Music instantly hits our emotions and transports us to a sweet world of peace and harmony. Surprisingly, it comes in national flavours. Indian music has its own unique musical heritage, and one of its quintessential instruments is the sarangi, whose melodies never fail to captivate me.

Sarangi is a string instrument played over the lap with a bow, and resembles a violin in many respects. The voice of sarangi, to me, represents the soul of India, and is used in movies to create a typical Indian ambience, especially for medieval and British periods. It can be heard in the film Gandhi, where it creates a mesmerising Indian ambience full of pain and sorrow.

The sounds of sarangi convey grief and sorrow like no other instrument. Unlike the other famous Indian instrument sitar, whose sounds more faithfully record moments of happiness, sarangi represents the voice of pathos. It does not play or sing; rather, it seems to cry from the depth of its soul.

Whenever I hear the sounds of this instrument, on the radio and in films, they never fail to draw my attention and curiosity. I listen to them with rapt attention. Yet, I keep away from going deeper into them, for they invoke emotions of sorrow and grief that are too strong, and in a mysterious way reflect the essence of India.