sthai Bhav(prime source of sentiments) the Rasa is generated in our mind and soul are Haas - Hasya , Shok- Karun, Krodh- Raudhra, Utsaah -Veer, Bhay- Bhanayak, Jugupsa- Ghrina , Ascharya- Addbhut, and Nirved- Shant. These Sthat bhavs when assembled with the vibhav(Alamban and Uddipan)- a character or the subject or the theme, Anubhav( Saatwik, Stambh, Swed, Romanch,, Swar Bhang, Kamp, Vaivanya, Ashru and Pralay)- action that realize the emotions of Rasa, and 33 Sanchari Bhav recreates the feeling or the emotions or the beauty of the music. Acharya Bharat has described the theory of Rasa in detail for which various scholars have interpreted in their own way.  


     Vibhavaanubhavyavicharisanyogadrasnispattimeans the combination of Vibhav, Anubhav, and Vybhichari Bhav, the Rasa(Beauty/Aesthetic) is generated in the human mind and soul. The principle established by the Acharya Bharat was cited and explained by many scholars from different perspectives. Among the many Tika( a novel interpretation), four novel explanations by the novel scholars, Bhat Lolatta- Aropvad, Shri Shankuk- Anumitivad, Bhatnayak- Bhuktivad, and Abhinavgupt - Abhivyaktivad are commonly illustrated in many books and are usually in practice. These explanations/tika on Natyashashtra is the vision or the prime description about the impact of the Rasa and its association with the Art-Artist-and Listener / Viewer/ Art-Connoisseur. 

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Kumar Sargam


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