On the whole, this incarnation restores Brahma’s knowledge at the start of his new day, protects and transports vegetation and cellular life forms for the new world, and transfers knowledge to Satyavrata, a newly initiated disciple who is later reborn as Manu, the first human being in the new cycle of life on earth. The fish further secures spirituality in the modern world by leaving the knowledge of yoga with the seven sages (sapta rishi) of the Big Dipper who hold this light for everyone to this moment.
We can use music as a means to reach God by forgetting ourselves as we sing hymns, mantras, and the names of our favorite form of the Lord. In devotional music, including bhajans and kirtans, this spiritual connection remains the objective. But what about the non-emotional musicians who solely worship music? They too can obtain the highest levels of ecstasy that comes not from the mood of the raga, nor from the proper application of notes, and nor from the rhythm, but comes from considering musical sound as God according to the notion of Nada-Brahman.
When the musician recognizes this oneness, which occurs after all early levels of perfection in technique and expression have been transcended, music becomes joy, not the means for joy. At this point, the sound of a melody from a string instrument no longer appears sweeter than the stroke of a percussion instrument, for both are musical sounds and accordingly forms of the Divine. Similarly, devotional lyrics are no longer needed for the connection. They are useful only until a duality in musical notes and God is present. When musical notes become Brahman and represent His sound, there is no other God to connect to.
At this stage in music, which appears plainly theoretical to most of us, one can say that perfection in music has been achieved. Just like the devotee musician who forgets oneself in the memory of the Lord while performing, the advaitist worshipper of music forgets oneself in music to remember nothing but music. While one at this spiritual or musical plane may no longer be fit for entertaining fellow beings on a big podium, it fulfills what the Indian tradition anticipates from a ‘seeker of music’ as opposed to a ‘learner’ or ‘creator’ of music: finding God while finding music.
Finally, he opts for meditation – the solution of all problems for seekers of knowledge. After a hundred years of yoga (his ‘year’ is apparently longer than ours), Brahma, in his mind, sees Lord Vishnu lying on his eternal serpent bed, perceives the origin of the stem that connects his lotus, and gains knowledge about the Lord.
With some uncertainty still present, Brahma sings praise for the Lord. Vishnu appears and instructs him to meditate again so that all the necessary information for getting started on universal creation can be transferred. As Brahma follows this instruction, he sees the sketch of the universe in his mind and then observes the Lord pervading all the worlds and his own self as well. Similarly, he perceives his own presence, along with that of the universe, within Lord Vishnu. This is all that he needs to manifest the universe. And in the process of introducing the universe, he launches the tradition of meditation.
In a Vedic horoscope, the houses (and signs) of the dharma trine (trikona) and the moksha trine stand for spirituality and religion. While the signs numbered 5 and 9 signify dharma, the signs of the zodiac numbered 4, 8, and 12 represent our attraction to liberation. Because every house or sign of the natural zodiac has a distinct meaning, it is supposed to impart its characteristic flavor to how we approach spirituality – what spirituality means to us.
If our spirituality involves an emotional relationship or the love of God along with creative inspirations, we are talking about the fifth house or Leo (simha)-type spirituality. If we prefer righteousness, the traditional paths, and tutelage under a guru, it represents the ninth house or Sagittarius (dhanu)-flavored approach. If our faith is about seeking happiness, finding peace in the world, or caring for humanity, it is a fourth house or Cancer (karka)-type instinct. Similarly, if our approach involves logical investigation (research), a desire for divine powers (siddhi), or engagement in occult as we transform, it represents the spirituality of the eighth house (scorpio-type; vrischika). And when we aspire to become a renunciate meditating calmly in the Himalayas, we are talking about the twelfth house or Pisces (meena)-type spirituality.
As one may guess, the spiritual flavors of Sagittarius and Pisces, when positively activated, are the most potent as they are the concluding signs of the dharma and moksha trines, respectively, and are both lorded by Jupiter, who represents the blessings of the guru.
During a holistic look at the interactions between the planets, signs, houses, significators, and the harmonic charts, professionals use the abovementioned astrological flavors (and many more) to predict which spiritual path is predominant in a chart.
According to the Ramacharitamanasa, when Garuda (eagle; Vishnu’s vehicle) helped Lord Rama in His divine play on earth by untying Him from a mystical weapon, he got doubtful about the divinity of Rama. He kept pondering that if Rama were the Absolute, why would He ever need any help from him. On seeing no end to this confusion, Garuda eventually reached Lord Shiva for help. All Shiva had to do was explain to him that Rama is the Absolute Reality and Rama’s maya is responsible for such divine plays. And Who could have been a better guru than Shiva – the Only One Who knows Rama. But in stead of resolving Garuda’s problem, Shiva prescribed a “long term satsang” with another bird named Kakbhushundi for the reason that “a bird can understand only what a bird says.”
This is an example where Shiva promotes peer-to-peer interaction in learning and clearance of doubts. We have better chances of learning from people we have faith in and who resemble us. In line with this logic, a saint understands what a saint says and entrepreneurs understand what their corporate community says. When we see people like ourselves, we open our mind to receiving data from them. The similarity of our experiences in a peer group can also enable better connectivity and information exchange between the ‘preacher’ and the ‘learner.’ This may also explain why Shiva rarely initiates us into spirituality Himself, but sends us to another human guru so that we can reach Him.
Many of you might have heard percussionists recite and play a Tabla composition, usually a sequence of diverse syllables aesthetically tied together in rhythm along with its speed variations. Like any other piece of music, for piano or vocal, every group of strokes on this instrument is reproducible and writable.
While any composition can be labeled ‘devotional’ if it is accompanied by the feel of bhakti, gurus have specified paths through which learners can explicitly combine spirituality with music. Just like a vocalist uses the lyrics of a bhajan to add in spirituality, a tabla or pakhawaj player can integrate spirituality in a presentation through a bol (stuti)-paran particularly composed for a specific form of God, such as a Krishna-paran or a Ganesh-paran.
In this percussion composition, phrases praising a form of God in Sanskrit (or Hindi) are inserted between the regular syllables of tabla. Once the syllables and Sanskrit words are blended harmoniously in the mind, tabla syllables that mimic the sound of the selected Sanskrit words are practiced. When the whole paran is put together in a recital, the mapped tabla syllables are played on the drums while concurrently pronouncing the Sanskrit words orally. As one may expect, new devotional parans are very rare, for they require some poetic skills in addition to the core curriculum.
Lastly, to play a perfect prayer on the Tabla, the maestro is expected to mentally focus on the form of God for which the composition has been created. This may be necessary to make the Divine a part of the audience.