Sangeeta and bhakti

“Knowledge of sangeeta, bereft of devotion, is valueless and cannot secure salvation. The music practised by bhaktas like Bhringi, Natesa, Anjaneya, Agastya, Matanga and Narada can alone secure it. Tyagaraja who is able to distinguish between nyaya and anyaya, who know that the world is maya and who knows also how to

conquer the six inward enemies of man, `kama’ etc., knows this matter well.” So, says Tyagaraja in his Dhanyasi kriti. This pronouncement of Tyagaraja has been seized upon by many as the final truth about music. Tyagaraja might have, in several other kritis, referred to many other activities of man and might have pronounced them valueless, if not undertaken with a spirit of dedication to God, but that fact would not deter

many of us from indulging in such activities without the least thought of devotion. In his kriti Ksheenamai tiruga Tyagaraja says, “Perishable are the fruits of the study of Sanskrit, drama, poetics, Vedas, puranas and of the performance of sacrifices, japa and tapas.” No one, on the basis of this pronouncement of Tyagaraja, would

 be prepared to write off non-religious works in Sanskrit, drama, poetics, Vedas or puranas. But when it comes to music which might merely seek to express a joie de vivre instead of floundering in a kind of miasmic spirituality, at once the cry goes round: “This is not music since there is no spirituality in it.” A liberal sprinkling of words like Nadabrahmam, Nadopasana, Nadanusandanam, etc. would seem to clinch the issue.