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Cosmic ConsciousnessPrevious Story: The Sound Of Space

It was beginning to get dark outside the room.

They stared at the stars above them through their ranch slider glass and remained lost trying to grapple with the mystery of sound.

"I'm still trying to decipher," Hosh continued after some reflection, "what Pa meant when he told you to create Anahat Naad."

"Interestingly, Subroto Roy once wrote that Matang Muni, a 7th century Indian music commentator, classified Svar as a category of Naad."

"Svar was Sva, meaning 'self', plus Rajari, which means 'luminous'. Transliterated, Svar was a musical sound that glowed on its own."

"Obviously, some scholars will interpret this differently. But this transliteration leads to some interesting questions. Can sound be luminous? Can we see it?"

"Subroto questions that if a physical entity like phosphorous can glow on its own, why cannot another physical entity like sound do the same?"

"Is it because our paradigm of properties of sound with respect to our sound apparatus doesn't allow us to experience this?"

"But then paradigms are continuously changing with scientific advancements. What was inconceivable once, is now commonplace."

"Science has now produced Soundless Music, giving even the deaf, the ability to feel the music. We can even see what sound looks like now."

"Wanna see it?" Hosh asked his brother suddenly.

"Yea," nodded Josh excitedly.

Hosh played a YouTube video for him.

"Can we develop the paradigm of listening, Subroto asks, with our 'inner ear' which can also see?" Hosh continued after a pause.

"Is imagined sound not sound to the person who is imagining it? If the person then brings that imagined sound to the fore, is it not a physical expression of a non-physical phenomenon?"

Josh stared at his brother, speechless at the audacity of Subroto's thoughts. Sensing his brother's unease, Hosh changed track.

"Interestingly," he continued, "the concept of Anaahat Naad, finds mention in many systems of faith. Brihadaaranyak Upanishad (1.2.4) asserts that the entire cosmic creation began with sound: By His utterance came the universe."

"Bible points to it too. John 1:1 is the first verse in the Gospel of John. It starts: In the beginning was the word. By 'word', Bible didn't mean a word made from letters or alphabets. It meant Shabd, or technically Anahat Nad, the first sound."

"Muslim divines also called it Nida-i-Asmani, (the sound coming down from the Heavens), Kalam-i-Qadim (the ancient sound) and the Kalma or Word."

"Sufis like Kabir talked about it, "Kehet Kabir aanand bhayo hai, baajat Anhad bol re !" Anhad, means unceasing or eternal as the term literally means boundless or limitless. Kabir is saying he's in bliss, as the unstruck melody is resounding everywhere."

"But then, there is another verse attributed to Kabeer, which says:"

Jaap marey, ajapaa marey, anahad hu mari jaaye
Raam sanehi na marey, kahey Kabir samjhaaye

जाप मरे, अजपा मरे, अनहद हू मरी जाय.
राम स्नेही न मरे, कहे कबीर समझाय.

"Its gist is that while everything else perishes, the love of/ for God makes one immortal. Even though Kabir is using a Paradox (even the endless Ajaap and Anahad can cease) to signify that the love of God is greater than all else, he has planted a doubt in me? Did he literally mean it? Can Anahad die?"

"Sikh gurus explained Anahad Naad as Ajapaa Jaap, which literally meant Unchanted chanting. Guru Nanak too, sang in Japji, the opening hymnal prayer in Guru Granth Sahib: Aad aneel anaad Anaahat Jug-jug eko ves."

"It is a verse in Punjabi, meaning, that which is ever existent (aad), unsoiled by the world (pure - aneel), without beginning (anaad), without end (indestructible - anaahat), and unchanging (eko ves) through the ages (jug-jug)."

Josh was listening attentively now.

"Kailash Vajpeyi," Hosh continued, "wrote that Ajapa Jaap and Anhad Naad are basically related to electrophysiology. Silent chanting generates a kind of tapas, he wrote, which flows in a rhythmic wave pattern."

"Hans Berger, a German physicist, had discovered that not only all living tissues are sensitive to electric currents, but after a certain time the tissue itself generated small voltages."

"We now know that a human body can generate between 10 and 100 millivolts. That's not enough to light a bulb, but amazingly, it is enough to power our own bodies."

"All animals that move have electricity in their bodies, says Rodolfo Llinas, a neuroscientist at New York University's School of Medicine. Everything we see, hear, and touch gets translated into electrical signals that travel between the brain and the body via special nerve cells called neurons."

"Llinas says: "Electricity is the only thing that's fast enough to carry the messages that make us who we are. Our thoughts, our ability to move, see, dream, all of that is fundamentally driven and organized by electrical pulses. It's almost like what happens in a computer but far more beautiful and complicated."

"By attaching wires to the outside of our body, doctors can now monitor the electrical activity inside us. We've made machines to record the heart's electrical activity. An electrocardiogram (EKG) shows what the heart is doing. An EEG reveals the electrical activity of neurons in the brain."

"Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, is a technique for measuring brain activity. It works by detecting the changes in blood oxygenation and flow that occur in response to neural activity. When a brain area is more active, it consumes more oxygen."

"To meet this increased demand, blood flow increases to the active area. fMRI can be used to produce activation maps showing which parts of the brain are involved in a particular mental process."

"It should be easy for science to research and map the effects of silent chanting on our brain, especially with the latest developments in technology. Then perhaps we may be able to unravel Anaahat Naad."

Next Story: Just Feel The Beat