From Music as Yoga by Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Our life force descends in forms of vibrations. We speak of the great octave of cosmic vibrations, because all vibrations are in correspondence or sympathy like the tunes of the octave in music. If, for instance, the low si or do is struck, the higher si or do will vibrate or sound simultaneously in sympathy. At the lowest end of the scale the vibrations are sounds. The human ear can perceive from 16 to roughly 30,000 vibrations per second. Some animals like dogs can hear even higher vibrations.

Higher in the scale of vibrations are colours. Each of the seven colours corresponds to one of the seven notes. Still higher in the scale of vibrations are perfumes or scents. Other forms of vibration include electricity, heat, X-rays, ultraviolet rays, and cosmic rays.

Astral body

These vibrations penetrate our astral body and create either harmonious or disturbing feelings. Everybody knows that certain surroundings and certain tunes produce harmony and joy in us, while others irritate and depress.

The old Egyptians knew the art of constituting harmony in a sick person. They would lead the person on a stretcher into a temple where a clairvoyant priestess could see the astral body and the health of the aura of the patient. She then submitted him to colours and tunes beneficial for breaking down the vibrations which were the source of the disease.

Nowadays, it is a common experience that in certain moods we are drawn to a certain type of music which gives us peace. We also like to wear certain clothes, or furnish our rooms and paint our walls with certain colours, which have a beneficial influence on our happiness and health. Although the reasons and rules of these influences are rarely known to the average person, some people do understand the influences of these different vibrations. They can therefore advise which of these manifestations of vibrations should be applied or used in each case.


Colour healing is already being commonly used in hospitals, and treatment by music has produced good results in individuals suffering from mental disorders.

On one of the busiest streets of New York, an experiment was conducted. The walls of a hall were painted with nerve-soothing colours and by passers were invited to sit in that hall in silence for a certain period of time to experience the calming influence on their nervous system.

‘Music while you work’, is another technique that is being applied in most factories nowadays in the Western world. This practice has its origin in the experience that the workers will work better if they are under the influence of certain types of music. Naturally, abuse of this system has led to the phenomenon that, after a certain period of time, the workers no longer hear music which is not dosed in the same quantity or tunes as the music of their workplace.

Experiments, mainly in America, have shown the correspondences between tunes, colours and perfumes. The vibration of one tune sets into vibration a colour and a perfume at the higher end of the scale of vibrations.


Following is a list of correspondences as established by Roland Hunt, as a result of his research in America:

The colour red stimulates, but quickly fatigues. Its musical note is C. Its perfumes are camphor, geranium and sandalwood. The colour orange stimulates, with a tonic effect, it is cheerful and forceful. Its musical note is D. Its perfumes are vanilla, clematis, heliotrope and almond. The colour yellow is associated with mental activity and clear thinking. Its musical note is E. Its perfumes are jasmine, cassia, citron and iris. The colour green induces balance, relaxation and harmony. Its musical note is F, and its perfumes are musk, benzoin and narcissus. The colour blue is healing and soothing. Its musical note is G. Its perfumes are syringa, lilac, frangipani and sweet pea. The colour indigo is associated with inspiration and self-control. Its musical note is A. Its perfumes are new-mown hay, lavender and balsam. The colour violet induces peace and calm and is associated with the higher plane of healing. Its musical note is B. Its associated perfumes are carnation, menthol, peppermint and cinnamon.

From this we can see what great possibilities are open in the future by using the three constituents, notes, colours, and perfumes, for producing a deep effect in a case of disease.

Past and future

The Russian composer, Aleksander Scriabin (1872–1915), did some pioneer work in this field in constructing a colour organ in which each tune was joined to its corresponding colour. It produced this colour while the music was played. However, he died before his work was completed.

Walt Disney (1901–1966) also impressed international audiences with his film Fantasia, released in 1940, in which he experimented with the interrelationships of music, colours and thought forms.

It is to be hoped that after more study, colour centres may be established in every large town where doctors will rely predominantly on colour, sound and perfume therapies for the maintenance of good health as well as for the treatment of diseases, rather than relying on the use of drugs. When we remember that disease is really nothing but a vibratory disorder, then we are surely justified in thinking that medicine will develop along these lines.

As Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937), the inventor of the first practical radio-signalling system, remarked, “We are just entering into what may be called the ‘field of vibrations’, a field in which we may find more wonders than the mind can conceive.”

Magic music

The first manifestation of God is ether or sound. Sound is the guna, or quality, of ether. Sounds are vibrations and give rise to definite forms. Each sound produces a form in the invisible world, and combinations of sound create complicated shapes.

Scientific textbooks describe experiments which show that notes produced by certain instruments trace on a bed of sand definite geometrical figures. Thus it has been demonstrated that rhythmical vibrations give rise to regular geometrical figures.

Various musical tunes of ragas and raginis, musical scales, each have a particular shape which can be graphically described. The shape of the Megha raga, or the cloud raga, is said to be a majestic figure seated on an elephant. The shape of the Basanta raga, or spring raga, is described as a beautiful youth decked with flowers. This means that a particular raga or ragini, when accurately sung, produces aerial, etheric vibrations which create certain characteristic shapes.

Singing a daisy

This view has recently received corroborations from experiments carried out by Mrs Watts Hughes, the gifted author of Voice Figures. She delivered illustrated lectures before a select audience to demonstrate the beautiful scientific discoveries, the result of many years of patient labour.

Mrs Hughes sang into a simple instrument called an eidophone which consisted of a tube, a receiver and a flexible membrane. At the outset of her lecture, she placed tiny seeds upon the flexible membrane. As she sang the notes through the instrument, the resulting air vibrations danced the tiny seeds into definite geometric patterns.

A reporter described the shapes of the notes as remarkable revelations of geometry, perspective and shading and spoke of them as, “Stars, spirals, snakes, wonders in wheels and imagination rioting in a wealth of captivating methodical designs.”

Once, when Mrs Hughes sang a note, a daisy appeared and disappeared. She said “I tried to sing it back for weeks and at last I succeeded.” She learnt the precise inflections of the particular note that create a daisy. It was made constant and definite by a strange method of coaxing and alteration of crescendo and diminuendo. After the audience had gazed enraptured, a series of daisies, some with succeeding rows of petals, were sung into creation.

The audience was then shown the physical form of other notes, such as pansies of great beauty. The flowers were followed by sea-monsters, serpentine forms of great swelling and rotundity, full of light, shade and detail. Then notes were sung depicting trees, trees with fruit falling to the ground, trees with a foreground of rocks, and trees with the sea behind. People in the audience exclaimed, that they were just like Japanese landscapes.

In France, Madame Finlang’s singing of the hymn Ave Maria to the Virgin Mary brought out the form of Mary with the baby Jesus in her lap. On yet another occasion, the singing of a hymn to Bhairava, Lord Shiva in his fierce aspect, gave rise to the formation of the figure of Bhairava with a dog, his vehicle.

Name of the Lord

The repeated singing of the name of the Lord gradually builds up the forms of the devatas, the special manifestations of the deity. These forms serve as a focus to concentrate on the benign influence of the deity one seeks to worship.

The above experiments demonstrate several facts. First, sounds produce shape. Second, particular notes give rise to particular forms. Third, if you want to reproduce a particular form, you must recite a particular note in a particular pitch.

For instance, singing the mantra in Agnimile purohitam as Ile Agnim purohitam will not do. The efficacy of the mantra is gone. Therefore, one cannot transpose or translate a mantra. If one does so, it will cease to be a mantra. When a mantra is defective, either in swara or varna, pronunciation and colour, it is incorrectly directed and may produce a result contrary to its intention.

However, such is not the case with the name of Rama or any name of the Lord, be it Shiva, Krishna, Hari, or others. These names may be sung in any and every way, even in ulta nama, reverse order. In the Ramacharitamanas, ‘Ayodhyakandh’ (193:8)Tulsidas says:

Ulta namu japat jagu jana,
Valmiki bhaye brahma samana.

All the world knows that Saint Valmiki (previously known as bandit Ratnakara) became one with Brahman by uttering the ulta nama – Mara, Mara for Rama, Rama.

For a bhakta, a devotee of the Lord, there is only one piece of advice:

Rama Nama japate raho, reejh bhajo ya kheejh,
Ulta pulta oopaje jasa dharti ko bija.

Therefore, repeat the name of the Lord, either with happy feelings or in anger, it will have its effect; just as the seeds will sprout, either sown properly or thrown haphazardly into the fields.

Sangita, music, is an exact science. The harmonious vibrations produced by the singing of the Lord’s name help the devotee to control the mind easily. They produce a benign, soothing influence on the mind. They elevate the mind from its old ruts or grooves to magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory.