If you were around Gandhi, you would experience music: from hymns at prayer meetings to the rhythmic sounds of spinning wheels. His appreciation for music, however went beyond our traditional understandings of instruments and rhythms; to him, it had the deeper meaning of harmony — with oneself, the environment, and others. That state, he suggests, is having music in one’s deepest core. In his words, “If we put a broad interpretation on music, i.e., if we mean by it union, concord, mutual help, it may be said that in no department of life can we dispense with it.”
But he saw another promise in the “ancient and sacred art” of music, as well. It could bring people together in ways that talking alone cannot. Where he saw conflict between Hindus, Muslims for example, he also saw them in other places sitting together in utter peace, playing and raptly listening to music. “When shall we see the same fraternal union in other affairs of our life? We shall then have the name of Rama and Rahman (Hindu & Islamic deities) simultaneously on our lips.”
Music can be, is, powerful; we have done wrong to let it slide in many schools, and that at a time when corporate culture has co-opted music to sell us things, and even reinforce division amongst us, when they use lyrics to degrade the human image and our interconnectedness. You know the kind I’m talking about, and it is not a monopoly of one genre… Without musical education, we lack an awareness of how to even begin to take it back.
For this reason he was strongly in favor of musical education in schools, as a tool to “draw out” that deeper music, that greater awareness in ourselves, the power of our nonviolence.
How do you use music in your work and life? How can you incorporate more ‘music’ (broadly or traditionally) into it?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org