When music is meditation
Stress seems to dog everyone these days — from young children to the elderly. Sangeetha Ramprasad comes to their rescue, bridging the world of Carnatic music with meditation, the art of stilling/calming the mind. Sangeetha had her initial training from her mother, vainika Revathi Srinivasan, an A-Top Grade artiste of AIR Chennai. Tutelage continued under Rajalakshmi, disciple of D.K. Jayaraman, before intensive training from T.M. Thyagarajan.
It was years later, in Bahrain where she is now settled, that she quite serendipitously got exposure to a sahaja yoga session. “I felt a peace descend over me. It was then that I decided to practise it myself,” she describes the experience. Sangeetha says that her music and her entire attitude to life itself has been affected at a very elemental level due to her practice of sahaja yoga.
So what is sahaja yoga and what makes it different from all the other forms? R. Ramesh and Anusha Ramesh, long term practitioners, elaborate: Sahaja Yoga was started by Mataji Nirmala Devi as a meditative tool to achieve an emotional equilibrium amidst stressful conditions. Unlike other variations where self-realisation is the end goal, in sahaja yoga, it is the beginning. Designed with the grihasta (householder) in mind, it is effortless and does not require renunciation. Practised in over 150 countries, it is taught collectively in large groups free of charge where everyone, from a toddler to the most elderly, can practice and experience its benefits.
How has it changed Sangeetha and her music? “Now, I sing to connect with the divine, really feeling the music,” she says. “Earlier, I experienced stage fright and would be concerned about meeting expectations. Now, I experience the music and render what I inwardly feel I should.” Anusha Ramesh adds: “When Sangeetha sings, I can feel the soothing vibrations.” Sangeetha has composed pieces in Tamil in praise of Mataji. R. Ramesh finds it amazing how the words, the ragam and the music all fall into place beautifully in her music whilst bringing out the bhavam.
Sahaja yoga awakens the kundalini shakti within oneself. Kundalini manifests itself via various chakras (nerve centres). Sangeetha has rendered thematic concerts where she has selected ragams and songs that she says has helped awaken the various chakras. Since the core belief is that one is but an instrument of the divine, ego is reduced/eliminated thus putting the entire focus on the music itself.