|Spiritualism has been the key content of
Carnatic music. The beautiful interweaving of the devotional element and aesthetics have
made it ethereal and eternal. The basic idea behind compositions has been to see and seek
God. In fact, it has been said that the easiest way to attain salvation is to sing the
greatness of the Almighty.
The saints, seers and composers of classical music have basically composed songs only as a means of expressing their devout feelings and also to communicate with the self and soul. Music, when presented to God as an offering, inspires the person and the devotional excitement therein, gives rise to a torrent of tuneful outpourings. Singing in praise of God awakens the singers consciousness of the Divine and makes him / her sensitive to the divine message. Songs, therefore, establish a direct contact between the divine and human spheres, between the spiritual and phenomenal realms. Song is the element of motion that brings forth the desired union. This vital element and the vocalized glorification of God in the tradition of devotional religion indicate that the Indian Bhakti movement must have been initiated and advanced by poet-singers rather than theoreticians.
Music and singing in particular, is the most spontaneous form of human expression. The words of a song represent its rational basis, while the melody brings forth the sentiments concealed in poetry. The poet-saints of Bhakti never composed their devotional verses as merely literary artifacts but clad them in melody and sang them before the chosen deity. The fundamental corollary to elucidate, present and advance this spiritual urge and carry the masses too along the chartered route, was the need for a pliable effective instrument. The effectiveness of the spiritual exercise and the sure attainment of the goal rested on the selection of that specific instrument which would produce the expected results and could also be handled with ease and certainty by the initiated, connoisseur and the lay. Easy accessibility, ready availability and the communicative potential of this means were the primary criteria for selection. And music has been tested and found the most satisfactory tool as it attracts, enchants, enthralls and easily appeals to all segments of the society.
In Hindu mythology, music and God
have always been potrayed together. Many deities are assigned their own instruments and
are all hailed as music lovers. Lord Siva is believed to be the embodiment of Nada.
Lord Krishna, the foremost of flautists, indicates his musical inclinations by assessing
that he is Sama Veda among the Vedas. While Lord Siva is the embodiment of Nada
and Tandava (cosmic dance), Goddess Parvati is hailed as the embodiment of Lasya.
Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning is always associated with the Vina (known as
Vipanchi). Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is believed to revel in music while Lord
Vishnu, her consort, plays on the percussion. Among the saints, Narada and Tumburu are
hailed as Vainika-Gayaka (experts in music and Vina). Nandi, the bull, is the master of
Laya. The separate set of demi-Gods like Yaksha, Kinnara and Gandharva are all believed to
be proficient in music and musical instruments. In fact, music is known as Gandharva
Vidya. Hanuman was proficient in what is called the Hanumad Vina and this is the
predecessor of the present day Chitravina.