The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      



Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



1. Music

2. Esoteric Music

3. The Music of the Spheres

4. The Mysticism of Sound

5. The Mystery of Sound

6. The Mystery of Color and Sound

7. The Spiritual Significance of Color and Sound

8. The Ancient Music

9. The Divinity of Indian Music

10. The Use Made of Music by the Sufis of the Chishti Order

11. The Use Made of Music by the Dancing Dervishes

12. The Science and Art of Hindu Music

13. The Connection Between Dance and Music

14. Rhythm

15. The Vina

16. The Manifestation of Sound on the Physical Sphere

17. The Effect of Sound on the Physical Body

18. The Voice

19. The Influence of Music upon the Character of Man

20. The Psychological Influence of Music

21. The Healing Power of Music

22. Spiritual Attainment by the Aid of Music




Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

12. The Science and Art of Hindu Music

Music, literature, and philosophy are akin to our souls, whatever be our faith or belief, or our way of looking at life. India, in the history of the world, represents a country and a people which engaged themselves in the search for truth through the realm of music, philosophy and poetry at a time when the rest of the world had not yet begun its search for truth. It is therefore necessary to study Indian music, philosophy and poetry in order to see the foundation of words. Some linguists today state that the Sanskrit language was the origin of all language. The origin of the science of music is to be found in Sanskrit.

It is a fact that not only art, but even science has its origin in intuition. This seems to have been forgotten lately, now that man is so busy with his search through matter. Undoubtedly, even the scientist is helped by intuition, although he may not recognize the fact. Scientists, who have touched the depths, will admit that science has its source in intuition. Intuition, working in answer to the need of the mind and the body, inventing through matter things of use, and gaining a knowledge of the nature and character of things, is called science. And intuition working through the beauty that is produced in the form of line and color and in the form of rhythm, is called art. Therefore the source of both science and art is intuition.

Realizing this source, the Hindus based their music on intuition, and the practice of Indian music has been a culture of stimulating intuition and awakening the faculty of appreciating beauty, and then expressing itself in beautiful forms.

The science of Indian music has come from three sources: astrology, psychology and mathematics. We also find in Western music that the entire science of harmony and counterpoint is derived from mathematics, and so the science of Hindu music is called by the Sanskrit word prastara, which means mathematical arrangement of rhythms and modes.

In the Indian system of music there are about 500 modes and 300 different rhythms which are used in everyday music. The modes are called Ragas. There are four classes of Ragas. One class has seven notes, as in the natural scale of Western music. Then there are the modes of six notes, omitting one note from the seven-note Raga. That gives quite another effect to the octave, and has a different influence on the human mind. Then there are the Ragas of five notes, omitting two notes from the scale - any two notes. In China they use a scale of four notes, but not in India.

Some say that the origin of the scale of four notes or five notes lies in the natural instinct that man shows in his discovery of instruments. The first instrument was the flute, symbolical of the human voice. It seems natural that man took a piece of reed from the forest and made in the heart of that reed four holes in places where he could easily put the tips of his fingers - the distances of the holes corresponding to the distances between the finger tips - and then one hole below. That made the Raga of five notes.

It was only later that scientists followed with the knowledge of different vibrations, but this scale of five notes comes naturally when a man places his hand on the reed, and a great psychological power seems to be attached to it. It has a great influence on the human nature, and this shows that the power of all things that have been derived directly from nature is much greater than when man has changed, turned and altered them so as to make a new form of art.

The science of astrology was based on the science of cosmic vibration. Everything depends on vibratory conditions, including the position of the stars and planets, individuals, nations, races, and all objects. A great deal of the secret power, which the Hindus have found in the science of music, has been derived from the science of astrology. Every note of Indian music corresponds with a certain planet; every note has a certain color; every note denotes a certain pitch of nature, a certain pitch of the animal world.

The science which existed in the ancient Vedas was the science of the elements: fire, earth, water, air, ether. But these words should not be taken as meaning the same as in everyday language. The element of water, for instance, signifies the liquid state, fire signifies heat or warmth. Through this science the Hindus were able to construct Ragas or modes to be sung or played at a certain time of the day or night, or at a certain season. After these songs have been sung for thousands of years, the race has developed such a sense of appreciation of these Ragas, that even an ordinary man in the street cannot bear to hear a Raga of the morning sung in the evening. He may not know the form or the notes, but to his ears it sounds disagreeable; he cannot stand it. We may say it is a matter of habit - and that is true - but I have made experiments with different Ragas, and found that a mode that should be sung in the middle of the night loses its beautiful influence if we sing it at noon.

Every planet has a certain influence, and there must be a certain mode to answer it. If it is not so, then music may become a pastime, but it does not do the work for which music is designed.

To an Indian, music is not an amusement or only for entertainment. It is something more than that. Music, for the Indian, is the food of his soul. It answers the deepest demand of his soul. Man is not only a physical body. Man has a mind, and behind the mind there is the soul. It is not only the body that hungers for food, the mind hungers for food, and the soul hungers for food. What generally happens is that man only ministers to his bodily needs and gives no attention to his inner existence and its demands. He experiences momentary satisfaction, then hungers again, not knowing that the soul is the fineness of man's being. And so that unconscious craving of the soul remains.

In the undeveloped person that silent craving of the soul causes him to be disagreeable, restless, irritated. He does not feel contented with anything in life, he feels like quarrelling and fighting. In the person of fine feeling this hunger of the soul expresses itself in depression or despair. He finds some satisfaction in love of reading, love of art. The soul feels buried in the outer, material world, and the soul feels satisfied and living when it is touched with fine vibrations. The finest matter is spirit, and the grossest spirit is matter.* Music, being the finest of arts, helps the soul to rise above differences. It unites souls, because even words are not necessary. Music stands beyond words.

The art of Hindu music is unique in its character, for every player or singer is given perfect freedom in expressing his soul through his art. The character of the Indian nation can be understood through its spirit of individualism. The whole education tends to individualism: to express oneself in whatever form one is capable of. Therefore, in some ways to their disadvantage, in many ways to their advantage, the Indians have expressed this freedom. Uniformity has its advantages, but it very often paralyses progress in art. There are two ways of life: uniformity and individualism. Uniformity has its strength, but individualism has its beauty.

When one hears an artist, a singer of Hindu music, the first thing he does is to tune his tampura to give one chord, and while he tunes his tampura he tunes his own soul. This has such an influence on his hearers that they can wait patiently for fifteen minutes. Once he finds that he is in tune with his instrument, with that note, his soul, mind and body all seem to be one with the instrument. A person with a sensitive heart listening to his song, even a foreigner, will perceive the way the artist sings into that chord, the way he tunes his spirit to that chord. By that time he has concentrated; by that time he has attuned himself to all who are there. Not only has he tuned the instrument, but he has felt the need of every soul in the audience, and the demands of their souls - what they want at that time. Perhaps not every musician can do this, but the best can. Then he synthesizes and it all comes automatically. As he begins his song, it seems that it touches every person in the audience, for it is all an answer to the demands of the souls who are sitting there. He has not made a programma for the music beforehand; he does not know what he will sing next. But every moment he is inspired to sing a certain song, or to play a certain mode, he becomes an instrument of the whole cosmic system, open to all inspiration that comes, at one with his audience, in tune with the chord of the tampura. And it is not only music that he gives to the people, but a phenomenon in itself.

The ancient traditional songs of India, and those composed by great masters have been handed down through the ages from father to son. The way music is taught is different from the Western way. Music is not always written, it is taught by imitation. The teacher sings, and the pupil imitates; so all the intricacies and subtleties are learned by imitation.

It is the mystical part which has been the secret of all religions. The great ones of this world, such as Christ, Buddha and others, have come from time to time to be examples for the people and to express that perfection which is the object of every soul. The secret, which was hidden behind all these great religions and in the work of these great teachers, was that man should reach to that utmost height which is called perfection, and it is this principle which is taught from the first lesson the musician gives to his pupil. The pupil not only imitates the teacher, but he focuses his spirit upon the spirit of the teacher, and he not only learns, but he inherits from this spirit.

The lack we find today, in spite of all spiritual awakening, the reason why so many seekers after truth do not come to a satisfactory result, is that they always pursue outwardly; they take it from a book, or they learn it from a teacher. There was a time in the East - and this exists even now - when a little boy who went to learn from a teacher had a great regard for the teacher; his respect, his attitude towards his teacher was as towards his priest. Therefore in this manner he learned to value and appreciate and respect knowledge. Not only did he learn, but he inherited knowledge from the teacher. It is most wonderful to read about the lives of the great singers of India: how they imitated their teachers, and how they sometimes became even greater than their teachers.

The object of Indian music is the training of mind and soul, for music is the best way of concentration. When you tell a person to concentrate on a certain object, the very act of trying to concentrate makes his mind more disturbed. But music, which attracts the soul, keeps the mind concentrated. If only one knows how to appreciate it and to give one's mind to it, keeping all other things away, one naturally develops the power of concentration.

Besides the beauty of music, there is that tenderness which brings life to the heart. For a person of fine feelings, for a person of kindly thought, life in the world is very trying. It is jarring and sometimes it has a freezing effect. It makes the heart, so to speak, frozen. In that condition one experiences depression and the whole life becomes distasteful. The very life which is meant to be heaven becomes a place of suffering.

If one can focus one's heart on music, it is just like heating something which was frozen. The heart comes to its natural condition, and the rhythm regulates the beating of the heart, which helps to restore health of body, mind and soul, and brings them to their proper tone. The joy of life depends upon the perfect tuning of mind and soul.