Music has the innate ability to mold moods and emotions with its mystical qualities. Music is a divine element that can only be mastered by the those given the artistry to compose it by God. The intrinsic sound ripples through the air causing air pressure to change in waves of differing frequencies. As the sound enters the human ear it is channeled into the brain where it is sculpted into endless forms. The intricate brain signals interpret the vibrant sounds to create meaning, feeling, and imagery. Music awakens the inner senses and mysteriously maps out our outlook on life. For centuries humans have sought the omnipresent powers of music to transcend states of consciousness otherwise difficult to attain. When the vibrations of sound are carefully weaved together and orchestrated, the resulting chord strikes at the center of all souls.

Music has no language and is not owned by any one people on Earth for it is universal. It resounds from the far reaches of the rumbling sky to the depths of jungles and seas, music and sound paint the atmosphere with life and color. The natural lodestones of sound given off by the settling waterfalls and unsettled shores have drawn millions of men since the beginning of time to seek true inner content and fulfillment. The human voice sang in the melody of tune, raag, is a beautiful harp in the midst of many instruments. Guru Nanak Dev Ji fatefully instilled Kirtan into the deep roots of an infinitely rich stream of poetic rhymes in the Guru Granth Sahib, because he knew that music was a vehicle on which one could reach the greatest truths of God. He sat emerged for hours, days, weeks, and months listening to the divine compositions of God, Waheguru. “Tuhe, Tuhe, Tuhe,” God you are everything. In the Japji Sahib Guru Nanak continues to teach man to listen to the secrets of the Universe and creation of God by listening to the natural beauty and serenity of nature. Listen with your heart to the world in which you live and there you will find a greater soul drenched in pure content, unity, and infinity. In the Anand Sahib below, Guru Amar Das speaks of the grace and divine power of musical melodies in the salvation of our souls, and the spiritual cleansing of our evils within:

ਅਨੰਦੁ ਭਇਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਏ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ॥

anand bha-i-aa mayree maa-ay satguroo mai paa-i-aa.

I am in ecstasy, O my mother, for I have found my True Guru.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਤ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਹਜ ਸੇਤੀ ਮਨਿ ਵਜੀਆ ਵਾਧਾਈਆ ॥

satgur ta paa-i-aa sahj saytee man vajee-aa vaaDhaa-ee-aa.

I have found the True Guru, with intuitive ease, and my mind vibrates with the music of bliss.

ਰਾਗ ਰਤਨ ਪਰਵਾਰ ਪਰੀਆ ਸਬਦ ਗਾਵਣ ਆਈਆ ॥

raag ratan parvaar paree-aa sabad gaavan aa-ee-aa.

The jewelled melodies and their related celestial harmonies have come to sing the Word of the Shabad.

ਸਬਦੋ ਤ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਹਰੀ ਕੇਰਾ ਮਨਿ ਜਿਨੀ ਵਸਾਇਆ ॥

sabdo ta gaavhu haree kayraa man jinee vasaa-i-aa.

The Lord dwells within the minds of those who sing the Shabad.

ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਮੈ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੧॥

kahai naanak anand ho-aa satguroo mai paa-i-aa. ((1))

Says Nanak, I am in ecstasy, for I have found my True Guru. ((1))

ਏ ਮਨ ਮੇਰਿਆ ਤੂ ਸਦਾ ਰਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਲੇ ॥

ay man mayri-aa too sadaa rahu har naalay.

O my mind, remain always with the Lord.

Music is the truest element of transition in a world floating on the baseless illusion of maya where many have forgotten their purpose and reason for existence, because we have become attached to falsehood, attachment, and ego. Music is spiritual and the Gurus instilled its endless melody into Sikhism by creating raags in the Shabad.

In Punjabi culture, music has also been noted as a type of nasha, intoxication, because it allows man to change states of consciousness. The nature of music is such that it has the ability to change one’s mindset in less than a minute. The Ipod has revolutionized the world because thousands of songs are now on the fingertips of many in sheer seconds. This has caused people to live in their own little worlds propelled by their own lyrics, genres, beats, and cliques. The world has become more technological and cold. No one wants to hear the real human being next to them as Ipod headphones cloud their hearing and openness. Music has evolved modern day life, just as it changed our states of being centuries before.

Traditional Qawwali’s of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and others send the instrumental clapping tune into motion, and the faint imagary of old Mughal kings sitting on throwns as naachars, women who entertained, danced before them. Old songs by Surinder Kaur and Jagmohan Kaur paint the old picture of Punjab’s green and conservative fields of the past. Songs by Chamkila and Amrita Virk strike a romantic picture of old Pindh love stories. Mirza and Heer folk songs end in the dogmatic tales of murder and honor in the old days of Punjabi heritage. Malkit Singh, Surinder Shinda, and Kuldip Manake capture the mid 90s with their corny and often cheesy Bhangra lyrics that still live due to their beats that continue to make everyone dance until the early hours of the morning at parties. Rappers in America put their message of living a hard life of intolerance in vulgar terms so the masses can understand and relate to them. Acoustic artists soothe the senses with soft melodies and lyrics for relaxation. Bands and punk music rile up feelings of anger and frustration in those who feel alone and desolate. Music appeals on so many different levels due to the intrinsic quality of it letting men shed confined feelings to the sound of comforting beats and lyrics. Emotions and feelings are splashed on the canvas of music to remain alive and intact for generations to come, true music represents the sentiments and feelings of an individual from the soul up.

Music allows me to let go and transcend into states of entertainment or spirituality. Spirituality and entertainment can coexist if perceived in the overall joy and happiness of life. It is okay to dance and enjoy as long as one remains respectful to oneself and others. Life is to reflect, be thankful and generous to all, find God within, and most importantly to learn lessons from this brutal world in which we live. Every ray of light that can enter our often dark and shackled soul is welcome here, and music is one element in this temporary life that can truly resonate and echo deep within.

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