Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Last weekend, creators of the music circle around me attended Seattle’s Dhrupad Days workshops with the Gundecha Brothers, organized by the Dhrupad Institute of America (DMIA) and held at Cornish College of the Arts. The realization everyone experienced, of their true voices and subtle bodies, is a milestone in alignment with Self, that each of us finds difficult to articulate via words. As one of us exclaimed, “This is Vipassana in sound!”

Earlier in April, my music saathi and I had immersed ourselves more fully in a 7-day Dhrupad residential retreat with the Gundecha Brothers in a small town in Northern Germany, by the Baltic Sea. Sixteen of us did music with the gurus from 5:30am to 8:30pm every day, and couldn’t have meals or even sleep without the vibrations continuing to course through our beings. We began with kharaj practice before sunrise (sometimes by the sea!), and had both group and individual instruction with all three brothers, including in taal from Akhileshji. As Ramakantji often put it, “We don’t teach music, we convey vibrations.” And Umakantiji generously modeled it with the lower notes he assisted us in touching before the sun arose every morning.Kharaj1_Vikas

And just like that, like the morning sun over the horizon, it dawned on me — Dhrupad (dhruva pada) is not remotely about fixed verse or regimented singing. It is about knowing the unbroken, eternal frequency of one’s existence, through sound and body. (more…)


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The easiest way to recognize the ego in action? When energy-depleting and downward-spiraling feelings/emotions are generated by thoughts about oneself, another, a life situation, or the world. Essentially, any resistance to well-being and life flow.

The limitless and abundant Self couldn’t possibly generate a single thing that obstructs or separates one from the natural center of well-being – of joy, peace, inspiration and creativity.  (more…)

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Detachment is not remotely apathy or absence of caring. Paradoxically, detachment is caring so profoundly and totally about something/everything, that you derive no identity from it, no sense or definition of (ego) self. You can only attach to something that is separate from you. In detachment, the Love is so complete that you are One with it; you see that you are it.

Here’s a sweet analogy in music. The expert musician sings Raag Bhoopali. The lover becomes Bhoopali. She knows not herself as separate from Bhoopali, so all you hear and experience is Bhoopali, not a singer singing it, for she has dissolved. In such an event/experience, you likely won’t find yourself telling the person that she sang well, you simply merge and become One in reverence. You too dissolve, you too become Bhoopali! And so, there’s neither singer nor audience, there is only Raag: Love.

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A couple of weekends ago, I was kindly invited by Shri Arijit Mahalanabis to be an observer at Seattle Indian Music Academy’s (SIMA’s) Shibir. A Shibir is an intensive, multi-day “summit” for what renowned life coach Martha Beck calls “deep practicing” something – in this case, Hindustani Classical Music. This Shibir was being led by Vidushi Aditi Kaikini Upadhya, one of SIMA’s esteemed visiting musicians and Gurus, and from the moment I walked into the room to hear her lovely voice speaking over the soothing drone of the tanpura, I knew I was going to have the most enlightening and joyful of experiences.

A bit about how I saw my role at the Shibir. To play the role of an observer, a witness, is the ultimate, humbling privilege. It is also a position of great responsibility, for the act of witnessing is verily an act of co-creation. It serves in lovingly holding the space for the creation to come through. If one is interested in observing in this way, one must have complete presence (an inner “wordlessness,” free of analytical / critical thinking), an open, loving heart (Oneness with all present), and deep, deep listening. The first two things ensure that one’s listening catches the insights behind the words (and actions), and sees connections that create new understanding because of one’s observation. It becomes an experience of satori. And thus, one begins to give saath, just like in a Hindustani music concert. By witnessing in this way, one can co-create and transform any space, situation or being that one observes. (Ultimately, as it has for me, this can become a way of life, a way of loving, teaching, healing, creating – awakening myself and others.) (more…)

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Depending on context, the word saath in Hindi translates to accompaniment, company, friendship, co-travelership, partnership, and so on, each meaning containing nuances related to the context of use. A saathi could be a friend, co-traveler, partner, or even a lover. In Indian (Hindustani) classical music, saath is accompaniment to a vocalist or instrumentalist, such as by drums like the tabla or pakhavaj, and possibly other melody-based instruments such as the harmonium or the violin. (more…)

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I am writing after a rather long hiatus, and this is because I am hard at work on my second book, Thrive! A Love Story with Life. In it, in the chapter Compassion, is an essay titled Love is not Fear. What about love’s close partner ‘respect’? Can respect exist where there is fear?

At this time last week, I was deeply immersed in the most transcendental event I experience annually – or shall I say pilgrimage – the Sur-Laya-Chhandotsav Shibir, a summit with Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj (Bade Guruji to me), and several of his senior disciples, including my Guruji Pandita Tripti Mukherjee. Over five incredible days, Bade Guruji and the other Acharya Gurus impart divine Indian classical music to approximately 150 students of the Pandit Jasraj Institute of Music, in an ashram tucked away in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. Having a living legend and maestro like Pandit Jasraj, a national treasure of India teaching us, is in itself an unbelievable experience. (more…)

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Intellectual discussions on diversity, multiculturalism, and blurring of identities are one thing, but to live these things actively is quite another. Such an undertaking is challenging, pushing one to unfamiliar territories and uncomfortable places, and if the lines are also blurred by time, it is tremendously revealing … of the truth of unity and the myth of duality.

On this note, and by any measure, the last 24 hours have been surreal. On Thursday night, my boyfriend took me to a Native American casino in Snoqualmie, east of Seattle, for a live concert of John Anderson. The concert ended at 11pm, and the next morning I caught the earliest flight to New York JFK to see my Indian classical Guru, and train with her again after nearly 6 years! (more…)

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