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10th Naada Bindu Festival

March 11, 2020

The inauguration ceremony of the 10th Naada Bindu Festival began with lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries on stage. In his speech, Vice-Chancellor Nagaraj Neerchal reiterated the vision of the University - to infuse Indic Knowledge Systems with Contemporary Knowledge Systems - and declared that Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula (CNBG) was best-equipped to carry this forward due to the excellent potential of the performing arts in blending the traditional with the contemporary. Goto Akira spoke about how his Japanese company with 550 employees in India, was keen to contribute to India and was happy to support the Chinmaya Social Responsibilities activities of CNBG.

Ramaa Bharadvaj, Vision Director - Dance, CNBG, spoke about how the tenth anniversary of the Festival has been celebrated by the introduction of the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Puraskars for Music and Dance. The CNB Puraskar consists of a citation, a statuette and a unique painting created for the occasion by Rahul Reddy as visualised in his meditation. The CNB Puraskar for Music was presented to Dr. Sudha Patwardhan, in acknowledgement of the immense contribution of Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar and his Sangeet Shiksha Parampara to the field of Hindustani classical music. She represented the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay Mandal, Mumbai.

The CNB Puraskar for Dance was presented to Dr. Anita Ratnam for her role in founding, a portal dedicated to all things related to Indian dance. She reminded the listeners that she sincerely believes that the Arts humanises us and it can play a major role in uniting us, in the face of an increasingly-polarised world. Dr. Patwardhan reminisced about the mammoth work in Indian music contributed by Pt. V.D. Paluskar. Guruji Swami Tejomayananda released the e-souvenir for the festival. The function ended with a vote of thanks by Pramodini Rao, Academic and Campus Director, CNBG, and an excellent open-air presentation of the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Memoirs, which traced the journey of the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula and the Naada Bindu Festival and related activities.

Feb 7, day 1:
The first performance of the 10th Naada Bindu Festival was an enthralling display by acclaimed classical dancer Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant and her troupe from Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Hyderabad. The dance production titled 'Tales from the Bull and the Tiger' included beautifully choreographed scenes of the wedding of Shiva and Parvati, and Ganesha and Kartikeya being told of the glories of their parents. The dancers moved as one, like delicate puppets in the hands of the lord of the universe. They portrayed gentle movements as if those of the ripples on a lake as well as the dramatic energy of Lord Shiva at his most destructive, with ease and great skill. The entire performance was well balanced. The music was delightful and featured a variety of songs and hymns as well as lively rhythm expositions. The lights and background animation was beautifully done and added another dimension to the entire performance, going a long way in setting the mood and telling the story.

The final tale of the bull and the tiger was a beautiful lullaby, with Parvati gathering her children to her and putting them to sleep in her lap, as Shiva stood guard over them. The audience gave a standing ovation that it deserved.

The first night of the festival ended on a high note with the melodious Hindustani vocal performance of Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar, masterfully accompanied by Pt. Suresh Talwalkar on the tabla and Tanmay Deochake on the harmonium. Pt. Kashalkar began the evening's concert with a bada khayal in raag Jaijaiwanti and taal Tilwada, followed by a chota khayal in taal Teental. Before the magical effect of Jaijaiwanti could wear off, Pt. Kashalkar captivated the audience with two compositions in raag Bahar and ended the performance with a soulful rendition of raag Bhairavi.

Feb 8, day 2:
Day 2 of the festival began with Avasarala Kanyakumari captivating the audience with her violin recital. Patri Satish Kumar was flawless on the mridangam as was Kanyakumari's student Sai Rakshit on the violin. Kanyakumari began her recital with Vatapi Ganapatim, an all-time favourite invocation and set an ecstatic but devotional mood. Time seemed to slow down as her violin sang in an increasing tempo, just like the wheel of a car seems to slow down even as it accelerates. She played a composition of Saint Thyagaraja and then went on to unveil one of her creations, Sheshadri raga, which resembles raga Madhuwanti. This was followed by two fast keerthanams, which thrilled the listeners with their playful, lively and dancing melodies.

The accomplished performer involved the audience by taking requests and keeping them informed about what she was playing. Many rasikas followed the taala on their palms and others tapped their feet or clapped to the rhythm. The main item of the concert was a beautifully rendered masterpiece, which seamlessly wove multiple ragas into one. Kanyakumari concluded her performance with a mix of various familiar tunes, including 'Krishna, nee begane baro', and 'Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma'.

The second event was the much-awaited Art Talk on 'Indic Music Traditions and its Effective Pedagogy' that was supported by the Centre for Soft Power. The panel featured accomplished performing artists and Gurus of CNBG - Manjusha Patil, Pt. Rupak Kulkarni and Pt. Abhijit Banerjee - and was moderated by Swapnil Chaphekar, Assistant Professor, CVV.

The insightful Art Talk began with a discussion on why sangeet is referred to as a Gurumukhi Vidya - knowledge that can only be learnt at the feet of the Guru. Patil enthralled the listeners with a bandish in raag Marwa in praise of and explaining the need for a guru. Pt. Kulkarni said that it was futile to attempt to answer the question since the glories of the guru are countless. He said that both guru and shishya seek each other out. He learnt the value of patience at the feet of his guru and claimed that the lord himself makes clear the path for the shishya who faithfully adheres to the instructions of the guru. Pt. Banerjee emphasised the importance of the Gurukula that it is not only for learning sangeet but also for the varied lessons learnt from observing the lifestyle of the guru. Patil reminded the audience of the importance of receiving taleem - instruction - directly from the guru and how subtle teaching happens through the eyes and aura of the guru.

Festival participants were treated to 'Swarangan in Sundarangan,' an open-air concert by the students of CNBG. First, the tabla students of the Chinmaya Social Responsibility program performed kaydas, relas and tihais. This was followed by a bhajan recital by Vidhita, the children's category winner of 'Guna Gaun Main,' a bhajan singing competition held by CNB in 2019. Next was 'Sandhya Vadanam,' where the flute and tabla students of CNBG performed in raag Hamsadhwani.

All the ten students gathered on stage to sing 'Padtaal,' a composition in raag Darbari Kanada, incorporating various taals, including Teen Taal, Ek Taal, Deepchandi, and Chautaal, and a Padtaal Tarana in Ada Chautaal, and Ektaal. 'Taal Tarang' conducted by Pt. Banerjee and played by the tabla students, featured a host of classical, folk and modern percussion instruments, including tabla, pakhawaj, dholak, and Chinese blocks. The recital ended with one player playing softly and each player joining in after every avartan, a drizzle growing into a downpour of rain.

The festival was witness to the world premiere of 'When the Sitar Dances,' a unique tribute to Pt. Ravi Shankar on the occasion of his Birth Centennial. Envisioned and narrated by Ramaa Bharadvaj and choreographed by acclaimed dancer Rama Vaidyanathan, the dance recital was a beautiful blend of Bharatanatyam and Kathak, performed by Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel and Monisa Nayak, respectively. The duo danced their first piece to a fusion of Carnatic and Hindustani music, performed on stage by Samiullah Khan on vocals, Himanshu Srivastava on nattuvangam, Yogesh Gangani on the tabla, Manohar Balatchandirane on the mridangam, Fateh Ali on the sitar and Ravinder on the flute. The second part of the performance was danced to a recording of Pt. Ravi Shankar's 'Jazzmine,' a fusion of Jazz and Indian music. Swami Tejomayananda aptly summarised the dance tribute as a divine confluence of both styles of dance as well as vocal, instrumental and dance - the three aspects of sangeet.

The final performance of the evening was a perfect percussion partnership between Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam and Pt. Abhijit Banerjee on the tabla. The deep understanding that they shared was evident in the ease with which they switched between instruments, taking turns to explore their respective vaadyas. Towards the end of the program, both artists became so involved in their give and take that the instruments lay forgotten for a while and the artists began completing each other's sentences. Both instruments played as the conversation climaxed and the listeners joined in with their claps. Unencumbered by any lehra or melody to play along with, the master percussionists were free to express themselves as they pleased and they ended up pleasing each other and the audience too.

Feb 9, day 3:
The final day of the festival began on an auspicious note with 'Call of the Flute,' a musical Satsang by Swami Tejomayananda accompanied by Himanshu Nanda (Vision Director - Music, CNBG) on the flute, Rohit Kulkarni on the tabla and Chittaranjan Rao on side rhythm. Pramodini Rao introduced Guruji by singing a hymn in his praise, composed by Susheela Acharya. Referring to himself as 'Guru of none, disciple of One,' he began by speaking about how the call of the lord is irresistible. He sang a few lines about how the gopikas of Vrindavan were struck by their love for Him in their hearts as soon as they heard the melodious sound of His flute. Even the flute feels blessed to have the honour of drinking nectar from His lips. The humble yet beautiful flute was empty, ready to allow the lord to fill it up with melodies. Himanshu Nanda then delighted the listeners with his bansuri recital. Guruji concluded the satsang with a Nama Sankeertan and the audience joined in the singing.

The grand finale of the 10th Naada Bindu Festival was a mesmerizing santoor recital by Pt. Bhajan Sopori. Pt. Sopori initiated the concert by speaking a little about the origins of the hundred-stringed santoor and the innovations that had to be introduced to make it one of the most famous and loved instruments of Hindustani classical music. The exquisite instrument on his lap responded to the touch of his mallets by purring the aalaap of raag Ahir Todi. He even teased his beloved santoor into mimicking the human voice with incredible perfection. The pakhawaj was introduced into the recital by Rishi Shankar Upadhyay and the two artists played a lovely Dhrupad composition before Pt. Banerjee took over the percussion accompaniment with yet another display of masterful tabla vaadan. Pt. Sopori and Pt. Banerjee thrilled the listeners with a composition in Jhap Taal followed by a tarana in Ek Taal. The concert concluded with all three maestros playing an energetic and uplifting composition in Teen Taal. It was indeed a fitting conclusion to the 10th Naada Bindu Festival.

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