Monday, June 29, 2009

Advaita : Chantings by Dr. Subhadra Desai

Rarely does a Album comes across where the singer is both an accomplished vocalist as well as a Sanskrit scholar.This rare combination exists in the Album Advaita by Dr.Subhadra Desai. The Album is based on the Vedanta theme of Advaita or non-dualism as has been propounded through the Vedas, Upanishads and more importantly through the teachings of Adi Sankaracharya. A research scholar in Sanskrit, the mantras and the sukthas has been carefully chosen by the singer herself with lucid commentary of the sacred verses at the beginning of each composition.

The chanting of the verses has been as per the vedic traditions to the minimal accompaniment of instruments i.e, Harmonium,Flute and Manjira createing an aura of spirituality. Each word of the verses comes to life in the voice of Dr.Subhadra Desai. Purusha Suktam from Rig Veda has been selected as the first composition where the invocation is followed by the chanting in Raga Vibhas.Purusha Suktha is an important hymn of the tenth mandala of Rig Veda and is an eulogy to the Purusha.The expression etymologically signifies ‘that which fills all with strength’.

The second chant is Devi Suktham again from Rig Veda sung in Raga Bhairav. What makes the chanting more lively is the fact that these verses are chanted with the meaning and the inner purport being internalized by the singer herself. One could feel the difference.

Ishopanishad selection Hiranmayena patrena has been rendered in Raga Bilaskhana Todi. All these verses have hidden meaning.
Hiranmayena patrena satyasyabhihitam mukham/
Ttvam purusannapavrnu satyadharmaya drstaye..

In Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation the meaning of this important mantra is :
The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid;
That do thou remove,O fostere,for the law of the Truth,for sight;
O Fosterer, O Sole Seer, O Ordainer, O illumining Sun, O Power of the Father of creatures,marshal thy rays,draw together thy light;
The Lustre which is thy blessed form of all, that in Thee I behold,......
He am I.

The noble thoughts that these verses exude are a legacy of thousands of years old Sanatana Dharma of the Hindu Philosophy. Altogether this rendition is a divine experience.

Next is the famous Nirvanashatakam of Sankaracharya chanted in Raga Shree.The ephemeral nature of everything transient is stressed in this verse.

….Na bandhurna mitram gururnaiva sisya/
Chidananda rupah sivoham sivoham…

….Neither the friends and relatives,Nor the guru or the disciple/
I am the Absolute Knowledge,Existence,Bliss,I am the Shiva…
The rendition is awesome.

A selection has also been made from Suryopanishad, Namo Mitraya composed by Madhup Mudgal which again takes the listener to a new high.

A selection of Kabir, the proponent of Nirguna Philosophy keeping with the Advaita theme of the Album has been done.Biracha puche bija byccha ke mahi is the doha.
Finally the Album signs off with the oft chanted mantra from Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad in Raga Bilakshan Todi. The invocation conceives the Supreme Being as indivisible and infinite.
Punamadah punamidam purnat purnamudachyate/
Purnaya Purnamadaya purnamevavasisyate

A refreshing attempt where the listeners are bound to imbibe spirituality.The Album is released by ANAHAD( The Album can be bought at

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