Fine arts have been prevalent in our Indian cultural from as early as 500 A.D. Many Indian scholars believed that the three most important and pleasing forms of art were music, painting and poetry. These three art forms were believed to invoke the deepest of emotions when a human witnessed them. Some scholars considered music to be the supreme art form since it contained an essence of the remaining two.
I recently went on a visit with my mother to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum. I made a beeline to the section showcasing artefacts related to paintings when a certain exhibit caught my eye. There were various cloth paintings which contained the picturizations of various ragas sung in Hindustani Classical music.As a girl who has been learning the same since I was 10, I realised I could relate to the paintings. I could understand the thought process the artist might have had when he heard a certain raga.That set me thinking.There are over 200ragas in Hindustani Classical Music, and each raga projects a certain vibe that set a mental picture in a person’s mind when he heard it.
Every raga is sung at a certain time in the day, each one having a significant emotion or feeling attached to it. Bhairav is one such raga which is sung early in the morning, at dawn. When I hear this raga, I can picture the bright morning rays slowly penetrating the horizon, turning the sky into a beautiful orange that slowly fades into blue. Miya Malhar is a raga which is timeless and is sung primarily during the rainy season. The moment the first few notes are heard, I can imagine the rain falling down in a pleasant drizzle, stirring up the earth, filling the air with petrichor. Ragas such as Gaud Sarang and Tilak Kamod sing of passion, of love. I can feel my heart beating to the soulful rhythm of these ragas, imagining myself in a romantic atmosphere under the stars beside a lover. Raga Bahar sings of Spring and I can imagine being surrounded by the smell of fresh grass rising through the earth, looking at birds chirping around me, finally feeling the respite from the cold of winters.
Hindustani Classical Music is not the only emotion evoking music in the world. Even if one talks about the songs today, they are equally capable of letting us imagine what the songs are trying to portray. Music is capable of portraying agony, anger, lust, euphoria, patriotism and wide spectrum of other emotions which help us to paint a picture. We human beings are gifted with the capability to envision the beautiful shades every song, every tune has to offer. We are gifted with the capability to see the colours of music.