Spirit of universal brotherhood through music

Rajkumar Sataditya *

Shillong Chamber Choir, Shillong as part of Manipur Sangai Festival at BOAT :: November 24 2015
Shillong Chamber Choir, Shillong as part of Manipur Sangai Festival at BOAT on November 24 2015 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

Swami Vivekananda in one of his lectures at Chicago starting from 11 September 1893 said that the man on this earth has continued too long to be fanatic about insisting that his religion alone was true and other religions had no right to exist. He also stressed that as long as this situation persists there can be only bloodshed in the name of religion and no brotherhood which, the practice of religion should actually bring about, would be possible.

Universal brotherhood is the final stage of individual connectivity and oneness. It starts from unity and togetherness. Patriotism is one of the mile stone of universal brotherhood. It is accepted widely the love of humanity is above all religions.

There must be possible mediums through which the message of peace and universal brotherhood can be spread through all the corners of the world through an influential leader, mass communication, music and art, etc.

Music as a medium of Universal brotherhood – Music is certainly an extremely efficient medium for engaging people for a political, social, and religious or whatever cause. Music as one of the important variables of culture, music plays an important role in the functioning of a society. Music has the power to manipulate human psyche and emotions. In Hindu text, 'Sangeet' or music is referred to the combination of three forms of arts, i.e. vocal music, instrumental music and dance.

Music, as a universal language, can act as a weapon powerful enough to be used on the political, social, religious and cultural level. It is not only a source of entertainment. It is indeed a language common to all people which can convey a message to the world through feelings and emotions. The power of music is so strong that it is being used for treatment of many mental disorders, the process being commonly popular as Music therapy.

I came across a very interesting article on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on internet. The date was 31st December 1989 and at Ramgarhia Sabha Gurdwara, Slough Uk, Nusrat Fateh Khan sang "Koi bole Ram Ram". For the people present in the gathering, there were no separate religions "Allah was Ram" and "Ram was the Guru". By performing this song, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan proved that " Music has no religion and religion could never bound him.

The Hymn is as follows:
"Koi bole Ram Ram koi bole Khuda
Koi sevai 'Gusain', koi 'Allah'
Kaaran karan kareem
Kripa dhar raheem….."
(Some call the lord as 'Ram' and some 'khuda'
Some serve Him as Gusain, others as allah
He is the cause of causes, and generous
He showers His grace and mercy upon us.)

All of us living in this world have come across natural and manmade disasters since many years back. And it is us, the humans, who support one another in the time of such crisis. Musical charity in aid of such disasters has been taken place since last many years. Singers and musicians come all together as a strong helping hand during such unfortunate times. Some record breaking charity concerts, albums and songs to act as a support for the people who lost their family, home, property etc. are still famous in the history of the world.

"We are the world" is a song and charity single originally recorded by the supergroup USA for the African famine that happened in 1984. Michael Jackson and many other famous singers of that time sang together in a single track. It is a message to the whole world to come together and help Africa. The lyrics of the song says everything.

"There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all……"

Another note worthy song that creates a sense of oneness is the song titled,
"Hingminnasi Eikhoi, Hingminnasi Eikhoi
Taibang malem leikol sida,
Leiraang oina saatminnasi…"

This song was first broadcasted in Doordarshan Imphal in the mid nineties. The song was sung in seven different dialects of Manipur. it gave the listeners a message of universal brotherhood, a message where we are to bloom together like flowers in a beautiful garden called the earth. How can we forget the video of the song where men and women dressed in their traditional attire stand together with hand in hand and sang 'Hingminnasi Eikhoi…'.

Many other benefit concerts in the aid of many problems of the world have taken place. The list of the concerts can be found in internet with title of "Benefit Concerts".

Some of them are given below:
Stand up to Cancer (biannually)
The Concert for Bangladesh (1971)
No Nukes
Live Earth (2007)
A Conspiracy of Hope
The SARS Benefit Concert
United we Stand:what more can I give (2001)
Tsunami Relief Cardiff (2005), etc.

The above concerts are organized to raise enormous sums of money for a cause because of the para-social interaction that occurs between the performing celebrities and the spectating fans. Benefit concerts are a major example of celebrity charity for they involve popular musicians; actors and actresses; and other kinds of entertainment figures volunteering to a greater cause.

Another example of integration through music is the form of contemporary music known as world music. World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe, which includes many genres of non-western music including folk music, ethnic music, traditional music, indigenous music and music where more than one cultural tradition, such as when ethnic and western music popular music intermingle.

The Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival (LGMF) takes place annually during December-January, often across several major cities in India. It has also travelled to 22 countries. By organizing such music festivals, people of different cultures and countries are exposed to a new form of culture which helps in bringing them closer to one another. Moreover, there are many societies and organizations all over the world which works as a binding force in bringing good relations amongst the nations through cultural exchange.

The objectives of such organizations are to organize cultural festivals, financially support cultural institutions, sponsors individual performers in dance, music and other forms of art, etc. A good example of such organization is Indian Council for cultural Relations (ICCR). Its objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programme pertaining to India's external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries and people; and to develop relations with nations.

We all are aware about the present political and social issues of Manipur. Why not we come together as one for the development, for the things that are lacking behind, for the improvement of the state, to overcome many other problems like unemployment, diseases, drugs and many other social problems so that we become the idol place of the world where 'unity in diversity' is proven and hence becoming the most peaceful and beautiful place on earth.

Music has a huge influence on how we view the world. "Music can change the world because it can change people" as told by legendary singer Bono of U2. Songs create a strong bond between individuals, make masses speak the same language and seek a common goal while delivering a message. As a human race we come together for birth, and we come together for death. What brings us together in between is up to us.

Listen to the universal language of music and let's bring out the positive energy with us everywhere we go.
"We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we are making
We are saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me………"

* Rajkumar Sataditya wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Research Scholar in Department of Music, University of Delhi
This article was posted on February 20, 2016.

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