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The Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features
Sat 11 Feb
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In the Vedantic traditions, sound is considered one of the most important principles of existence, as it is both the source of matter and the key to become free from it. One who can thoroughly understand the four stages of sound as explained in the Vedic texts can utilize this science to become free from the bondage of matter.
"The single syllable Om is the supreme combination of letters."
"Liberation by sound." Since sound is the non-material source of the material manifestation, it is the key by which we can become free from bondage. It is the thread-like link between the material and spiritual realms.
Each level of sound corresponds to a level of existence, and one's experience of sound depends upon the refinement of one's consciousness. It takes a realized consciousness to experience the full range of sound, the full range of existence. The seers who can comprehend the four stages of sound are known as Manishis. These four levels of sound correspond to four states of consciousness. Para represents the transcendental consciousness. Pashyanti represents the intellectual consciousness. Madhyama represents the mental consciousness. And Vaikhari represents the physical consciousness. These states of consciousness correspond with the four states known technically as jagrat, svapna, sushupti, and turiya - or the wakeful state, the dreaming state, the dreamless state, and the transcendental state.
Madhyama-vak is the intermediate unexpressed state of sound, whose seat is in the heart. The word Madhyama means "in between" or "the middle". The middle sound is that sound which exists between the states of sushupti and jagrat. Madhyama-vak refers to mental speech, as opposed to external audible speech. It is on this level that we normally experience thought. Some hold that wakeful thought is still on the level of vaikhari.