Remembering God Through Bhajans

Features Issue 64 Jul, 2010
Text by Sampada Malla

The drizzle outside gave the impression that even the rain was humming to thetunes of devotional  music along with the devotees. It was a remarkable day for all devotional music lovers. The best performers of devotional music from India and Nepal were enthralling the audience consisting of all age groups with their mesmerizing bhajans. They were all lost in a  musical world of spirituality.

Jointly organized by the Indian Embassy and BP Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, the day-long Bhakti Sangeet Utsav was held at the premises of Pashupatinath temple. The  event was inaugurated by Pradeep Gyawali, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation along with Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal. “Nepal and India share an intimate musical relationship, especially in the field of classical music. It is a privilege to organize such an event in the premises of the holy temple. Though the religious beliefs of people may be different, such an event helps with spiritual prosperity which is very essential today,” said Gyawali.

As the opening act, boys from the Veda Ashram recited mantras. Moments after Bhajan Shiromani Bhakta Raj Aacharya was felicitated for his contribution in the field of Nepali devotional music, the performances commenced. Celebrated Indian devotional singers Sharma Bandhu and veteran Nepali bhajan singers like Gurudev Kamat, Narendra Pyasi and Ishwor Amatya captivated the audience. The brothers Satya and Swaroop Raj Aacharya were the guest performers at the event.

The Sharma Bhandus- Gopal, Sukhadev, Koushalendra and Ramwendra are descendents of Pundit Bisnu Digambar Pulaskar, a legendary classical music maestro of India. By blending classical music with devotional as well as folk music, they have established their distinctive singing style and have toured the world performing their songs. They have also recorded devotional albums for HMV, T- Series, Tips and Venus.

Satya and Swaroop Raj Acharya have been continuing their father Bhajan Shiromani Bhakta Raj Aacharya’s musical legacy. A legendary singer and musician of Nepal, he has more than four hundred beautiful songs to his credit. The young brothers talk about devotional music and their musical career saying, “Since people have this very deep-rooted concept that devotional music caters only to old people, youngsters immediately form a negative preconception about it. As a result, they do not spend time understanding and enjoying the music. In order to attract youngsters, we think modern instruments and tunes should be incorporated in devotional music.”  As children they were practically being educated through the musical environment of their home. Many prominent Nepali musical figures would frequently visit them and the brothers would constantly listen to their musical experiences and observe them while they practiced. From a very young age, they were taught music by their father, but they’ve also taken formal training in music.

Gopal Sharma talking about his experience says, “ This is our second visit to Nepal after nearly three decades. We are privileged to perform our music in the holy premises of Pashupatinath temple. Nepal is like home to us because of our similar culture and lifestyles. We also share a strong emotional bond with the country. The experience so far has been overwhelming.” Espousing on devotional music, he is  of the opinion that devotional music gives immense peace to a musical heart. “Today, when the whole world has turned chaotic and violent, this music relieves people from their tensions even if for a short time. It is also the perfect way to connect with God musically,” he adds. “Actually, bhajans provide peace to a person and he or she slowly moves towards detachment from worldly pleasures. But people do not want to experience such tendencies as they want to continue enjoying the materialistic pleasures of life.”