Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sunday Blessings- Aradhna- Adoration

A   couple of  years    ago  I  discovered  the  Indo-American band  called Aradhna (worship  in  Hindi). It  is  a  fusion of  Classical  Indian  and  Western  music. The  lyrics  are  in Hindi and  some  Sanskrit (our  ancient language) . They  have  also  songs   in  Nepali. Some  members  of  this band  grew up  in  India - so  our language, culture  and  music   was  second  nature   to   them.

The  video I  am  posting here  is   based  on  the  Beattitudes - the  teaching of  Jesus  from  Matthew 6. The  music   and video  will  bring  you  closer  to  India

Matthew 5
New King James Version (NKJV)

The Beatitudes

1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

For they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

For they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

For they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

For they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

For they shall be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

It is impossible to listen to Aradhna without a sense that something much deeper is brooding under the music. Spirituality is such an easy term to throw around when speaking about a thing you can’t explain but nonetheless feel. It’s a term that breeds ambiguity and at times, misunderstanding. Nonetheless it is a word that is necessary in describing the formation and subsequent work of Aradhna. After all, the name of the band is the spiritually charged Hindi term that means “adoration.” Popular music is often made to settle into the nooks and crannies of our daily humdrum, like an elixir against the pain of human existence. We drink it in and feel a bit better but we don’t expect it to change anything beyond our emotional state. Aradhna is a band with higher aspirations, making music that is centered around spiritual enlightenment and transformation while keeping ethnic integrity intact.

We live in an an age where cross-cultural musical projects are a dime a dozen, and all too often they result in a half-baked, watered-down muddle of eclectic instruments banging into each other. The sitar was introduced to rock and roll way before many of us were born. World music has been around long enough to go in and out of style many times over. Western attempts at eastern music is an arena where many more fail than succeed. It’s a road that is fraught with cultural and aesthetic baggage that ensnares all but a few who have managed to produce something worth listening to. Aradhna is among the few who have created a new and enduring sound out of diverse musical traditions of North India and North America.

Somehow, Aradhna has been able to glide past the subterfuge of globalization and establish itself as a band that is genuinely interested in creating cross-cultural dialogue through the arts. They are the real deal and they sing in a bunch of languages and people from all over the world are listening to their music.
Aradhna’s front man Chris Hale writes, “…my passion in life is to build bridges between cultures. A good bridge builder has a strong foundation on his own side and then builds a strong foundation on the other side, and then he crosses over.” Strong foundations are indeed one of the defining characteristics of Aradhna’s founding members. Chris Hale, an American, spent his childhood and adolescence in South Asia, where he gained fluency in Nepali and Hindi. It was in these formative years that Chris began to study the sitar and develop a love for bhajans, the classical devotional genre of India, and particularly of Hindus. In 1991 Chris formed the rock fusion band Olio and toured all across India for 6 years before releasing their first Hindi album Naam Leo Re (1997). Later that year, American guitarist and vocalist Pete Hicks returned to India, the land of his birth, to join the band in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Olio concluded its final tour in 1999 and soon after Hale and Hicks reunited in London. Soon the two friends began a new collaboration that would evolve into Aradhna.

As soon as Chris and Pete had enough material for an album, they decided to record in the U.S. where they met up with bassist Travis McAfee. The three of them had an instant rapport, as Travis spent part of his childhood traveling to Africa, India, and throughout Southeast Asia.

In the spring of 2000, Deep Jale′ was recorded, which they decided to release in the U.K. over the course of a three-month tour. Aradhna was born, and the ardent response to their album and performances encouraged them to continue arranging traditional bhajans and begin composing songs of their own for their next release Marga Darshan (2002). After performing extensively in India and North America, Aradhna’s touring expanded to the South Asian Diaspora in South Africa, Guyana and Suriname where East Indians have lived for over a century.

During this time Aradhna self-released three more notable records and gained new audiences as diverse as the music itself. From the beginning, Aradhna has chosen to remain independent from the support of the record industry in order to stay true to their artistic vision. As each new offering surpasses the last, their decision to maintain creative control has certainly made for better art and more innovative collaborations with the likes of Ric Hordinski, Naren Budhakar and Jim Feist, among others.

Now Aradhna is releasing their most ambitious and far-reaching project yet, their sixth album Namaste Saté, along with a companion DVD Sau Guna, a collection of music videos filmed in Varanasi, India. The intimate and immense sound of Namaste Saté not only builds upon the best of their preceding albums but deepens the possibilities of cultural and spiritual contextualization in the most winsome and genuine of ways. (Click here for a full write up on the album.) Until you experience their new album and DVD together, you cannot fully appreciate the degree to which Aradhna is achieving its goal to produce a prodigious body of work and build lasting bridges between disparate communities throughout the world. To support the release, the band will be touring extensively throughout the U.S.

6 Fertilize my soul:

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

My dear Amrita,

This is such a beautiful post. You know? It just so happened today that I started writing another story in which music was a powerful element.

Thank you for introducing us to Aradhna. It's a very interesting band, especially after knowing how it got started. The video is marvelous, I loved the music and the people.

Thank you Amrita for your visits and comments. I receive your blog posts through email, and read each one of them. So, if you haven't seen me around, don't think I have forgotten about you...I am following your insightful posts closely.

(((( hugs and love to you and your Mom))))


Mrs. Mac said...

Dear Sis,

Alas, my computer connection tonight is too slow to hear the music .. but I so enjoyed reading the bio on Chris Hale and his multi-culture reaching band (reminds me a bit of the mission statement of the Scarf Sisters .. in it's outreach:) I have missed catching up on your posts .. forgive me.



Ash said...

Wow, this is lovely! We need more bands like them. Most lovely music!

Unknown said...

Beautiful! My sons are musicians...i cannot wait to share this with them!

As always...blessings to you my friend!

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

The music video is excellent as it tries to combine traditional Hindu music with Christian lyrics. I am a little bit wary of this because I was leaning towards Buddhism and Hinduism before I became a born again Christian. I embraced the teachings of both religions as pertains to karma, evolution and reincarnation. I even studied and practiced yoga and have studied Buddhism and Hinduism. But through it all, I was also aware of the Christian teachings as contained in the Bible and I was wondering even then that what if the Bible was right, what will happen to me. With the regards to the doctrine of reincarnation, this was clearly refuted by
Hebrews 9:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. After I was born again which was surrounded by supernatural events, I fully threw away all Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. I don't think Christianity and Hinduism or Buddhism can ever fully integrate for they fully oppose each other. For one, both Hinduism and Buddhism are both polytheistic while Christianity is monotheistic. I am saddened by the beliefs of Hindus that cows are sacred and may be the repository of souls of humans. I will live the remainder of my life espousing the Gospel of salvation of Jesus Christ. Thanks for the post. God bless you always.

Amrita said...

Dear friends I appreciate your comments. Each one is very valuable to em.

Dear Mel, I agree with you, the theology and God of the Bible has nothing in common with the gods of Hinduism and gurus of Buddhism. Buddhism actually does not have a god - you can declare yourself to be god through enlightenment.

The music of Araqdhna can draw truth seekers to the Gospel of Christ - it can show them that Christianity is not a whiteman's religion - as its widely understood in India.But I woulkd not like elements of hinduism to creep into their music.