By Raj Kumar Singh
How would you react if a doctor prescribes you a particular raga of Indian classical music for a disease you want to get cured of? You might think that your choice of the doctor was wrong but make no mistake; the doctor could be dead on. The sound of music has the power to do wonders to your body through your brain and soul. You won’t commit the mistake of doubting the acumen of the doctor if you come to know how the classical music maestro Thyagraj sung back life into a dead body by his composition ‘Naa Jeevan Dhara’ in Raga Bihari. It’s a proven fact now that music can also be used as medicine and the branch of therapy under which a doctor uses the therapeutic powers of music to heal his patients is called ‘Music Therapy.’
Dr Ajit Pradhan, Chief Cardiac Surgeon of Patna based Jeevak Heart Hospital & Research Institute, has been practicing Music therapy for some years now. He is a trained Indian Classical singer and is an ardent advocate of increased use of music therapy in treating patients. While encouraging his colleagues to try music therapy, Dr Pradhan says,” While emphatically reiterating my belief in modern medical science by which I swear and practice, I would like this medical fraternity to ponder on how central music is, or can be to the well being of a man.”
Music therapy is in practice since time immemorial. It has been an age-old part of Ayurveda. In fact, the Indian text Samaveda is full of detailed description on music therapy. It talks of cosmic sound energy as the source of all creations and also healing powers of sound itself. The curative powers of ‘OM’ are said to be very powerful, the recitation of which has lowering effect on blood pressure. Music therapy was in practice in almost all of ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, music was used to lessen the pain of women during childbirth. In ancient Greece, Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle were well aware of the therapeutic powers of music. Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine used music therapy to cure human diseases. It is also believed that it was Pundit Omkar Nath Thakur of India who used ‘Raga Puriya’ to successfully treat the Italian dictator Mussolini in 1939, when the later was suffering from acute Insomnia.
The Sama veda mentions that the human body is dominated by three doshas – Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. It goes on to say that the disease related to the particular doshas can effectively be cured by ‘Raga Chikitsa’ i.e. ‘Music Therapy.’ For example, Raga Bhairvi has been found to uproot diseases like Asthma, Chronic cold, Sinuses and chest related problems. Similarly, Raga Deepak is very effective in diseases like indigestion, Anorexia, Hyperacidity and Gall stones. A list of important Ragas with respective diseases in which they are effective is given below:
||Disease (s) it helps cure
||Disease (s) it helps cure
|1. Ahir Bhairav
Piles or Hemorrhoids
||To build confidenceBlood disorder
|4. Basant Bahar
||Rheumatoid ArthritisSinusitis, Asthma
Other chest diseases
||Intestinal Gas / Low Blood Pressure
||18. Nat Bhairav
|9. Darbari Kanada
Gall Stones (Cholecystitis)
What Music Therapy actually does is to produce a network of sound vibrations. The muscles, nerves and the chakras of the affected parts are contracted when one impulse is provided, and relaxed during the interval between two impulses. The musical notes, therefore, promote the flow of blood to and from affected areas to facilitate healing. It is also believed that the music therapy stimulates the pituitary gland, whose secretions affect the nervous system and the flow of blood. Music therapy is one of the most effective ways of controlling emotions, blood pressure and restoring the functioning of the liver.
Like all other streams of medical science, Music Therapy, too, has its limitations. For example, it can not be used in life threatening cases or in case of organic diseases like tumors etc. Dr Ajit pradhan concedes that Music therapy may not be an exact science, but in certain cases like psychosomatic disorders, music therapy is extremely useful and it has been proved beyond doubt that listening to appropriate music lowers blood pressure, stabilizes heart rate, relieves depression, reduces pre treatment anxieties, lessens the need for seductive and pain killers (during and after surgery), reduces nausea after chemotherapy and improves stability of people with Parkinson’s disease. But whatever be the disease, Music Therapy can always be used as a complimentary therapy. Current research also suggests that when music therapy is used in conjugation with traditional therapy, it improves success rates significantly.
Music Therapy can deliver wonderful results provided the therapist is fully conversant with the method and duration for which Music Therapy is to be administered because the efficacy of music therapy entirely depends on correct diagnosis and the selection of precise raga for the treatment.