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Vibrations of Varanasi in the Temple

May 15, 2009 by Swami Saradananda


Swami Saradananda evokes the feeling in the Temple as classical Indian sitar and tabla duo the Mishras played to a rapt audience on April 24.  Enter the scene while listening to an audio recording taken from the concert…

Deobrat Mishra & Kumar Lal Mishra live in the Temple, April 24

Tablas ring out their tuning. The electronic tambour volume is adjusted once, twice, three times, attuning to the feeling in the room like an old radio set. Strings sound the scale, the principal and secondary notes of the rag, coaxing the feeling alive, drawing the mind inward.

sitarDeobrat Mishra and his uncle Kumar Lal Mishra have come to evoke the feeling of Varanasi, its heritage, its devotion and wonder at its own history and wealth of musical life; their family well-known for their offerings.

The community has prepared the way, chanting OM – a tradition for Mishra concerts in the Temple – awaiting their arrival. One hundred and eight people are gathered this evening – Divine Mother’s significant number – one hundred and two paying guests, the five-party Mishra entourage and myself. We are gathered to listen, feel, and for some, to recall the experience of India.

“I will teach you ragas of peace.” My first instruction from Deobrat’s father, Pandit Shivnath Mishra, musical genius and “mother” to many students, East and West. I recall the pale yellow walls, burgundy carpets, glass display case of the family’s musical awards, the smells of Indian cooking at the Pandit’s home in Varanasi four years ago, as Deobrat begins his alap – introduction – gathering the minds and feelings in the Temple into Rag Jog, Union, a tribute to the Ashram’s purpose.

tablaThere are little children, young adults, Ashram neighbours, some well into their eighties, beginning to smile. Toes and hands tapping, heads nodding, a rhythmic wave as the tabla joins the sitar and the rag develops, unfolding clear and resonant with some dazzling displays.

In the interlude, the community exchanges greetings and appreciative comments on the music, the sparkle, the warm Spring evening fullness. The Mishras answer questions. Aficionados gather up collections of CDs. The stars appear over the lake.

The evening concludes with dhuns – “folk songs” – “traveling music” – a digestif to aid absorption of a full evenings’ nourishment.

Deobrat expresses his gratitude to the Ashram and hopes to return next year with his father, the source of the musical heritage, the wellspring for a family’s devotion to Saraswati, the inspirational power that flowers in music.

~ Swami Saradananda


In addition to their school in Varanasi, India, Deobrat Mishra and his father Pandit Shivnath Mishra have recently opened the Mishra School of Indian Classical Music just across the lake in Nelson.

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  1. Thank you for bringing the concert and the Ashram alive with such clarity. Listening brought tears – of wonder, peace & harmony, and remembrance. With gratitude to our teachers for their commitment and faith that make such gatherings possible.

    Comment by Terri — May 16, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  2. On this post it would be nice to be able to listen and read/view the pictures at the same time :-) Great post!

    Comment by Ben Johnson — May 18, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  3. Hi Ben ;)
    Good point – I was thinking the same thing, and we tried, but there were technical difficulties with new widgets and such. We’re hoping to get the grey box back soon, then we can go back and update. om om!

    Comment by claire — May 18, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

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