Music is a medium, not the message

Music is a medium, not the message

By DAVINDER P.S. SANDHU | 25 June, 2016

In the martial arts epic “Return of the Dragon”, Bruce Lee’s master points his finger at the moon. “What do you see”, he asks. The young pupil is then advised, “do not focus on the finger, lest you miss the glory of the moon.”

In religious places, the holy message is conveyed in a sweet voice, and at times to the accompaniment of musical instruments. Music is one of the pointing fingers, and His apostles now want the devotee to start focusing on the real objective, His word. At times, the devotee is lost in the music, and misses the larger message. Some musicians even start to get preference over others in holy places, further stoking their egos. ! Saint Kabeer reminds us.

Those who believe in such high and low classes,

They only sing chants of egotism.

 A saint once told my mother that after he saw a congregation enjoying the drum beats and the singing, he asked them to repeat the words, and say what they had learnt. The devotees could not remember. The saint told them, “God cannot be fathomed merely by the beating of parched leather on drums!”

We have been given music, and the apostles have given a lilt to the call of prayer, and set words to poetic meters in ragas.

It is imperative to understand that music is a medium, but not the message itself. Saint Kabeer is direct in his advice to the devotee:

You may believe - these are just words of a song,

But, it is a meditation on God.

 The real sound is beyond the music we know. Guru Granth Sahib mentions it as anhad naad, the Unstruck, Unheard Melody. For His revealed words narrated by apostles, Guru Granth Sahib says:

Emanated from the Primal Lord, these are His revealed words,

They eradicate all fears, all anxiety.

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