Where has the Rāga of our life gone?

Achievements have no end, it is an endless, and at times, vicious cycle of accumulation.

By Om Prakash Dwivedi

We are doing too many things too fast. Where is the ‘rāga’ of our life gone? As humans, have we lost our love for music? Or is it the case that we have started prioritising storytelling, narratives, demagoguery, and social media rhetorics over music and melodies? These questions gain more relevance in the present moment, which can be termed as an age of achievements. 

Achievements have no end, it is an endless, and at times, vicious cycle of accumulation. It happens both at the psyche level and the material level and because it occurs at both these levels, we are more likely to become victims of burnout syndrome. We represent an age that has drowned itself in information. Too much information has fractured our poetic and musical sensibility. Isn’t it true that achievements often require the scaffoldings of articulation, manipulation, and dictation – all central to our words and logical minds? As words and technology appear to move across at rapid rates, underpinned with the eulogised idea of connecting the world, the harmony of our lives has been disturbed, unsettled, and receded.

- Advertisement -

The nub of the matter is that as our engagement with machine, and hyperinformation speeds up, so do our expectations and the intrusion of 24/7 dictum. The balance in our life is thus disturbed, as is its shape. In our click-and-response culture of modern times, conditions of life have been severed and compromised. The modern man has thus become a truncated species, punctuated as it is by an overdose of information and technology. 

It all boils down to the crisis of our imagination. The loss of ‘rāga,’ is also the loss of harmony, an indication that we are holding on to the musical strings too tightly and nonchalantly. Hold anything tightly and it is likely to lose its shape and vigour, that’s the fundamental tenet of life. While we may have succeeded in constructing an advanced world, we have ended up witnessing an unprecedented rise in the number of anxiety disorders and suicides across this seemingly world. What sort of connection is this that has led to more despair and crisis, both at worldly and planetary levels?

Perhaps, it won’t be wrong to encapsulate this planetary crisis and mental defragmentation as manifestations of ‘vikar’. ‘Vikar’ in the Vedic terminology was referred to signify ‘changes.’ Its negative connotations of ‘disorder’ could be seen in the post-Vedic period possibly pointing to the rampant changes and their negative effects on humans’ lives.  Seen from this angle, this is no secret –  an inharmonious ‘rāga’ will only result in ‘vikar’. 

‘Vikar’ is seemingly a modern virus. The thing about viruses is that they can be found everywhere and nowhere. Modern man and modern times are permeated by viruses. Some common viruses are worth mentioning such as human viruses, animal viruses and computer viruses. Of these, the human viruses of greed and violence are the most dangerous ones because these don’t seem to have any antidotes. This ‘vikar’ is so damaging and threatening that it has not only started puncturing our emotions but also endangering the planetary future.

The humming of bees, the chirping of birds, the murmuring of water, the whistle of winds, and the fragrance of touch, seem to have been brutally colonised, muted, and erased due to our ‘vikar.’ 

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Antonio says, “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me, you say it wearies you, But how I caught it, found it, or came by it.” Antonio’s ‘vilap’ is an outcome of ‘vikar’ that he suffers from. This sums up the reason for the unprecedented rise in the global anxiety disorder. It is estimated that 4.05 percent of the global population suffers from anxiety disorder, which accounts for 301 million people. Post-1990s, the situation has only exacerbated, registering a rise of more than 55 percent in global anxiety disorder. 

- Advertisement -

At the heart of our modern problems is our divorce from ‘rāga’. A life without music is ostensibly a life without harmony and rhythm. We have become a rāga-averse species as we don’t seem to have time on our hands to enjoy nature, to indulge in face-to-face conversations. Instead, we have mastered the art of conversing digitally. We are infatuated with and driven by digital emotions, found abundantly on social media and mobile communications. We have assigned the task of our smiling, laughing and happiness to digital emojis. 

While it is true that modern life enjoys speed, we need not be reminded that speed always evades the grip of our attention as well as our ability to appreciate and enjoy the blissful surroundings around us. A fast life is tantamount to a fast heartbeat, both are equally harmful not just to our health but also to our existence. It is, therefore, time to attune ourselves to the lost melody in our lives.

The burnout syndromes of our modern times are reminders of the vitality of melody and harmony in our lives only if we are willing to attune our modern lifestyle with creativity and slow speed. The crisis of our present time is also a crisis of our creative imagination. If we do not slow down, we face an imminent threat that these ‘vikaras’ and ‘vilaps’ would lead to the ‘vinasha’ of the planetary life.

Contributing Author: Om Prakash Dwivedi tweets @opdwivedi82. His interests lie in the field of postcolonial theory.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The Australia Today is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts, or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Australia Today and The Australia Today News does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Support Our Journalism

Global Indian Diaspora needs fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon. Buy an annual ‘The Australia Today Membership’ to support independent journalism and get special benefits.