Vedas and Upavedas
The word ‘Veda’ comes from the Sanskrit root ‘vid’ which means ‘to know’, and could therefore roughly be translated as ‘knowledge’. It is the knowledge that pervades this Creation, and describes the nature of things from stars to atoms. This knowledge, including all its laws of mathematics, physics, etc. was already present in Creation and was ‘perceived’ by the ancient sages called Rishis in their deep meditation, and then passed on to their disciples and students. The ancient Vedic wisdom was at some point organized by the Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana, also known as Vyasa, into four main branches: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. These four Vedas also each had an ‘Upaveda’ or sub-branch, elaborately covering one of its main subjects.
Today we will go more into one aspect of this vast knowledge: one of the Upavedas called Gandharva Veda, which is the Vedic science dealing with the power of music and sound on different animals, the environment and even our body and mind. The Gandharva Veda is the Upaveda of the Sama Veda, which is associated with musical rhythms, intonation and different ways of chanting the mantras. The Gandharva Veda gives elaborate details of how different sounds and rhythms, also called ‘Ragas’, are connected to and affect different aspects of this Creation. For example there are different Ragas that are connected to and invoke different states of mind or emotions. There are also specific Ragas for specific times of the day and even for specific seasons or times of the year. Thus, they are a translation of the rhythms that are present in Nature into the rhythms of music and sound. And it is amazing to know that such profound knowledge was already made available to us thousands of years ago.
Development of Sounds
Another aspect of this knowledge that can be found in the Gandharva Veda is the different sounds and rhythms that are connected to different species and animals. It not only talks about the sounds these animals make and how the development of the full spectrum of sounds is connected to the process of evolution of various species, it also talks about the different rhythms that are connected to those specific animals.
One example that can still be found in some places is the snake charmers, that claim to subdue and ‘control’ snakes through certain musical melodies or rhythms played on a type of flute. Nowadays snakes are often made to ‘dance’ using other techniques while the ‘charmer’ pretends that it is because of the music. Maybe because this knowledge was also usually kept secret, and only given to the deserving few, but it does seem to remind one of a past where these things were actually possible. It also makes one wonder about stories told in other parts of the world of people who were able to control other animals, such as rats and mice, by simply playing the right melodies on a flute.
Using Sound to Heal
Another example is the fact that studies have shown that not only do plants grow better and live longer when exposed to certain types of music, but even animals are influenced by certain types of music. Cows, for example, are found to produce significantly more milk when exposed to certain types of music. It is therefore clear that music, and the type of music we are exposed to, has a profound effect on our body and state of mind. There are many examples of healing music, and various melodies or frequencies for music therapy or sound therapy.
Do we know which Rishi it was who cognized Gandharva Veda as found in the Vedic literature?