Our Church Natchintanai-Bhajan Program Is 1 Year Old!


Happy Birthday to NBW! Almost one year has passed since we began our Natchintanai/Bhajan (NBW) workshops in both Mauritius and here on Kauai. They have been a great success for all the participants as well as advancing our long term goals. We added "Bhajan" to the name of the program because the Saiva Dharma Shastras stipulates that only Natchintanai are sung at Mission Satsangs, but in other venues we sing many other genres. Also Bodhinatha would like us to develop a full repertoire of songs and chants for our educational curriculum.

This is also a fulfillment of Gurudeva's directions for Saiva Siddhanta Church activities for our members as described in the Saiva Dharma Shastras:

"376 Types of Nurture Service
Religious service is of two general forms: nurture and outreach. Nurture is taking care of the religious life and welfare of the local congregation, and outreach is serving those outside its circumference. Nurture religious service maintains a strong, healthy, vibrant religious life for the immediate membership. Below are listed some of the many kinds of nurture activities in our Church missions internationally….5. Providing, through our Rajaraja Chola Gurukulams and other agencies, classes in music, art, drama and dance, cultural skills such as kolam design, garland making and cooking, bhajana and Natchintanai singing, and hosting of guest teachers and lecturers."

It is also one of the goals of the monks to work to promote these activites for our Church members as described in the activities of the Ekadanta Kulam where the swamis are directed to provide, among other things, "Encouragement of cultural richness through the promotion of music, art, drama and dance among members."


Brahmanathswami says, "We want to thank participants for the dedication and encourage other members to join. We have several goals. First and foremost is to bring song back into our personal lives as part of our sadhana. Learn the songs, know what they mean and then sing and visualize what you sing as you invoke God, Gods and Guru in the temple and in your heart. Before the age of recordings, everyone would sing and there was no big concern for ragam or talam. The spirit of bhakti was the important thing. Yogaswami said, 'Sing to melt the very stones!' In an up-and-coming article on Hinduism Today on the Baul singers of Bengal, Parvathy Baul says it well, 'It is through songs and chanting that that the we converse with the Beloved, call God and try to connect with God in the heart.'

Our Natchintanai Bhajan workshops are oriented to help each of us the "common man, woman and child" to "sing loud, sing clear!" A few sangeetam (music) study exercises are good for strengthening the voice and to learn some music basics, but the most important thing is to learn the song, know the meaning of all the words you sing and then when you sing, merge in the the profound vidya-truths that Yogaswami affirms in his songs and invoke love of God. Natchintani take some study, while bhajans call for simple bhakti, just think your are "talking to Ganesha."

We want to congratulate the team in Mauritius for their dedication. And kudos for Mrs. Arnasalon and Mrs. Kownden for fulfilling the goal of "any one of us can sing."

Listen to their recording of Vel Muruga Velane here:

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/view/vel-muruga-velane_va-ak

Keep up the good work!


On Kauai Brahmanathaswami and the members are using the workshop as a "beta test site" for development of a repetoire in the areas that would eventually be taught in our Saiva Siddhanta course for youth: we are learning: Natchintanai, simple bhajans, longer gitam, Tirumurai, stotram, some Sanskrit slokas. We also do some pranayama exercises and a little Sangeetam exercise to help everyone with their voice and pitch. Our Kauai members are learning also to sing out and not be afraid to lead. Swami encourages each one to lead, no matter what their skill level is. In our temple festivals here, we let as many different devotee lead the group as feel confident to do so. After one finishes we see if another would like to "go for it." This builds confidence and allows everyone to make their offering of song, not only one or two.

Of course, if you have the time to actually take Sangeetam classes they are very helpful. And we especially encourage children and young people to get a good grounding in music if they have the time and inclination, as it will be a life long asset. But many of us will never reach that level. In response to this question, "Do the gurus also impart the sadhakas a formal singing training as this is primarily a singing tradition?" Parvathy Baul laughs and says, "No! No there is no need of a formal training. This path is of complete love and surrender. Unless a complete surrender of the ego, the self is made, one cannot be called a true sadhaka. Once you start singing, you abandon yourself in the complete bliss of the moment, you merge with the song which is a vehicle to reach the beloved. When you submit yourself to the divine, where is the need of melody and rhythm?"


Another goal is to develop a digital library of music, mostly of our own members. The goal is to have a library of recordings that are simple enough that later, teachers can adopt these as tools for teaching the next generation. In some cases we will include recordings by non-members where we can be sure of the pronunciation and lyrics provide good examples for learning (especially for Tamil and Sanskrit, where the singers are proficient in these languages.). We also plan to increase the library of Natchintanai by professional singers from the Jaffna Tamil community as well over time.

You can see some examples what we have so far here (web site still under construction, soon to be launched, some elements still to be completed):

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/site/search/media_type/song/page/2

and check out the growing list of artists here:

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/looklisten/music

And this is just the beginning!

Again, keep up the good work.
"Thondar Naangaley, Siva Thondar Naangaley!"
"Thondar Naangaley, Siva Thondar Naangaley!"
Happy Birthday to NBW! Almost one year has passed since we began our Natchintanai/Bhajan (NBW) workshops in both Mauritius and here on Kauai. They have been a great success for all the participants as well as advancing our long term goals. We added "Bhajan" to the name of the program because the Saiva Dharma Shastras stipulates that only Natchintanai are sung at Mission Satsangs, but in other venues we sing many other genres. Also Bodhinatha would like us to develop a full repertoire of songs and chants for our educational curriculum.

This is also a fulfillment of Gurudeva's directions for Saiva Siddhanta Church activities for our members as described in the Saiva Dharma Shastras:

"376 Types of Nurture Service
Religious service is of two general forms: nurture and outreach. Nurture is taking care of the religious life and welfare of the local congregation, and outreach is serving those outside its circumference. Nurture religious service maintains a strong, healthy, vibrant religious life for the immediate membership. Below are listed some of the many kinds of nurture activities in our Church missions internationally….5. Providing, through our Rajaraja Chola Gurukulams and other agencies, classes in music, art, drama and dance, cultural skills such as kolam design, garland making and cooking, bhajana and Natchintanai singing, and hosting of guest teachers and lecturers."

It is also one of the goals of the monks to work to promote these activites for our Church members as described in the activities of the Ekadanta Kulam where the swamis are directed to provide, among other things, "Encouragement of cultural richness through the promotion of music, art, drama and dance among members."


Brahmanathswami says, "We want to thank participants for the dedication and encourage other members to join. We have several goals. First and foremost is to bring song back into our personal lives as part of our sadhana. Learn the songs, know what they mean and then sing and visualize what you sing as you invoke God, Gods and Guru in the temple and in your heart. Before the age of recordings, everyone would sing and there was no big concern for ragam or talam. The spirit of bhakti was the important thing. Yogaswami said, 'Sing to melt the very stones!' In an up-and-coming article on Hinduism Today on the Baul singers of Bengal, Parvathy Baul says it well, 'It is through songs and chanting that that the we converse with the Beloved, call God and try to connect with God in the heart.'

Our Natchintanai Bhajan workshops are oriented to help each of us the "common man, woman and child" to "sing loud, sing clear!" A few sangeetam (music) study exercises are good for strengthening the voice and to learn some music basics, but the most important thing is to learn the song, know the meaning of all the words you sing and then when you sing, merge in the the profound vidya-truths that Yogaswami affirms in his songs and invoke love of God. Natchintani take some study, while bhajans call for simple bhakti, just think your are "talking to Ganesha."

We want to congratulate the team in Mauritius for their dedication. And kudos for Mrs. Arnasalon and Mrs. Kownden for fulfilling the goal of "any one of us can sing."


Listen to their recording of Vel Muruga Velane here:

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/view/vel-muruga-velane_va-ak

Keep up the good work!


On Kauai Brahmanathaswami and the members are using the workshop as a "beta test site" for development of a repetoire in the areas that would eventually be taught in our Saiva Siddhanta course for youth: we are learning: Natchintanai, simple bhajans, longer gitam, Tirumurai, stotram, some Sanskrit slokas. We also do some pranayama exercises and a little Sangeetam exercise to help everyone with their voice and pitch. Our Kauai members are learning also to sing out and not be afraid to lead. Swami encourages each one to lead, no matter what their skill level is. In our temple festivals here, we let as many different devotee lead the group as feel confident to do so. After one finishes we see if another would like to "go for it." This builds confidence and allows everyone to make their offering of song, not only one or two.

Of course, if you have the time to actually take Sangeetam classes they are very helpful. And we especially encourage children and young people to get a good grounding in music if they have the time and inclination, as it will be a life long asset. But many of us will never reach that level. In response to this question, "Do the gurus also impart the sadhakas a formal singing training as this is primarily a singing tradition?" Parvathy Baul laughs and says, "No! No there is no need of a formal training. This path is of complete love and surrender. Unless a complete surrender of the ego, the self is made, one cannot be called a true sadhaka. Once you start singing, you abandon yourself in the complete bliss of the moment, you merge with the song which is a vehicle to reach the beloved. When you submit yourself to the divine, where is the need of melody and rhythm?"

Another goal is to develop a digital library of music, mostly of our own members. The goal is to have a library of recordings that are simple enough that later, teachers can adopt these as tools for teaching the next generation. In some cases we will include recordings by non-members where we can be sure of the pronunciation and lyrics provide good examples for learning (especially for Tamil and Sanskrit, where the singers are proficient in these languages.). We also plan to increase the library of Natchintanai by professional singers from the Jaffna Tamil community as well over time.

You can see some examples what we have so far here (web site still under construction, soon to be launched, some elements still to be completed):

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/site/search/media_type/song/page/2

and check out the growing list of artists here:

http://dev.himalayanacademy.com/looklisten/music

And this is just the beginning!

Again, keep up the good work.
"Thondar Naangaley, Siva Thondar Naangaley!"
"Thondar Naangaley, Siva Thondar Naangaley!"


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