According to the esoteric standpoint, music is the beginning and end of the universe. All actions and movements made in the visible and invisible world are musical. That is: they are made up of vibrations pertaining to a certain plane of existence. Music is called sangita in Sanskrit, signifying three subjects: singing, playing and dancing. These three are combined in every action. For instance, in the action of speech there is the voice signifying singing, the pronunciation of words signifying playing, and the movements of the body as well as the expression of the rice signifying dancing.
Oriental music is based entirely upon a philosophical and spiritual basis. Its inventor was Mahadeva, the Lord of Yogis, and its great performer Parvati, his beloved consort. Krishna, the incarnation of God, was an expert musician who charmed both worlds by the music of his flute, making the Yogis dance. Bharata Muni, the greatest Hindu saint, was the first author of music. Mystics, such as Narada and Tumbara, were great musicians. In the heaven of the Hindus the God India is entertained by the classical singing of the Gandgarvas and the dancing of the Apsaras. The Goddess of music is Sarasvati who is also the Goddess of wisdom; she is a great lover of the vina. The whole system of Hindu religion and philosophy is based on the science of vibration and is called Nada Brahma, Sound-God.
The poet Shams-e-Tabrez, writing of the creation, says that the whole mystery of the universe lies in sound. This fact is expressed in the Qur’an as well as in the Bible.
Fine vibrations through action become grosser in their degrees, which form the different planes of existence, ending in the physical manifestation. As water, when frozen, turns into snow, so more activity materializes the vibrations. Less activity etherealizes them, showing that spirit and matter are the same in the higher sense. Spirit descends into matter by the law of vibration, and matter may also ascend toward spirit. The great Yogis and Sufis have always progressed by the help of their practices toward the highest state of perfection by etherealizing through the knowledge of vibrations.
The material sound of instruments, or of the voice produced by the human organs of sound, is really the outcome of the universal sound of the spheres which can only be heard by those in tune with it. This state is called anahad nada by Yogis, and sawt-e-sarmad by Sufis.
The musician and the music lover become refined and are led on to the higher world of sound. Sufis lose themselves in sound and call it ecstasy, or masti. Psychic and occult powers come after experiencing this condition of ecstasy, and knowledge of the visible and invisible existence is disclosed. This bliss of happiness and peace is available only to the Yogis and Sufis interested in the divine art of music.
Almost all the great musicians in the Orient have become great saints through the power of music. The more recent musicians in India, such as Tansen and Maula Bakhsh, have been great examples of spiritual perfection through music.
By Hazrat Inayat Khan