Power of Music

Power of Music



A good teacher is one from whose teaching 

a student may feel as though he had known 

the subject early', says  a Kashmiri explanation 

of a good teacher; 

I find a good teacher in Warrier Ji from reading 

as to how Tansen had unbroken ear drums 

despite high decibel sound thro his lucid and real


Govinda Warrier:

Yesterday I was traveling and today this is the first mail I'm opening. I'm going to go on a tangent and write something light.
I never expected such a simple question from you SitendraJi. My answer is another question:
We were all sitting in an open space at 12 noon. A school boy brought a lens and a piece of cotton, allowed the 🌞 rays pass through the lens keeping the piece of cotton at some distance. The cotton piece got burnt. Why our dress which was also made of cotton didn't catch fire in the same sunlight?
I know you have an explanation, which I accept.
Now, about the scientific explanation as to why the same music didn't affect the singer and others in the audience. Sound waves at different distances make different impacts on the ear drum. Just as the cotton kept at a different distance from the lens doesn't catch fire.

M G Warrier

Sitendra Kumar wrote:

The incidents narrated by Smt Jayaraman may be from Shruti or Akbarnama or any references by the jewels of Akbar or any historian during his tenure.
Regarding sounds of high frequency killing any person or set of persons, it needs an explanation that the same sound was also heard by the singer Tansen who was singing the Raga and why did his eardrum did not burst, why nothing happened to him.

J Santhanam wrote:

Vathsala Madam
These anecdotes may be real. For the second one let me give an explanation in another way. There are Sonic Weapons  which make sound of very high frequency of 150 decibel which we cannot hear but will burst our ear drums. If the frequency is more than 180 decibel  will kill a person. Tansen would have sung like this.

Vathsala jayaraman wrote:
Every one has heard about the great Tansen,

one of the scholars who adorned King Akbar's

 court.He was a famous composer and a gifted 

vocalist. Many would have known that he 

brought rains with Raga Megh Malhar and put 

lights to flame by the rag "Deepak'.

Recently I happened to read a  book  written by

 Natyacharya Balachandra Raju on some of the

 great musicians.

I was impressed by two anecdotes about


1.Many people were jealous of Tansen and 

wanted to drive him away from the court of 

Akbar. As per customs prevalent in those days   

 a competition was arranged with an intention to 

defeat Tansen.The new vidwan asked Tansen to 

sing first so that he could assess his style and 

excel him later.

Tansen began to sing. All the doves sitting on the

 window sills came into the Durbar without any 

fear and wandered here and there. Tansen took 

the japamala from Akbar's  hands and threw it on

the neck of one of the doves.Now all the doves 

flew away.

Akbar himself was very much shocked and 

asked Tansen"Why did you do like this? The 

Japamala is very precious to me."

Tansen replied" I sang the raga "Kapota Priya(

 liked by kapotas( doves).That is why all the 

doves came in. Now let the opponent sing 

Kapota priya  once again, enchant the doves 

and get back the mala."

The new Vidwan said," It is absurd and 

ridiculous  that he brought in the doves by his 


He had used some trick to get doves inside the 

Durbar. NowTansen is afraid that he may lose 

the contest. That is why he is trying to divert your


Tansen said,"Let the opponent sing . If he is 

unable to bring the doves, I will once again sing 

the raga  and get the mala back."

The opponent used so many prayogas, sang in 

all the ways he could. But doves didn't come.

Once again Tansen started singing Kapota Priya 

Raga. All the doves entered and Tansen could 

get back the mala.

 2.The jealousy people were angry against Akbar

 also who supported Tansen. This time they 

planned to kill both Akbar and Tansen.But 

through some spies the king was able to detect 

the plot. He arrested the criminals and gave 

death sentence. But Tansen said that he would 

implement the death sentence.The king and 

other ministers were amazed  and expressed 

doubt as to how an artist, who used to be very

 kind hearted could implement a death sentence.

But Akbar was sure that the criminals could 

never escape the punishment. If Tansen could 

not do it, he would implement the sentence by 

hanging them.

On the appointed day  all the four criminals and 

Tansen were locked inside a glass chamber 

visible to everybody.As Akbar and all ministers  

in the hall were watching Tansen started singing 

with a Tambur in his hand. As it was a glass hall,

 people outside could only see what was 

happening & they could not listen to the 

music.Yet Akbar was wondering " Tansen

has undertaken to kill the criminals, but he is 

giving a musical treat.'He could only see the 

criminals totally absorbed in Tansen's music.Half

 an hour was over.The criminals were totally 

captivated by Tansen's music.Suddenly  Akbar

 saw Tansen keeping his tambur down and he 

came out of the glass hall. The security guards 

went inside and confirmed that all the criminals 

were dead and blood was seen oozing out of 

their mouths.What did Tansen  do?

Now it was Tansen's turn to give explanation.

Tansen started singing the raga called" 

PASAND'-meaning'which is liked'.The raga is a 

'panchama varja' raga in which the swara 'PA' 

will be absent.Tansen brought into all the 

delicate patterns of the raga and the criminals 

listened to their heart's content.As they were 

almost lost in music, Tansen suddenly 


the swara 'PA',which should not be used. The 

introduction of apaswara shocked all the 

criminals .They stared at Tansen, their eye balls 

did not move,blood stated oozing out of their 

mouths and all fell dead.

Just as pure music leads to great joy, the 

apaswara could just take away the life.

Perhaps this is the power of music---- of course by great musicians like Tansen.

 Whether the anecdote is real or imaginary, we 

don't know. But music is really soul stirring.

Now a days there are no Tansens,no rasikas of 

the highest order.We are also accustomed to 

listening apaswaras in between.

We can surely attend the concerts and be 100% 

sure of returning home alive.

Vathsala Jayaraman


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