God’s Playlist

Shyam G Menon
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You don’t need a visa to move from rock to classical or from Hindustani to western. — S. Thanthoni
You don’t need a visa to move from rock to classical or from Hindustani to western. — S. Thanthoni

The argument that singing is ill suited for morally acceptable life baffles you.

Music gives an aural sense of universe. It is an amazing thing, far more personal and primordial than any botheration about God. The ability to play music and the ability to enjoy music provide a private connection to the vibes of the universe, the ultimate home where no earthly exclusions work. It’s where you belong.

Styled as religion, the same becomes a pursuit of universe through an organised set of human beliefs. Its effect is more earthly huddle than free spirit soaring to the cosmos.

Escaping hare

Religion is an acquired taste. In direct proportion to its diminishing spirituality, religion has become the stuff of book and ritual. In contrast, music comes easy. We are born wired for music; any music. With a bit of dance, you get the groove. With a bit of abandon, you get the trip.

In terms of direct connectivity, the language of music is superior to the language of religion, particularly religion without spirituality.

Forget the cosmos if you find it pretentious. Right here on planet Earth, you can either waste time investigating conceited religions seeking that precious sentence or two sanctioning peace and brotherhood on the planet, or, you could ask people to play their music and see the planet mingle overnight.

Music engages the human mind. Religion desires to own it. To religion, music is the hare escaping through the fence. Having a say in what makes for appropriate music tickles those who have made it their business to own the human mind and count the minds they own.

Within South Asia, the affection for music — indeed the affection for any form of creativity — transcends the divides authored by religion, politics and war.

Globally, music bridges the north and south; east and west. It is normal for a person in one lifetime to love a variety of music and not be answerable to any controlling authority for the quest. You don’t need a visa to move from rock to classical or from Hindustani to western.

To the extent music celebrates the universe it demotes the God of religion to the power-play and politics of earthly silos. Religion is politics by another name.

Distortion by intermediaries

A cleric put his foot down and an all-girl band stopped playing. A radical women’s outfit threatened the girls’ families with social boycott. And soon, the band had disbanded. Their photo published in the media showed three girls; two with guitars, one on the drums. They seemed harmless.

But obviously the trio threatened the path to the universe as envisaged by the cleric and that outfit, both of who serve God.

This isn’t the first time. The men and women of all Gods have interfered many times with how the individual links to the universe.

Today’s religion is a desperate act frustrated by how the universe is eluding it. Those girls with the gift to play music have a link to the universe they share with all artistes. It’s a link that neither the cleric nor the radical outfit have, stuck as they are in the realm of religion.

Hopefully, someday in the future, we can listen to the band and decide whether they are good or bad for the music they play. Who knows, we may not be impressed. But it’s their right to sing and our right to listen.

If anybody has a problem, they should consult the universe, not God.

(The author is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai)

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
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