Tablā, spirituality, and the arts: a journey into the cycles of time
Hindus recognize an innate connection between their traditional arts, their theological understandings, and the traditions of spiritual practice that link them together. Since the time of the Upaniṣads, Hindus have recognized sound, nāda, as divine, as Brahman (Absolute Reality). A profound tradition of classical music has developed over the past 2,000 years that integrates ancient techniques of yoga with the finest technologies in musical practice, instrument design, and performance. The union of art and spirituality reached its apex in the aesthetic reflections of Abhinavagupta, and other geniuses of Hindu Tantra. In this chapter I reflect on my 20-year study of tablā and Tantra, both in academic contexts here in the United States, as well as in my field research in Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Bali.