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Archive for March 9th, 2013

The Night of Shiva: A Theological Reflection on Shiva on the Occasion of Mahashivaratri (Huffington Post Blog)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on March 9, 2013

Posted: 03/09/2013 11:35 pm – Huffington Post

by (Professor of Religion, Saint Olaf College, MN)

On March 10, Hindus around the world will celebrate Shivaratri (The Night of Shiva). I share these theological reflections on the occasion of this sacred festival.

An illustration of the family of Shiva, consis...

An illustration of the family of Shiva, consisting of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda (Kartikeya) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For centuries, Hindus have worshiped and described God through the name and form of Shiva. The name Shiva connotes kindness, benevolence and grace. Shiva is also commonly known as Shankara, meaning one who acts unceasingly for the good of all. The many names and forms of God available in the Hindu tradition are not just expressions of India’s religious and cultural diversity. These also express profound insights about the nature of God and human existence that enrich our theological understanding. I want to suggest four ways in which the name and form of Shiva speak relevantly to us about divinity and the meaning of human life.

The first insight arises from the contrast between the iconic representations of Shiva and those of God as Vishnu. Although, both may be seen as forms of the one God, there are unmistakable differences. Icons of Vishnu typically represent him in the symbols of royalty, power and affluence. He wears a crown on his head, jewels around his neck, golden earning on both ears, and resplendent robes. Shiva, on the other hand, wears nothing but a loincloth; his only “jewels,” are snakes and rosaries. The icon of Shiva attracts us by its stark simplicity, asceticism and lack of adornment. The eyes of Vishnu are open, looking out to the world; the eyes of Shiva are half-closed in meditation.

The representation of Vishnu with the symbols of kingship and splendor properly emphasizes the nature of God as the omnipotent source, lord and sustainer of creation. The icon of Shiva, empty of all trappings of power and wealth, reminds us that the meaning of human life is be found in who we are and not in what we own. Although wealth and power are important for human wellbeing, these are impermanent, unpredictable and ultimately fail to satisfy the thoughtful person. Our human worth is an intrinsic one that has its source in the divine that exists at the heart of everyone. Shiva’s half-closed eyes point to the condition of being awake to this divine reality.

Prambanan: Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma temple

Prambanan: Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma temple

The second insight about Shiva arises from his association with time and change. As a form of God, Vishnu is associated with preservation and stability, the familiar and the predictable that afford us constancy and continuity. Shiva reminds us that even as we value and seek stability, change is inevitable. On his flowing hair, Shiva wears the crescent moon, the symbol of time, reminding us that there is no creation without movement and motion and that there can be no peace without our acceptance of impermanence. Shiva invites us to see the positive possibilities in change. Without change, our sons and daughters will not grow into beautiful young men and women, the seeds that we plant will not blossom into plants and winter will not come to an end.

shiva (Photo credit: etheral @ Flickr)

shiva (Photo credit: etheral @ Flickr)

The third insight about Shiva is a challenge to our own expectations of where and in what forms we may discover divinity. The city of Varanasi (Banaras) is one of the most sacred locations in Hindu geography. It is famous for its cremation grounds. Elderly and terminally ill Hindus travel to Varanasi in the hope of dying within its sacred precincts. Traditionally, death is an event of in-auspiciousness and ritual impurity; cremation grounds are avoided, as well as contact with a deceased body. Varanasi, however, is the holy city of Shiva and the location of one of the most famous Shiva temples. Shiva is described as frequenting the cremation grounds, dressed in beggarly attire and smearing himself with the ash of the cremation sites. The point seems to be that we must be careful not to associate God only with beautiful temples and richly adorned icons. Although we teach God’s omnipresence, we are more reluctant to discern God in places associated with death and suffering. Shiva reminds us not to place limits on divine reality. Our boundaries, our notions of purity and impurity, are not Shiva’s own. His association with the place of death dramatically states this fact.

The fourth insight about Shiva is concerned with our consciousness of our environment and our need to be good stewards of the earth and its resources. The most popular representation of God as Shiva depicts him as residing in a Himalayan abode in the midst of lush and verdant vegetation. The bull, Nandi, sitting happily next to Shiva and the snakes playfully adorning his neck and arms present us with a portrait of natural harmony. The Ganges River is shown as flowing from and through Shiva’s luxuriant hair, suggesting that nature’s bounties are divine gifts. We are more likely to abuse nature when we disconnect the natural world from its divine origin and strip it of sanctity. The icon of Shiva, placed firmly in the midst of nature speaks, of our interdependence with and our inseparability from the natural world.

One of the compelling forms of Shiva represents him as Dakshinamurti, the teacher of wisdom. He is seated under a banyan tree, surrounded by eager students, As a teacher, Shiva is eternally young, suggesting that his teaching is a continuous process for those of us who are open to learning. As we worship Shiva on Shivaratri, let Shiva also become our teacher. May we learn from him the value of detachment, the positive possibilities in change, the ability to see divinity where we least expect, and a renewed value for nature as a sacred gift.

(Source: 03/2013 – Huffington Post (US Edition) | Religion)


Temple Tour (with music in Raga Kalyan)….


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A – Raga CDs of the months (03/13): Music & Language (part 2 of 2)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on March 9, 2013

!! New Broadcasting Dates in 2013 – Programme Calendar as PDF Download  or iCal  !!

The relationship between music and language, between sounds and the spoken word or vocals is a very special one.

Busto di Pitagora. Copia romana di originale greco. Musei Capitolini, Roma.

Busto di Pitagora. Copia romana di originale greco. Musei Capitolini, Roma. (Source: Wikipedia (ENG))

The grammarians of Sanskrit, the ancient Indian science language regard music and language as divergent aspects of one and the same phenomena.

With Indian classial music (Hindustani, Carnatic) there is a multiplicity in common under the topic to “music and language “, which is the bases of the occidental harmonics, dated back to the founder of the mathematical analysis of music by Pythagoras of Samos who had evidenced empirically the harmonic intervals – approximately written before 500 B.C. .

Music seems to be reflected far less vaguely in us than it had been granted so far. Rather our perceptions of sounds are defined very exactly by outlined possibilities and borders. The audiomental system has greater importance than one had assumed recently.

dates of broadcasting…

part 1: 24th Febr 2013 | part 2: 10th March 2013 – 05:00 pm EST (11:00 pm CET) @ Radio FRO (A)
(premiere: 16th March 2010 (part 1) | 20th April 2010 – 09:00 pm CET @ Tide Radio)
broadcasting plan | streaming (Internet Radio & Mobile Radio) | podCast

As shown by recent studies the perception of music and ‘music making’ incorporate nearby almost all regions of the brain. The widespread acceptance that music is processed in the right brain hemisphere and language in the left had completely been wrong. The current research shows that language and music are assimilated almost identically. The profound emotional content of music, from felicity to sadness affects particularly stimulating our brain and also produces frequently physically intensively perceptible reactions to the listener.

Music settles visibly in our life, in brain activities which are measurable nowadays and made vividly visible with modern medical imaging techniques e.g. (functional) magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) or Magnetoencephalography (MEG), see picture below.

In part 1 of 2 IMC – India meets Classic presents the structure of music & language. The  following broadcasting (part 2) will bring light up the social psychological meaning of music for individual and community interaction processes influenced by the nature of music as communication form.

Stefan Koelsch: Nature Neuroscience 7(3), 2004: Music, Language and Meaning: Brain Signatures of Semantic Processing

Stefan Koelsch: Nature Neuroscience 7(3), 2004: Music, Language and Meaning: Brain Signatures of Semantic Processing

short paper (pdf: German | English)

Note: IMC OnAir’s radio show “music and language” in two parts (2x 58 min.) represents a fundamental introduction regarding the multiplicity of sciences involved (music ethnology,  anthropology, language and social sciences, neuro sciences, psychology, computer sciences (artificial intelligence) among others).

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A – Raga CDs des Monats (03/13): MUSIK & SPRACHE (Teil 2/2)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on March 9, 2013

!! Neue Sendetermine ab 2013 – Neuer Programmkalender als Download  o. iCal  !!

Die Beziehung zwischen Musik und Sprache, zwischen Klang und gesprochenem oder gesungenem Wort ist eine Besondere.

Die Grammatiker des Sanskrits, der alten indischen Wissenschaftssprache, betrachten Musik und Sprache als divergierende Aspekte ein und desselben Phänomens.

Busto di Pitagora. Copia romana di originale greco. Musei Capitolini, Roma.

Busto di Pitagora. Copia romana di originale greco. Musei Capitolini, Roma. (Source: Wikipedia (ENG))

Mit der indisch klassischen Musik (Hindustani, Carnatic) gibt es eine Vielzahl von Gemeinsamkeiten unter der Überschrift “Musik und Sprache“, die auch die Grundlagen der abendländischen Harmonielehre sind, deren Beginn man mit dem Begründer der mathematischen Analyse der Musik – Pythagoras von Samos – und seinen empirischen Beweisführung der harmonischen Intervalle auf etwa mehr als 500 Jahre vor Christi Geburt datieren kann.

Musik scheint sich weit weniger diffus in uns abzubilden, als bisher angenommen. Vielmehr wird unsere Wahrnehmung von Tönen durch sehr genau umrissene Möglichkeiten und Grenzen definiert. Dem audiomentalen System kommt eine weit aus größere Bedeutung zu, als man bis vor Kurzem angenommen hatte.

Teil 1: 24. Februar |  Teil 2: 10. März 2013  23:00 Uhr CET (05:00 pm EST) @ Radio FRO (A)
(Premiere: 16.03.2010 (Teil 1) u. 20.04.2010 (Teil 2) – 21:00 @ Tide Radio)
broadcasting plan | streaming (Internet Radio & Mobile Radio) | podCast

In Teil 1 stellt IMC – India meets Classic die Struktur von Musik und Sprache dar. In Teil 2 werden die sozialpsychologische Bedeutung von Musik für das Individuum und seine Interaktionsprozesse aus seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung und aus dem Wesen der Musik näher beleuchten.

Die Wahrnehmung von Musik und das aktiv Musizieren, das zeigen uns jüngste Studien, beziehen nahezu alle Regionen des Gehirns mit ein. Die weitverbreitete Annahme, dass Musik in der rechten Gehirnhälfte und Sprache in der linken Gehirnhälfte verarbeitet wird, war schlichtweg falsch. Die aktuellen Forschungen zeigen auch, dass Sprache und Musik nahezu gleich verarbeitet werden. Der tiefgreifende, emotionale Gehalt der Musik, von Glückseligkeit bis zur Traurigkeit wirkt besonders stimulierend auf unser Gehirn mit für den Musikhörenden häufig körperlich intensiv wahrnehmbaren Reaktionen.

Musik schlägt sich sichtbar in unserem Leben nieder, in Gehirnaktivitäten, die heute mit modernen, bildgebenden Verfahren messbar sind und mit der (funktionellen) Magnetresonanz-Tomographie (MRT) oder  Magnetenzephalographie (MET) plastisch sichtbar gemacht werden können (Bild s. u.).

Stefan Koelsch: Nature Neuroscience 7(3), 2004: Music, Language and Meaning: Brain Signatures of Semantic Processing

Stefan Koelsch: Nature Neuroscience 7(3), 2004: Music, Language and Meaning: Brain Signatures of Semantic Processing

short paper (pdf: German | English)

Hinweis: Die 2-teilige IMC-Sendung “Musik und Sprache” (2x 58 min.) stellt angesichts der Vielzahl der beteiligten Wissenschaften (Musikethnologie, Anthropologie, Sprach- u. Sozialwissenschaften, Neuro-Sciences, Psychologie, Computerwissenschaften (künstliche Intelligenz) u.a. ) eine grundlegende Einführung dar.

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