Chinmaya Naada Bindu Festival 2024

In the early evening hours of 9th February, the Chinmaya Naada Bindu Festival (CNB) festival 2024 began on an auspicious note. The atmosphere was festive with beautiful Kerala-themed decorations representing the land where Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda’s divine and compassionate journey in the world began 108 years ago. 

Sudharma, the auditorium at CNBG, resonated with the lovely sounds of panchavaadyam as Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda was welcomed with the traditional purnakumbham. 

The inaugural function was followed by a touching and inspiring talk by Pujya Guruji on Pujya Gurudev. Guruji presented Gurudev in all His numerous avatars—as a rishi, muni, sant, sadhu, bhakta and karma yogi. Gurudev was all of these in one and was always full of compassion and love for everyone. Anyone who came in contact with Him felt that He had a special love for them. That was His greatness and He worked tirelessly to make the Divine knowledge accessible to all of humanity. All of us felt deep gratitude and a sense of blessedness after listening to Pujya Guruji. 

This was followed by a glimpse into the life of Sant Kabir through a mono-act musical by Shri. Shekar Sen. He held the audience spellbound for almost two hours and as Guruji put it—Shekharji ne saagar ko aagar kar liya—He managed to distill the entire essence of Kabirdasji’s teachings in a capsule form for all of us. Thus ended Day 1.

Day 2 began with the screening of an NBF archival recording of Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, reputed Hindustani vocalist, at 7.00 AM for the music-loving early risers. This was followed by a lovely emerging talent display by the students of the School of Kalayoga followed by a soulful performance by their vocal faculty, Assistant Professor Dr. Tara Kannan, who presented Raga Alhaiya Bilawal and Hindol. She was accompanied by Assistant Professor Dr. Atul Kamble, Tabla faculty and Head of the School of Kalayoga. 

Then came the shower of divine melody by Sikkil Gurucharanji, the well-known Carnatic vocalist. He captured the hearts of all with his charming demeanour and beautiful renditions of an energetic Varnam, a Ganesh Vandana, a song to Shani Bhagwan. Then he took us to spiritual heights with the immortal Thyagaraja Kriti—endaro mahanubhavulu, followed by a very apt Thirupugazh, and topped it all with Pujya Guruji’s composition on lord Hanumanji. He was ably supported by Shri. Shivkumar Anantharaman on the Violin and Shri. Rohit Prasad on Mridangam. Guruji, while felicitating him, said that his rendition was new and fresh every moment and that is the true definition of beauty.

The afternoon saw the camp participants discovering the child in them through well-organised fun games. Vinay Mandir saw some healthy competitions and delighted squeals from youngsters and elders alike. 

The evening began with a concert by Kalapini Komalaliji, daughter of the legendary Kumar Gandharvaji. She was accompanied on the harmonium by Shri. Niranjan Lele and on the tabla by Shri Sanjay Deshpande, and lit up the auditorium with technically perfect classical renderings of compositions of her father followed by bhajans and Kabirdasji’s compositions. It seemed like a seamless continuation of the previous evening’s theme of Kabirdasji. This was also an occasion to celebrate the birth centenary of Pt. Kumar Gandharva.

The last concert of the day saw a mesmerising and heart-warming performance of a genius child prodigy grandmother sharing the stage with her charming granddaughter, leaving us in no doubt that the genes had found their path perfectly. The violin performance by Dr. N. Rajam and Ranjini Shankar (Raga Darbari, followed by two light pieces) left the audience in awe at the divine brilliance of the graceful octogenarian and sweet youthful performance of the granddaughter. They truly shone as His vibhooti in our Chinmaya Vibhooti. 

The evening ended with everyone retiring, feeling satisfied and grateful to have witnessed such a wide range of the Lord’s wonders in the field of Kala in a single day. The two well-curated days truly took the campers further on the journey from Swara to Iswara.

Day 3 began for the early risers with an NBF archival recording of legendary Late Pt. Shivkumar Sharma’s santoor recital, followed by an art talk, Kalaa for Kalaakaar, by Prof. Dr. Gauri Mahulikar, Academic Director at the Chinmaya International Foundation. She brought forth two theories of creation Naada Bindu Kalaateeta and Bindu Naada Kalaateeta and spoke about the 64 kalaas, where rangoli, making flower garlands, music, dance, acting, painting, creating prahelika and samasyapoorti and many others are included. Her immense knowledge of Sanskrit was obvious through quotes from various treatises, which she recited with ease. She very beautifully established the divine connection between Art, Artist and the Rasika, in any performance.  

The final artist of the 13th NBF, Shashank Subramanyam ji began his flute recital with  Raagam Taanam Pallavi in Raga Latangi. The taanam was brisk and contained intricate phrases. The pallavi was executed as a ragamalika. Saint Thyagaraja’s composition – ‘manasa etulortune’ with the ‘tani avartanam’ provided by the two percussionists was outstanding. ‘Krishna nee begane baaro’ in Yamuna Kalyani was rendered soulfully. Shashank ji concluded his concert with a fast yet melodious tillana in Raga Sindhu Bhairavi. The accompanying artists – Parupalli Phalgun ji on Mridangam and Abhijit Banerjee ji on Tabla matched the flute maestro’s prowess. “Thanks to several previous births, where Shashank Subramanyam perfected his Venu gaanam, we experienced the grand finale of the 13th NBF,” opined Pujya Guruji.

The festival closed with a 2-minute ‘highlights’ video of the 2024 festival and a goodbye said sadly by both, hosts and guests. The next NBF awaits all from 7th to 9th February 2025.