Realm beyond understanding

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Nov 2017 10:38:28


By Vijay Phanshikar,




Music seems to have evolved from
humanity’s search for that which lies beyond the realm of understanding. Therefore, the very existence of music can be related to god. ...

- From
A Southern Music - The Karnatic Story,
By T M Krishna,
Chapter 18 titled
‘The Shrine and the Song’, page 305,
Harper Collins Publishers India,
Paperback, 2017.

A FINE expression indeed -- beyond the realm of understanding!
Himself being a leading musician, Thodur Madabusi Krishna could delve deeper into the realm beyond understanding. His book is truly a masterpiece taking the reader into the panoramic world of Karnatic music,
presenting its story as only he could do. Even as he takes the reader into each available nuance of Karnatic music, T M Krishna communicates his inspired realisation that music emerges from a very special zone where human understanding has little role to play. That zone, that realm, that kingdom, belongs to gods, as he realises -- out of his own experience as a music maestro and also as a researcher as he puts together the seminal work.

... beyond the realm of understanding ...!
To this expression, one will turn again and again, not only at this moment but
subsequently in life as well. For, that is the realm which is all the time etched in human consciousness as an unspoken, unstated destination of the spiritual journey.
But then, this expression -- beyond the realm of understanding -- will need a little elaboration, of course. What does one mean by that? Can there be a realm beyond
understanding? Is there a zone where human consciousness travels beyond the conscious? For, the expression does imply so. It does denote a zone where human mind stops working, it becomes still, becomes a vacuum of sorts.
And in that vacuous realm comes alive a being without the trappings of being. Is this the state of samadhi the yogis experience?

Perhaps, yes. It may really be that very zone, that realm where even a hint of understanding ceases to be. In that realm, there is nothing related to operational aspect of human mind. For, when the mind understands, it is active. The realm beyond understanding, thus, means a zone where there are no boundaries, where there are no three-dimensional perceptions of depth and height and width, where there are no perceptions of bliss or blight, where there are no feelings of any sort. It is, thus, a realm beyond any activity of human mind. And, as the yogis have known, in such a realm, gods may be residing.

Music has the capacity to take one to such a realm. And that is the reason most people who have delved deep into music have felt that they travel closer to gods.
What power does music have! It has the capacity to take the listener to that realm where he crosses the barrier of understanding and travels into a zone of a total subjugation of all zest, a total satiation of all quest, a total sublimation of ...!

True, each piece of music does not have such power. For that stage to come, music will have to be produced out of Divine inspiration, not on the strength of the instruments or the musician but from the sublimated platform of almost a surreal being.

This is not a word-play, however. This is also not an effort to stretch an idea. This is an effort to sense the ‘insensable’, to understand something that is beyond understanding. This is an effort to decipher music’s expressed or unexpressed metaphor.

Haven’t we seen musicians travel to the borders of such a realm? Haven’t we seen Gaan Saraswati Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, American maestro Yehudi Menuhin -- just to name a few --

residing all the time on the outskirts of such a zone during concerts and during life? Haven’t we realised, sensed, that these and countless such people are often engaged in a
communion with that realm beyond understanding?

In the chapter ‘The Shrine and the Song’, T M Krishna talks of the religiosity of (Karnatic) music, its temple connection, its historical connect with tradition of gods etc. But even as he deals with multiple facets of the issue, he cannot stop himself from arriving at the inevitable conclusion that music, after all, is a journey that has the capacity to take the practitioner and the listener into that realm that exists far beyond human understanding, beyond human consciousness, into the zone of samadhi!