Pyaar nahi hai sur se jisko voh murakh insaan nahi
The fool who does not love music is not a human being.
It is what it is. We live in the 21st century of the Anno Domini era, the 15th century according to the Islamic calendar, in the year of the snake of the Chinese calendar, and in the Kalyug of the Hindu calendar. We consider ourselves to be modern, civilized, evolved or even chosen. As a species we have made huge technological advancements, harnessed the energies of nature and explored the surface of the moon. Yet, we are no closer to being able to eradicate hunger, poverty and war from the face of the earth. Our relationship with each other is reflected in our relationship with the earth and other species.
If we are fortunate (or unfortunate!) we can choose to relinquish all responsibility for this state of affairs by laying it down to human nature or the laws of god – for a while. Sooner or later, we come to realise that some part or parts of us are out of tune with nature and out of tune with each other and ourselves; and that the process of tuning must finally be allowed to start.
But it’s easy to tune when one has a tuner – a green light that flashes every time the vibration of my soul corresponds exactly with the point of my reference. But when each word (let alone each book) has a different meaning according to our capacity of understanding, each sensation has a different feeling according to our mood - where to find the point of reference with which to attune myself?
Fortunately, we are born with a knowledge, which we all remember sooner or later - that the point of reference is all and everything!
Jaan mai maari addi uthe mil gaya piya Tere ishq nachaya kare thaya thaya thaya
Where I struck my heel, I found my darling Your love made me dance to the ting a ling ling
-Baba Bulleh Shah
This tuning process is best expressed by the musician, who tunes his instrument or voice to an imagined or felt point of reference; or the dancer who dances to its vibration.
It is a small wonder therefore that music has forever been used to express the highest aspirations of humankind. Whether it’s the sacred chants of the Sama Veda or the Tripitaka; the Kirtans of the Granth; the choral music of the Gospels; the melodies of the Torah; the Suras of the Quran – attunement or musicality has always been an integral part of reciting all scripture.
To people who still tell me that music is ‘haram’, which means forbidden (though some might translate it as ‘protected space’) in the religion of Islam, I say to them – that I wish a lot of the music which I am forced to listen to everyday would have been ‘haram’. In fact, I wish that everyone who sings or plays out of tune, but insists upon singing or chanting the loudest, would be forbidden to sing!
But when music is attuned, it becomes real music and connects us with ourselves, with each other, and with the Divine in all and everything – who is the most gracious and the most merciful.