नद्यस्तदा तदुपधार्य मुकुन्दगीत-
र्गृह्णन्ति पादयुगलं कमलोपहारा: ॥ १५ ॥
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.21.15
When the rivers hear the flute-song of Krishna, their heart begins to desire Him and the flow of their currents is broken, as their waters start moving in whirlpools of dervish like ecstasy.
With the arms of their waves, the rivers rush to embrace Murāri’s holy feet and holding on to them with devotion, present offerings of fresh lotus flowers…
Sound is at the very root of our existence. The whistling winds, the gurgling waters, the sizzling flames, the thunder claps in the skies, the rumbling of the earth, and the silence of space all form the elemental blocks of sound in nature, from which speech and, in turn, music evolved.
To celebrate the occasion of Janmashtami, the day that marks the birth of Lord Krishna, this year, a special musical event, Giri Tarana, was organised at the Sri Badrika Ashram. The event was melodious gratitude to the most enchanting flautist of the entire cosmos – the Supreme Lord Himself.
The 5-day flute-based training event was led by the calm and eminent flautist, maestro Nitin Aminji. He not only shared his extensive knowledge of Hindustani music spanning over three decades but also imparted precious pearls of wisdom, making the experience a wholesome spiritual treat than simply a musical retreat.
The auspicious event began in the temple on 15th August, an important day celebrating India’s sovereignty. Nitinji warmly welcomed all the participants with a touching and patriotic rendition of Vande Mataram, setting the stage for the sublime musical fiesta that was to unfurl.
The first exercise that everybody participated in quite spiritedly was singing a devotional prayer together, composed by the great Pandit Ravi Shankar ji,
Hey Nath, hum par kripa kijiye…
Door kara andhkār, gyān ka āloka dijiye,
hinsa, dwesh, lobha hamse chheen lijiye,
mann mein prem shanti bhar dijiye.
Dear God, have mercy on us and shower your grace on us,
Take away the darkness and
light the lamp of divine knowledge in our hearts.
Destroy the darkness of violence, enmity and greed in us,
Fill our hearts with love, bliss and peace…
Artfully deconstructing this beautiful bhajan’s finer layers and aesthetic points of composition, he demonstrated how vocals are used to transpose music onto the flute.
He explained that learning to play a song begins by stripping it down to its bare essentials. Then as you keep fine-tuning your skills and senses, you build and add flesh to the notes, adorning it with clothes, and bring the song forward, like a live person, a creation finely dressed up with nuances and expressions or alankār.
He added smilingly, “The music is not in the Svar (notes), it’s in the connection between them…”
He masterfully articulated the intertwining aspects and intricate patterns of Hindustani music, such as laya, taal, swara, raaga, and bandish, over three intense practice sessions daily with a group of dedicated musicians and devotees.
He emphasized that, above all, it’s most important to be like a child, uninhibited and in love with the adventurous exploration of music, and not get caught up in technical concepts and fears. As nature rejoiced to the sweet, mystical tunes of the flute reverberating through the ashram, the highly awaited evening of Janmashtami finally arrived, and everyone got together in the temple after the sacred Sri Hari aarti to celebrate the coming of the merciful Lord to save us all, once again.
The finale performance marking the conclusion of the event was with Nitin Amin Ji on the flute accompanied by celebrated music composer and tabla player Sri Uday Ramdasji. They transported the devotees to Vraja to meet with the Lord in their hearts, with an enchanting amalgamation of prayers in ragas like Jhinjhoti, Des, Maand and Khamaaj.
The evening ended with an intoxicating rendition of Vaishnava Jana Tho. The bhajan served to remind the devotees of the Lord to be ever kind and loving to everybody and always to remember who’s running the show, to surrender at his lotus feet and become a melodious flute in his divine hands that he can sing through.
As Sri Hari dazzled in green, showering his blessings upon all, he looked on with childlike delight in His loving eyes at everybody, with a cardinal truth and promise reflected in them: in the most challenging moments of your life, when you feel broken and alone and when the night feels endless, as the bells toll at the stroke of midnight, the Lord will be born in your heart again, to vanquish the darkness forever ad fill it with his love alone.