The Universal Infinite Rhythm

Carnatic Music, indian music, Music

Are art, music and supra-aesthetic science inseparable? To sing the praise of the Supreme Consciousness in a loud voice is termed ‘kirtana’. The Sanskrit root verb ‘kirt’ means to “utter something loudly so that others may also hear it”; it means to proclaim the glories of the Lord loudly for all to hear. Does Parama Purusha really want people to sing His glories?

There is subtle science behind kirtana. Human beings always wish to proceed from the crude to the subtle in all spheres of life: they seek the subtle amidst the crude and in the subtle they always seek the subtlest – this is how they advance towards greater subtlety. Ancient humans appreciated the harmony of music; they also liked to dance in joy, though not in a sophisticated manner. However, their urge to seek the subtle amidst the crude was so great, that in the process they evolved many kinds of rhythmic dance and rhythms. Similarly, they came to appreciate subtle aesthetic beauty in melody as well, by bringing songs within a definite system and introducing ragas and raginis, classical melodies.

Thus came about aesthetic science; and as a result of this subtle development, people no longer appreciated cruder expressions of life. Similarly, once people had heard something rhythmic and melodious, they could no longer appreciate crudity. Generally, once people experience something subtle, they automatically discard the crude.

This continuous progress from the crude to the subtle, and from the subtle to the subtlest aspects of life, comes within the scope of aesthetic science, and in this process of movement ultimately we reach a state in which our refined tastes, feelings, and expressions transport us into the realm of eternal beauty. Those who attain such a state will no longer taste the beauty of anything: music and dance will no longer remain an object of experience for them. This is because they will have attained a state so intoxicated with joy that they lose their limited identity, and thus their ability to experience anything.

The exalted state beyond even aesthetic science is called supra-aesthetic science. That is, those who are enthralled with delight can no longer experience anything at all, because they have reached the ‘beyond’ state. Diverse schools of music or dance are all meant to provide joy to people through aesthetic science. But kirtana was evolved by devotees to give joy to Parama Purusha, and in the process of pleasing and delighting the Supreme, devotees ‘lost’ themselves.

Therefore kirtana is in the realm of supra-aesthetic science which is our endeavour to ensconce the microcosmic entity, the individual entitative rhythm, in the eternal being, the infinite rhythm of Parama Purusha. So of all branches of music, kirtana is the best. And since music is the composite of song, dance and instrumental music, kirtana is not only song – it includes instrumental music. These three aspects of music when combined create such an unblemished, heavenly environment so that we completely forget our selves. This is the charm, the excellence, of kirtana.

…….from “Speaking Tree”


Vijayendra Rao

Temple of Fine Arts, Coimbatore