PLAYING THE FLUTE
is a deep act of meditation
like a prayer within
MY FLUTE IS EVERYTHING:
my Religion, my Life, my Soul
The word bansuri is composed of the Sanskrit words “bans” (bamboo) and “sur” (melody). Made out of a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes, bansuri is a musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, used up to the 20th century only within the context of Indian folk music. Today it is one of the main instruments in Hindustani classical music. Venu is the South Indian flute and it is used in the Carnatic music.
The bansuri flute is one of the most ancient and sacred Indian instruments. Bansuri is one of the three musical instruments mentioned in Vedic texts, the other two being Veena and Mridangam. It is also depicted in 2000 years old Buddhist art. In Hindu mythology, bansuri is revered as Lord Krishna’s divine instrument, having a spellbinding effect on all beings.
Once, the gopis asked Murali, Krishna’s flute: “Tell us the truth, what merits does our Lord see in you that he holds you so lovingly and tenderly day and night that you might drink deep the nectar of his lovely lips?”
Murali replied: “My dear friends, I know neither magic nor any arts of attraction. I do not possess any merits also. Dead ignorant of them all, I am simply a forest reed, all hollow within and bereft of any beauty. Krishna, my lord, lover and bearer, calls this attitude of mine the greatest virtue and is extremely pleased with it. He over and over whispers into my ear-hole this excellent teaching: ‘Empty yourself and I will fill you.’ I have realized its truth, and I obey it to the very letter. This is magic, if magic you will call it. This is my strength. It is he who sings through me and enchants you all. My dear friends, if you too empty yourselves of all the arrogant airs of your beauty, excellence, family pride and possessions, he will fill every nerve and atom of your body with his love and life. Does the pervading air not fill a jar when it is emptied of other stuff? He will not leave you even for a moment, and will sing through you the sweet melodies of harmony and peace to the whole world.” – translation by Swami Sivananda Saraswati
“Wind instruments, like the flute, especially express the heart quality for they are played with the breath which is the very life. Therefore they kindle the heart’s fire.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan