The goal of Nada yoga and that of Dhrupad is to transcend the perception of the duality of the world and to experience the ultimate oneness, or ultimate “yoga” or union, using the human voice. India is known as the world’s spiritual center because of its unmatched rich and long tradition in the quest for this oneness or bliss, and this has been achieved by various means and expressed by numerous gurus, swamis and ascetics in ecstatic poetry. Nada Yoga is the scientific treatise of the path to achieve oneness via the use of the human voice and study of vibrations and states of mind. Dhrupad pursues the same oneness but as a form of art, using poetry and the well developed Indian classical raga system.
The word ‘Nada’ – a Sanskrit word, signifies the stream of continuous musical sound experienced from an external or internal source of energy, from sounds that are inaudible to sense organs, to audible sound. ‘Nada’, also means ‘flow’ and in this context would relate to the flow of consciousness. Nadam resonates to the sound of ‘Om’, which is the primordial energy. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to join or unite. Yoga is thus the process for the ultimate unification of atma (individualness –sometimes loosely referred to as the soul) with paramaatmaa (ultimate oneness or greater consciousness). Nada Yoga is thus the union of all vibrations or union of sound with the mind, body and spirit or consciousness. Practicing Nada Yoga in the Dhrupad style will make the practitioner experience the union of the body, mind and soul, through sound and music.
In the Nada Yoga practice, the aspirant focuses his/her attention on the anahata nada or the inner sound. Ultimate focus should be on the sound produced within the human body and not on any external vibration. The practitioner experiences a feeling of stillness, which instills an ability to reconnect with the soul or the ‘atman’.
Nada Yoga assists in tuning ourselves to all the astral sounds, ultimately immersing oneself in the cosmic sound, ‘Om’; perhaps the reason why the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say that mantra ‘Om’ is “the sound that expresses the divine absolute, which should be repeatedly intoned while absorbing its meaning”.
The culture of Dhrupad enumerates all the concepts of practicing classical art, described in the ancient and greatest musical treatise, the Sangeet Ratnakar written by ShriSharangadev in early 1200s, which also extensively describes the practices to attain fineness of musical presentation. The concept of an elaborate, well developed and extended alap comprising three tempos, vilambitalap (slow), madhya alap (medium tempo) and drut alap (fast tempo) in the Dhrupad tradition is primarily based on one fineness as expounded in the Sangeet Ratnakar. Practice of Dhrupad is essentially based on the voice culture (or culture of sound) (audible or inaudible) that carries the mood of the raga with the help of right intonation, tonic shades forming the right melodic movement, delivering the melodic phrases with instant and extempore inspiration arising in that particular moment of practice. Because of the close relativity between the practice of Dhrupad and Nada Yoga, the tradition of Dhrupad is being suggested as the medium of study related to the Yoga of Nada.
As far as the study about the practice of Nada Yoga in the context of the discipline of Indian classical music is concerned, the term ” Yoga“ signifies the mechanism of combining, coordinating, harmonizing, and integrating the discipline through an intense and meticulous practice of the Kriyas (techniques) . Significantly, Nada Yoga has been included in the Kriya Yoga or Yoga of technique, out of the five distinctive disciplines of Yoga – Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Raja Yoga.