I’ve been spending a great deal of time listening to Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay). There are many lessons posted online of him teaching at the Plum Village Monastery. He relaxes me on the train ride home from work and I’ve learned some things about the practice of Buddhism that fascinate me. The practical application of the lessons are interesting.
Music is an important part of the monk’s tradition whether it be chanting, bells, or drums. One drum in particular is the Damaru, a small double sided hand drum. There is a leather string tied over the narrow middle part of it, where knotted, wooden or bone ends make of rattling sound on the drum’s membranes, when swung.
According to its description: It is a small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck – like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unamani fest and manifest. Damaru has a resonator which is anywhere from 4 – 10 inches in length and 3 – 8 inches in diameter. The resonators are laced together with cords. The knots on each end strike both heads to produce a rattling sound. This is affected by rotating drum rapidly in alternating directions. The pitch is bent by squeezing lacing. When a damaru is vibrated it produces dissimilar sound which are fused together by resonance to create to create one sound. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation.
Like many ancient religious practices drums are commonly used for ceremonial purposes.