“Gandharva music goes with the time, setting its melodies according to the changing nature. It sets forth those very natural melodies which match with the process of evolution. It provides a powerful harmonizing influence in the whole atmosphere to balance imbalances in nature.”
—Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Today, a harmonizing influence is needed everywhere—in nature, in individuals and families, and in cities, nations, and among nations. In response to this timely challenge, the Academy of Arts for Enlightenment has launched a global initiative: Music to Create Balance in Nature and Harmony in the World. The program involves promoting the art and science of Maharishi Gandharva Veda music through a series of online performances by Reshma Srivastava, a longtime practitioner of the Transcendental Meditation technique and a leading sitartist who has dazzled audiences worldwide.
Hundreds of participants from North America have enjoyed Srivastava’s weekly sitar concerts since the program’s September launch. This success has inspired a new series of monthly Full Moon Festivals of Music to Create Balance in Nature, beginning on November 19. “This new global initiative from the Academy of Arts for Enlightenment will add the fullness of the full moon to the already blissful experience of the online Maharishi Gandharva Veda concerts, to help restore balance to mind, body, and environment,” says Dr. Anthony Miles, F.R.S.A., Executive Director of the Academy. The final weekly concert will be on Thursday, November 4, 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
What Is Maharishi Gandharva Veda Music?
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, revived the ancient Vedic tradition of knowledge from India in light of modern science. This complete system, known as Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM, presents practical, evidence-based programs to develop consciousness, the inner Self of everyone. The TM and TM-Sidhi® programs allow everyone to easily develop their consciousness for better health, expansion of happiness, and greater creativity and peace in their lives.
Maharishi Gandharva Veda music is one of many valuable components of Maharishi Vedic Science, for it supports and enhances the growth of bliss consciousness in life. Veda means total knowledge, dharva means vibration or coherent frequency, and gan means sound that expresses the full range of life. Gandharva Veda is thus the art and science of coherent melody, encompassing the total knowledge of the full range of frequencies of all of life. The ancient texts of Gandharva Veda describe a close link between music and the health of the individual and of the environment. They prescribe ragas, or musical performances, to create balance and well-being in the human physiology, in society, and in the natural world.
In an historic lecture by Maharishi on Gandharva Veda he said, “Gandharva music is the basis of all order and harmony in nature; therefore, it has that most harmonizing, most integrating influence. It is a very precious science and art of creating harmony within oneself, one’s family, one’s city, one’s country, and the whole world.”
Scientific research is starting to objectively document the beneficial effects of Maharishi Gandharva Veda ragas on the level of the mind, body, and environment. In a paper currently in review by the journal Music and Medicine, researchers Fred Travis, Ph.D., Paul Morehead, Ph.D., and Niyazi Parim, M.A., present the results of three studies. For example, one study showed that 1,800 subjects who attended Maharishi Gandharva Veda concerts experienced significant decreases in negative emotions (feeling tense, angry, fatigued, depressed, or confused) and significant increases in positive emotions, such as greater self-esteem and vigor.
“Gandharva music is the basis of all order and harmony in nature; therefore, it has that most harmonizing, most integrating influence. It is a very precious science and art of creating harmony within oneself, one’s family, one’s city, one’s country, and the whole world.” —Maharishi
Academy of Arts for Enlightenment Presents Maharishi Gandharva Veda Concerts
The Academy of Arts for Enlightenment is a new organization among the many nonprofit organizations teaching the Transcendental Meditation and related programs worldwide. It is dedicated to raising consciousness in and through the arts. The goal of the Academy’s global initiative to promote Maharishi Gandharva Veda music is to help balance the imbalances in nature and generate an influence of harmony in mind, body, environment, and the world as a whole.
The format is inviting and easily accessible to everyone everywhere, with online performances through Zoom’s live music platform. Online attendees have the opportunity to enjoy a “front-row seat” in the comfort of their living rooms, which creates a uniquely intimate experience. Srivastava further enriches the musical experience by taking questions and hearing comments and experiences after each performance.
“This melody nourishes life. It nourishes the process of evolution; it helps everyone to evolve,” Srivastava says. “This is the powerful effect of Gandharva music. It is highly integrating and profoundly nourishing.”
Comments from attendees at Srivastava’s online concerts reflect this deeply balancing effect. As one person remarked, “During Reshma’s online sitar performance, I felt I went on a magical journey to places of inner depth. I came out feeling very smooth, settled, and happy.”
As a viewer from Boone, North Carolina, wrote, “I felt a blissful enlivenment in my consciousness that carried through to my whole body, and lasted all night to the next morning. It was heavenly. I’m very grateful to Reshma for being able to create such a powerful, harmonizing influence.”
“This melody nourishes life. It nourishes the process of evolution; it helps everyone to evolve.” —Reshma Srivastava, sitarist
The new monthly format of the concert series will expand to include a short educational component at the start of each festival performance. Guest speakers will present insightful knowledge of Maharishi Gandharva Veda as well as the results of recent scientific research on its effects. Srivastava will continue to be available for comments and Q&A after her performance.
Support for this initiative comes from donors to the concerts as well as patrons of music and the arts who value this Vedic art and science of music for its unique balancing effects. Being a global initiative, activities are underway that will expand the concert series to an increasing number of countries. This expansion will continue as long as there is sufficient interest and financial support. For more information, please contact Academy Director Dr. Anthony Miles at email@example.com.
To support the Music to Create Balance in Nature initiative, visit TMFriends.org and select “Gandharva Concerts” as the beneficiary for your donation.
A “Sitar Superstar”
Srivastava began playing her beloved sitar at the age of six and perfected her skills rapidly under the careful instruction of her father, University of Allahabad Professor Girish Chandra Srivastava, and her uncle, Satish Chandra Srivastava, a famous sitarist and student of Ravi Shankar. Both were prominent professional classical Indian and Gandharva musicians.
Srivastava has performed professionally for over 30 years, touring Europe, Asia, and the United States. She has been heralded as a “Sitar Superstar,” and her performances have been acclaimed as “transcendent, soulful, and illuminating.” The speed and accuracy of her sitar playing are considered to be phenomenal. The creativity in her improvisation and her variations of rhythms and melody enrapture listeners, elevating their experience to one of blissful awakening.
Jack Forem, author of the best-selling classic Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is a longtime aficionado of Gandharva Veda music. He is familiar with live and recorded performances by some of the world’s greatest interpreters of this venerable art form, such as Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar. “Reshma Srivastava is in this elite circle of great performers. Her technical prowess and ability to elicit deep and subtle feelings, both in the listener and in the environment, are second to none,” Forem says.
Srivastava was recently honored by the Government of India with the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award. She also received, from the Society for Action through Music, the title Sangeet Shiromani, which means “a leading contributor to the field of music.” In addition, she holds the titles of Surmani and Prayag Gaurav, which translates as “the pride of the confluence of the three holy rivers”—the Ganges, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati in Allahabad. She is a member of the Academy of Arts for Enlightenment Advisory Board for World Harmony through Maharishi Gandharva Veda Music. To learn more, visit reshmasrivastava.com.
Srivastava has been heralded as a “Sitar Superstar,” and her performances have been acclaimed as “transcendent, soulful, and illuminating.”
“We are fortunate that Reshma has agreed to perform a yearlong series of concerts via Zoom,” says Forem, who has connected to Srivastava’s concerts from his home in Boise, Idaho. “I have listened to two, and they have been superb. I strongly recommend that you participate in this wonderful ongoing event, as a listener and supporter. Enjoy!”
The Music of the Universe
“Gandharva music is the eternal melody of nature spontaneously sung in all levels of creation, from the most minute to the huge, enormous, ever-expanding universe,” Maharishi has explained. “The eternal harmony of nature must be a pattern of bliss—the whole of nature always swinging in the waves of bliss.”
Srivastava, from her perspective as a master musician, talks about how Maharishi Gandharva Veda is the music of nature and natural law: “The universe we know to be an ever-expanding universe. In that ever-expanding mechanics of evolution and creation, it’s all very rhythmical, it’s all very melodious. This rhythm and melody is the field of Gandharva, so we say Gandharva music is the music of the universe. It is the melody in which the fundamental intelligence of nature moves and administers and governs all the infinite diversity of everything that is there in the universe in the most orderly way.”
Srivastava notes that traditionally Maharishi Gandharva Veda musicians play the ragas according to the time of day, as illustrated in this chart. The purpose of the ragas is to match the rhythm and vibrational sequence of the cycles of day and night. Other ragas are played at different seasons of the year or for specific conditions. All are designed to bring waves of harmony and bliss to the listener and environment.
She emphasizes that everyone can enjoy balance and harmony simply by listening to Maharishi Gandharva Veda music. However, the power of the attention of large numbers of people listening to these melodies at the same time can produce an even more powerful influence, creating a positive effect on society and the environment.
“We want to create a positive effect for the people of our world through this concert series. The Academy of Arts for Enlightenment is promoting these online concerts as a way to generate a global effect,” Srivastava says.
As mentioned earlier, researchers at Maharishi International University have begun conducting scientific studies to document the effects of these performances, both on individuals and on the environment.
“The eternal harmony of nature must be a pattern of bliss—the whole of nature always swinging in the waves of bliss.” —Maharishi
The Music of Natural Law
“I have always believed in the transformative power of art to purify and uplift heart, mind, and spirit,” says Forem. “Great art has always done this, and that’s why it endures. Music is especially effective in this way as it works on the level of sound, the fundamental impulses of natural law. I think it is a wonderful idea to scientifically explore the potential positive effects of Gandharva music on the weather and on national and international consciousness.”
When Maharishi revived Gandharva Veda in terms of modern science and the science of consciousness, he described it as follows in a 2002 press conference: “Gandharva Veda is the music of knowledge… Knowledge flows in terms of melodies, and its effect is to harmonize the disharmony… to eliminate the stresses and strains in the collective consciousness and make the collective consciousness flow in terms of unified wholeness, in terms of the totality of Natural Law… Gandharva Veda has a very great part to play in eliminating the stresses in the collective consciousness. It’s a very beautiful music of Natural Law, music of total Natural Law.”
Everyone, including family and friends, is invited to enjoy the profound effects of Maharishi Gandharva Veda music at these online concerts of Music to Create Balance in Nature and Harmony in the World.