Thursday, August 14, 2008

The connection between sapta swaras and colours.

Rhythms, the art exhibition by Vidya Sundar

depicting ragas in colour may sound innovative.

(read the article below)

But, for the one knowing something about Jyothisha

this is not a novelty.

There is not a thing that is not discussed by Jyothisha.

Jyothisha itself means the science of Jyothi or light –

or the light of Knowledge.

It helps us to derive knowledge of the universe,

of the world and the way that things work in this world.

One such thing is about swara- color connection.

As per Jyothisha,

the sapta swaras and the colors are existent in nature

by virtue of some energy and waves of planets.

Each swara can be depicted by a color that is characteristic of a planet.

Sound has some effect on people and environment.

It is on this basis only,

the Vedas are recited.

Particularly, sama veda is about the swaras.

The 7 swaras used in Sama veda are numbered as

Pratahma, dwitheeya etc upto saptama (no 7)

This numbering is related to a particular tone or octave,

such as sa, ri, ga, ma etc.

From this only, the classical music was evolved.

These tones have certain frequencies

and wave motions.

Color is an integral part of these waves.

As per Jyothisha, the sun light is the source of all colors (7 in number).

All the 5 major planets known as tara grahas

(namely Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn)

reflect the sun light.

Vedic astrology does not take into account the newly discovered planets

as we don’t see the reflected light from them by our naked eye.

Vedic astrology considers light from these 5 planets only

apart from the sunlight and the moon light.

The planets have different modes of motion and vibration

and different levels of capacity to absorb and reflect light

from the sun due to varied reasons.

This makes the color of light from each of the planets as

distinct and special to itself.

The reflected light leaves the surface of these planets

and reach the earth – reach us and all the living things.

This light travels in some patterns

and hindrance to the light that happens everyday at specific times

is regarded as Rahu kaalam. (more on this in a future post).

This light that enters various objects on the earth

make a lot of changes to those objects.

The formation of gems of distinct color is one example.

The way we behave also is due to the amount of light we absorb.

The rajasic and roudric tendency, increases in a person due to effect of Mars.

Mars, the planet for red colour increases these tendencies in those who are more bilous.

Experiments on exposure to red light has shown

there is increased activity of the blood in a region.

That is why Mars is associated with healing too

and it is recommended that surgeries must be done on Tuesday,

the day ruled by Mars

or the day when Marian light dominates earth.

(Science can take up lot of issues from astrology and

experiments can be conducted to understand the nature’s way better.)

In this way each planet is identified with a color.

Since color is connected to tone or vibration,

the swaras or sound waves also can be identified with specific colors.

We know that sounds produce certain mental abilities and inabilities.

Sounds are found to produce headaches or even elation.

Sounds can even shatter objects.

The rationale in astrology is that

since sounds are connected to colors,

sounds in particular tones can make changes

in the planetary color received by one

so that he can be relieved of ill-effects arising from the negatives vibrations

of that planetary light.

The mantra recital is based on this rationale.

We can find the correlation to swaras and colours in astrology

The planetary varnas are in effect sangeeta varnas.

Propitiation in the form of japas to specific planets

bear fruit on the basis of this rationale.

Sama veda is sung using the sapta swaras.

The swaras are recognized as numbers.

The Sama numbering is like this:-

Prathama – 1 – ‘ma’ (madhyam)

2- ‘ga’ (gandharam)

3- ‘ri’ (rishabham)

4- ‘sa’ (shadjam)

5- ‘ni’ (nishadham)

6- ‘dha’ (dhaivatam)

7- ‘pa’ (panchamam)

The corresponding colors of these swaras

are as follows, which are known from the planet ruling that swara or tone.

1 – ‘ma’ (madhyam) -Moon – white or yellowish tint.

2- ‘ga’ (gandharam) - Sun - Golden colour

3- ‘ri’ (rishabham) - Mars - red

4- ‘sa’ (shadjam) - Mercury - green

5- ‘ni’ (nishadham) - Venus - multi colour

6- ‘dha’ (dhaivatam) - Jupiter - Yellow.

7- ‘pa’ (panchamam) - Saturn - blue

Why this arrangement (1 to 7) was done is not known.

But we can derive a wealth of information

having philosophical import

if we analyze the way the arohana is arranged in music

and the way double avarohana is noticed in

Sama vedic numbering

(ma, ga, ri, sa and ni, dha pa )

as given above.

I hope to analyze this in a future post.

For the time being,

I only wish to point out that

Swaras and colours are related

and that such relationship is

facilitated by the light reflected by the planets.

In the article below, the artist Vidya Sundar has said that

she is more fond of depicting moon and lotus very often.

The lotus stands for Hrudhaya kamal - the seat of Inner Brahman.

The moon stands for mind and thoughts.

The fondness of these indicate a mind steeped inward

in a journey of self - realization or Brahman-hood!

- jayasree.


(from Chennai Chronicle dated August 14, 2008)

Finding colours through raga

Report by



The music carries on and the ragas find their place and colour

with the visualisation by Vidya Sundar,

whose works on acrylics are on display at the Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery.

Rhythms, a journey through Hindustani ragas,

specifically evening and night ragas are flavoured

by the perceptions of the artist who has literally immersed herself

in what she has painted.

Using oil and acrylic on canvas/board the ragas so coloured

are those such as

Deepak, Jog, Madhushri, Darbari Kanada, Pahadi among others.

Mountains in cool shades of ice blue and white represent Pahadi

while reds and browns show Madhushri.

The colour of night is not dark blue or midnight blue

as one would imagine but a deep red signifying passion and love.

Darbari Kanada is a vibrant pink lotus against a swirl of blue green

while Deepak rag — the raga that burns is in shades of yellow.

Why yellow?

“Because that is the colour of fire.

Of cleansing of heat of oil that makes lamps glow,’’ says Vidya.

“In fact, when I was painting this one I was listening to the raga

and I was so immersed in the painting

that I was sweating and beginning to feel the heat.

It was December and there was no way the weather was any reason for it.

These ragas have that power and the paintings are an ode to that musical power

to bring about emotions,’’ adds Vidya.

In Kangra paintings, Hindustani ragas were shown as human beings.

Most of them were based on the theme of love as symbolised by Krishna and Radha.

And some have looked at ragas through nature.

What I am trying to do is to look at these melodies through nature —

taking into account what I felt when I heard each raga.’’

“Rhythms are what I call my series.

The first symbol of life is rhythm — the inner self of any art.

The inner self or the soul is made of the Nadabramha

and this cosmic sense is uplifting and enriching.’’

Vidya uses many symbols to express herself —

the lotus and the moon find constant presence in the paintings

“Because in many ways they represent characteristics similar to human beings.

The lotus is also sacred and its very philosophy of rising above the mire

is representative of the soul’s journey to mukthi.

The moon depicts the transient and waning nature of human life.’’

And so the music flows and the paintings remain mute in their tribute!


திவாண்ணா said...

our experience is that there is more bleeding on tuesdays. we try to avoid problem surgeries on those days.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Surgery on Mars hora on Tuesday will give harmful effects.Other horas on Tuesday are the recommended ones.
As per ancient texts surgery will be successful on Tuesdays.
I have many case histories to prove this.

Unknown said...

have forwarded these intriguing thoughts on facebook Santhigiri Ashram.
also eagerly awaiting rahu kaalam's effect on colours & sounds and on sequence of 7 swaras.

Unknown said...

The Sama numbering is like this:-

Prathama – 1 – ‘ma’ (madhyam)

2- ‘ga’ (gandharam)

3- ‘ri’ (rishabham)

4- ‘sa’ (shadjam)

5- ‘ni’ (nishadham)

6- ‘dha’ (dhaivatam)

7- ‘pa’ (panchamam)
Regarding the order of saptaswaras in Sama veda: 1)Is there a mention or discussion regarding the frequencies or relative frequencies of these swaras? Is it calculated relative to madhyama or shadjam? 2) When veda mantras are chanted individually or in a ghoshti, what pitch is adopted for chanting and why?
Thank you
Sudha Ramaprasad

R.Ramanathan said...

Namaste Sudha Madam,
The answers to your questions are follows
1)Is there a mention or discussion regarding the frequencies or relative frequencies of these swaras? Is it calculated relative to madhyama or shadjam
>>There is a book called the Naradiya shiksha which is sort of a Praatishakhya for the Sama Veda. There the swaras are fixed based on the sound of an animal in a given season. For example Shadja is fixed the two fold sound of a peacocks cry. Rishabha is the sound made by the bull, Nishada is the neighing of a horse and so on. I do not have the naradiya siksha text with me right now. Any simple search on the web will give you text. If you are familiar with sanskrit then it should be easy. Calculations of the sama swaras are not based on the Shadjama or madhyama and these seem to be later concepts.

The seven Samaveda svaras are: 1. Krushta 2. Prathama 3. Dvitiya 4. Tritiya 5. Chaturtha 6. Mantra 7. Atisvarya. Other than these seven, there are five Avaantara (intermediate) svaras: 1. Namanam 2. Vinatam 3. Abhigitam 4. Prenganam 5. Svaaram.

The swaras can be roughly equated to the Yajur/Rig Vedic swaras of Udatta, Anudatta and swarita

Generally Prathama swara can be equated to udatta swara, though not always, Dvitiya to anudatta and so on. Approximating this way helps us to apply the normal Vedic swara rules to the samans though it is not so straight forward.
2) When veda mantras are chanted individually or in a ghoshti, what pitch is adopted for chanting and why?
>>There is no general rule for pitch or shruti, but any Rik/Yajus can be chanted in three modes depending on the context
1. Loudly
2. Muttering(Upamshu mode)
3. Mentally.

Atleast when i go for any parayana usually all of the people in the group somehow tune and adjust and there is as such no concept of "Shruti" or pitch adjustment like in KArnatic music

R.Ramanathan said...

Some links to articles

R.Ramanathan said...

I have quoted the relevant verse discussing the production of swaras, quoted from the above article
Shadjam vadati mayuro, gavo rambanti ca Rsabham / ajavike tu Gandharam, kraunco vadati Madhyamam // pushasaddarane kale kokilo vakti Panchamam / avas tu Dhaivatam vakti, Nishadam vakti Kujarah // NarSh 1.5.3-4 //

The peacock cries Shadja; the bulls moo Rsabha; the she-goat and the sheep Gandhara; the curlew cries Madhyama. And, in the spring time, the cuckoo calls Panchama; the horse produces Dahaivata; and, the elephant, the Nishadha

R.Ramanathan said...

Sorry repeated the same article twice, i gave the above verse from