The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

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Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



1. The Silent Life

2. Vibrations

3. Harmony

4. Name

5. Form

6. Rhythm

7. Music

8. Abstract Sound



Nature's Music


Human Music

Indian Music

The Art of Music

The Music of Life

Union Through Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

7. Music

The Art of Music

The art of music in the East is called kala, and has three aspects: vocal, instrumental, and expressing movement.

  1. Vocal music is considered to be the highest, for it is natural; the effect produced by an instrument which is merely a machine cannot be compared with that of the human voice. However perfect strings may be, they cannot make the same impression on the listener as the voice which comes direct from the soul as breath, and has been brought to the surface through the medium of the mind and the vocal organs of the body. When the soul desires to express itself in voice, it first causes an activity in the mind, and the mind, by means of thought, projects finer vibrations in the mental plane. These in due course develop and run as breath through the regions of the abdomen, lungs, mouth, throat and nasal organs, causing air to vibrate all through, until they manifest on the surface as voice.

    The voice therefore naturally expresses the attitude of mind: whether true or false, sincere or insincere. The voice has all the magnetism which an instrument lacks, for voice is nature's ideal instrument upon which all other instruments of the world are modelled.

    The effect produced by singing depends upon the depth of feeling of the singer. The voice of a sympathetic singer is quite different from that of one who is heartless. However artificially cultivated a voice may be, it will never produce feeling, grace and beauty unless the heart be cultivated also. Singing has a twofold source of interest: the grace of music, and the beauty of poetry. In proportion as the singer feels the words he sings, an effect is produced upon the listeners; his heart, so to speak, accompanies the song.

  2. Although the sound produced by an instrument cannot be produced by the voice, yet the instrument is absolutely dependent upon man. This explains clearly how the soul makes use of the mind, and how the mind rules the body. Yet it seems as though the body works, not the mind, and the soul is left out. When man hears the sound of the instrument and sees the hand of the player at work, he does not see the mind working behind, nor the phenomenon of the soul. At each step from the inner being to the surface there is an apparent improvement, which appears to be more positive. Yet every step toward the surface entails limitation and dependence.
  3. There is nothing which is unable to serve as a medium for sound, although tone manifests more clearly through a sonorous body than through a solid one, the former being open to vibrations, while the latter is dosed. All things which give a clear sound show life, while solid bodies choked up with substance seem dead. Resonance is the reserving of tone; in other words it is the rebound of tone which produces an echo. On this principle all instruments are made, the difference lying in the quality and quantity of the tone, which depend upon the construction of the instrument. The instruments of percussion, such as the tabla or the drum, are suitable for practical music, and stringed instruments like the sitar, violin or harp are meant for artistic music. The vina is especially constructed to concentrate the vibrations; as it gives a faint sound, audible to the player only, it is used in meditation.

    The effect of instrumental music also depends upon the evolution of man who expresses with the tips of his fingers upon the instrument his grade of evolution; in other words, his soul speaks through the instrument. Man's state of mind can be read by his touch upon any instrument, for however great an expert he may be, he cannot produce by mere skill, without a developed feeling within himself, the grace and beauty which appeal to the heart.

    Wind instruments, like the flute and the algosa, especially express the heart quality, for they are played with the breath which is the very life; therefore they kindle the heart's fire.

    Instruments stringed with gut have a living effect, for they come from a living creature which once had a heart. Those stringed with wire have a thrilling effect, and the instruments of percussion, such as the drum, have a stimulating and animating effect upon man.

  4. After vocal and instrumental music comes the motional music of the dance. Motion is the nature of vibration. Every motion contains within itself a thought and feeling. This art is innate in man. An infant's first pleasure in life is to amuse itself with the movement of hands and feet; a child on hearing music begins to move. Even beasts and birds express their joy in motion. The peacock, proud in the vision of its beauty, displays its vanity in dance; likewise the cobra unfolds its hood and rocks its body on hearing the music of the pungi. All this proves that motion is the sign of life, and when accomplished with music it sets both the performer and onlooker in motion.

    The mystics have always looked upon this subject as a sacred art. In the Hebrew Scriptures we find David dancing before the Lord, and the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, Egyptians, Buddhists and Brahmans are represented in different poses, all having a certain meaning and philosophy relating to the great cosmic dance which is evolution.

    Even up to the present time among Sufis in the East dancing, called sama, takes place at their sacred meetings, for dancing is the outcome of joy. The dervishes at the sama give an outlet to their ecstasy in Raqs, which is regarded with great respect and reverence by those present, and is in itself a sacred ceremony.

    The art of dancing has greatly degenerated owing to its misuse. People for the most part dance either for the sake of amusement or exercise, often abusing the art in their frivolity.

    Tune and rhythm tend to produce an inclination for dance. To sum up, dancing may be said to be a graceful expression of thought and feeling without uttering a word. It may be used also to impress the soul by movement, by producing an ideal picture before it. When beauty of movement is taken as the presentment of the divine ideal, then the dance becomes sacred.