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Ashadi Ekadashi...

Veda Chanting Procession and Hindustani Musical Concert

Posted on 2nd July @ 0015 hrs IST

Ashadi Ekadashi, one of the most auspicious days in the Maratha vernacular calendar brings the legacy of Maharashtra along with the state’s devotional fervour for her presiding deity, Lord Vittal Rakumai of Pandarpur. In fact, Ashadi is the day, when lakhs and lakhs of Varkaris from all parts of the country, especially from the state of Maharashtra throng the spiritual capital of the state, Pandarpur to have darshan and blessings of their chosen deity, Vittal Rakumai.

Ashadi Ekadashi marks the beginning of the Chaturmasa and ends with Kaarathik Ekadashi. It is celebrated during the months of June-July, known as Ashada Shukla Paksha in the vernacular calendar. People consider the two eleventh days, “Ekadashi”, of every month to be of special significance. The eleventh day of Ashadi is known as the great Ekadashi or Maha Ekadashi. This is the day on which people go on walking in huge processions to the Abode of Lord Vittala in Pandarpur, which is popularly known as Vaarkarari Sampradaya. This is a time honoured cult and an important landmark in the colourful history in the state of Maharashtra. According to historians devotees have been performing Vaari long before the advent of Sant Jnaneshwar in the 13th century and the current practice of carrying the paadukas of the saint in a palki from the Samadhi of the saint to Pandarpur for the holy darshan of Lord Vittala was started by the son of Sant Thukkaram by name Sant Narayan Maharaj in 1685.

Like the previous years at Prasanthi Nilayam, a large contingent of devotees from the twin states of Maharashtra and Goa arrived at Prashanti Nilayam to celebrate Ashadi Ekadashi in the Divine Presence.  The celebrations that began this morning would conclude on 3rd July 2009, the day of Ashadi Ekadashi. Bhagawan was accorded a traditional welcome with Poornakumbham by Veda chanting Bal Vikas children and Youth. Chanting of the Vedas in unison by about 300 people, young and the old surcharged the atmosphere with divine vibrations. Bhagawan listened to their Vedic chants for about an hour before retiring for the session.

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Speaking on the preparations and the hard work put in by about 300 people ranging from 8 to 72 years of age in learning the Vedic Mantras, one of the core member of the group who is also a former student of Bhagawan, said that Veda chanting classes started in the scorching summer month of April in the twin states of Maharashtra and Goa. The classes were held in different parts of these two States, namely, Nagpur, Akola, Amaravati, Goa, Sholapur, Parbani, Bhiwandi, Thane, different parts of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, Nasik and Pune. The classes would commence at 11 a.m. and would go on till 8 p.m. in the night; such was the dedication of the group, said the leader. The group members were supplied with Veda Mantra books and CD. At each and every stage of their learning, Bhagawan’s presence could be felt. Speaking on a wonderful experience, the leader said that on one of these classes which was held in a temple, there was a secluded cloud cover over the temple which proved that Bhagawan’s unseen hand was guiding and guarding them. After the primary preparations, combined practice sessions for the whole group were held in Dharmakshetra, Mumbai.

Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the beings of all the worlds be happy!). Peace and welfare of the world was their motto. Even the Samana Suktam, which they chanted at the end of the morning session speaks of Unity, Purity and Divinity, said the team member.  

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The programme for the evening session was a Hindustani classical concert by Kalapini Komkali, the daughter and disciple of Pandit Kumar Gandharva and Vidushi Smt. Vasundhara Komkali.

Pt. Kumar Gandharva was a Hindustani classical singer, famous for his unique vocal style and innovative genius. The name Kumar Gandharva was a title given to him when he was a child prodigy; a Gandharva is a god of music in Hindu mythology. Kalapini could be said to possess an Alto just a little husky but true as a blade. Her Akar is perhaps the closest yet to that of Kumar Gandharva, a magical mixture of the five vowels that make language ring true and unforgettable. She uses much the same technique her father used to do, that lets you hear the Swara as part of the Raga and the Swara also as pure Swara kindled separately and individually.

Smt. Kalapini, after offering her obeisance to Bhagawan said that all the songs that she was going to sing during her concert were sung by her late father Pt. Kumar Gandharva. Beginning with a Tukaram Abhang: “Lakshmi Vallabha …”, the songs of Smt. Kalapini grew from strength to strength both in terms of tenor, pitch and clarity. Singing in her booming voice Kabir Das’s Nirgun Pad, “Sunta Hai …” Nirgun Pad is a form of devotional song which believes in formless God. After singing a Mira Bhajan she concluded the concert with a Gorakhnath Bhajan. Bhagawan blessed the singer by materialising a chain and presented her with a Sari. The accompanying artistes were also presented with clothes by Bhagawan.

It was the turn of the students of the University to take over; they not only sang bhajans in tandem, but also sang solo songs. When Bhagawan asked a student to sing a Hindi song, he sang the evergreen composition, “Hey O’ Vitthale Bhakta Jana Vatsale …” with such beauty and mellifluousness that the entire audience was enraptured at the devotional height combined with artistry.  At the end, Prasadam was distributed to the entire congregation and Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 6.30 p.m. before He retired to His “Divine Abode”, Yajur Mandiram.