Tag Archives: Bhakthi

Thiruvaimozhi – First Four Verses

Like the sun dispels darkness in the world, Nammalzhwar’s Thiruvaimozhi shines a light that dispels the darkness of ignorance within us. Here are the first four verses from the 1st decad of the Thiruvaimozhi rendered as a viruttam.

BHAKTHI comes to Bangalore – Sunday 2nd July 5 pm

My latest program BHAKTHI – a musical journey with mystics will be presented at the Unnati Centre Bangalore on Sunday 2nd July at 5 pm.

For more details on this program, please go to the BHAKTHI Facebook page.

Click here to understand what BHAKTHI is all about.

BHAKTHI: A Musical Journey With Mystics – comes to Detroit

My latest program BHAKTHI – a musical journey with mystics comes to Detroit. The concert will be preceded by a short talk in which I discuss mysticism, the role of music and how mystics across time and cultures have evolved a shared experience that speaks to us even today.
Prof Mark Stone from Oakland U will be joining us on the kanjira for the concert.
Hope to see you all there.

Snippet from Bhakthi concert in Columbus

The line is from a verse of the Bhaja Govindam, a composition in Sanskrit attributed to the 8th-century mystic Adi Shankara.


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BHAKTHI comes to the Midwest

Walking With The Mystics

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart.

Since time immemorial every culture has produced Mystics. Despite the distance of geography and time, the experiences of mystics, across cultures, have been similar. They have all sought a direct and personal relationship with God.  Their poetry, music or teachings bear testimony to their personal experiences with God.

In the Indian context, mysticism has been tied closely to Bhakthi. The Bhagavad Gita (circa 250-300 BC) speaks of Bhakthi or devotion as a means to realize God. The Alwars and Nayanars (circa 300-800 AD) of South India are among the earliest Indian mystics. Their works continue to be sung and celebrated daily in concerts, homes and temples.

The Medieval Age saw an explosion of mystics not just in India (Ramananda, Vallabhacharya, Vidyaranya) but throughout the world (Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Rumi of Persia). The works of these mystics and their followers continue to resonate with readers even today. These last few months, I’ve been exploring the work of many of these mystics, as I prepared for Bhakthi – the musical journey with mystics. Each week, I’ll try to share a short sketch on a single mystic and their message along with music that resonates with their philosophy.

As Adi Shankara (circa 8 CE) put it “Reality can be experienced only with the eye of understanding, not just by a scholar”. Join me on this journey.

Abhangs – Music of the Bhakthi saints

You will reap wholesome fruits if you sow a pure seed. He, who speaks sweet honeyed words, puts his body to good work and has a mind as pure as Ganga, relieves you of your sorrows and agony on casting a look at him. source:Tukaram’s abhangs translated to English

Vittala Vittala! The words reverberate in the air. There is a huge procession of  pilgrims chanting these words. They are playing the dholak and singing in Marathi as they head towards the Vittala temple at Pandaripur. The devotional songs of these pilgrims are called Abhangs.

Abhang means that which is endless. Abhangs are Marathi compositions of  saints which speak of their  intense devotion towards Lord Vittala. The songs throw light on the social issues of the times. Jnaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and Eknath were some of the pioneers of the abhang form.

Here is a popular abhang of Eknath sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. In this abhang, the composer draws an analogy between a new bride and himself. The composer feels most at ease in Pandaripur which he regards as his home and the Lord as his parent just like a woman feels most comfortable in her parental home even after getting married. The word maher in Marathi refers to the maternal home.

Soyarabai was a mystic who belonged to the Mahar community. Her abhangs which are few in number, reflect her anguish at the injustices meted out to her in society and convey her intense piety towards the Lord. Here is an abhang of Soyarabai rendered by Kishori Amonkar.