The music of India, especially the Carnatic Music that comes from the southern part of India, is tied very closely to Hindu religion. It won’t be an exaggeration, if we say carnatic music and religion are one and the same. According to Vedas, Learning Carnatic Music is a means of reaching God himself. This music originated from the Vedas themselves and originally performed at the religious institutions as a method of praying. Branches of human knowledge can be divided into two as Arts and Sciences. The arts can be further divided into ordinary and fine arts. Music, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture all fall under fine arts. Fine arts are very important in promoting human culture and progress. What makes Indian Carnatic classical music unique is its two important characteristics: the RAGA and the TALA.
The Greatness of Music
Music is the language of emotions. It is concerned with sounds that are calculated to bring on pleasant feeling in us. Music has an universal appeal and influences over humans, animals and even plants. The sloka:
“Pasurvethi sisurvethi ganarasam pani”
says, the cow, the infant and even the serpent feel the charm of music. Every sound we make is musical. There is music in the sounds of the wind blowing, the rain dropping and animal crying.
According to Hindu religion, music is the language of gods. Siva, the destroyer plays the ‘damaru’ or drums; Krishna plays the flute; Saraswathi, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge plays veena, celestials like Nandi the bull (Siva’s vehicle) is said to be an expert of the percussion instrument mridangam and Narada plays the tampura.
The Sanskrit sloka from ‘Sankraha Chudamani’ says,
“sangeethamapi sahithyam Saraswathya sthana dhwayam
Ekamapatha madhuram anyatha lochanamrutham”
meaning, "Music and poetry are the two breasts of Saraswathi. Music pleases the moment one hears it, whereas poetry gives pleasure only after one contemplates it or analyzes it."
Another wise man Yajnavalkya says,
“Veena vadhana tathvangna sruti, jathi, visartha
talanjaaprayasena moksha margam niyachathi”
That is, the one who is well versed in veena, one who has the knowledge of srutis (subtle quartertones and microtones) and one who is adept in tala – all of them attain moksham or salvation without effort.
Music, Muthuswami and Tsunami article by Dr. K. Ramaprasad
Some quotes and materials are used from Late Prof. P. Sambamoorthy's
South Indian Music.