REVIVING RAGA THERAPY  
A GROUND REPORT  
Dr TV SAIRAM  
Dr TV Sairam is the President of the newly-formed Indian Music Therapy Association in India, besides being the President of Nada Centre for Music Therapy. Known as the 'Father of Indian Music Therapy', Dr Sairam has rich administrative as well as musical background (having learnt Carnatic music under the tutelage of his gurus: Vidwan (late) SV Ramani and Vidwan B Vaidyanathan of Hyderabad) He is also the course director of the popular distance learning programme since 2006, conducted by the Centre. He has been a pioneering writer and speaker on raga therapy in national and international meets for over three decades. (Please see the List under Dr Sairam's Contribution).
 
'Indianness' in Musical Experience  
   
Indian music experience is highly emotional and at the same time very precise and analytical – a similarity with the way the human brain is structured in its two hemispheres, left and right. It is emotionally charged, as it touches the subtlest of nuances in our emotional experience, with the deployment of minute fractions of tones and semi-tones that could be audible. Ragas are therefore rightly referred to as 'the miracle of micro-tones'. It's again highly calculative and analytical as revealed by the possibilities of 108 prescribed ways one could be trained to use beats or tala- which requires not only an elaborate mental calculation but also the simultaneous physical performance.
This is the real secret of its long-known therapeutic role, as one is automatically synchronized with the harmony or balance in the system that enables the listeners to reach the much-needed balance between the thoughts that limit or caution and the feelings that flow freely with gay abandon.
It is this inherent power in our musical experience that came to be used freely and copiously in the cultural and religious milieu in India for centuries, without even being aware of its therapeutic or medical importance.
The arrival of the concepts of Nada Yoga and Raga Chikitsa are the two important landmarks that brought music to the lime-light it deserves as the life-saving medicine for the population. Nature with its extremes of climates and climatic changes, alternating floods with drought, cloud-bursts with landslides and abundance with scarcity - all caused havoc to people by causing displacement, immigration, with heavy loss of life and properties. History is replete with the instances of frequent invasions of foreign invaders through the North Western passes, resulting into destructions and chaos of the well-settled way of life, causing emotional trauma for survivors. Many indologists are of the view that all such adversities could be faced by the population with resilience, thanks to the great musical culture of the sub-continent which could ensure balance through its in-built flexibility.
 
   
Influence of the West in the 'Reincarnation' of Indian Music Therapy  
   
The movement started in a big way in the post-War North America with the introduction of music therapy experiments conducted in labs, hospitals, hospices, rehab centers etc – not to mention the violence-prone street–corners – had brought in reawakening in Indian shores in recent times.Though late to follow suit, in terms of organizations, India is now not far behind in establishing a 'music therapy rapport' with a billion and odd Indians.
 
   
Towards Building an Organizational Framework for Indian Music Therapy  
   
In India, it all started with two national-level events, organized in the year 2002, which really gave fillip to the heretofore dormant movement of music therapy. Raga Therapy Symposium was organized by the highly reputed music body- Shanmukhananda Sangetha Sabha in Bombay to be immediately followed by a National Consultation on Music Therapy in Delhi. This author, who was invited to present a key-note address in both these events emphasized on the need for therapeutic application of music as a complimentary medicine and also needs for utilizing the man-power trained in music with some further training on the concepts and practices of music therapy- as being done in the advanced countries like USA.
 
   
The tremendous response received from the organizers and the participants of these two major landmark congregations, created confidence and determination on the part of this author who, to start with, founded a non-governmental organization in 2004, based on his plans and ideas, which concretized into Nada Centre for Music Therapy, the first of its kind in India.
 
   
Immediately on its foundation, the author actively engaged in compiling all his earlier work into publication by the Centre between 2004 and 2016.
 
   
2019 witnessed the arrival of his (now popular) distance learning programme, which is first of its kind to use emails to exchange lessons and assignments with volunteers- not only from India, but also from other countries volunteering their time and energy for the sake of spreading the knowledge and wisdom, underlying this challenging profession.
 
   
The movement of music therapy got concretized, for the first time, with the solid establishment of this non-governmental organization with the planning and implementation, as conceived by this author, in 2004. With the success of the centre, many enthusiasts –some of his erstwhile colleagues and students organized themselves to create similar establishments in various parts of India : Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ludhiana etc with considerable success in their mission.
 
   
Fourteen World Meets and nearly 100 Workshops/ Seminars organized by Nada Centre for Music Therapy in India and outside for the global audience (Please refer to the List in the menu 'Past Events' here)  
   
At the beginning of this Millennium, when the very First International Music Therapy Conference was held in Chennai, the volunteers of the Centre was already engaged in bringing together music therapists from various parts of India and outside. So far, 14 international meets (conferences and workshops) were held in various parts of the country: Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Tiruvannamalai, Mangalore, NOIDA and Visakhapatnam. Some conferences were supported by Universities and Institutes of Higher Learning like VIMHANS, AIIMS, Amity University, Andhra University, Yenepoya Medical College (Deemed to be University) and Bangalore University. Nearly 100 meets (seminars/ workshops/ lec-dems / radio talks etc ) were conducted in various parts of India to create awareness on music therapy especially among school children and adolescents, besides in hospitals, hospices, elders' homes, rehabilitation centres and the like with considerable enthusiasm from the public. Volunteers drawn from music therapy students of the Centre were also deputed to meet and treat the survivors of calamities in various locations that had witnessed cloud-bursts, floods, cyclones, tsunami etc in various parts of India..
 
   
Indian Music Therapy Association (IMTA) (Functioning with effect from the 1st January 2019)  
   
As the trained music therapists have started emerging slowly from the Centre, and also a considerable number of research students started doing MPhil and PhD in raga music therapy from various universities, an exclusive platform to take care of their career and professional interest was considered necessary. The IMTA (Indian Music Therapy Association) was formed recently to take raga music to the masses through the involvement of Government and other non-Governmental bodies. For details, visit www.theimta.in
 
   
 
   
   
   
 
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