It is paradoxically tough and yet beautiful to be a woman today. This is the age of working moms, single mothers, single women supporting parents, women entrepreneurs and women leaders. However, this journey to have flourishing careers has not been easy.
The responsibility of nurturing family and children still remains a woman’s mainstay responsibility, one that she might struggle to give up even if she were to have the option. The beauty and grace that comes with the act of nurturing is a blessing that she will not forfeit.
All this puts women today in a unique space, a space filled with conflict, guilt and enormous pressure, both from the external world and from within. It is not surprising that women today are facing many health issues both physical and mental health. Studies suggest that women are more likely to suffer from depression than men. Hormonal imbalance caused by stress, as well as fertility-related issues and the associated emotional trauma, are becoming increasingly common. Social pressures to marry and keep pace with the ticking biological clock force many women to give up their careers, or worse still, settle for underpaying jobs or roles ‘more conducive to marital life’.
Now, what does all this have to do with classical music?
The answer, for me, lies in my personal story. Having been in a musical milieu since my childhood, and through my experience as a professional musician and a teacher, I have been fortunate to stumble upon an easy way for women to draw internal peace and strength.
Indian classical music is essentially an emotive form of music. The ‘rasas’ or emotional flavours of Indian classical raagas mirror the myriad emotions women are blessed to feel and can allow to come forth. Therein lies its ability to help women.
In my experience through teaching and performing classical music, I have experienced first hand its ability to enable women to cathartically connect to their emotional pressures and challenges. They are able to let these out and symbolically shed the heavy weight of these challenges, and thereby move on from the burdens and turmoil of their personal and professional lives. When music enters a person’s milieu, it disarms and allows a safe and beautiful space to feel. Moreover, it catalyzes a powerful emotional transformation into a better, more aware and more peaceful state.
Why does Indian classical music have this power? Because of its organic origins to sounds of nature and what was believed to be the primordial sound of creation. It is believed to have originated from the samaveda, symbolizing its rich divine and emotional essence. It captures the essence of the therapeutic calm that comes from walking on fresh green grass that soothes the callouses of a working woman‘s busy feet, or the pining a mother feels when she is worried about her sick child when at work. Indian classical raagas can take a woman through these experiences without much effort, in the comfort of her home or during her commute to work.
When music enters a person’s milieu, it disarms and allows a safe and beautiful space to feel. Moreover, it catalyzes a powerful emotional transformation into a better, more aware and more peaceful state.
So, whether it is a woman who wept cathartically after hearing raag todi at a concert, or a lady in the middle of a terrible divorce, being able to muster up emotional strength to finally let go, or a young girl who lost her mother finally being able to grieve, or a highly stressed chain smoker who could finally give up smoking, I have witnessed how engaging in Indian classical music has done wonders to women. It has allowed them to rest, recoup, cathartically let out, and even find inspiration to move forward.
It’s time we let raag yaman uplift her, allow raag todi to move her to tears, enable raag kalavati to express her love and have raag darbaari help her and her child taste the sweet bliss of sleep.
Nithya Rajendran, Founder of Music Vruksh is a vocalist with 3 decades of training in Hindustani and Carnatic classical music is one of a kind artist in India using classical music for helping stimulate creativity, improve concentration and reduce stress and achieve mindfulness among both the young and working professionals. The views expressed are the author’s own.