Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 4

Rhythm and Memory

9 minutes  • 1847 words

Many things may be created in both the objectivated and subjectivated minds which do not belong to the external world.

They are exclusively confined to the internal domain.

They are created within the mind, and there they remain as mental objects.

They become objectivated in the mind independent of any external influence.

Imagine we see an elephant in the external world.

When it is created in the mind, that elephant becomes an object of the objectivated mind. The subjective counterpart of the mind visualizes it, and compares it with the elephant which it had previously seen in the external world, until the mind is satisfied that it is indeed the same elephant.

We are convinced that the elephant we observed ten days ago and the one we see today are the same in appearance.

While comparing the two elephants in our mind we conclude that the elephant which has just now been formed in our objectivated mind is the exact replica of the one formed in our objectivated mind on a previous occasion; thus we conclude that we are visualizing the same elephant.

It may also happen that an elephant is recreated in the mind without its even being visible in the external world. From where is the image created?

From an external source, of course. The elephant previously perceived can be recreated in the mind. We use various words for this action – such as “conception”. We can use anubhava for this kind of thing, but in Sanskrit we usually say anubhúti. Anu means “after” and bhúti means “becoming”.

If anu is spelt as ańu it means “molecule”. The root verb sr means “to go”, or “to move”, and therefore the meaning of anusarańa is “going after”, or “following”.

The place where we walk, along which we move, is called saraka, which many people misspell as saŕaka. Sarańii means a narrow road. When it is broad it is known as saraka. In Sanskrit the prefix upa means “near”. So upasaraka means “that way which is nearly the same size as a road.” Similarly, there are the words nagarii (city), upanagarii (small town), devatá (god), and upadevatá (demigod). The last word, upadevatá, does not exactly mean “god”.

We only say it does, through fear. The actual meaning of the word is “ghost” or “spirit”. Similarly we say upakańt́há. Kańt́há means “throat”, and upakańt́há means “a point or place near the throat.” Upasarańii means “lane” which in Persian is called gali. In Bengali the word gali is widely used. Suppose someone is walking along, and you are following him. This may be described as anusarańa.

In the present case, when you see an elephant, its umbra is reflected in your objectivated mind, and you visualize that image. Later, maybe after ten or twenty days or one year, or even after twenty years, you recreate a similar image of the elephant in your mind. This means that you had an anubhava of the elephant. Anu means “afterwards”, and bhava means “becoming”.

Anubhútaviśayásampramośah smrtih – “Memory is the reproduction of things already perceived,”

The re-creation of the same mental formation that was once created in the objectivated mind. Imagine that you listened to a particular rága. That same rága can be sung in various styles, just as a ráginii can be sung in different styles. The same rága or ráginii may be sung in various styles in different towns and localities. That particular style of music prevalent in a particular place is called a particular gharáńá or school of music.

Suppose you have listened to a particular melody, a rága.

  • When notes of a melody are systematized, they become a rága.
  • Different tunes derived from special rágas are called ráginiis.

Because of the differences in rágas and ráginiis, Indian music has been classified into 2 schools:

  1. Hindustani
  2. Karnataka

Kiirtana was popular in Bengal even before the birth of Mahaprabhu. People in certain areas of Bengal are used to doing kiirtana in a distinct local style.

In one style, the first portion of the kiirtana may be pleasing to the ear. The latter portion somewhat monotonous.

In another style, the beginning may be ordinary, the middle excellent, and the end similar to the beginning.

In yet another style, the concluding portion may be exceedingly charming. Its melody, even after the music is over, continues to ring in the listeners’ ears.

This ringing signifies the faculty of knowledge.

Bengali kiirtana has been classified into 4 schools:

  • Manoharshahii Gharáńá
  • Reneti Gharáńá
  • Garanaháta Gharáńá
  • Mandárań Gharáńá.

According to some, Manoharshahii Gharáńá belongs to Birbhum; according to others, it belong to Orissa.

Haráńhátá is a locality of Calcutta. Reneti is a distortion of “Ranihati”, a developed village of Howrah District. Kiirtana was very popular there.

Mandárań refers to the place known as Garhmandárań situated in Arambag Subdivision of Hooghly District. This place is mentioned in Bankim Chandra’s novel, Durgesh Naninii.

Suppose you are listening to someone doing kiirtana according to the Mandárań style.

The vibration of that particular kiirtana creates a sympathetic vibration in your ears, and a sensation is produced in your auricular nerves.

Those vibrations are carried to the brain where they produce a corresponding vibration, which is also finally reproduced in the mind.

You then ask someone: “What is this school of kiirtana?”

He or she replies, “This is the Mandárań school”.

You then associate that kiirtana with the Mandárań school in your mind.

You decide inwardly that whenever this type of vibration is produced, it will be Mandárań Gharáńá.

Later, when that very same style of kiirtana is sung, the brain and mind vibrate with that very same vibration. You say to yourself, “It seems to be Mandárań Gharáńá. Someone told me this when I listened to this style of kiirtana some time ago.”

So many things happened in quick succession in such a short span of time that you were not even aware of yourself having analysed and compared things in order to reach such a conclusion.

How does this happen?

On the first hearing, the mind becomes transformed into the kiirtana. The mind itself becomes the kiirtana.

At the second hearing, the mind again takes the form of the Mandárań Gharáńá style of kiirtana.

When your mind can associate the second transformed state with the first, it is called “memory”. If someone asks you to sing a kiirtana in the style of Mandárań Gharáńá you will transform your mind into the Mandárań Gharáńá kiirtana in the same way as before, and accordingly you will sing the kiirtana.

Those who are not well-versed in music would not be able, at the time of the second rendering of the Mandárań Gharáńá, to express it themselves because that mode of expression is either unknown to them, or simply beyond their capacity.

A similar thing happens when you taste or smell something. Suppose you have just eaten a mango. Afterwards you will say, “To which variety of mango does this one belong?

Lyáḿŕá, Bombay, kiśáńbhog, kapát́bháḿgá or Bhutu Bombay?

Ah yes, I’ve tasted mangoes of this variety before. And its name… It’s in my mind but I can’t say now.” And so, you cannot continue the conversation properly. Almost all of us have had this experience before. “I have seen this man before… I have even heard his name…

It is in my mind, but unfortunately I’m having trouble finding it and expressing it.” In this situation you would like your mind, your brain, to vibrate so that you can recapture the vibration you originally experienced. You cannot shake your brain with your own hands. It is humanly impossible. While attempting to cause a vibration in your brain, you vigorously shake your head – this is the reason why you do so. I will explain it in more detail at some later time.

When you reconvert your mind into sound, touch, form, taste or smell, it is called smrti or memory. Whenever you smell kanakcánpa, your mind is transformed into that very same smell. And so, when you encounter kanakcánpa for the second time, your mind again takes its form; the smell also returns. You compare the two vibrations and conclude that this is indeed kanakcánpa. This is memory.

Mental creations are those objects evoked by the subjective mind and retained within the objectivated mind.

Suppose you listen to a poem: your mind is transformed into the idea of the poem – the mind flows along with both the idea and the rhythm of the poem. Now, in the second phase, the mind, while flowing along with the idea and the rhythm, will be transformed into that very same idea and rhythm, and it will be easier to hold the poem in the mind. Another example is a student who is reading during the examination period: his eyes are locating the words and becoming the words.

Suppose the boy is reading the sentence: “I once met a lame man close to my farm.” If he understands the meaning then the pictures of an old man, a farm, etc., will occur in his mind. So, he is experiencing the second phase. Then again, if that boy reads aloud, he hears the sound with his own ears.

The sympathetic vibration reaches the brain through the ears and then through the acoustic nerves. The mind is then converted into that sound once again. It gets converted twice, once through the eyes, and once through the ears. The result will be more effective memorization. So it is better for examination candidates to read aloud so that they can hear the sound of their own reading; but novels and fiction can be read silently.

When anyone says something:

  • the eyes see
  • the ears hear
  • the mind dances in rhythm.

In the absence of rhythm, it is difficult to memorize.

That is why since ancient times, for 15,000 years, the common practice has been to bring every valuable branch of knowledge within the scope of rhythm.

Human beings do not easily forget rhythm.

One may forget the contents of knowledge, but not the rhythm.

That is why all Vedic rks were composed in 7 metres:

  1. Gáyattrii
  2. Uśńik
  3. Triśt́up
  4. Anuśt́up
  5. Brhati
  6. Jagati
  7. Paunkti

All literary compositions were brought within the gamut of these seven Vedic metres.

Different figures of speech, particularly alliteration and punctuation, are all highly important, because they are valuable for the memory.

If we say, “He shall be punished,” it is easy to remember for there is assonance of the “s”.

“On Saturday, a goldsmith saw a snake near Satyasarai, and on Sunday a shoemaker severely assaulted a saintly person with a shoe.”

There is assonance on the sound, or wave, “s”.

“I came to Patna junction, and I came to the conclusion that the matriculation examination is a botheration.”

There is consonance and assonance of the sound “tion”.

The science of figures of speech was invented in the past mainly for this purpose, not only to make the words sweet-sounding, but also to help us grasp them quickly.

25 May 1980, Calcutta


(1) This is a poem written by Rabindranath Tagore in rhythmic resonance. –Eds.

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