“Indic Music Traditions and its Effective Pedagogy” at Naada Bindu Festival

Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, supported by the Center for Soft Power will be hosting Art Talk at the Naada Bindu Festival’s (NBF) 10th year celebration.

The topic this year is “Indic Music Traditions and its Effective Pedagogy” and in the panel are accomplished Top-Graded AIR artists and Professors at Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula – Pandit Rupak Kulkarni, Vidushi Manjusha Patil, and Pandit Abhijith Banerjee.

Naada Bindu was started in 2010 as an experiment, led by the direction provided by Pujya Swami Tejomayananda, then Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide. Besides the individual performances, the festival offers an entire experience from the beauty of the Sahyadris, the early morning temple bells and chants, the meals together as a community, a sublime art experience and inspiring conversations with the artistes in a warm and caring environment.

In the 10th festival, Art Talk will take a new turn where artistes steeped in the Gurukula system of training will discuss on the status of Gurukula method of teaching today, in their roles as shishyas earlier in their lives and now as gurus. This Art Talk will provide a platform for focusing on contemporary requirements, pedagogical challenges and innovation through infusion of essence of the traditional systemic strength.

In a conversation with CSP, Pramodini Rao, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth Academic & Campus Director, and Dean of Faculties at Kochi, Dr Gauri Mahulikar talk about the driving spirit of the Naada Bindu Festival:

What are the spiritual roots of Indian music? How does Naada Bindu explore this?

The roots of Indian music go back to Samaveda. Music was associated with the rituals, with the recitation of the Vedic mantras. Thus religiosity, as well as spirituality, became an integral, inseparable part of Indian music. Naada Bindu has always worked with this mission. Our CSR activity is one of the ways to explore this. Secondly, the intensive programmes organized by Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula aim at this.

What are Swami Tejomayananda's thoughts on music?

Music should be such that it elevates the art, artists as well as the audience to a higher plane. 'Svara to Ishvara'; 'Nartan to Paramatman' - Both music and dance are means to reach Godhood. The svara 'Sa' is like God in the music of life, which can be missing from no raga.

Naada upasana is about hearing the Anahata sound, or unstruck sound. Does Naada Bindu explore this aspect of our music, listening to the music of our own bodies?

Svara to Ishvara is the core of Naada Bindu. Music is not just for entertainment, but for the upliftment of the human self, which can be achieved only through listening to the Anahata nada. The ears are external organs that listen to the sound created in the space, (शब्दगुणमाकाशम्) but it's the deep meditative tapas that one can listen to the inner voice (अनाहतनादम्).

One can explore this only in the serene spiritual ambience of a Gurukula like at Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula; not at commercial music academies.

What is the place of nadam in Vedanta?

Nadam is found everywhere in nature. However, the Mandukya Upanishad has explained it as the fourth part of the mystic mono-syllable OM.
After delineating the three letters, अ, उ & म, comes the तुरीय, the soundless resonance which is the summum bonum of the esoteric experience.

How is the effect of music different from the sound of the Veda according to you?

Essentially, it's not different. The Vedic svaras, उदात्त, अनुदात्त & स्वरित gave rise to the सप्तस्वर- षड्ज, ऋषभ, गान्धार, मध्यम, पञ्चम, धैवत & निषाद.
Both, the Vedic svaras and musical notes equally offer joy, contentment, as well as ecstasy. In other words, both culminate into प्रिय, मोद & प्रमोद.

What are the special programmes lined up for this decadal year celebration?

Besides world-class performances by reputed artists, the special features of this festival is that the art-talk will be conducted with our own Gurus, all of whom have dedicated time from their busy performance schedules to teach our students. Each one is passionate about the Gurukula pattern of teaching and wholeheartedly support our activities. The 10th landmark festival is being marked by an offering by Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula to people/organizations who have been tirelessly working for the perpetuation of the arts. Narthaki website is chosen for Dance and Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal for Music. The recipients will be Dr Anita Ratnam, the founder-director of Narthaki and Dr Sudha Patwardhan, an able representative of the Pt Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Parampara.

(The three day art retreat and Art Talk will be held between February 7-9 at Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula, Pune)