Sacred Sounds   
 sunday 22nd february at Hall No 3 Siri Fort Auditorium 10.00 am - 12.30 pm  


 "The Power of Sacred Sound”


 Sonic Healing and Transformation in Hindu and Buddhist practice" -  Shruti 

Vibration is the essence of all manifestation. Our ancients across the globe knew the power of music, sound, word and thought  ones self and on the  environment.

Many of these practices faded away with the decline of native cultures and civilizations, while some continue to be practiced in small communities or are buried in scriptures yet to be rediscovered. It is now widely known that the ancient syllable OM has long been used by the indigenous and sacred cultures of the Far East as a sound device to trigger altered and higher states of consciousness. The public salutation 'Shalem', the greeting for peace in modern Arabic, and 'Shalom' (in Hebrew) both preserve an ancient musical sound that may originate in an Indian-Iranian contact. This seminar explores the use of these sounds and "seed syllables" that create vibrations within and in the environment around us, thus transforming matter and consciousness at visible and subtle levels of existence. It further explores Sacred music, word and other vibratory realms in the quest of universal harmony.

Javanese Rasa and the Aesthetics of Musical Performance -
Sarah Weiss
Yale University - Department of Music

Javanese religious practitioners often employ allegories based on everyday items to represent the unknowable and ambiguous relationship between a person and God. The fusion between the wax and the tallow and the lamp used to melt them together for the creation of a bathik cloth or the way the mirror represents both inside and outside are just two of these. In Java, Tantric theory of rasa assumed an independent existence and became an aesthetic incorporated into the general cultural milieu. It is this independence that has allowed rasa to assume an Islamic aura as well in Java. Rasa is the link between the knowable and the unknowable in these allegories that hint at the possibility of unification with God. Descriptions of performance in Javanese poetry often detail the moments when the participants experience the essence of the work. At that moment it is understood that the rasa of the work has been expressed. The work has entered into the performers and they embody it. Hence, musical performance becomes another allegory for mystical unification. In these poems, the effects of achieving this unification are often stunning. Performers may lose control of themselves and babble like idiots; audience members may be aroused sexually or beyond reason; and, in at least one instance, an audience member is deeply enough in the thrall of the moment to kill one of the performers. It is primarily the sound of these performances that is the focus of these descriptions of effective, rasa-inducing performance. In this talk I will explore several poetic representations of embodied performance and begin theorizing about the aesthetic connections between sound, mystical embodiment, and rasa in Java.


‘What Makes Sound Sacred?’ -  Bhai Baldeep Singh

t Makes Sound Sacred?’
As intent-less vapor formed from an ocean lap
does not belong to a river,
a region, yet
– so is naad,
before being subjected to a belief,
in a certain language.
Like "forget-fools" we believe,
as if we were witness,
the creative ineffable One
needed to communicate in syllables
we took ages to hone
only to let them decay.
The intent colors.
An abstract

Bhai Baldeep Singh descends from a long tradition of masters of the Gurbani kirtan maryada and is the 13th generation exponent of this hallowed tradition.

His grand uncle bequests to him a vast knowledge of the masterpieces first composed by the Sikh Gurus themselves. During his long journey he pursued masters of the Gurus tradition including the art of instrument making from Master craftsmen. Today he has the unique distinction of having carved the nomadic rabab, saranda, dilruba, tamburni, jori and pakhawaj-mridang.

To ensure the precious heritage of kirtan among the Sikhs Bhai Baldeep Singh has developed a comprehensive educative process consisting of the original practices of naad yog.



"The Idea of the Sacred in Indian Music" - Prof. Bharat Gupt

Music is the most elevating of arts and in greater proximity to the Divine, is an idea shared by ancient Indo European cultures. The Natyashastra calles gita or song the basis (gitam tu natyasya shayyaa) of all performance. Music confers self-transendence on humans more easily than any other art. The idea was repeated by TS Eliot in modern times, when he said, music begins where literature ends.

Evocation through sound, that is, svara, shabda, or nada is most moving because it operates through the most subtle of the senses, aural or shruti, and its corresponding element called aakaasha or space.

Music aquires this power by communicating through non lexical meaning (avyakta artha) and greater emotional upsurge (satvodreka). It is this power that makes it the best door to God. Besides being an inexpensive form of worship ('dhanaadi nirpeksha yajanam'), it is also leads to the divine ('moksha maargam niyacchati'). Music also purifies the self by a creating an ego-less-ness through an inner absorption (layatva/taadaatmya) and hence creates an ethically superior individual.

The earliest known musical form in India was is the Sama Vedic chant, followed by dhruva gitas, stobhaaksharas and stutis down to the shabads, bhajans and javalis of the present day music. These are considered as the physical sound (aahat naad) that lead to the inner sound (anaahat naad) experienced in yogic absorption. Music is a passage to the Divine or realizing the Divine in us ('mad bhaktaah yatra gaayanti tatra vasaami, naarada').

Dr. Bharat Gupt is a graduate of Delhi and Toronto Universities and a Ph. D. from The University of Baroda. He is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by the University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. His books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian theatre, Natyasastra (Ch.28): Ancient Scales of Indian Music, India: A Cultural Decline or Revival.







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