The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ache in bone' Try a raga

Mumbai, Oct. 13: Suffering from arthritis' Apply raga Hindol.

Music therapist Shashank Katti tells you which raga is good for which disease, its dosage, and the time when it is to be administered. If you have Malkosh in the morning and not in the evening, it may not help you at all.

Now, Sony Music is about to launch a series of four cassettes by Katti, in which he prescribes the ragas for arthritis, hypertension, liver diseases and depression. “While I used a modification of raga Hindol for arthritis, I used a variation of Todi for hypertension and related disorders,” says Katti.

His therapy, Katti adds, is based on six years of research on the effect of certain surs (notes) on physiology.

“Research in the US has shown that music influences the levels of neurohormones. One experiment proves that exposure to a certain kind of music raised levels of melatonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine,” Katti says. These neurohormones are known to act as tranquillisers and anti-depressants and also to alleviate pain.

“After I read an article about the relation of ragas to human health, I started my research. But when I played raga Hindol in its pure form to arthritis patients, as was prescribed, I found no results. Then I started to experiment. I dropped the sur ni’ from Hindol. In that form, the raga seemed to help the patients a lot,” says Katti, who works with Dr Himalaya Pantavaidya, an allopath, and Vaidya Sanjay Chhajed, an ayurvedic doctor.

The music therapist will not divulge the ragas for the other diseases. “Why should I give away the ingredients of my medicine'” he asks. He plays the ragas on the sitar himself in the cassettes.

Katti, who trained as an engineer, says his therapy is based both on contemporary medical research and ancient ayurvedic principles, but warns that only one who knows classical music can practise it.

“I prescribe the music after identifying the constitution of a person according to the three Ayurvedic principles of pitta, kaph and vayu,” says Katti, adding that he has treated some patients with positive results.

Several practising doctors are also favourable towards music therapy, though not necessarily the one developed by Katti.

While some are sceptical, many are willing to give it a try despite being confused about how it works.

Gynaecologist Dr B. Awasthi asked Katti over to try his therapy on premature babies to help them gain weight at Surya Nursing Home in the city. Katti has also practised it on pregnant women at Sherekar Maternity Home in the city.

But it is not Katti alone. In this age of stress, music, especially the classical and spiritual varieties, is a burgeoning market. The spiritual music market, promising relaxation from stress, including cassettes on the Gayatri mantra, Suryavandana and Bhagvad, is spilling over from music stores. It is, according to record companies, the largest growing sector in the music market.

Katti, however, insists that his music is different from “relaxation music” and is medicine. “I prescribe a certain piece of music based on a certain raga to be listened to over a certain period of time. My music may also not be pleasing to the ears. And it has to be heard everyday for best results,” he says.

“The Hindol variation works very fast on arthritis, but other ragas are to be listened to regularly over a month,” Katti says. “It may not be a pleasurable experience to listen to the same music every day at a certain time. But it has to be had like medicine,” he says.

Katti’s listeners will say whether his music works. But as it is music and there are no side effects, at its worst it can be time well spent.

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