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Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Therapy

Music Therapy

William Congreve wrote:
"Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak,
I have read that things inanimate moved,
And as with living souls have been informed,
By magic numbers and persuasive sound."
Music is God's best gift to Man, the only art of Heaven given to Earth and the only art of Earth we take to Heaven. It is believed that Music has therapeutic values and all of us know that Saint Tyagaraja sang of Music as the surest way to achieve Santham, Saukhyam and Mangalam.
That prestigious organization of Matunga, the Shanmukhananda Sabha arranged a two-day Seminar on Music Therapy some 15 years back, which was attended by almost a thousand persons. The Seminar was conducted by a distinguished panel of Doctors, Psychiatrists, Musicologists and Vocalists. The world-famous neuro-surgeon Dr Ramamurthi inaugurated the session. Papers were presented by T.V. Sairam, Raja Ramanna, Vijay Lele, Mythili, Pujare and Katti. There was a lively Question and Answer session on both the days.
Participants included doctors, musicians, students, connoisseurs of music and the Sabha's members.
A brief glimpse is given here of this wonderful world of Music Therapy.
Dr Ramamurthi has observed in his book, "A Garland" as follows. "It has long been recognized that music has beneficial effects on living beings inducing in them a state of peace and tranquility and often emotional ecstasy. This ancient knowledge has now been scientifically proved both in plants and animals. Plants have been proved to grow better under the influence of music and cows to yield more milk. Music, pleasant to the ears influences the central nervous system and the brain and induces a beneficial state of equilibrium inducing a like tranquility in organs and systems".
When there is pleasing and soothing background music, the sub-conscious mind gets interested in music while the upper mind continues to do the job on hand.
Gentle and soothing music can be employed in stress situations in hospital wards, waiting rooms, operating rooms, etc. Our sub-conscious mind can be subjected to the gentle influences of music, thus leading to a tranquil and coordinated function of the brain and the nervous system. Gentle music played to a resting subject increases the ALPHA content of the Electroencephalogram which indicates increasing tranquility of the brain.
Kollegal.R.Subramaniam , a Sangita Mahamahopadhyaya wrote , "According to the Sangita Sastra, the 72 Melakarta Ragas control the 72 important nerves. If one sings with devotion adhering to lakshana and sruti sudhi , the Raga Devatas shower blessings , injecting the particular nerve in the human body which shall give needed relief in due course".
Based on his own experiences he cites the following examples of Music Therapy.

a.Bhairavi Raga cured T.B, Cancer, Severe Cold, Phlegm, etc
b.Kharahara Priya strengthened the mind and relieved tension.
c. Hindolam and Vasantha gave relief from Vatha Roga, B.P, Gastritis and purified blood.
d. Saranga cures Pitha Roga.
e. Kalyani, Sankarabharanam and Charukesi give relief from heart ailments.
f. Asaveri cures headache and psychological disorders.
g. By singing the 72 Melakarta ragas, stomach operation was avoided and ailment cured.

Dr. Mythili of the Apollo Hospital and a student of Balamurali Krishna has studied the impact of Music Therapy on hyper-active children withdrawn from stimulant medication as also music to reduce stuttering. She averred that music sung to a baby in the womb (fetus), after quickening, is absorbed by it and a musical trait is visible on the child.
Pandit Shashank Katti, a renowned Sitarist, has evolved Gandharva Therapy. His cassettes with different ragas are claimed to have reduced the impact of Spondylitis, Joint and Muscular pains, Arthritis, Mental Depressions, Hypertension and Diabetes.
Dr Pujare, Psychiatrist from the Mumbai University has successfully tackled depression cases with Hindustani music, especially using the rendering of Bhimsen Joshi.
It has to be readily conceded that more research is necessary in this field. The Indian Medical Association , Mumbai conducted a Lecture-Demonstration by a Doctor-Vocalist , Dr S.Srinivasan. He has confirmed beyond doubt that it is quite possible for Music Therapy to treat diseases like Rheumatism, Pain Management, Neurological Diseases , Psychiatric and Gastro-intestinal disorders.
Finally, I give a list prepared by Dr T. V. Sairam, of diseases and ragas that can tackle them effectively.
Kalyani (Yaman)---for High Blood Pressure
Malkauns(Hindolam)-for Low Blood Pressure
Bageshri-Sleep disorders
Bilahari-for Depression
Durbari-Anti-stress Raga
Shiva Ranjani---for intellectual excellence
Madhyamavati-the Leveller

I have merely presented a glimpse of the work done in this unique field of pain alleviation through Music. I have based this article on the proceedings of and the papers presented at the Seminar and I am indebted to several valuable contributors.

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