Practicing sound has taken me on many interesting journeys. Mostly, they have been about traveling inwards, but the path has also involved some “regular traveling”. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to spend almost three weeks in India studying sound in the form of Dhrupad, the oldest school of Indian singing that has its origins in India’s rich spiritual and yogic heritage.
Dhrupad is based on the principles of nada yoga and so it has a spiritual nature: its purpose is not to entertain but rather to expand our consciousness and harmonize our being. I find singing Dhrupad very meditative. It makes you into contact with the inner voice and inner sounds of healing and brings you to the state of internal peace. Dhrupad is also often described as musical poetry and the soul of Indian music.
In India, I was part of the “Vox Mundi traveling sangha”, led by my beloved teacher from California, Silvia Nakkach. We were about 20 people from 13 different countries: Argentina, Brazil, Japan, USA, Venezuela, Canada, South-Korea, China, The Netherlands, Germany, India, Israel…and Finland. All there to share the beauty of Dhrupad music and contribute to the incredible collective high vibrations!
The first part of the trip we spent in a tiny village in the middle of Bihar, in North Eastern India. Our place was a beautiful community center Parivartan that helps local communities in various ways: by training farmers, educating children, empowering women, and supporting cultural activities, to name a few. For us, it was like a blissful Dhrupad bubble where we spent around 8 hours per day singing with one of the greatest Dhrupad masters of this time: Pt Uday Bhawalkar. He is not only a magnificent musician, but also one of the most formidable teachers I have ever met. Someone who radiates and embodies the qualities so many spiritual teachers mostly talk about. I highly recommend listening to his performances on Youtube. Sit down and just let the music go through you. Let the listening be a meditation and you will feel the power of this ancient form of music.
The Dhrupad bubble of Parivartan
The second part of the trip we spent in Varanasi, studying Dhrupad with another master teacher, Pt Ritwik Sanyal. Singing was less intensive, but Indian life truly not: with all its sounds, tastes, smells and variety of people (and cows), it was like a 24/7 sensory fireworks. The annual Dhrupad Mela was taking place as we were there, and we got to enjoy great performances by all the major Dhrupad musicians many nights in a row…not to forget other special moments, like morning yoga sessions on our hotel’s rooftop with the sun rising over the Ganges, beautiful Aarti ceremonies every night on the beach, sunset and sunrise boat rides on the river, colorful temples and just the totality of life on the river banks.
All I can say is wow. This journey in the vibrations of India truly touched my heart in a profound way. So grateful for the experience and also for the opportunity to continue studying Dhrupad with Guruji Uday already this summer!
(Originally published in May 2019)