Indian classical music, ancient since millenniums, has always been a beautiful, divine way of praising God. It encompasses an infinite number of Ragas (which in the western classical music correspond to the different scales), based on specific rules, each of them expressing different feelings. The emotions and feelings are known as the 10 Rasa and they play a very important role in the Indian classical literature, music, and dance. As far as the etymology of the word "raga" is concerned, "Ra" means "energy", and "ga" means "which moves".
It is believed that the ancient ragas have been created by the saints, who, in their meditation, were able to hear the sounds created by the movement of the Divine Energy, known as Kundalini (the Divine Energy which resides in every human being). The Ragas, through the movement of their swaras (notes) in the aakash (ether), carry the divine energy, elevating the awareness of the listeners, making them experience a new dimension of awareness. This can be clearly experienced by both the artists and the audience.
In the Indian terminology, Indian classical music is described as a media of providing not just“Manoranjan” (“entertainment”), but much more than that – it provides what is called as “Atmaranjan” – the experience of the Spirit, in which one meets with his own self.
More than just a pleasant experience, the Indian classical music has extraordinary effects on the subtle nervous system, often being referred to as “music therapy”. Since ancient time Indian classical music is well known for its capacity to influence nature – there are the so called “monsoon ragas” which are believed to influence the natural elements.
For instance, Raga Malhar was sung to bring rain in any season whereas Raga Deepak was used to lighten the natural light. This rag is closely related to the great musician of India, Tansen. Whenever he used to sing this raga in the court of the king Akbar, it is said that candles used to light up automatically.
Other legends tell of Tansen's ability to bring wild animals to listen ti his music. Once, a wild white elephant was captured, but it was fierce and could not be tamed. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him. Such was the power of his music .
The ancient healing science of India, better known as Ayurveda, has described the importance of music in healing the mental stress. As the seven swaras (musical notes) of the Indian classical music correspond to the seven chakras in the subtle body of the human beings, the Indian classical ragas have been used to treat the patient holistically. Moreover, Indian classical music is believed to have the capacity of relaxing the brain nerves, providing a general state of peace and satisfaction.