MAY 20, 2013
The Hinduisation of music in the Catholic Church – ragas and Carnatic music
This is a long overdue study from this ministry. It is associated with the inculturation issue which is high on the agenda of the Indian Church. As my many earlier reports and articles have shown, inculturation = Hinduisation. India is a land of diverse cultures. Most Muslims generally inculturate genuinely, distinguishing between what is culture and what is intrinsic to the majority religion, Hinduism. Not so Catholics.
Almost everything that Catholics have adapted and adopted is of Hindu/Vedic origin and part of present or past temple rituals, often inextricably linked to the worship of Hindu deities; to name a few: the use of the “OM” symbol and mantra [one even finds the mantra in several bhajans in the official “Praise the Lord” hymnal of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal; yoga exercises and meditation; the arati, see page 20 [which the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] fraudulently got Rome to approve as one of the “Twelve Points of Adaptation” for the Indian Rite Mass in 1969]; the Dhwaja Stambham or five-metal flagpole installed outside many churches; the bindi and tilak mark applied on the forehead; the Kuthuvilakku or Nilavilakku, the sanctuary oil lamp, Bharatanatyam dancing, etc.
Hindu festivals like Onam, Pongal [harvest festivals], Ayudha Puja [consecration of tools and equipment to the presiding deities or the goddess of wealth] came to be celebrated by parishes, ending up at the altars.
Churches, including that of the CBCI’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC] in Bangalore have been constructed exteriorly as well as interiorly — church art — to simulate Hindu temples.
The liturgy of the Novus Ordo Holy Mass has become so “Hinduised” in the name of inculturation that older Catholics are hard put to find any semblance of commonality with Masses celebrated before Vatican Council II or for a few blessed years post Vatican Council II. Along with the “inculturation” of the liturgy, the use of the vernacular at Mass and the cessation of the study of Latin in the seminaries, it was but natural that the pipe organ, Gregorian chants and Latin hymns would be annihilated by indigenous music and musical instruments. That turned out to have its upside as well as its downside. On the upside, minority cultures like those of the tribals found freedom of expression in Church and Indian musical instruments like the harmonium rendered support to hymns sung in the vernacular. On the downside, individual nuns and priests as well as Catholic institutions dedicated themselves to the study, propagation and performance of related Hindu art forms which include Bharatanatyam dancing, mandalas, mudras and Carnatic music.
From my decade long sojourn in the North of India, approximately 1988 to 1991, I do not recall having noted any problem with the liturgical music or with the bhajans, the hymns sung in the vernacular. I never once came across the use of the “OM” mantra or was subjected to a performance of Bharatanatyam. The only dances that were permitted in Church were before the Holy Mass and they were always performed by tribal peoples even in the large metropolitan cities of Lucknow and New Delhi. The Holy Masses themselves were free from all the experimentation and innovation that is all-prevalent in the parish churches that I attend.
I have written in detail about the Hindu temple dance called Bharatanatyam.
DANCING AND BHARATANATYAM IN THE MASS
A third article in the Bharatanatyam series, written from a different perspective, is due from this ministry.
I emphasise on Bharatanatyam here because of its association with the use of ragas and Carnatic music.
I am not a musician and do not understand the nuances of music, Indian or western. So, I read what others have to say about the subject of the present report, collated the information, though a bit haphazardly, and present it to the Catholic reader who is concerned about the overall Hinduisation of the Church in India.
This is an extract from a letter by a very good priest who has been disciplined by the superior of his religious order and the local ordinary for reasons completely unrelated to the subject that we are studying:
Priest, Name withheld 1
Sent: Monday, February 07, 2011 3:23 PM Subject: Praise the Lord
Dear Michael Prabhu
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus. I have been receiving your mail regularly. I apologise as I could not reply to you due to my regular commitments. Our mission of preaching the Word of God all over xxx and xxx is in full swing. Hence I am unable to write to anyone. I am happy that you are also busy with your research and in cleansing the unwanted elements that have come into the body of Christ, the Church. I am praying for you, Michael.
Now to come to the point that you have asked me, it is now more that 15 long years that I have given up my Indian dance, Carnatic music and Indianisation and inculturation. My faith is strong in Jesus and it can be only proclaimed through the Word of God and life witness. All the other aspects like culture, language, traditional liturgies, etc are not expressions of faith. It is the truth that we have to proclaim and accept and live in our lives. “God is truth”- John 3:33, “Jesus is truth”- John 14:6, “Holy Spirit is truth”- John 16:13 and the “Word of God is truth”- John 17:17. My entire ministry is to lead people to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Hence I don’t see why we have to dilute the message and give importance to the medium of communication rather than the message. I could not communicate the true Gospel message with the so-called complicated expressions like classical dance, music or traditional art forms. My message for the world is “Christ is for all”, Jesus Christ is “Lamb of God” (John 1:21), “Bread of life” (John 6:35), “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11), “The truth, way and life” (John 14:6), “Light of the world” (John 8:12) and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).
Why waste lots of money on complicated style of dances and music and art forms and entertain only the elite, when theses really do not enlighten, but only entertain a few. Jesus used simple life situations and parables and he powerfully communicated the truth of the kingdom of God. So we are in the same ministry of Christ, with the message of love, mercy and compassion.
Why I gave up classical dance and music is because they did not glorify God but they glorified me and my Society. They are only myths and not truth and cannot be applied to our lives.
I personally request you, Michael, not to give reference to any of my audio talks because it may cause lot of hatred between religions. So please don’t mention anything I said about Om, yoga or any other religion. We have to rise above all these myths and experience truly the Divine within and then only share God’s love with others. We have to find life in Jesus and do what he did. (Luke 4:18-20). I hope I am clear to you. For more information on our ministry please log in to XXX.
God bless you. Fr. Name withheld 1
The priest was a nationally acclaimed performer of Bharatanatyam and it is reported that he had even received an award from the President of India, an award that he surrendered to the Government when he abjured his former Hinduised life that incorporated using the so-called inculturated art forms that he mentions in his letter to me.
The following letter was written to me by another priest who lives on the fringes of the heretical Catholic Ashrams movement of which Ashram Aikya is the official mouthpiece:
Name withheld 2
Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:14 AM
This is a direct quotation from the forthcoming issue
of the Ashram Aikya, which is not yet distributed. So please use this after its publication. )
ASHRAM AIKYA News Letter 46 September 2005
Aanmodaya Ashram, De Mazenod Nagar, Enathur PO, Kancheepuram – 631 561
The Satsangh began on 13 July with Sayam Sandhya followed by the Eucharist. Swami Joseph A. Samarakone omi Acharya
of Aanmodaya Ashram presided. After Supper the 11 participants finalized the agenda. Swami P. Vincent had written that he was unable to continue as Secretary. The TNAA placed on record its appreciation of his generous and efficient services and chose Sr. Barnaba Upakari fihm as the new Secretary.
“The next morning, 14 July, Fr. Maria Jeyaraj sj introduced Sr. Margaret fsj, Principal of Kalai Kaveri* School of Music and Fine Arts to the participants. Sister had been a disciple of the late Swami Ignatius Irudayam sj, and has a doctorate in Karnatic Music.
Sister gave a beautiful hagiography of Karaikal Ammaiyar a Saiva woman Saint. (She is a great bhakta of this particular Saint). She enthralled the participants by chanting in her melodious voice a few songs composed by the Saint explaining each composition in great detail.
That afternoon and the next morning Sister dealt in a similar way with Saints Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukarasar, fondly called Appar, and Sundaramurthy Nayanar, popularly known as Sundarar. The last part of each session was a lively sharing among the participants.
The afternoon of the 15th was a very relaxed feast to our ears. Sr. Margaret sang more selections from the above four Saints as well as from Saint Manickavasagar inflaming our hearts with deep bhakti. The session concluded with everyone offering profuse thanks to Sister.”
What galls me is this. The Kalai Kaviri* is very near to the Trichy Cathedral. I just refuse to accept that a bishop would be unaware of and mindsets and behaviour of significant people like heads of institutions in his diocese. You have spoken of the apathy of the bishops. I have been a priest for the last 20 years. I can say many more things regarding their behaviour.
Fr. Name withheld 2
*See following page
The above excerpt from Ashram Aikya is enough evidence for us to understand that Karnatic or Carnatic Music is a vehicle of Hinduism. The principal of Kalai Kaviri, a nun, actually holds a doctoral degree in it!
Kalai Kaviri was started in Trichy by Fr. S.M. George [now elevated as Monsignor] in 1978. He was its director 1977-2002.
Kalai Kaviri started a dance school called Kalai Kaviri Natyapalli in October 1983 offering diploma courses in Bharatanatyam and Mohini Attam.
A perusal of the 12-page September 2004 issue of the New Age
Bede Griffiths Sangha [see my report on Catholic Ashrams] newsletter is revealing. The Sangha is in close association with Kalai Kaviri, and they arrange for the dance troupe to visit the UK to “dance in liturgies [at] several cathedrals.”
Kalai Kaviri operates under the auspices of the Diocese of Trichy under the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Conference.
The notorious Bharatanatyam-dancing Jesuit Fr Saju George [see p. 6] is a research advisor at Kalai Kaveri.
KALAI KAVIRI, TRICHY [TIRUCHIRAPPALLI], TAMIL NADU
1. About Kàlai Kàviri
Kàlai Kàviri is both a Troupe of 12 dancers and the name of the College of Fine Arts of 260 full-time students from which the Troupe is drawn.
SPIRITUAL DRAMA FOR ALL FAITHS
Kàlai Kàviri has been the dance performer for 45 Hindu temple festivals in the last ten years as well as cathedral and church functions too numerous to mention.
Kàlai Kàviri has performed for Pope John Paul II in Rome, as well as for Hindu and Buddhist leaders;
Kàlai Kàviri is fostering a twin policy of encouraging Hindu students to enroll and also of encouraging Christians to adopt traditional dance in spite of some cultural resistance among both Christians and Moslems. In both ways, there has been success. While the College has grown rapidly in the last ten years, 53% of its students have been Christian and 46% have been Hindu.
2. Kàlai Kàviri College of Fine Arts, South India
Kàlai Kàviri College of Fine Arts is affiliated to the Bharathidasan University of Tiruchirappalli and is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tiruchirappalli and is subsidised by the Tamil Nadu State Government after having been given its accolade of ‘Best Cultural Institution for the Year 2000’.
It offers Bachelors, Masters and PhD programmes in Dance* and Music and at present has 260 full-time students and some 800 part-time students of all faiths and operates a programme of open access with special assistance to students from poor, rural and outcaste families. Short courses and summer Certificate and Diploma programmes are also available. A new ‘world-first’ Off-Campus degree programme has recently been launched. *The dance is, obviously, Bharatanatyam.
3. Kalai Kaviri starts 5-year degree courses in music and dance
The New Leader, September 1-15, 1997 EXTRACT
Kalai Kaviri, the Communication Centre of Trichy diocese*
has started a unique programme-integrated five-year degree course in dance and music… Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance (Bharatanatyam). Bishop S. L. Gabriel of Trichy inaugurated the part-time Mohiniyattam course. He said the Church is proud of Kalai Kaveri, which promotes cultural arts and uses them to spread the Good News.
*Most Rev. Antony Devotta, the Bishop of Trichy, is the Chairman for the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council’s Office for
which includes the Santhome Communications Centre and Tamil Maiyam in Chennai, which is where a priest,
Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, produced an audio CD at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crores [Rs. 15 million] in praise of the Hindu deity Shiva [who is also Nataraja, the presiding deity of Bharatanatyam dance]. See the report
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-PRIEST INVESTS RS 15 MILLION, FLOATS COMPANY WORTH RS 100 CRORES AUGUST 2006
4. Kàlai Kàviri Collegiate Arts – Movement into Wholeness
In their two England tour months in 2004 and 2005, they danced at 11 cathedrals, 8 Hindu temples, 20 churches, 8 theatres, 12 school workshops, 2 melas, one prison, one city festival, and a Royal inauguration by HRH Duke of Gloucester.
For preference, Kàlai Kàviri dances at multi-ethnic locations, and especially where there is an
Indian classical dance has a long history of liturgical performance for temple worship. Kàlai Kàviri University College of Fine Arts has choreographed this tradition for church worship and scriptural themes as well as for Hindu temple festivals. These use a sophisticated language of movement, expression and gesture to communicate. The effect for the West is a new spiritual dimension with the colour, grace, reverence and energy of South Indian dance drama.
5. Church Liturgy and Inculturation
[I]t is Kàlai Kàviri’s prime duty to bring the Church into the main stream of the Indian culture… As a first step, we integrated these within the communication apostolate of the Church. We started by using Indian dance, music, drama and literature to communicate the Good News and social development values… We searched for ways to contribute to the art of dance, Bharatha Natyam, and South Indian Classical Music, which have been generally ignored by the Church in the past… The idea of giving systematic training in dance inspired us to start a Part-Time School for Bharatha Natyam in 1983…
All these contributions by Kàlai Kàviri over 25 years in the field of promoting fine arts have given a new cultural image to the Church. The pioneers of inculturation in the 17th, 18th centuries and the post Vatican period were within the Church circle. By contrast, Kàlai Kàviri’s cultural contributions have been flowing as a major force outside, to merge with mainstream Indian heritage. Kàlai Kàviri has thus made the presence of the Church a fully Indian contributing force in the cultural field.
6. Kalai Kaviri honoured as best art institute in Tamil Nadu
The New Leader, January 16-31, 2001 UCAN News EXTRACT
Tamil Nadu has cited a Catholic Communication Centre as the best art institute in the State and commended its 22 years of service for social change… The institute is affiliated to the government-owned Bharatidasan University. The college [Kalai Kaviri] …provides courses in dance and music forms that were once considered the monopoly of high-caste Hindu Brahmins.
The reference is, quite obviously, to Bharatanatyam.
7. What Kàlai Kàviri Offers – Creative Movement Workshops
Body preparatory exercises – especially from Kalari martial arts*
Theme development – techniques and games from Bharatanatyam and South Asian folk dances to express stories, thoughts, ideas and emotions
8. Who are they? The Kàlai Kàviri-ni quartet
Picture of a member of the “Kàlai Kàviri-ni quartet”
Liturgical dance in sacred spaces
Bharathanatyam’s roots are in sacred dance even though there have been successful efforts to secularise it.
Kàlai Kàviri’s wide repertoire has been adapted:
either for temple hall stages for which the Kàlai Kàviri main troupe is a regular and popular performer, some 50 temples in India over the last decade and already eight in the UK; or for the sanctuary of cathedrals and churches both during and after liturgical services, whether eucharistic or otherwise.
For instance for six parts of the Mass, there are special dances which have been described as three dimensional psalms and which could also be used as part of Evensong. Using them, the main troupe has danced twice for Pope John Paul II in 1987 and 1990;
or with inter-faith potential when interspersed with readings from different scriptures or reflection or meditation.
So the Pope watched a Bharatanatyam recital. That’s terrible!
“Somebody can say, “But the pope visited this country and the people danced”. A moment: Did the pope arrange it? Poor Holy Father — he comes, the people arranged. He does not know what they arranged. And somebody introduces something funny — is the pope responsible for that? Does that mean it is now approved? Did they put it on the table of the Congregation for Divine Worship? We would throw it out! If people want to dance, they know where to go.”
[From a box in the above web page:] In every piece of music there are three aspects, viz.
(i) the meaning of the song (ii) the laws of music & (iii) the sound of the song.
Similarly in ‘Om’*, there are three aspects (i) the mere sound, a mantra as pronounced by the mouth; (ii) the meaning of the syllable which is to be realised through feeling; and (iii) the application of the ‘Om’ to your character, singing it in your actions and so within your life.
*See MANTRAS ‘OM’ OR ‘AUM’ AND THE GAYATRI MANTRA
10. Kalai Kaviri
Temple Programmes we have given at Hindu Temple Kumbabishekams* and institutions: [a long list]
performs at consecrations of Hindu temples and deities.
11. Public performances of Kalai Kaviri-Ni
Rochester Cathedral – Sunday Eucharist, 30 Sept 2007 11am
Conference of Bede Griffiths Sangha*, Park Place Pastoral Centre, Fareham, Hants 21-22 July 2007
St Bede’s RC Church, Basingstoke, Sunday Parish Mass, 1 July 2007
St Swithun’s RC Church, Yateley, Hampshire, Sun 29 April 2007
Leeds University RC Chaplaincy Mass, Sun 22 April 2007
St Austin RC Church, Parish Mass, Wakefield, Sun 15 April 2007
Holy Trinity RC Church, Parish Mass, Brook Green, Hammersmith, London W6, Sun 22 Oct 2006
Diwali Celebrations, Balaji Temple, Oldbury, Birmingham, Sat 21 Oct 2006
Click on the link for an exhaustive list. *The Bede Griffiths Sangha [above] is as New Age as Catholic can get. See my reports CATHOLIC ASHRAMS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CATHOLIC_ASHRAMS.doc, and FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
12. Off-campus courses in Bharatanatyam
by R. Krishnamoorthy for The Hindu July 23, 2008
The world’s first off-campus degree programme in Bharatanatyam offered through a joint venture of Bharathidasan University and Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts, Tiruchi, is taking firm root in India and abroad.
For the Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts and Diploma courses that are offered under the distance mode, the enrolment is poised to go up to 350 during the current academic year, from 220 last year. Enrolment started with 45 students in 2004-2 005. It increased to 62 students in 2005-2006 and 170 in 2006-2007.
Those running dance schools, dance teachers, performing artistes, or those employed in any other profession, or doing any degree in any discipline in regular colleges, and housewives have enrolled for these courses. Reputed cultural centres and art centres in India and abroad seek to be recognised as coordinating centres for the Off-Campus Degree Programme.
Says Rev. Msgr. S.M. George, Founder and Director of the Off-Campus Degree Programme, who is also the Founder of Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts belonging to the Catholic Diocese of Tiruchi: “The off-campus programmes have revolutionised the concept of promoting and popularising the fine art forms across barriers.”
Impressed by the concept, Bharatanatyam artiste Saraswathi promoting the cause of fine arts with Padma Vibhushan Dr. Balamuralikrishna for the past 20 years and Director of Vipanchee Natyalaya, Chennai, recommends her students who have dance schools all over the globe for admission to Kalai Kaviri Off-Campus programme.
The website www.kalaikaviri-offcamp.com provides more information. Application forms can also be downloaded.
13. Narthaki – Your gateway to the world of Indian dance
Rev. Fr. L. Anthuvan, the present Director, under his able guidance, upholds the vision of Kalai Kaviri and the Off-campus Degree Program in Bharatanatyam. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
14. Nritya Sadhana – Bharathanatyam by the ‘Dancing Priest’
Fr Saju George Moolamthuvuthil, a Jesuit priest from Kerala, trained in Chennai and now working in Kolkata, was one of the two opening dancers at the Festival of India in Moscow, 1999. He has performed on some 60 solo and 25 group Bharatanatyam stages in India, Germany, Bangladesh and Thailand, with both Christian and Hindu themes. Having
also danced before Pope John Paul II in New Delhi, he has thus raised Bharathanatyam to the realm of Christian prayer and worship. Here is a rare opportunity to experience a new flowering of an ancient vine. In the concerts, imageries of Radha Krishna share a platform with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Fr Saju has been groomed under a galaxy of gurus: Sri K Rajkumar, Khagendra Nath Barman, Padmashri Leela Samson, Nadabrahmam Prof. C V Chandrasekhar (all from Kalakshetra, Chennai) and Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan and Kalaimamani Priyadarshini Govind.
Fr Saju views art as a medium for social transformation and integration, and in his own words: “Art is a wonderful medium that can transcend the barriers of religion and culture, and I want to make Bharathanatyam
a source for building bridges between religion and culture“.
His University of Madras PhD was for a thesis on dance in the Saiva** Tradition. He is also Research Director at Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts, Tiruchirappalli. **Nataraja, Lord of the Dance
The story of creation according to Kàlai Kàviri has nothing in common with the Christian tradition:
The Quest for Music Divine
http://www.kalaikaviri.org.uk/article1.htm EXTRACT from the Kalai Kaviri web site
Music and dance when viewed in Indian tradition are fundamentally one spiritual art, an integral yoga and a science of harmony…
According to the Vedas, the Divine Mother Vak (Vag Devi) sang the whole creation into being. God’s eternal life-force, Para Sakthi, entered or rather assumed the perennial causal sound Nada through the monosyllabic seed-sound Om (Pranava). Thereby the phenomenal world with its multiple forms evolved. This process of physical, vital, mental and soul contact or holy communion with God aims at complete harmony, perfect integration, and absolute identification with God, in all His manifested as well as unmanifested Lila (divine play and dance) at the individual, cosmic and supra-cosmic levels of existence… It is possible to trace each human sound or word back to its source by retracing step-by-step to the positive source, until the body of Brahman called Sabda Brahman is reached:
“In the beginning was Prajapathi, the Brahman” (Prajapath vai idam agtre aseet)
“With whom was the word” (Tasya vag dvitiya aseet)
“And the word was verily the supreme Brahman” (Vag vai paraman Brahman)
Indian music is said to have originated from the Vedas and music was considered one of the best forms of worship. Carnatic music is said to have evolved from sacred music, but though it moved through time in the realm of ‘art music’, the content never changed.
Many ragas (recitative songs) are named after Gods, and it is believed that each God has a favourite raga.
As in the Archdiocese of Bombay [Gyan Ashram, Atma Darshan, Sangeet Abhinay Academy] and in the Diocese of Mangalore [Sandesha* Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya], we find that the teaching and recital of the so-called “Indian classical dances” like Bharatanatyam and Odissi have been institutionalised. Here we see the same in Kàlai Kàviri
the Diocese of Trichy. *See next page
Kàlai Kàviri performs in the sanctuaries of Hindu temples as much as they do in those of Catholic cathedrals. Even more shocking, despite the Church’s strong disapproval of such aberrations, the troupe performs in “the sanctuary of cathedrals and churches both during and after liturgical services, whether eucharistic or otherwise.”
“Indian classical dance provides a mirror view of the ancient Hindu conception of the universe, and the nature of reality“, that “Indian classical dance has a long history of liturgical performance for temple worship” and that “many ragas (recitative songs) are named after Gods, and it is believed that each God has a favourite raga“.
New Age stuff like the Martial Arts and Yoga go where Bharatanatyam goes. We have already seen that earlier. So do the “Om” symbol and mantra, and a myriad of Hindu rituals and paraphernalia from the Arati to the Kuthuvilakku [Hindu sanctuary lamp] to the idol of the “Lord of the Dance“, Nataraja/Siva. Kalai Kaviri
performs at consecrations of Hindu temples and deities.
The Kàlai Kàviri site itself admits that it experiences “resistance among both Christians and Moslems” to Bharatanatyam and other such classical dance forms.
SANDESHA: A FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION, MANGALORE, KARNATAKA
SANDESHA FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE AND EDUCATION
www.sandesha.org is a registered public trust, functioning under auspices of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops’ Council.
The Board of Trustees: Chairman –
Rt. Rev. Dr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore
The Rt. Rev. Dr. A.P. D’Souza [Bishop of Mangalore] being the Chairman, Fr. Denis D’Sa being the managing trustee and Sri. P.M. Castelino, Sri. Galdin D’Souza, Fr. Jayanathan form the Board of Trustees.
The Mission: SANDESHA was born on November 26, 1991 with the main goal of fostering a value- based society by promoting universal values of love and harmony among people of different faiths, customs and traditions.
This temple of arts believes that at a deeper level there is a true unity in all arts and they inspire communion of all people.
The institution follows a ‘guru-shishya’ tradition with emphasis on Indian traditions, values and ethos with the belief that it’s only through the sensitive Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Disciple) relationship can we preserve the artistic traditions of India. In its universal outlook, secular thrust, inclusive approach and its multifaceted activities, Sandesha could be more appropriately called a people’s power than an institution.
Sandesha’s specific thrust has been the application of wisdom, values, insights and experience of all faiths to the issues of human dignity, human rights, the environment and total development of the human person.
‘Beauty diversified into the arts is the true refiner and uplifter of humanity. It is an instrument of culture, the broadener of heart, the purifying fire which burns all prejudices, all pettiness, all coarseness. Without it true democracy is impossible, equality of social intercourse … an empty dream.’ –Dr. Annie Besant
SANDESHA has an aesthetically designed
located at the centre of the Sandesha building. It is the heart, the power house, a veritable GUDI of divine presence, prayer and peace.
Activities: Sandesha’s annual Kalotsava, a festival of arts and communication skills strives to identify, appreciate and promote the rich cultural heritage of India for a greater interaction and integration of people.
It involves the participation of around 3000 students from over 600 schools from 8-10 districts of the state.
Asta Pushpaarchane: A ballet in
Asta Pushpaarchane (offering of eight flowers to God)-depicting the triumph of good over evil by the use of talents given by God. Sandesha holds training classes in Bharatanatyam.
The SANDESHA LALITKALA MAHAVIDYALAYA aims primarily at promoting the rich cultural heritage of India for a greater inter-cultural dialogue leading to better national integration.
The Institution prepares students for the
B.A. Degree in Bharathanatyam, Carnatic Music (Vocal), Western Classical Music (Instrumental), History and Drawing and Painting. The institution is affiliated to Mangalore University and recognised by the Government of Karnataka.
Most Rev. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, is on its Board of Management.
Karnataka Kala Kendra is a school of media and arts, promoting media and the cultural heritage of India. The school aims to identify, appreciate, re-create art forms in Karnataka and promote them for social interaction, national integration and transformation. To achieve this, Karnatak Kala Kendra conducts full-time and part-time courses in
and Hindustani classical singing, Eastern and western instrumental music and fine arts.
In March 2007, Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya hosted a week-long Karnataka State level workshop on Odissi dance
in collaboration with by St Mary’s College, Shirva, sponsored by the University Grants Commission, conducted by the eminent Odissi dance exponent Smt Itishree Devi, Disciple of Padmavibhushan Gurushree Kelucharan Mohapatra.
The April/May 2007 Summer Courses at Sandesha include Bharatanatyam
Annie Besant, who was quoted, was a President of the Theosophical Society which was one of the precursors of New Age movement according to the Vatican Document on the New Age.
Though it is a Catholic institution, Sandesha maintains a ‘prayer room‘, not the traditional chapel!
Sandesha was founded by Most Rev. Henry D’Souza, the present Bishop of Bellary
The previous directors were Fr. Denis Alexander D’Sa and Fr. Valerian Mendonca
Pope appoints Fr Henry D’Souza as Bishop of Bellary
March 15, 2008 (CBCI News) EXTRACT: Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Henry D’Souza, presently Executive Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications, New Delhi, as Bishop of Bellary Diocese in Karnataka. Fr Henry D’Souza, (58) has been the Executive Secretary of the CBCI Communications Commission for 7 years. Earlier, he served as the Secretary, Proclamation and Communication Commission of Karnataka Regional Bishops’ Council (1989-2000).
Fr D’Souza was Founder Director of SANDESHA Regional Institute of Communications (1989 –2000) and Director of Sandesha College of Fine Arts, Mangalore (1996-2000).
Subject: RE: SPIRIT, SOUL….
Dear Michael, I had been to our parish mass back in Mangalore and during the announcements it was publicly announced that there are special courses being conducted at Sandesha, which includes yoga as well. In some of the schools I heard Yoga is a part of their curriculum. The dangers are spreading in Mangalore as well. Deepak
The Mangalorean Catholics list published appeals from Fr. Lewis and Bishop A.P. D’Souza for donations to Sandesha towards “the education of the girl child“!
[Continued on page 23] 7.
FR. JOACHIM ANDRADE, S.V.D., MANGALORE/BRAZIL
Spreading Indian Flavor in Samba Land – Brazil
By Florine Roche, Mangalore April 7, 2008
Indian dance, yoga, art and culture is finding its flavour in Brazil thanks to the efforts of a few Indian missionaries and other smitten Brazilians who have been instrumental in spreading Indian flavour in this coffee land.
Today about 5 million Brazilians are practicing regular yoga and several dance and art schools have mushroomed all over Brazil, says Fr Joachim Andrade, a Mangalorean SVD priest who has been working in Brazil for the last 17 years.
“Major Hindu influence began in Brazil to be exact was in 1953, when yoga was taken by a French man, who took the Indian name as Shivananda, who started a yoga academy in one of the towns of Brazil. Later, many other forms have entered such as Hare Krishna Movement, Vedanta Philosophy, Indian classical music and finally Indian classical dance. The Brazilians got hooked to Indian music, vegetarianism, food and culture and there has been no stopping its popularity”, Fr Andrade declares.
Indian way of live has penetrated deeply among the people and some of the Brazilians have great admiration towards Indian culture. Many have ventured out to take a trip to India visiting several ashrams and gurus. They have taken back to Brazil a kind of Indian culture which has created a deep rooted impact among Brazilians.
This receptiveness among Brazilians prompted Fr Andrade to make a deeper study on the phenomenon of the diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil. Born in Vamada Padavu in Bantwal taluk, he joined seminary and was initiated to Bharathanatyam during his college days in Mysore. Fr Andrade gave a public stage entrance in Pune in 1991 in Bharatanatyam and left for Brazil in 1992 after his ordination. He continued his passion in Brazil and did his masters in Anthropology choosing the topic “Dance as a ritual: a case study of Indian Dance” for his dissertation. For his doctorate he chose the topic of “diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil” and used Bharatanatyam as the medium for diffusion.
As Fr Andrade worked in southern part of Brazil where the church activity is mostly pastoral and was compelled to make a slight shift in his missionary work and concentrate on ecumenical as well as inter-religious dialogue activity. Because of his close involvement in inter-religious dialogue activities, he has been appointed as the coordinator of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious dialogue dimension of the arch diocese of Curitiba.
Responding to public enthusiasm Fr Andrade has opened an academy of dance in Brazil recently where Brazilians learn the Indian dance and propagate it to the Brazilian people. “My motive behind this is to utilize the art form to diffuse Christian themes and combine the art and spirituality to the Brazilian culture” he says modestly.
Recently his pupil Ivanilda Maria Moreira Da Silva, a yoga teacher for the last 20 year hailing from Curitiba in Brazil was in Mangalore to add perfection to her Bharatanatyam dance which she has been learning in Brazil from Fr Andrade for the last four years. Ivanilda spent two months at Sandesha College of Fine Arts fine-tuning her skills in Bharathanatyam and left back for Brazil with a promise to come back against next year with her 13 year old daughter Yane to learn more about Indian dance. “I learnt the techniques and perfection of the movements of the Indian classical dance. I am greatly impressed by the visuals, the grace, the music and the expressions of Bharathanatyam. Having stayed here for two months and learning dance I feel dance comes from within and it is very satisfying to make the movements, articulations and gestures. It is made me what I am”, Ivanilda confesses.
Ivanilda came to be associated with yoga just by fluke. Her husband wanted to learn martial arts and yoga formed a part of martial arts. She had accompanied her husband to the university and when her husband got specialized in Martial arts Ivanilda got a tryst with yoga and since then as the cliché goes there has been no looking back for Ivanilda. A few years back she was exposed to Indian dance and got enamored by it prompting her to join the academy as Fr Andrade’s student… It only goes to prove that art and spirituality makes a great combo to make a striking impact.
Daijiworld [a site owned by Catholics] readers’ comments on the above piece by Florine Roche:
Excellent article by Florine Roche and congratulations to Fr. Joaquim SVD and his efforts to spread the Indian culture and values. Good luck! Clifford D’Souza SVD, Taccode/Montreal/Canada April 07, 2008
Congratulations to Fr. Joachim. For nearly 16 years we were companions in the seminary formation and he is known for his hard work and love for the art which he has kept till today. Wish you good luck in your task of spreading the Gospel values through the Indian dance in Brazil. Fr. John Stephen Roche, SVD, Fajir/México April 08, 2008
Great work Fr. Joachim, god bless in your sincere efforts. If i remember correctly we were studying together in SVD Kirem in 1976. All the best to you. C. Hillary D’Silva, Niddodi/Mira road, Mumbai April 08, 2008
Hi, I had read articles on Father Joachim being a Bharat Natyam dancing SVD priest before, I envision him as the only rightfully ordained RC priest to dance Bharat Natyam himself for daily mass. Can anyone enlighten me more about it? God bless Nigamaa, church universal June 02, 2008
Two commenters are SVD priests, the third is either a priest or a person who left the SVD seminary before ordination, and they all congratulate their confrere on his spreading “Indian dance” in Brazil.
And “nigamaa” actually states that the priest dances Bharatanatyam
at daily Mass!
We also once again note that yoga and Bharatanatyam dance go hand in hand with Carnatic music.
FR. JEGATH GASPAR RAJ, CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU
1. ‘Mozart meets India’ project announced
March 18, 2006, EXTRACT:
After successfully launching “Thiruvasagam” (Tamil literary work), ‘Tamil Maiyam,’ a Tamil Nadu-based non-profit organisation, today announced another project “Mozart Meets India”, a confluence of western classical and Carnatic music. “It is certainly not fusion music. We have taken six ragas…treating it in its purity and adhering to its grammar. The western classical pieces will also maintain its grammar. The strength of Carnatic music is its melody, while that of western classic is its harmony,”
‘Maiyam’ founder Jegath Gaspar Raj* and Dr Joe Arun, project coordinator, said.
The project, expected to cost around Rs 25 lakh in production cost alone, is aimed at gaining global reach for Indian classical music, they told reporters here…The “Thiruvasagam – Symphonic Oratorio” could not serve the objective of taking Indian music global as the music was predominantly tied to Tamil lyrics.
“But Mozart Meets India will no doubt serve that lofty objective as it is an orchestral symphony,” he said.
*Jegath Gaspar Raj is a priest of the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocesan Santhome Communications Centre under the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Conference. He owns Hindu temples and brought out a CD dedicated to the deity Shiva. See
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-PRIEST INVESTS RS 15 MILLION, FLOATS COMPANY WORTH RS 100 CRORES
The Hindu, August 2, 2006
Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj identified the production as “a global symphonic soundtrack based on six Carnatic ragas, Kapi, Sindhubhairavi, Panthuvarali, Sankarabharanam, Bilahari and Hamsanandhi”
The editor of Delhi archdiocese’s Voice of Delhi critiques my expose on Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj
Catholic Priest Produces Music Audio of Thiruvasagam/SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR…
Dear Mr Prabhu,
I have no doubts about your sincerity and impartiality as far as error in the Church is concerned. I also fully endorse your view that I am not aware of the background of Thiruvasagam. Also, if I remember right (it’s now such a long while ago that the VOD carried this) your “expose” seemed to indicate that the priest concerned had the blessings of the local bishop and others. So, I would be happy to be humbly educated about the error that you feel this priest has fallen into. Unfortunately, your reply does not clearly explain this.
Let me make it easier for you to understand why I need to be convinced. I’ve been educated by Jesuits, many of whom (over centuries – Beschi, De Nobili, and some of my own teachers) have been highly respected specialists in various aspects of Indian culture. My mother, a daughter of an erstwhile Chief Justice of the Cochin High Court, along with her twin sister, were (against the accepted practice of their times) trained prize-winners in classical Carnatic music. My younger brother is one of India’s very, very few lay Catholic theologians who got top-rated qualifications (in Theology) abroad, have taught in seminaries and have not been afraid to run foul of bishops.
I myself am an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. I personally do not find it right or desirable that Catholics confine themselves to “ghettoes” and find themselves threatened by those of other faiths. I love the Church and have never been afraid to let it face the light of healthy argument. My basic conviction is that it is the one true God who gave us brains and reason, and the one true God who, being infinitely superior to us in wisdom and understanding, is the least threatened by our daring to think with the brains he himself has gifted us.
So I would like to know clearly what your objection(s) is (are) to the activities of a priest who, apparently, is promoting music to God (call him by any name) and in the process reaching out to other faiths. The fact that several bishops have not answered your letters is, to my mind, irrelevant, as I don’t believe bishops have all, or even most of, the answers. In this sense, I guess you and I are on the same side.
Very simply, please let me know, in a manner that satisfies my intellect (and irrespective of the positive or negative opinions of several bishops), what is your objection to the activities of this priest?
Warm regards. Kurien Joseph
Catholic Priest Produces Music Audio of Thiruvasagam/SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR…
Dear Mr. Joseph Kurian, Thank you very much for your letter.
I do not want to hurt your feelings, or to sound like I am preaching at you. If I answer your letter in the detail that it calls for, it might be the case. So I will try to be brief, in 10 points, and avoid saying much.
1. The errors of the priest are self-evident in my report. I requested you earlier too to read it.
2. If you have read the Documents and Encyclicals of the Church and the Bible as taught by the Church, you would have understood.
3. My report did not “seem to indicate” that the priest had the blessings of a Bishop. It said he did, providing the evidence and naming the Bishop.
4. It is probably your Jesuit background that has led you to have a liberal approach- which I detect in your reply- to Catholic and Christian truths. A report from that perspective is in the making.
5. Theology is a matter of the mind. It has its place. But faith comes from the heart. I too used to reason without faith. But till I saw my sinfulness, repented, was anointed by the Holy Spirit, I could not have a personal relationship with God through his only Son, Jesus.
6. If you are truly sincere about wanting to be “humbly educated”, my most humble request to you is to please attend a charismatic retreat. I can assure you that that there is where I was broken, and lost my intellectual pride regarding my religious beliefs. And submitted myself to accepting [fides et ratio] what the Church officially teaches, not what individual priests or theologians might preach or practise.
7. A lot of people believe in the “one true God” that you mention. We are talking about Jesus. John 14:6.
John Paul II and Benedict XVI repeatedly use that verse of the Bible. Your “calling God by any name” might end up breaking the first Commandment. Or in relativism and indifferentism, all of which the Church has been warning about in recent years. And which leads to the making of Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj’s.
That is one reason that lay persons like me are called out into fulltime [and part time] ministry in the Church.
8. I have the same B. Tech degree that you have. It has no relevance in matters of faith.
We do not feel threatened by other faiths. The Church in its Documents [Dominus Iesus etc.] fearlessly proclaims the unicity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. [Who is this Shiva before Him, anyway?]
Every single Church letter, Ecclesia in Asia and a host of others, exhort us to the Great Commission of preaching the Jesus of the Gospel by EVANGELISATION. Not by compromise, adjustment, syncretism…..
9. You have asked me to “satisfy your intellect”. I cannot do that, brother. You need to see with the eyes of faith.
Catholic newspapers need to be led by people who stand firmly grounded in Catholic faith as Rome teaches it.
I did not intend to hurt you in any way, but I preciously value Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis, and your letter, coming from an editor of a major Archdiocesan magazine, troubles me greatly. It also encourages me to become more committed to the ministry that Jesus has called me to.
10. Once again you did not respond to my question regarding subscription.
Despite being the editor of an archdiocesan newspaper,
Mr. Kurian Joseph
has no difficulty accepting — and defending — the production and sale, by a priest, of a music CD on the Hindu deity Shiva.
FR. PAUL POOVATHINKAL, C.M.I., CHETANA SANGEET NATYA ACADEMY, THRISSUR, KERALA [ALSO SPELT AS POOVATHINGAL] [See also page 22]
Dr. Fr. Paul Poovathingal CMI, Director, Chetana Sangeet Natya Academy, C. R. Iyyunni Road, Thrissur – 680020. Ph: (Off) 0487 – 2336667 (Mobile) 9447736667 email@example.com; http://www.thesingingpriest.com/
Rev. Dr. Paul Poovathingal CMI, popularly known as ‘Paadum Paathiri’, disciple of Padmabhushan Dr. K. J. Yesudas and Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri, is an ordained priest in the congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, a religious order founded by blessed Cyriac Elias Chavara. He is the first Christian Priest who has completed Ph.D. in Karnatic music in India. He has shown great aptitude in music right from his child hood. Though he was initiated into Karnatic music at the age 17 by Sodharan Bhagavathar, it is only after his priestly studies he started learning Karnatic music seriously. Nevertheless, during his studies in philosophy and theology at Dharmaram College, Bangalore, he continued his music education under the tutelage of vidwan Bangalore V. K. Krishnamurthy.
After having graduated in English and Psychology from Christ College Bangalore, in 1992, he joined the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts in Delhi University and passed Sangita Shiromani course (B.A. Music) with first rank and passed M.A. Music with gold medal. In Delhi he learned music from Prof. T. R. Subramaniam, Dr. Guruvayoor T. V. Manikandan and Dr. Vasanti Rao. Later, he passed M. Phil Degree with first rank from the University of Madras. In 2003 he submitted his Ph.D. thesis ‘Karnatic music and Christianity – a critical study of the influence of Karnatic music on the Christian music of Tamilnadu and Kerala’ at the department of Indian music, University of Madras under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian.
In 2004 March 19 he did his Arangetram at Madras Music Academy with the blessing of his guru Dr. K. J. Yesudas and other musicians like Padmabhushan T. N. Seshagopalan and Padmasri Sikkil Sisters. One of the unforgettable moments in his life is the golden opportunity that he could sing before the legendary singer M. S. Subbhalakshmi. For a period of four years he had undergone training at Brhaddhvani, Chennai. In Chennai, he also learned music from Smt. T. M. Prabhavati, Smt. Sankari Krishnan and Vaikom Jayachandran. In 2003 May he went to Columbia University, New York and received training in Vocology under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Jeannie Goffi. Right now he continues his music studies under Vidwan Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri.
Fr. Paul has traveled widely and performed concerts in India and abroad. In 1998 he participated in the international music festival organized by the University of Durban, South Africa. In 2003 August he performed at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, New York and the University of Princeton, New Jersey. He has composed 400 songs and released 15 albums. He has 10 research papers to his credit. At the moment he is the Director of Chetana Sangeet Natya Academy, a center for training and research in performing arts, in Thrissur, Kerala, India. He is a visiting faculty at Dept. of Indian music, University of Madras, Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore and National Institute for Social Communication, Research and Training (NISCORT)*, New Delhi. His repertoire includes Hindu, Christian and Muslim themes.
Fr. Paul is a pioneer and leading Vocologist (Study of Voice) in India. He is the General Secretary of the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) Voice Foundation, Thiruvananthapuram. He is a ‘B’ high-grade artist (Light Music) of All India Radio and a regular performer in TV.
Languages known: Malayalam, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu, Latin and Greek.
One of his research papers:
‘Inculturation of Music’ January 2004, Mount St. Thomas, Kakkanad, Kochi
Some of his Lecture demonstrations:
Yoga and Music meditation, NBCLC**, Bangalore November 2004 and November 2005
Yoga and Spirituality of Indian Music, NISCORT*, New Delhi, March 2006
Fr. Dr. Paul Poovathingal CMI, Director of Chetana Academy, Thrissur received a special mention from the President of India Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam during a classical concert held by him before a group of special invitees at Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Fr. Paul is the first Catholic priest to be invited for a performance at Rashtrapathi Bhavan. He is the disciple of both Padmasree K J Yesudas and Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri. Fr. Paul started his concert with the famous keerthana ‘Vatapi
Ganapathim‘*** Then ‘Salathulla Salamulla’ taken from the Holy Koran set to ‘Anandabairavi’, ‘Sree Yesu Nadam Bhaje'(Aabhogi), ‘Jai ho jai ho'(kalyani) ‘Loka samastha’ (Madhyamavathi) were presented.
As soon as the performance was over the first citizen of the country was so impressed by the performance that he called Fr. Paul for a personal meeting and congratulated him on the unprecedented performance. He went on to describe his performance as ‘one which is opening new vistas in the tradition of Carnatic music‘.
Fr. Paul was accompanied by Prof. Abdul Azeez [violin], Guruvayoor Sanoj [Mridangam], Shornoor Rajesh [Ghatam]. They were all given personal gifts by the president Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam.
*NISCORT is a National Centre of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [C.B.C.I.]
**NBCLC, the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, is under the aegis of the C.B.C.I.
***An Intro to Indian Dance by Sangeeta, http://www.angelfire.com/ma2/bharatanatyam/index.html:
Ganesha [GANPATI] is traditionally worshipped at the beginning of any endeavour. He is the remover of all obstacles and is known to be very wise. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati and the brother of Murugan.
-Watch this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOk0Y7T6UNc sung by Yesudas, and another by M. S. Subbalakshmi at http://www.hindudevotionalblog.com/2009/02/vathapi-ganapathim-bhajeham-lyrics-ms.html
–Vathapi Ganapathim Bhajeham is a favourite choice for singing at the commencement of any Hindu religious programme to obtain the blessings of the Hindu deity, the elephant-god Ganpati or Ganesha.
About 125 Bishops of the Latin Rite in India, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) held their biennial meeting 6-12 January 2011 at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee, Chennai. “Catechetical Education” was the theme of the meeting. The seven-day plenary began January 7. On January 9, the prelates attended a public reception by the Madras-Mylapore archdiocese at which Tamil Nadu state Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was invited to preside. Karunanidhi is an avowed atheist. The Bishops are the successors of St. Peter and owe sole spiritual allegiance to Jesus Christ. But guess who welcomed the atheist and the disciples of Christ at the public reception at St. Bede’s School grounds in Santhome? Ganpati did.
The procession of Cardinals and Bishops led by the Apostolic Nuncio to India, Salvatore Pennacchio, moved to the Salesian venue from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Thomas to the unmistakable Carnatic
music of Vathapi Ganapathim Bhajeham!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The only redeeming information that I can include about this Carmelite priest Paul Poovathingal is that he is never seen without his white cassock, but then, paying obeisance to Ganapati in a cassock…?
Carnatic ragas from the pulpit
By K. Santhosh September 14, 2004
Fr. Paul Poovathinkal has devised a new training method combining music, yoga and meditation.
Kerala’s parish priest promotes religious harmony
By Juhan Samuel May 30, 2008
“When I joined the seminary I got an introduction into south Indian Carnatic music. Carnatic music is divine,” says Dr. Fr. Paul Poovathingal.
4. A rare concert
By G.S. Paul March 31, 2006
St. Xavier’s Forane Church at Velur in Thrissur district witnessed a rare event that commemorated its founder Arnos Pathiri. Select compositions of the Pathiri were set to Carnatic ragas by Fr. Paul Poovathingal and presented by him in a concert as part of the 274th death anniversary of the German missionary.
Among the foreign missionaries who had worked in Kerala, Arnos Pathiri’s contributions to Malayalam literature have been monumental. The first translation of the Bible apart, his numerous compositions reveal how he was influenced by the indigenous poets of his times. The widely used ‘Puthen Paana’ was composed on the lines of Poonthanam’s ‘Jnanappaana.’ ”Ummade Dukham’ (Mother’s grief) is an ideal elegy that has very few parallels.
‘Marana Parvam,’ ‘Vidhi Parvam,’ ‘Naraka Parvam,’ ‘Moksha Parvam,’ ‘Umma Parvam’ and ‘Janova Parvam’ are outstanding works that have been hailed for their structural beauty and originality.
“I could discern the poetic beauty of the lines that are rich in Sanskrit and this made them ideal for Carnatic music,” said Fr. Poovathingal, who has earned the sobriquet of ‘Paadunna Pathiri.’
He is perhaps the first priest to earn a doctorate in Carnatic music from Madras University. Fr. Poovathingal felt that music was the right medium to carry Arnos’ messages to the people, just like the myriad compositions of the vaggeyakaras of yore.
Fr. Poovathingal opened with an invocatory number ‘Ellaam mangala kaarana daivame’ from ‘Puthen Paana.’
This number helped the singer establish a rapport with the audience, mainly members of the church congregation, to whom the number was very familiar as it was in the liturgical text. His selection of raga Charukesi was judicious as it suited the message of the lines.
‘Amma kanya mani thante’ from ‘Ummade Dukham,’ which was a poignant description of Mary’s sorrow over the death of her son, is perhaps the most outstanding among Pathiri’s works. Rich in pathos, the piece suited the mood of the season of lent. Set in Sahana raga (misra chappu tala), the slow tempo of the rendition effectively delineated the melancholic mood of the composition. It highlighted the ingenuity of the composer.
Pathiri’s ‘Marana Parvam’ is noteworthy for its leitmotif and vivid description. The piece captures the thoughts of a dying man as he laments that he would miss the sun, the moon, the stars and all the good things in nature.
‘Bhagya vinasana’ taken from ‘Marana Parvam’ was the best in the concert. Set to Natta in Adi tala, the composition had a prolonged alapana.
Abdul Aziz’s violin complemented the recital. The rhythmic embellishments were provided by Guruvayur Sanoj (mridangam) and Thrissur A.S. Sajith (ghatam).
5. The Singing Priest
January 26, 2007
“Music is the bridge between religions” – Says Dr. Fr. Paul Poovathingal CMI who has earned the name “singing priest”. Fr. Paul is a graduate in English and Psychology from Christ College, Bangalore. Though he had exposure to music at the age of 17, his seminary duties did not allow him much time to presume it. But after graduation the pull was too strong to resist and at the age of 31 he dedicated himself to the study of Carnatic music. But why was it so? It is not common for a Christian priest to take to classical Carnatic music! Says Fr. Paul, “as a priest my search was for reaching divinity; I felt that music was the best means to achieve the goal and realise divinity.” He joined the Sangita Shironmani course at the University of Delhi where he also did and continued with his Masters and won a gold medal. While in Delhi he had learnt music from a few eminent artistes like T.R. Subramaniam. Later he pursued his Ph.D. at the University of Madras under the guidance of Prof. Karaikudi Subramaniam. In Chennai he found gurus in K. J. Yesudas and more recently Vaikom Jayachandran. Dr. Fr. Paul is also the director of Chetana Sangeet Natya Academy in Thrissur, Kerala state.
The following interview was recorded for M-Pod, the Malayalam Podcast. You can listen to the whole episode (in Malayalam) from here.
Q. How did you get interested in Carnatic classical music? Was that before you joined in seminary or afterwards?
A. It happened after I joined in the seminary. I had the musical instinct since my childhood and I used to listen many songs from the radio. In those days, radio was a very important medium like we have television now. I was also a member of church choir. So in those days I used to sing devotional songs and filmy songs. But my interest in Carnatic music began after I joined in the minor seminary of C.M.I church. In the first year of seminary life a Carnatic musician named Sodharan Bhaagavathar came to teach us the basic of Carnatic music. That’s how I became curious to know more about Carnatic music.
Q. It must be a time when Carnatic music was un-acceptable to the Kerala Christian community. So how was the response from your family and the church administration, when you started music classes?
A. If you look at the history, Carnatic music was there among the Kerala Christians from 18th century onwards. The protestant churches particularly, used the songs based on Carnatic ragas for their holy mass etc. For example, Mosa Valsala Saasthrikal and Vidwan Kutty Achan who lived in the 18th century were masters in Carnatic music.
But at the same time the possibilities of using Carnatic music in Syro Malabar Church (a Catholic church rite in Kerala) was very less. Because Syrian music was very influential in the church at that time and it was in the 1950 when the devotional songs were created based on the raagas, in Syro Malabar Church. It was after the 2nd Vatican Sunnahadose that the Catholic Church decided to involve with the native culture and music. It was also the time when Catholic Church agreed with the presence of God in other religions. As for me, I wasn’t aware of such historical or theological background of Carnatic music in the Christian society at that time. I somehow got attracted to Carnatic music.
When I went to study philosophy in Dharmaram College in Bangalore, I met Sri. V. K. Krishnamurthy Bhaagavathar and I could learn music from him for sometime. And I wanted to do B. A. in Music, but my superiors did not approve it. So I continued with my graduation in Christ College, Bangalore and parallely I went on with my music classes but I couldn’t dedicate much time for music. Then after the graduation, we had an option to choose the subject for higher studies. So I decided if I’m going to learn anything that would be Carnatic music. That is how I went to Delhi University to learn music and I completed my bachelors and masters in Music from there. Then I came to Madras University and completed my PhD. I was fortunate to learn music for 12 years constantly. I think this is a great encouragement from my church to let me learn Carnatic music for such a long time.
Q. Who all were your teachers?
A. My first guru was Sri. C. C. Chummar who is living in my native place. But the person who introduced me to Carnatic music properly was Sri. Sodharan Bhagavathar. He is a native of Thrissur district, in Kerala. Then Sri. V. K. Krishnamurthy in Bangalore and when I joined in Delhi University, there were quite a number of great musicians like T. N. Krishnan, T. R. Subramanyam, Dr. Leela Omcheri and Guruvayur Manikantan. When I came to Madras University, I could learn from my professor Sri. Karaikudi Subramanyam and I could meet Sri. K. J. Yesudas and became a disciple of him. Now I’m learning music from Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri.
Q. When you were learning music under all of these great musicians, how was the response from your teachers and classmates since you are a Christian and particularly a Priest? Did you have to face any discrimination?
A. I haven’t felt much of any discrimination. Perhaps there might be occasions such as that, but I do not care about such things. I have an aim and I want to overcome any obstacles come in my way to achieve my target. And I think my biggest enemy is my self. So to fight with it is my biggest challenge.
In a comparison with the old times, these days we can see a lot of children coming to learn traditional arts and music in Kerala and their parents are also very much interested in this. But I think one of the reasons behind this love for traditional music is the music competitions in major television channels and youth festivals etc to gain fame and name. How is this trend going to affect music? Is it good or bad? How do you see it?
A. I have a poster in my room that says, “Good, Better, Best. Do not take rest, until your good is better and better is best”. It is a call for excellence, to any person. Work hard, work hard… and go into the depth. But as you just said, there is a trend among the youth to be famous and to earn money in the shortest span of time. But there is another side of it. To practice thoroughly and constantly and have in-depth knowledge of that art. I’m not sure if the parents of these children are looking into that area. According to the Indian mythology, an art form is a way to moksha. It’s a path to the spirituality. It is not for the worldly achievements. But there are people who misinterpret arts in that way. But I don’t think they can make any valuable contribution to arts this way.
Q. How important are the lyrics in Carnatic music these days? Are there any students or teachers who sing with understanding the lyrics?
A. That’s a very good question. Hindustani music is a royal or court music system. But Carnatic music is a temple based music system. It is full of bhakthi and the lyrics are really important in Carnatic music because of the narration of Gods. We know that a song becomes more enjoyable when there is less lyrics and more melody in it. Perhaps it is the reason why people like Hindustani music in the melodious base. There is a complaint about Carnatic music that it becomes a problem to get into the mood of a raga while taking care of the pronunciation and meaning of the lyrics. Most of the krithis in Carnatic music were written in languages like Kannada, Telugu, Sanskrit, Tamil and a little of Malayalam. So there are only a few people who can sing with understanding all these languages. There is a saying that music is beyond the languages. When we think in that way, I am not justifying it, but I think we don’t need to worry too much about lyrics. But at the same time, knowing the lyrics would help us to sing with more expressions and emotions.
Let us hear Fr. Paul Poovathingal again: “Carnatic music is a temple based music system. It is full of bhakthi and the lyrics are really important in Carnatic music because of the narration of Gods.”
6. Indian takes on Christ’s life
By Kundur Sathya Narayanan January 29, 2007
Thrissur: A choreography based on a famous poem on Christ’s life, was staged in Thrissur. What’s new is that Christ’s life was depicted by blending elements of Mohiniattam and Bharatnatyam in the musical.
When German poet Johann Ernst Hanxleden, came to Kerala in 1700 as a missionary, little did he know that he would leave his mark here, three centuries later – in the form of his poetry. Better known as Arnos Pathiri in Kerala, his poem on the life of Christ, “Puthenpana,” is recited in Christian homes across the state everyday.
And in Thrissur, this church decided to take it a step further. They took the poem and turned it into a musical.
Father Paul Poovathingal says, “It has been my long standing dream to fuse traditional Indian dance with the X’ian faith.”
The dancers depict several scenes from the Bible, including the Last Supper, the Trial, the Crucifiction [sic], and the Resurrection. Critics are pleased with the result.
Music critic Professor George S Paul says, “It was a great performance. We had been waiting for such a fusion of Indian art and the Christian faith.”
Twenty centuries after Christianity came to India, this is perhaps one of the best examples of Indian art form merging with the Christian faith.
7. Kerala’s parish priest promotes religious harmony
By Juhan Samuel May 30, 2008
Thrissur (ANI): A parish priest in Kerala has gained popularity as a ‘singing priest’ for spreading communal harmony through music projecting virtues of Hindu, Christian and Islamic philosophies.
Dr. Fr. Paul Poovathingal, the singing priest, believes in spreading the essence of religious harmony by singing psalms and songs using
Indian classic Ragas. He eulogises Biblical themes as well as virtuous thoughts from the Holy Koran and Hindu scriptures.
Poovathingal holds the distinction of being the only Christian priest to have obtained a doctorate in Carnatic music in India. He has composed over 300 songs and he has a number of albums both in Hindi and Malayalam to his credit.
He was drawn to music as a child. He felt charmed by Indian Carnatic music when he reached 17 years of age. But it was after his studies in theology for priesthood that he sincerely had the opportunity to pursue music under the guidance of great music scholars.
“When I joined the seminary I got an introduction into south Indian Carnatic music. Carnatic music is divine,” says Dr. Fr. Paul Poovathingal.
His compositions include Carnatic music forms such as Kriti, Kirtanam and other popular forms like hymns, songs for ballet, and for national integration, several awareness programmes on various social issues. So much so, he has over 20 research papers to his credit.
His biggest motivation to carry on with music is his belief that music builds a spiritual bridge between religions of the world, as he says: “Every religion should co-exist, our country is a secular country and I strongly believe that music is a spiritual bridge between religions.”
Fr. Paul is an ordained priest in the congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), a religious order founded by blessed Cyriac Elias Chavara. After completing his religious studies for the priesthood, he pursued music under the guidance of great scholars of this field. After graduation in English and Psychology from Christ College Bangalore, in 1992, Paul joined the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts in Delhi University and passed Sangeeta Shiromani course (B.A. Music) with first rank. He later obtained a Masters’ degree with a gold medal. He stood first in his quest for the M. Phil degree from the University of Madras. In 2003 he submitted his thesis ‘Carnatic Music and Christianity – A Critical Study of the Influence of Carnatic Music on the Christian Music of Tamil Nadu and Kerala’ for the doctorate from the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras. Besides, the well known Carnatic musician Prof. Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian guided him in his research and study for the prestigious doctorate.
In 2004, Dr. Paul did his Arangetram, the first public concert at Madras Music Academy with the blessing of his Guru, another famous singer Dr. K J Yesudas and other musicians like Padma Bhushan T. N. Seshagopalan and the Sikkil Sisters.
Besides performing at his native place, Paul has even participated in various international concerts in various countries including the U.S, Canada and many more in the Middle East and received appreciation from all.
People believe, Dr. Paul, who is presently the Director of Chetana Sangeet Natya Academy, a centre for training and research in performing arts in Thrissur, is doing a great work for communal harmony.
“It’s the first time that I’m seeing a priest performing on the stage. I’ve never actually seen a priest performing on stage besides conducting masses. It was really good and we really liked it,” said Serin Mathew, one woman in the audience.
8. Juggling Mass and Margazhi
By B. Sivakumar, The Times of India, Chennai, December 23, 2009
(TNN) Christmas is usually a busy season for priests. But a little busier for this particular one — for Father Paul Poovathingal has to juggle both mass and Margazhi. Though he is based in Thrissur, Father Paul will be at Chennai sabhas this season, playing the tambura for his guru, singer Yesudas’ concerts.
Being an ordained priest of a Catholic order (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) has never stopped Father Paul from singing songs praising Rama, Krishna and other Hindu deities. “No one has ever stopped me from singing Carnatic music. They have only encouraged me,” says Father Paul, who has a PhD from Madras University for his thesis “Carnatic Music and Christianity”.
Known as “Paadum Pathiri” (singing priest) in Kerala, Father Paul began his singing lessons with Sodharan Bhagavathar at the age of 17. He didn’t stop his lessons even while studying theology in Bangalore. Later Father Paul studied MA (music) in Delhi University. There he came in contact with stalwarts like TN Krishnan who guided him. “Yesudas inspired me and I owe a lot to him,” says Father Paul, currently a student of the veteran singer. “I did my arangetram in the Music Academy main hall on March 19, 2004. Though I was nervous, the veterans present on the occasion – singers TN Seshagopalan and Yesudasn — praised my performance,” he says.
Father Paul’s accompanists come from various religious backgrounds. His violinist is Professor Abdul Aziz from Kochi, Guruvayur Sanoj plays the mridangam and Thrissur Srijith the ghatam. Recalling a concert in the Rashtrapati Bhavan when Abdul Kalam was President, Father Paul says, “The audience was awestruck when the names of the accompanists were announced. They were even more stunned when I started the concert with ‘Vapathi Ganapathim‘ and then sang ‘Salamullah Salathullah’. I sang a national integration song in kalyani raga instead of the usual mangalam to end the concert. President Kalam said I had forged a new path in Indian classical music by integrating religions and spirituality.”
Father Paul isn’t the only one cutting across religious barriers with music. … As for the singing priest, all he desires is to be one with the divine. “I wish to attain the Lord through music like Saint Tyagaraja and Meera Bai,” he says.
The Influence of the NBCLC on Liturgical Music
Unique Meet Discusses Music and its Positive Effects on Human Life
[SAR News] The Examiner, January 1, 2005
“Music has been a great source of inspiration for both promoting life in its various aspects and thinking creatively when life is negated, because music penetrates our being and thus provides alternatives… Jesus too used artistic images to communicate life…,” said Fr. Thomas D’Sa [Director, NBCLC] … delivering the keynote address at the National Music Consultation, November 11-14, 2004. He was speaking on the topic “Music for Personality Growth”.
The music consultation, the first of its kind in the country, saw the participation of 37 musicians trained in Western and Indian musical traditions. They have worked as instrumentalists, vocalists, liturgists, choir leaders and teachers of music for years in the Church life in India.
“These four days of sharing and consultation under
the guidance of NBCLC brought a fresh vision for the future of liturgical music in India,” said a participant. “We hope that this united vision of sacred music may become a powerful creative expression of God’s life in us to bring about peace, harmony, and spread the Gospel of truth in our country,” said another participant.
Sr. Sheila Kunnath CMC spoke on “Music-The Elixir of Life”. She highlighted the effects of music for healing, relaxing and problem-solving. After four days of consultation, there was a “Sangeet Retreat” in which 52 persons from all over India participated. In his concluding remarks Fr. D’Sa… promised to continue research in music along with the other art forms of the Indian cultural milieu.
A further excerpt from the above SAR news release will serve to highlight the thrust of the NBCLC “consultation”:
“According to Indian tradition, music is ”Brahma Sakti’ (Creator’s power) and
it can awaken the latent powers lying dormant within a person,” said Fr. Paul Poovathinkal the first Indian priest to obtain a Ph.D. in Carnatic music for his paper on ‘Nadayoga: A Meditative Approach towards Absolute Music’. “Whether it is pure ‘raga sangeet’ or ‘bhava sangeet’, whenever it is pursued in the true spirit of ‘Yoga’, music will manifest its supra-mundane powers in many ways and in different situations.”
Herein, the priest refers not to Indian tradition as he claims, but to Hindu tradition, which two are quite distinct from each other if one is precise in one’s delineation of the two. In the spiritual tradition of Christian music, which is directed vertically to God from one’s heart, and not inwards as in the Hindu tradition, there is no concept of “awakening” any “latent powers lying dormant within a person“.
FR. THOMAS CHELLADURAI, S.J., MADURAI/CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU [See also page 22]
1. Madurai Jesuits’ Newsletter of August 2002
Fr. P. T. Chelladurai‘s debut or ‘Arangetram’ (maiden Carnatic music concert) was at St. Bede’s Auditorium, Madras on June 11, 1972. He was the first ever Catholic priest to have an arangetram. He held the
Carnatic Music Summer School, May 10-30, 1974. It celebrated its silver jubilee in May 1998. In October 1982, he
became the Principal of the government-run
Evening College of Carnatic music, Madras. He was awarded the title ‘Kalai Maamani’ (the Great Pearl of Arts) by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in January 1996. At the International Carnatic Music Conference
April 10-12, 1998 in Durban, South Africa, he presented a paper on “Carnatic Music in Christianity“, besides giving a concert.
2. Fr. Thomas Chelladurai, SJ (MDU)
This is an extract from Peter Hans-Kolvenbach,
the Superior General of the Jesuits’ congratulatory letter in Jivan, the Jesuit monthly, September 2003,
when this priest celebrated his Golden Jubilee in the Society of Jesus. The Superior General records all Jesuits’ appreciation of this priest’s Carnatic music ministry EXTRACT
Your talent for music seems to have been easily sensed and
you were encouraged to study Carnatic music professionally. I am glad to know that you are now an authority on the subject. I am told that a book you wrote on the subject has become a classic. Your earnest attempt during the last 25 years or so to train both religious and laity in Carnatic music and to introduce the same into liturgy is well appreciated. As a recognized musician, you are much sought after and I am happy to learn that music has become a means of inter-religious dialogue in your ministry.
The priest who promotes Carnatic music inside the church
By B. Parvathi, Mylapore Times, November 8-14, 1997 EXTRACT
is a different kind of priest – one
who may begin his day with the sadhana of
Carnatic music…He has his own passion – Carnatic music. And he has one more now.
To popularise Carnatic music in the Catholic Church. Every summer, at the Jesuit-run Satya Nilayam* institution in Thiruvanmiyur, he gathers together
seminarians, nuns and lay people after they have completed their four-week lessons, gets into a bus and hops from parish to parish in the city and in the suburbs to join the local church choir to sing together – but to a different tune – the ragas of Carnatic music. He says the parishioners have not raised their eyebrows yet. But they shy from joining him and his choir.
A few years ago, at the meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu, he had an appeal to make – could each diocese send a few priests to him so that they could be trained in Carnatic music and then could go back to pass on these lessons in the parishes. Three or four priests responded but the Bishops have obviously had little time for music and liturgy.
Have the Bishops been raising their eyebrows when he talked to them about Carnatic music? “Not really,” Fr. Chelladurai says. “They accept my views but there has not been any definite attempt to popularise Indian music.”
Ordained a priest in 1967, Chelladurai got his break when the head of the Jesuit Order in the region sent him for a two-year diploma course in Indian Music. “I think that it was the will of God that I should take up Carnatic music,” he says. The time was appropriate for the ‘Indianisation’ of church music – the second Vatican Council (the highest policy-making body of the Catholic Church) – had also acknowledged the place of local culture in the Church.
He started a summer school for Carnatic music in 1971 at Satya Nilayam*
teaching interested Brothers (boys preparing for priesthood), nuns and people the basics of Carnatic music. *the Jesuit philosophate, Chennai
Carnatic hymns in churches
By R. A. Priyadarshini, Adyar Times, May 25-31, 2003 EXTRACT
A unique camp is going on at
Father Chelladurai, a Jesuit priest
who is also a
‘Sangeetha Vidwan’, is conducting
camp for young Catholics, nuns and those who are preparing to be priests.
The camp teaches these persons the
basics of Carnatic music and hymns that are based on this classical form of music. This priest, who is a Kalaimamani awardee, says
the intention of holding this camp is to spread the message of Christ through classical music.
There are 60 students and they train in four batches.
His students are from a religious house in Hyderabad, nuns from various congregations and scholars from Bangalore. The camp which began on May 1 will be on till May 31. A very nominal fee of Rs. 500 is charged as tuition fee and it includes the boarding and lodging expenses. Besides vocal music, other teachers handle classes in veena, violin, mridangam and Bharatanatyam.
Sr. Denise Mary is a teacher in a school in Mumbai. She says she is attending this course because she wants to spread the songs to the rest of the world throughout her life. This is a four-year certificate programme that is carried on in the month of May every year. Fr. Chelladurai… has devoted time and energy to the inculturation process in the Catholic Church which now encourages Carnatic music-based songs in the services.
Fr. Thomas Chelladurai‘s interpretation of inter-religious dialogue and inculturation is not what the Church has in mind but a skewed understanding of it. One can see yet again that Bharatanatyam cannot be separated from Carnatic music. Though the priest claims that he uses Carnatic music to “spread the message of Christ“, I can bet my entire library of 10000-plus books that Fr. Thomas Chelladurai
would speak on music and not on Jesus Christ at every private opportunity to witness that comes his way.
Note that Sr. Denise Mary says that she wants to “spread the songs to the rest of the world throughout her life“.
FR. SAJU GEORGE MOOLAMTHUVUTHIL, S.J., KOLKATA/TRICHY/CHENNAI
Jesuit dancer wows Chennai audiences
Jivan, the Jesuit monthly, July 2003 EXTRACT
Fr. Saju George SJ, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer
who resides at Satya Nilayam, Chennai, kept a packed house spellbound for 2 hours on 4 April 2003. In a performance at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium, he judiciously mixed classical repertoire with Christian themes…
Saju George entered the Society in 1985 and was ordained a priest in 2001. He began learning Kuchipudi in 1988 under Naryacharyaguru M. C. Vedanta Krishna (Derric Munro), a senior lecturer of Kuchipudi at the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata… He took a rigorous training in the Kalakshetra genre of Bharatanatyam under many illustrious gurus.
He is a disciple of Sangeeta Vidwan Sri Reji George in Carnatic vocal music. His love for Indian performing arts has led him to take up short-term training in Kathakali, Manipuri, Kalaripayattu [a form of martial arts], Yoga and theatre.
Catholic priest to present classical dance
Mylapore Times, October 15-21, 2005 EXTRACT
Fr. Saju George is a young Jesuit priest who is also a Bharatanatyam dancer.
This priest, who will be returning to his home province of Kolkata, wants to bid farewell to the city with a special classical dance concert this Sunday. Fr. Saju has titled the show as ‘Nritya Sadhana’ and it will be held on October 16 at the Music Academy’s Auditorium. This performance is also a part of the celebrations of the Satya Nilayam Institute of Philosophy and Culture… which is involved in the philosophical training of young men who choose to become Catholic priests.
Preaching through dance is his passion
The New Indian Express, October 17, 2005 EXTRACT
Saju George, now a priest in the Catholic Priestly Order, brushed aside the criticism of some orthodox Catholics who blamed him for diluting core Catholic values and went ahead in pursuing his passion for Bharatanatyam.
4. In the Flip of a Hip
By Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi May 13, 2008
[…] Kansas City Catholics take a dim view of a man dancing Bharata Natyam as a ‘liturgical dance’ to God, especially if the dancer happens to be Father Saju George, an Indian Jesuit. “Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order, would be rolling in his grave,” fumed an offended American on a Catholic blog just a few months ago.
Just as funny are the NRIs at the biggest Carnatic diaspora festival, the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana.
Says a Bharata Natyam dancer, back home after a dozen years in the US, “Some parents in Cleveland object to the more ‘sensual’ padams (devadasi love songs) being taught to their daughters. They seem to have retained the mindset of the last century.”
Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam dancing, and yoga are seen once again united by the pursuits of our singing and dancing Hinduised priests.
FR. JOSEPH RODRIGUES S.J., MANGALORE, KARNATAKA
Mangalore: St. Aloysius College gets a new Rector
Posted in Konkani Catholics Digest no. 1881, May 9, 2009 by Rupert Vaz, moderator
Fr Joseph Rodrigues SJ has been appointed new Rector of the St Aloysius College, Mangalore.
Fr Jossy, as he is popularly known, hails from Bondel in Mangalore. He was born on 23 July 1958. At the age of 19 he joined the Society of Jesus to be Jesuit priest, and was ordained a priest in 1993 at St Aloysius College Chapel.
After his ordination, Fr Jossy went to Rome (Gregorian) for specialisation in Psychology (Rulla’s approach), after which he served – at Mount St. Joseph in Bangalore – as assistant to Novice Director (one responsible for training the youngsters when they join the Society – a two-year spiritual training programme).
During this period,
Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ*, the then Provincial, picked him up as his secretary (Socius), a position he occupied for six years, till recently when Fr Francis Serrao relieved him.
The tall Fr Jossy is a very good basket ball player. He also has specialised
in Carnatic Music in Chennai, under Vidwan Chelladurai**. In the last few years he has been training Jesuits and lay persons in various aspects in personality matters, spiritual formation and help in psychological dimensions. **See pages 15, 16
*See FR RONNIE PRABHU-NEW AGE PRIEST
FR RONNIE PRABHU-PROPHECY FULFILLED
FR. CHARLES VAS S.V.D., SANGEET ABHINAY ACADEMY, GYAN ASHRAM, MUMBAI
Dr. Fr. Charles Vas SVD, Director, Sangeet Abhinay Academy, 263 Casablanca 1/2, Opp Shree E-Punjab Gymkhanna, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400093. Tel.: (022) 28221709, 28380525. Mobile: 09820342448. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Charles Vas SVD, Gyan Ashram, Andheri, Mumbai
A bhajan singer, he directs an institute where priests teach and perform temple dances like Bharatanatyam and Odissi and conduct Enneagram retreats and eastern meditations such as yoga and vipassana.
1. Rev. Dr. Charles Vaz wins Kalakar Puraskar http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MangaloreanCatholics/message/8906
November 1, 2008]
MANGALORE, October 31, 2008: Rev. Dr. Charles Vaz who is an exponent of Mumbai has been selected to receive Kalakar Puraskar Award given by the Goa based Thomas Stephen Konkani Kendra, Karwal Gharanem and Mandd Sobhann of Mangalore jointly. The award carries a purse of 25,000, a citation plaque and a memento.
Fr. Vaz is the
founder of the
Sangeet Abhinaya Academy of Mumbai and is a music director… Fr. Vaz is a well known scholar of music and is also an academic. He joined the Society of Divine Word in 1959 and became a priest in 1976. He later continued his study of divinity in Pune. He also continued his education in Music and learnt Guitar and Piano. He also mastered the Hindustani Music under the tutelage of Pandit Vishnu Digambar and his disciple Ramakrishna Joshi.
Fr. Vaz attained his doctorate in philosophy from the Miraj based All India Gandharva Music University* for his theses “East Meets West”. He also has a degree from the Trinity College London in Western Music. He has produced more than 39 cassettes and CDs in Konkani, Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu. The Sangeet Abhinaya Academy he fathered has now been merged with the All India Gandharva Music University in Miraj. He now teaches music and dance to several hundred students. He will be conferred with the Kalakar Puraskar at Kalangann in Shaktinagar in Mangalore on November 2. 17.
2. Sangeet Abhinaya Academy, Mumbai
Sangeet Abhinay Academy of Gyan Ashram, Andheri East will be completing 25 years of its illustrious existence on July 27, 2005 said Rev. Dr. Charles Vas SVD in a press conference held at Andheri East on 1st July 2005… Its aim is to reach out the universal message of peace, love and harmony through the rich medium of music and dance…
“Since past over 10 years the academy is also a college of Music and Dance accredited to Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal*, Mumbai, imparting quality training in various disciplines of music and dance to people of all ages and walks of life, enabling them to acquire recognised degrees,” said Fr. Charles to the press people. “While celebrating Silver Jubilee, the Sangeet Abhinay Academy has also an ambitious plan of setting up the college in its own premises with the view of its future expansion and growth.” announced Fr. Charles.
*Sangeet Abhinay Academy is accredited to a Hindu institution that promotes Bharatanatyam.
Gandharva Mahavidyalaya is an institution established in 1939 to popularize Indian classical music and dance…
July 13, 2009
An evangelist through dance! A bhajan chanting Christian priest! That is what Dr. Fr. Charles Vas is who preaches “God experience through song and dance.”
Dr. Fr. Charles Vas is the director of Sangeet Abhinay Academy – a religious institution of song and dance in Mumbai.
Harmless, so far; but in 2008, Fr. Charles Vas SVD is still professionally associated with Bharatanatyam exponent Fr. Francis Barboza who has left the congregation and the priesthood years earlier to get married.
February 20, 2008
“pls. note today 14.30 CET 30 min on SAT Bibel TV http://www.bibeltv.de/programm/index.htm giving rare footage of legendary Guru Gyan Prakash Dr. Francis Barboza, Dr. Charles Vas of Sangeet Abhinay Academy, Mumbai
5. Extract from a documentary film on
the HINDUISATION of the Indian Catholic Church
LOTUS AND THE CROSS-THE HINDUISATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA
NARRATOR: Fr. Charles Vas is a Ph.D. in Indian classical music and wrote his thesis on East-West trends in music.
Fr. Charles Vas: The Sangeet Abhinay Academy was started with the aim of spreading the message of love through music and dance. I have in my troupe, people from all denominations [he probably means all faiths]. I consider the one point that God loves us without any preconditions. It’s a different kind of dancing in the church and in the halls. We raise our hearts and minds to God through very devotional gestures. It’s not jumping around.
[WE ARE SHOWN, IN ELEGANT DANCE FORM, A DEPICTION OF THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE BY GOD.]
With devotional gestures and mudras… we show the creation. Dance and music form is the best form of portraying our ideas, and the religious ideas also can be portrayed and depicted… Biblical ideas can also be depicted…
[What about using music and dance for EVANGELIZATION, Father Charles?]
We have started singing bhajans in the church. A few years back it was considered as paganism, but now we praise and thank the Lord through bhajans. It helps to pray better…
WE WATCH A DANCE DEPICTING THE FALL OF MAN AND HEAR THE COMMENTATOR SAY THIS ABOUT ADAM AND EVE: “AND THOUGH THEY SINNED, BUT GOD WAS SO GENEROUS AND KIND THAT HE PARDONED THEM“. THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE PROBLEM OF ORIGINAL SIN, OR OF REPENTANCE FROM SIN, OR THE NEED OF A SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD.
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:40:12 PM by MILESJESU
Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of attending an “Anticipated Mass” at a Jesuit Parish in Bombay where Father Charles Vas S.V.D. performed a Pagan Liturgical Dance in front of the altar in a semi-naked state aka “Bharat Natyam Style” on the Second Saturday in August 2005. He has been actively encouraged in this gross paganism by an infamous fellow Divine Word Priest Dr. Francis Barboza S.V.D. who is now resident in the United States and dances in a semi- naked state before the altar in a number of Catholic churches in the states of New York and New Jersey where he currently is based and promotes this evil nonsense.
He has a web site to boot namely www.drbarboza.com – For crying out loud will some one tell me whether he is a male, a female, or what? You will be definitely shocked to see what he does as I was when I accessed that web site.
I just cannot understand this. Why doesn’t some orthodox Catholic Bishop, Archbishop, or the Pope do something about this? They could easily excommunicate these heretic priests after pulling them up if they still do not mend their ways.
Posted on Friday, December 16, 2005 12:32:24 AM by
I agree that all Indian Catholic Priests are not raving liberals and heretics such as Dr. Father Francis Barboza S.V.D., Father Charles Vas S.V.D., and many others. It really depends where their Seminary Formation took place. If they were in a Seminary with orthodox Catholic Professors and Bishops then the likelihood of being indoctrinated with this crap is negligible but if they were at the Papal Seminary* in Pune — then who knows what they have been taught. That Seminary to me seems to be Satan’s own home especially with the crap the Priests have been teaching, promoting, and endorsing there. By the way, do not be shocked at what you have seen. What you see is what you get. By that I mean, he really does that stuff in Catholic Churches in India whenever he visits India. He is also known to engage in such Pagan Dances in Catholic Churches in Germany and in the United States where he is based. He desperately needs our prayers in this regard as he is training a large number of young Indian priests to do this crap. That means he is just poisoning a lot of priests of the younger generation.
*NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 2 PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, INDIAN THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS
Indigenous Worship in North India – The Hindi Krista-Bhajan
By Chris Hale 12/2/2003
The Hindi Khrist-bhajan (Christian bhajan) is surveyed in the Hindi belt of North India, particularly Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and some major cities in Maharashtra. This study in ethnomusicology seeks to understand the meanings of bhajan, kirtan, namjap, and mantra from a Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Hindu perspective.
Bhakti and bhajan are studied in the mission of the Church, both evangelical and ecumenical. The charismatic Catholic movement is also observed, especially with regard to how it mixes with the indigenization and contextualization of Roman Catholic worship since Vatican II. The use of many kinds of devotional songs in satsangs in homes and in Christian ashrams in North India is thoroughly described. Also a critique of Indian church music by Hindu professionals is given along with a demonstration of Hindu worship.
Finally suggestions are made for how to encourage Christian musicians to perfect their skills in the use of ragas in Hindusthani classical music. […]
The Roman Catholic Church has been more successful in promoting indigenous expression, although it had a late start in this area. Efforts to indigenize the Mass only began in the 1960’s after the Second Vatican Council. The mandate from Rome was strong enough to bring about actual changes in the worship services. Now, only twenty years later, many churches, especially in the North, have adopted Indian forms. A highly publicized Mass conducted by Pope John Paul in New Delhi in 1999 with 70,000 worshipers in attendance illustrates this fact. The newspapers in Mumbai reported that the Mass incorporated Indian forms of worship in ritual, in dress, in song, and in dance. Only the prominent churches in the metropolitan cities remain largely Western in their worship style.
The Roman Catholics have also founded communication centers in Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Pune, Ranchi, and Benaras [Varanasi] in the North, and many of these have employed Indian music and dance instructors. They also have incorporated Indian music programs into many of their seminary curriculums.
I noted two musicians who are fully sponsored and commissioned by indigenous Catholic organizations to compose and direct music programs. Fr. Charles Vas, the director of the Sangeet Abhinay Academy in Mumbai, spends all his time teaching students Indian vocal music, directing an Indian dance troupe [Bharatanatyam], and composing indigenous spiritual music. Sister Pushpanjali in Bhopal similarly has been freed from all the duties of her order so that she may devote her time to composing songs for the Church. Both Vas and Pushpanjali together have produced over ten cassettes of Indian spiritual music in the last decade. […]
Fr. Vas told me that he makes special concessions to help priests and nuns learn Indian classical music at his academy. Certainly Catholic youth, like Protestant youth, love Western pop music; but unlike them, they do not seem to have the same indifference to and even dislike for Indian music. This is no doubt partly due to the massive united effort in the last thirty years to indigenize Catholic worship.
This effort by the Catholics builds on a theological foundation established at the Second Vatican Council that encourages a very open relationship to other religions and their practices.
Vatican II gave theological sanction to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (C.B.C.I.) to oversee the implementation of the directives of the Fathers of the Council (Duncan, 1999, p. 8). The Mass, once translated into vernacular languages such as Hindi, could then be put to music that was also Indian.
Likewise, other forms of Indian worship were studied and some were deemed acceptable for Christian worship. One of these is the lighting of the lamp, called Aarti, which Catholic churches practice all over the country.
The Catholic position since Vatican II considers these practices to be Indian and therefore neutral, and usable in Christian worship (loc. cit.).
The traditional view of Protestants, however, has been to call these practices not Indian, but Hindu.
Far from being neutral, they are believed to be deeply intertwined with idol worship, and therefore have demonic origins. Therefore they are unacceptable for worshiping Jesus Christ.
This view, that most of what is Indian is Hindu and unusable, has been ingrained in the minds of Protestant Christians for two centuries. […]
In my research there were some notable instances of Christians who proved themselves and were loved, even favored by their Hindu or Muslim music masters. But they had to pay the price, accepting criticism from both their own Christian community and the Hindu and Muslim artists. The criticism from the Christian community had largely to do with two aspects of Indian classical music: the first being the relationship of student (shishya) to his teacher (guru), known as guru-shishya parampar [tradition]; and the second, for vocal students, being the lyrical content of songs.
In Indian classical tradition, a student must respect and obey his teacher as much as and, if it were possible, even more than God himself. In days past, students lived with their masters and served them, receiving instruction in return. Today, what remains of this relationship is the outward ritualistic show of respect, or in the extreme, devotion. This outward show of respect is expressed in an extreme politeness on the part of the student and the customary touching of the guru’s feet or knees when entering and when leaving his presence.
For most Hindus and Muslims today this gesture is understood in terms of respect rather than worship. But for many Christians, the gesture is interpreted as worship and considered a deviation from the worship of the one true God.
Likewise, and even more offensive to Christians, is the lyrical content of many of the songs which students of vocal music learn right from the beginning. These lyrics are usually either secular love songs or songs of devotion in praise of Hindu gods and goddesses.
In Mumbai, while sitting in on one of Fr. Vas‘s vocal lessons, I noticed that one of the songs he was teaching had the word Shaam in it. After asking Fr. Vas whether this was the word for “night,” he said that I
had misheard it, and it was actually Shyam, another name for Lord Krishna, one of Hinduism’s most popular gods.
When I asked him why he was teaching a Hindu worship song, he replied that this was just for instruction, and that some ragas were set only to lyrics of a devotional nature. In other words, in teaching this particular raga, he had no choice.
He had no reservations about learning or teaching Hindu devotional songs for the purpose of mastering Indian classical music. He considered it wrong, however, for a Christian to compose and sing songs in devotion to other gods (Vas, 1999). For Charles Vas, the purpose of learning Indian music is to praise Jesus Christ.
Most Protestant Christians and even some Catholics would not agree with Vas. Viju Abraham*,
for example, expressed alarm when I told him about Vas’ practice.
Viju’s concern is one shared by many Protestants, that the names of the gods hold some demonic power, and that even speaking of them could cause spiritual harm (Abraham, 1999). The issue of the demonic in much of Indian cultural practice has not been addressed in practical detail in the scholarly literature on the subject. There is much that could be studied here. In this study we will have to discuss the demonic in as much as it relates to Indian music. For the present we will say that this is perhaps the greatest stumbling block to Indian Christians adopting the indigenous song forms of India.
*director of A.C.T. (Association for Christian Thoughtfulness), Mumbai
But bhajans come in all kinds of forms, and perhaps more than any other style of Indian music, this form is allowed maximum freedom for innovation. The bhajan in all its forms has been used by Hindus in their devotional worship for at least a millennium (Hawley, 1984, p. 244). […] [The article ends abruptly]
It intrigues me as to why, in the above article, the IMS Fathers’ Matridham Ashram,
Varanasi [BENARAS] is not disclosed but is covertly expressed as “M____ A____ in B____“. Is it because they are aware that they are “borrowing”
from Hinduism for their spiritual practices?
I.M.S. FATHERS, MATRIDHAM ASHRAM, VARANASI [U.P.]/ DHYANA BHAVAN, ALLEPPEY, KERALA
The Indian Missionary Society [I.M.S.] operates the above two centres.
Matridham ashram is a full member of the Ashram Aikya, see page 2, which is the Federation of the Ashrams, and played host to the 2007 Ashram Aikya Satsangh [meeting of ashramites]. Is it not logical to conclude that they subscribe to all the anti-Catholic and seditious beliefs, practices, and aspirations of the Ashram Movement?
For details, see SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY
The retreat centre in Alleppey doubles as an “ashram” that is heavily into a motley of New Age practices.
At its Varanasi counterpart, Fr. Anil Dev‘s Matridham ashram, which doubles as a CHARISMATIC centre, yoga and bhajan/”OM” chanting vie with charismatic Hallelujahs. See
YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Fr. Anil Dev has served on the National Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
FR. IGNATIUS HIRUDAYAM, S.J., / AIKIYA ALAYAM,
INSTITUTE OF DIALOGUE WITH CULTURES AND RELIGIONS [I.D.C.R.] CHENNAI
1. The following is an EXTRACT from my report
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS [page references are to that report]:
Aikiya Alayam is unofficially regarded as a Catholic ashram [Saccidanandaya Namah- page 110]. The seal or logo of Aikiya Alayam has the cross in the centre of the OM which is within the Buddhist wheel of Dharma.
In the souvenir, Fr. Maria Jeyaraj SJ
gives a biographical sketch of its founder
Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam SJ
an authority in the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta, “one of the pioneers of the Catholic Ashram Movement in India.” In 1965, directed by his Jesuit provincial, he wrote the “‘Constitutions’ for a new Centre for Interreligious Research and Dialogue” after visiting similar centres in Calcutta, Patna, Mumbai and Poona.
From 1967 he was the organizing chairman for the Tamil Nadu Diocesan Seminars in preparation for the All India Seminar on the Church in India Today,
1969 [see page 2]
and a participant in the Interdisciplinary Seminar on the Inculturation of Liturgy that year [after which he produced a Tamil version of the Indian-rite mass with the integration of asanas, mudras and Carnatic music], and the Ecumenical Seminar on Interreligious Understanding in Mumbai the same month. Sr. Cecilia, a Cluny nun, became highly proficient in Bharatanatyam with his encouragement.
Aikiya Alayam, an ‘Institute of Dialogue* and Inculturation’ in Chennai, was the fruit of these experiences.
Fr. Jeyaraj notes that during his formation, Hirudayam had “quite a difficult time with some of his superiors who thought he was too much… imbued with religious aspirations tinged with Indian culture.”
After Vatican Council II, “he perceived the dawn, as it were, of the mission of his life in the field of dialogue and inculturation.”
In the first 32 years of its existence, Aikiya Alayam hosted “370 dialogue sessions”. The first one was “My encounter with God in my Siva Puja” on August 17, 1966. Fr. Jeyaraj has also written extensively about Saivite and Vaishnavite forms of worship in another book on Spirituality. In the third volume of his Gnana Vazhvu, he writes in detail about all aspects of the ashram movement: “Every year the triple festivals of light, Deepavali, Thiru Karthigai and Christmas are celebrated [here] with singing, scripture readings… and cultural programs.”
When Le Saux left Shantivanam to go and live in the Himalayas, he spent a couple of months at this centre.
The chapel at Arul Kadal, the present Jesuit theologate and former Aikiya Alayam bears testimony to Fr. Hirudayam’s spirit of inculturation. Aikiya Alayam has only very recently shifted to a new building constructed for it on the campus of the Loyola College, Chennai, run by the Jesuits who are in the forefront of dissent and a liberal theology.
It is renamed as the IDCR or the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions. Its present Director is Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ, [see pages 15, 50] and its Executive Director is Fr. Joe Arun SJ.
In the IDCR library there is a copy of Bede’s River of Compassion personally autographed “To Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam and the community at Aikiya Alayam from Bede Griffiths.” One finds New Age authors’ works such as Ken Wilber‘s The Spectrum of Consciousness, 1977, published by the Theosophical
Publishing House, and Fritjof Capra‘s The Tao of Physics, 1976, and several titles on the Buddhist meditation Zen, all written by Catholic priests, in the IDCR library.
*see notes on Interreligious Dialogue on page 83. Also see pages 18, 31 END OF EXTRACT
Le Saux is an ashram founder and Shantivanam is Saccidananda Ashram. Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam SJ
is a product of the heretical Catholic Ashrams movement. The Aikiya Alayam and the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions are but extensions of the Catholic Ashrams movement. The above biographical sketch reveals Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam, SJ, to be one of the pioneers of both the “Catholic Ashram Movement in India” and the Indian rite squatting Mass “with the integration of asanas, mudras and Carnatic music“. The Bharatanatyam component is also present in the composite. Only the ubiquitous yoga is not mentioned, but then yoga can never be separated from its central position in the Catholic Ashrams movement.
Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ is a liberal theologian about whom I have written in several reports. Also see page 27.
Fr. Joe Arun SJ was a great support to Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj [see pages 9, 10] in the promotion of the In Praise of Shiva CD. It comes as no surprise therefore to read above that Aikiya Alayam‘s
very first “dialogue session” was
“My encounter with God in my Siva Puja“!
Study and use of Carnatic music leads to the Hinduisation of the Catholic Church.
FR. PAUL POOVATHINKAL, C.M.I.
[See also pages 10-14]
5. Love Thy Neighbor
October 3, 2010
At a “Christian Carnatic music” concert at a church in New York, performed by Father Paul Poovathinkal
The stage was set in the apse of the church, under a beautifully ornamented vaulted ceiling, as for any Carnatic music concert. There was a violinist, a mridangist, and a ghatam player. Father Poovathingal was dressed in his priest’s white robe. The concert began with a lovely song in Reethigowla, Amaldayapara Arul Kuraya in Tamil, a composition of Vedanayagam Sastriyar in praise of Lord Jesus.
COMMENT by Prithi Devotta, October 4, 2010:
There’s a Jesuit priest, quite an old person, who’s also very into Carnatic music, a Fr. Chelladurai*
who has a doctorate in Carnatic music if I am not mistaken and has written a few books on the subject as well, “The Splendour of South Indian Music”
The Carnatic music performance by Fr. Paul Poovathinkal was given in a Catholic Church before the altar.
*See also pages 15, 16.
I could not document any evidence of Fr. Chelladurai‘s links with Bharatanatyam dance, but this I can confirm, that about a decade ago my neighbors daughter, a Catholic, studied Bharatanatyam under a Brahmin exponent who was then our neighbour, and her arangetram was attended by a gathering of nuns and priests among whom was the Jesuit, Fr. Chelladurai who felicitated her.
A group photograph of the young woman in her Bharatanatyam regalia displayed in the family’s living room, with a large idol of Nataraja [Shiva] in the background, bears testimony to this.
Here is a discussion that took place in the “Catholic Priests” forum; it so happens that both writers are my good friends: ‘JP’, having studied theology, is in fulltime Catholic ministry, and ‘BR’ designed my masthead.
Subject: Indian Classical Dancing
Date: Thurs, Nov 15 2007 4:19 am From:
Would anyone like to comment on whether it is right for Catholics to be doing Indian classical dances? A whole lot of Catholic girls perform Bharatanatyam and Kathak. There used to be a priest in Mumbai who was a Bharatanatyam dancer. Most Indian classical dances sing praises of Hindu Gods but it does not seem to bother anyone. JP
In email@example.com, BR [Chennai] wrote:
In the strictest of senses and relevance, the answer to your question is a big NO!! The principal reason for this is that Bharathanatyam is a form of classical dance which, as you rightly said, is performed in praise of a Hindu deity – chiefly, Lord Shiva, who is supposedly the founder and mentor of this form of dance.
Hence, Christians who practice this form of dance can just never get away with the alibi of saying that this is merely for exercise, body toning and so on. The dancer HAS TO CONSCIENTIOUSLY PAY OBEISANCE TO SHIVA BEFORE HE OR SHE CAN COMMENCE A PARTICULAR TRAIT OF DANCE, A MUDRA OR AN ALARIPPU.
How can one ward this off by saying this is just dancing like tap or bolero or ballet or disco? The picture is very clear!!! BR
Date: Sun, Nov 18 2007 9:43 pm From:
Thank you so much. I am glad that there is at least one person who feels the same as I do. But I have seen an Orthodox bishop and some Catholic priests encouraging these arts in their parishes. And it is not out of any lack of knowledge…
Some justify Catholics learning these dances by saying that if we have to “purify” the idolatrous Indian culture, we have to learn these art forms and then turn them into dances that speak of Christ. That is a very noble thought indeed, but one which usually never happens. Actually, even Carnatic music has numerous references of and praises to various Hindu Gods. I am really concerned about this issue since I constantly meet youngsters in Catholic schools and colleges who are studying Indian art forms. At a time when a lot of Westerners are turning to the East and are especially attracted to our dance and music, it is really challenging to tell our youth to stay away from all this. Do let me know if any of you are dealing with similar issues and how you tackle them? JP
SANDESHA LALITKALA MAHAVIDYALAYA, MANGALORE
[continued from page 7]
digest no. 669 dated March 8, 2007
Posted by: “Francis Lewis“*
firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Mar 7, 2007 5:54 am (PST) EXTRACT
Mangalore: “I am happy to be here in this temple of art and culture and look forward to the experience of meeting so many youngsters at the workshop on Odissi dances,” said Smt Itishree Devi, here at Sandesha on 4th March…
The eminent exponent of Bharatanatyam, Karnataka Kala Tilaka Sri Ullal Mohan Kumar was the Guest of Honour stressed the need to preserve the great art and classical dances of India and he also said that we welcome whatever that is good in other cultures without sacrificing our own.
Fr John Barboza, Principal of St Mary’s College, also stressed the need of preserving the rich cultural heritage of India and called upon the participants of the workshop to fine tune their knowledge and technique of art by making the best use of the workshop… The college day celebrations were also conducted along with this function with a display of the talents and techniques acquired by the students during their study at Sandesha. There were presentation of Carnatic Music, Western Music, Baila and Bharatanatyam dances, music and songs. *Director, Sandesha
Endorsed by the institutional Church, the poison of Bharatanatyam/Carnatic music affects the laity
1. Talent abound – Shaila is a rising star
By Violet Pereira, Team Mangalorean – Mangalore July 21, 2009
Sometimes an accomplished person can be unsung and unknown but it doesn’t take long for talent to get noticed. One such talented young person is Ms. Shaila Saldanha Kamath. This “Natya Vidhushi” in Bharatanatyam, is a unique achiever of the Konkani Community. The unassuming young lady not only holds the high “Vidwat” degree in dance, but also has qualifications in Carnatic Vocal, Western Keyboard, as well as excellent academic laurels adding up to the Masters Degree… [Her father] admitted Shaila to a dance class in Neermarga, to learn more about dance. After some months, this dance class was closed and all the students were shifted to Sandesha
at Bajjodi… “Vidwat” is a final degree in dance (Post graduation)…
Probably she is the first Christian raised to qualified levels in what is generally thought as Hindu culture to the simple thinker, despite art and culture being universal. Ms. Shaila is now dedicated in teaching “Bharathanatyam” and Carnatic Music in many institutions. With the support and encouragement of her father, she has set up an open school called “Nrityangana” at her residence to encourage and bring out more and more dancers from her area…
2. Sandesha courses in Fine Arts concludes – CBCI News, Mangalore
The Examiner, May 17, 2008 EXTRACT
“Children should be encouraged to imbibe the taste for Indian culture and classical arts…” said noted artiste and educationist Dr M Mohan Alva at Sandesha here on May 3… speaking as the chief guest at the valedictory function of the summer courses held at Sandesha from April 14 to May 3. The courses were inaugurated by Kum. Ester Noronha, a talented Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and piano artiste… She also presented Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music recitals. There were altogether 213 students from the district and outside participating in the summer courses… Fr. Valerian Mendonca, the new director of Sandesha, welcomed the gathering.
3. Raul D’Souza Bharatanatyam dancer
By Suhani Singh
Time Out, Mumbai
In 1996, 25 young classical dancers gathered in Nehru Centre to participate in the Akhila Bhartiya Yuva Mahotsav, a festival to promote young talent. Odissi dancer Mitali Raul remembers the occasion well. It wasn’t just the first time she saw Raul D’Souza, a Bharatanatyam dancer and her husband-to-be, but also the day she realised how difficult it is for an artist who isn’t Hindu to establish himself in the Indian classical arts.
When the compere announced Raul D’Souza’s performance, the audience responded with titters. But a decade later, D’Souza – a Roman Catholic – appears to be having the last laugh: critics say he’s among the few talented male dancers on the scene and he’s won fans for his portrayal of Krishna in Hema Malini’s ballets.
D’Souza believes that success like his couldn’t have come in any city other than Mumbai. “I have received offers to start an institute in Gujarat or settle in New Zealand but wherever I went or however long I stayed I had to come back,” said 38-year-old D’Souza. “Any other place, it would have been harder. Mumbai is a far more tolerant city and non-Catholics here have appreciated my work.”
D’Souza was born in Mumbai and grew up with his sister and two brothers in a “disciplined” Catholic household in Bandra. His father, Arthur, worked with Bombay Xaverian Corporation, which managed the interests of Jesuit priests in Mumbai, and his mother, Ena, was a teacher at St Teresa’s High School in Bandra. One day, while attending mass at
St Teresa’s Church, D’Souza, Raul then just ten years old, heard
Father Francis Barboza announce that he had started dance classes. D’Souza thought that dance would be a “cool way” to channelise his energy.
His parents were encouraging. By the second class, Barboza – who was known as the “Half-Naked Priest” because he wore a dhoti that left his torso bare – had taught D’Souza how to put on a dhoti. “Ever since, I have felt more comfortable in dhotis than pants,” said D’Souza.
After his arangetram in 1987, D’Souza travelled with Barboza to perform in villages across south India, visited temples, studied sculptures for graceful postures and met with Carnatic
musicians, who unlike him were vegetarians and spoke little English. “It was a journey of discovery,” said D’Souza. “Staying with my guru, serving him, he trained me not only in dancing, but introduced me to new cultures.”
Currently, D’Souza balances his terpsichorean talents with a job as the sole representative in India of Istituto Marangoni, one of Italy’s leading fashion and design schools. D’Souza hopes that his two daughters will inherit heir parents’ talent. “Sensitivity is missing in Mumbai,” said D’Souza. “If a person dies, people don’t weep anymore. I think it [Bharatanatyam dance] is the highest form as it makes you a better and complete person.”
Like his mentor ex-priest
Francis Barboza SVD, Raul D’Souza has also apparently married a Hindu.
Our priests repeatedly claim that they are using this “art form” to preach the Good News of Jesus.
The evidence indicates that just the opposite is happening. A Catholic cannot but be affected to a lesser or greater extent by dabbling in yoga and other eastern meditations, Bharatanatyam, etc.
For more, including pictures on the above three Catholic lay adepts of Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music recitals and their mentors, see
DANCING AND BHARATANATYAM IN THE MASS
The downslide: from Syriac chants to Indian Christian music to Carnatic music to Bharatanatyam
The “inculturation of Christian music in India*” *See the EXTRACT below
FR. JOSEPH PALACKAL, C.M.I., ALUVA/NEW YORK, AND THE CHRISTIAN MUSICOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF INDIA [CMS]
1. BETHEL UNIVERSITY – JOSEPH J. PALACKAL, PRESERVER AND PROMOTER OF CHRISTIAN MUSIC IN INDIA – SUBMITTED TO DR. PAUL NEELEY AS A PARTIAL FULFILMENT FOR THE REQUIREMENTS OF MUS 604 ANTHROPOLOGY OF MUSIC, DEPARTMENT OF ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, BY BONNIE BOST, ELLIJAY, GEORGIA APRIL 27, 2008
Joseph J. Palackal,
Preserver and Promotor [sic] of Christian Music in India
“Indian Christian musicology” is an emerging field of study in ethnomusicology. The father of this study is Joseph J. Palackal. He is an ethnomusicologist whose upbringing in India gives him the desire to preserve, study, and promote the various styles and colors of Christian music and other art forms in India. A discussion of Palackal’s life, the organization that he founded, The
Christian Musicological Society of India, and a brief overview of his recent release, Qambel Māran, will be helpful in understanding Palackal’s mission for the study of Christian Music in India…
When he was younger, he wanted to study Carnatic music, but his parents would not allow it because the music is about Hinduism. Later, however, his parents’ attitude changed, and he was able to study it. (Palackal 2007) (See Appendix A). Palackal studied Hindustani music with N.V. Patwardhan, at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India; he also earned his master’s in psychology from the same university. Earlier, he earned a degree in Christian theology at Dharmaram College*, in Bangalore. With his background in Hindustani music, theology, and psychology, he came to America to study ethnomusicology… *A CMI [Carmelites of Mary Immaculate] institution
In order to share his studies and help others to be involved in the study of Christian Music in India, Dr. Palackal founded an organization called The Christian Musicological Society of India. The purpose of this society is to provide “A forum for interdisciplinary research, discussion, and dissemination of knowledge, on music & dance and Christianity in India”. The organization is visible on the worldwide web at www.thecmsindia.org. Through the website The Christian Musicological Society of India (CMSI) promotes recordings, information on researches, history, Christian artwork, and dance. Since its first meeting on July 8, 2000, CMSI has focused on the use and inculturation of Christian music in India.
Paul Poovathingal, the main speaker at the first meeting and a research scholar in music, gave a survey of the major contributions of Indian Christians to music. “He reviewed the contributions of Mayuram Vedanayakam Pillai, Vedanayakam Sastriyar, Abraham Panditar, and Moses Vatsalam Shastriar. He also highlighted the compositions of contemporary Vaggeyakaras, especially, George Panjara” (Annual Meetings). Vedanayakam Sastriyar, for example, was probably the father of ethnodoxology in India because he used the popular Carnatic style of music and poetry to show the glory of God and present the good news of salvation during his life from 1774 to 1864 (Vedanayakam Sastriyar)…
Through the website CMSI is promoting the dance productions of Dr. Francis Barboza. Dr. Barboza is a dancer of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance of South India.
The Christian Musicological Society, under the direction of Dr. Joseph Palackal, is combining forces with Dr. Barboza to present the life and importance of Christ to the people of India through a respected and trusted dance tradition that the Indians understand. Thus, a second goal for Dr. Palackal is being realized, that is, the promotion of Christianity through indigenous music and video recordings, Indian inspired artwork, and the Bharatanatyam dance. END OF EXTRACT
Fr. Paul Poovathinkal CMI‘s influence is stamped on the CMS right from its inception.
Fr. Joseph J. Palackal CMI‘s parents opposed his taking up Carnatic music because it was Hindu!
Both were influenced deeper into Carnatic music by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI).
Fr. Joseph J. Palackal CMI placed all his money on Fr. Francis Barboza SVD who eventually left the priesthood and married a Hindu to dedicate himself fully to the recital of the temple dance Bharatanatyam.
Fr. Joseph J. Palackal belongs to the family of one of the three founders of the CMI congregation!
2. Joseph J. Palackal
Palackal hails from the family of Palackal Thoma Malpan, the senior founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, a monastic order which has served as a vessel to preserve many of the musical traditions of Indian Christianity, and grew up in the musical traditions of the Syro-Malabar Church. He lives in New York City. He also founded Nadopasana (1986), a society for the promotion of Indian classical and choral music, at Upasana Centre, Thodupuzha.
3. Christian Musicological Society of India
Christian Musicological Society of India is an international forum for interdisciplinary research, discussion, and dissemination of knowledge, on the music and dance of about thirty million Christians in India, who belong to a diverse set of communities and linguistic groups and follow a variety of liturgical traditions some of which date back to the early Christian era. The Society hopes that such researches will draw attention to the lesser known aspects of India in connection with the rest of the world.
Acharya Palackal, Jeevass Kendram, Aluva 683 101, Kerala, India. Phone: 91-484-2620870. Office in North America: 57-15, 61st Street, Maspeth, New York 11378-2713, NY, United States of America. email@example.com
Bharata Naatyam: Biblical themes through Bharata Naatyam (South Indian classical dance) by Francis P. Barboza.
Mohiniyaattam: Life of Christ in Mohiniyaattam (a dance form of Kerala), a novel program in Malayalam by Kalamandalam Radhika. Choreography based on poetic works by Blessed Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, CMI (1805-1871), Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907), Fr. Abel Periyappuram, CMI (1920-2001), and others.
5. Research – Bibliography
Palackal, Joseph J. 2003. Kudumba praarthanayum bhajana gaanangalum [Family Prayer and Bhajan Songs]
Fr. Proksch SVD* (1904-1986) was one of the pioneers in adapting the bhajan style of music in Catholic worship in India.
In the 1960s, Dharmaram College and the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Center (NBCLC), Bangalore,
gave leadership in creating an “Indian liturgy” that adapted Hindu terminologies
and Indian classical music. Although Indian liturgy has lost popularity, Christian bhajans continue to have currency among the Catholics in Kerala. Kudumbadeepam (March 2003), pp. 6-8, 14. Language: Malayalam.
*Fr. George Proksch SVD was the first Director [1958-1984] of the SVD‘s Gyan Ashram, Andheri, Mumbai.
He is credited with founding the FIRST Christian ashram, Gyan Ashram, in 1948. We read about Guru Gyan Prakash as he was commonly known, http://www.svdinm.org/gyan.htm/http://www.svdinm.org/gyanlife.htm, that he studied “the sacred literature of the Hindus, the Vedas Upanishads and Puranas” and “experimented in presenting Christian themes in Indian art and form” but “found little or no support in the early days; there were bishops and priests and even his own confreres who doubt his intentions and feared that he was turning Christianity into Hinduism“. Today there is neither doubt nor discernment to be found in the Church.
Jesus the yogi! This “art” is on sale at the CMS. The original drawing was by a CMI priest.
Christ the Guru Oil painting by M. P. Manoj, based on the original drawing by Joy Elamkunnapuzha, CMI
MY COMMENTS ON THE ABOVE [MIS]REPRESENTATION OF CHRIST THE GURU OR JESUS THE YOGI
Representations of Jesus Christ in yogic postures of meditation, like the above, are becoming more common in the Indian church and even overseas, exported by inculturationist priests and nuns.
“Was Jesus a yogi?” A yogi is one who practises yoga with a view to achieving its stated objective. The objective of yoga is the realisation, the awareness, that one is divine, sharing identity with the ultimate reality, the impersonal Absolute.
Jesus is not a yogi [yogi: one who seeks “self-realization”, “enlightenment”, a monistic union with the Absolute through withdrawal from the physical and mental senses as in Hindu religious teaching]. He is the Son of God, the Enlightened One, not a yogi who sought and attained enlightenment to “become one” with God, His Father.
If one has to “realize” that one is God, one cannot be God.
The celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000 in India was called “Yesu Krist Jayanti.” An “Indian” logo design was prepared, which featured a nail-pierced right hand in the “upadesa mudra.” A mudra is a hand-gesture that denotes a Hindu philosophical or religious concept, and is found in virtually all Indian temple carving and iconography. A Hindu deity depicted in any art form usually has one hand expressing something through a mudra.
The nail-mark in the palm of the hand identifies the hand as that of Jesus. The problem is the use of the upadesa mudra. While it is the common pose of a guru or a teacher in Hindu art, there is an important difference. Jesus Christ is the eternal word of God, and God has always taught and directed His people by His word. The clear distinction between Creator and creature means that divine truth cannot be reached by human effort, but requires rev- elation. But in most eastern religions, truth is arrived at through a form of instruction that comes in meditation, by intuition and not through words, thought process, reasoning. An Encyclopedia of Hindu Art published by the reputed Marg Publications, describes the meaning of the upadesa mudra as “instruction through meditation and contemplation.” The upadesa mudra equally denotes the yogi receiving enlightenment as it does the yogi imparting it. In both cases, it is not done through word.
The widespread use of the “Yesu Krist Jayanti” logo with the hand of Jesus in an upadesa mudra actually misrepresented Jesus, equating the divine Wisdom of God with one who meditates in the hope of attaining divinity. This misrepresentation was further compounded by the printing and release of a special postage stamp featuring the same logo by the Indian government on December 25 1999.
The “art” depicts Jesus the yogi sitting in the lotus or padma asana [padmasana] posture.
In the eight stages of yoga, asana or right posture instructs how the body should be prepared for meditation [Yoga Sutra 2, 46]. It is the first stage of physical ascetism. Its aim is to immobilize the body with the only goal of helping concentration.
The purpose of asana is NOT, as is commonly believed, to confer health, fitness and relaxation to the body but to be a physical support for meditation.
Each asana has a fundamental purpose.
Padmasana (the lotus posture) for instance, ensures that the spiritual cord, the sushumna, is in a vertical position to facilitate the upward movement of the subtle female kundalini energies [shakti] awakened in the muladhara
chakra at the base of the spine, through five other psychic energy centres to unite with the male power centre [Shiva] located in the forehead chakra, climaxing in the sahasrara or crown chakra at the top of one’s head in a cosmic orgasm.
Once kundalini reaches the last chakra, it returns to its primordial union with the impersonal Ultimate Reality.
7. Annual Meetings
First Annual Meeting
The first annual meeting of the Society was held at Acharya Palackal Jeevass Kendram, Aluva, Kerala, on July 8, 2000. Joseph Palackal, the President of the Society, welcomed the gathering and introduced the topic for the meeting: Indian Classical Music and Christian Inculturation.
In his keynote address, Paul Poovathingal, a research scholar in the Dept. of Music, University of Madras, surveyed the history of the dialogue between Indian musical traditions and Christian faith. He reviewed the contributions of Mayuram Vedanayakam Pillai, Vedanayakam Sastriyar, Abraham Panditar, and Moses Vatsalam Shastriar. He also highlighted the compositions of contemporary Vaggeyakaras, especially, George Panjara. In his response to the keynote address, Prof. George S. Paul, executive member of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy, traced the evolution of Indian classical music and explained how spirituality has been the bedrock of this system.
In the afternoon session Sheila Kannath presented a paper on Bhajana: The Heritage of Indian Spirituality. She traced the development of bhajana during the Vaishnavite Movement spearheaded by Madhavacharya. She also made a survey of bhajana tradition among Christians in India. Antony Urulianickal, director of Nadopasana, Thodupuzha, and Kurian Puthenpurackal shared their experiences of using Bhajans as a model for congregational singing.
The occasion also marked the releasing of a pre-recorded cassette produced by the Society, Sreeyesukeerthanam: Christian Classical Music Concert by George Panjara. Bishop Thomas Chakiath, the Chairman of the Media Commission for the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Conference (KCBC), released the cassette by giving the first copy to Dr. Thomas C. Kandathil. Cherian Kunianthodath, the General Convener of the Society, proposed vote of thanks. The meeting was followed by a concert of Christian classical music by George Panjara.
Second Annual Meeting
The second annual meeting was held at Acharya Palackal Jeevass Kendram, Aluva, on July 28, 2001. Dr. Thomas D’Sa (director, NBCLC, Bangalore) delivered the keynote address on The Role of Music and Dance in Christian Faith Formation in India. In the afternoon session, Joseph Valiyaveettil presented a paper on The Celebration of Faith through Traditional Christian Performing Arts among the Latin Catholics in Kerala. The presentation was accompanied by performance of various Christian music genres popular among the Latin Catholics by the members of Krupasanam, a performing arts centre in Alappuzha.
Joseph Palackal, president, welcomed the gathering; Sheila Kannath, secretary, presented the report of the activities of the Society during 2000-01; and Cherian Kunianthodath, General Convener, proposed vote of thanks.
Third Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting was held at St. Anne’s Monastery, Kurianad, Kottayam, on August 21, 2004. The meeting was part of a musical pilgrimage to the burial place of Fr. Abel Periyappuram, CMI (1920-2001).
Pic: Fr. Abel Periyappuram, CMI (1920-2001). Photo by K. S. Prasad, Kalabhavan, August 22, 2001.
The morning session started with an offering of flowers at the tomb of Fr. Abel. James Aerthayil, President, Kalabhavan, presented a paper on the literary and musical contributions of Fr. Abel to Kerala. Paul Poovathingal, Director, Chetana Sangeetha Natya Academy, evaluated the compositions of K. K. Antony, Kanamkudam, the first Music Director of Kalabhavan. The afternoon session started with the screening of a documentary film on Fr. Abel, produced and directed by K. S. Prasad. This was followed by Sangeethaarchana in the monastery chapel open for the public. Joseph Palackal, President of the Society, spoke in homage to Fr. Abel, and along with Cicily Anil performed three of Fr. Abel’s devotional songs composed by K. K. Antony. George Panjara, Kumbalam Babu Raj, and Paul Poovathingal performed their own compositions in Karnatak [Carnatic] classical music style. Cherian Kunianthodath, Vice President, welcomed the gathering, and Sheila Kannath, Secretary, proposed the vote of thanks.
We see that all the notorious Catholic names in the Carnatic music inculturation thrust — all of whom are connected with the use of yoga and Bharatanatyam dance — are involved in the CMS.
FR. MICHAEL AMALADOSS, S.J.,
INSTITUTE OF DIALOGUE WITH CULTURES AND RELIGIONS [I.D.C.R.] CHENNAI/NEW DELHI [See also page 21]
Fr Michael Amaladoss who composes songs for
is one of India’s most liberal of the liberal theologians. He suggests that the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary [FMM] nuns — who are already into Carnatic music — progress to performing Bharatanatyam. They would not need much encouragement. Their Stella Maris College is already into martial arts, yoga and reiki. My campaign in the early years of the last decade got their “Meditation on Twin Hearts” Pranic Healing sessions — conducted on full moon nights for occult initiation ceremonies — stopped. Also see
NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES AT A FRANCISCAN MISSIONARIES OF MARY PROVINCIALATE
1. “Faith meets faith”. Living with cross-cultural experiences – Interview with Michael Amaladoss SJ, Delhi
I studied vocal music. Although originally I began also playing the violin, I couldn’t continue too long. As a Jesuit, given all the other commitments, I had not much time to practice, so I gave it up. After the ordination, I began composing liturgical songs. I must have composed over 200 songs and bhajans. I ran for some years a liturgical music publication with the title Isai Aruvi (“Fountain of music”), which also brought out discs and cassettes.
I have also published a small “teach yourself” book with lessons in Karnatic music – Isai Elithu (“Simple music”) – introducing 60 ragas to beginners. More recently I have composed some songs with Christian themes for Bharata Natyam (South Indian classical dance)…
I also got involved with his [Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass‘] work at the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) in Bangalore. I used to lecture in the many courses there regularly, till I moved to Delhi. I was present at all the major research seminars tackling the problems of the Indian Church and Indian theology like the one on the Inspiration of Non-Christian Scriptures, the Ministries, the Indian Church in the Struggle for a New Society, etc. I was involved with the group that prepared the “Indian Rite” for the Eucharist…
Michael Amaladoss SJ Vidyajyoti College of Theology 23, Raj Niwas Marg Delhi 110 054 INDIA
I have documented Fr Michael Amaladoss‘ heresies and loads of theological rubbish that oppose some of the very basic teachings of the Catholic Church in several of my reports such as Catholic Ashrams, Dharma Bharathi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the New Community Bible, Yoga, etc.
Where there is serious error and dissent, Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ is there, leading from the front.
2. Release of PAVAZHA MALLI audiocassette
Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta was an epitome of simplicity, purity and humility. The closing of her death centenary was commemorated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary-Chennai Province, with the release of an audio cassette and a CD titled Pavazha Malli on the 7th July 2006 at 5.30 pm in St. Francis Hall at Stella Maris College… On this wonderful occasion Dr. Sr. Annamma Philip FMM, Principal, Stella Maris College, extended a warm welcome to the gathering.
Fr Michael Amaladoss S.J.,
the Director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions at Loyola College… to a great extent, has been instrumental in the production of the cassette…
In his felicitation, he extolled the endeavours of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in promoting Indian culture and music in Christian worship. He made special mention of Sr. Esther Rani, FMM and her accomplishments in
Carnatic music. He also appreciated Sr. Rita Susai, FMM who works in the villages to promote folk music.
He suggested that religious sisters could also excel in Indian dance, Bharatnatyam, as a means of self-expression. He pointed out that there are a few Jesuit priests who are versatile classical dancers. Besides, he emphasized that Bharatnatyam is an art form that is more suitable for women than men.
SATHANGAI ACADEMY, MADURAI, TAMIL NADU
1. Church helps loosen high-caste grip on art
The New Leader, February 1-15, 2002 UCAN News EXTRACT
Low-caste girls in a southern Indian city could not dance like their high-caste counterparts were doing until the Church provided them with “giggling anklets”. After Madurai archdiocese in Tamil Nadu state began an art centre 30 years ago, some of the low-caste girls have become professional classical dancers. Jesuit Fr. V. J. Ganaprakasam, a historian who holds the chair of Christianity at Madurai Kamaraj University said that classical music and dance were formerly taught to and performed by upper-caste people only. To counter this, Madurai archdiocese opened Sathangai (giggling anklets) in 1971 to teach the region’s traditional Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance. Classical dancers wear jingling anklets that help keep the rhythm.
Fr. A. Martin, executive director of the centre, claims that it has rendered great service through “meaningful diffusion of the Gospel message” in the Hindu-dominated region.
Fr. Arul said the University took more than two decades to recognize the center due to pressure from upper-caste groups.
The priest explained that some upper-caste Hindus resented that the center taught art forms linked to Brahminical Hinduism and temples.
“Arangetram” (entering the stage), a Bharatanatyam student’s first public performance, would be at a temple, during a feast, said Seethalalakshmi, a high- caste Brahmin woman who teaches part time at the center.
In 1988, detractors accused the centre of using its students to produce pornographic films. Church officials refuted the charge and dismissed the allegations as part of a hate campaign due to the center’s popularity. Nonetheless, since receiving university recognition, even upper-caste students have sought admission to the center. END OF EXTRACT
Here is yet another diocesan initiative to propagate the “arts” of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam. The state of Tamil Nadu has two dioceses that run colleges that teach Hindu music and dance. Kerala has two such institutions, Karnataka has two [if one includes the CBCI‘S NBCLC, and Maharashtra one.
This news item confirms what I have been insisting on all along: that Bharatanatyam is a temple dance of the Brahmins, the highest caste among the adherents of the Hindu religion. And Carnatic music goes along.
About Carnatic Music from Wikipedia
is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions; the other sub-genre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form due to Persian and Islamic influences in North India. In contrast to Hindustani music, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.
Now why would Catholics steal or misappropriate the religious equivalent of the “intellectual property rights” of Hindus by adopting Carnatic music and christianizing Bharatanatyam, Yoga and the OM [symbol and mantra]? What would Christian say if Hindus or Muslims borrowed, adopted or adapted the Gregorian chant or the crucifix, built their temples to look like churches [a la NBCLC], and so on? The question is not relevant because Hindus and Muslims simply do not “inculturate” western or Christian symbolism and art to project their faiths to Christians even in the most hostile of environments. They attract proselytes because of their unicity.
ASHRAMVASIS’ OCCULTIC/YOGIC CONCEPT OF MUSIC AND ITS EFFECTS
In 2003, Asha & Russill Paul of Concord, USA published a pilgrim’s guide, a “JOURNEY TO FIND THE OTHER HALF OF THE SOUL”. It is a sort of preparation for potential pilgrims, with material and spiritual recommendations, for an ashram- and temple-circuit trip to India centred on the late Bede Griffiths’ Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam.
This guidebook devotes an entire chapter devoted to Sound in Yoga and the Spirituality of Music:
“… Yoga of course is unity, integrity and total fulfilment of being on every level. It is a practical way of experiencing and becoming one with the great cosmic mystery… Mantras are powerful spiritual sounds that communicate spiritual experiences beyond the rational mind. I find that the mantric effects of Latin act only on the upper chakras, that is, from the heart upwards. This is somewhat indicative of the disregard and negation in Christianity of the value and spiritual power of the lower chakras which involve sexuality and the primal energies; they are considered to be ‘of the flesh’…. Fortunately we realize today, through the efficacy of Eastern mystical practices, that there are systematic methods such as yoga that can be used to consecrate, transform and sublimate these energies. The complex consonants of mantric Sanskrit for instance affect these ‘lower’ energy centres quite dramatically. It was wonderful that Fr Bede included these sounds in the prayers and liturgies at the ashram, for they help stimulate the entire chakra system during prayer…
Having substituted the vernacular, to the almost complete expulsion of Latin, the Western Church today lacks the power of transformation and the aura of mystery that is so essential for it to be a genuinely spiritual force at work in the world…
India’s music was born out of her profound spiritual heritage…
The seven musical notes called swaras… represent the seven energy centres that govern the human being. Thus, using the swaras in various combinations, one can awaken our chakras and stimulate them to their maximum potential. The chakras are vortices of energy located in various parts of the body… The nadis in the body… channel these energies from the depths of one’s being to the top of the head. Along the way, they meet and dance in the chakras awakening them to their full power. The bliss of this unity is offered to the Divine consciousness at the level of the highest chakra, located at the crown of the head. Finally, the effects of this process are allowed to penetrate every level of one’s being from the top of the head to the base of the spine.
FATHER BEDE WAS VERY PARTICULAR ABOUT THIS.” END OF EXTRACT [Emphases mine]
Ragas and labyrinths at a Bible study
By Susan Brinkmann, March 16, 2010 [Susan is a Catholic expert on New Age*]
ST asks: “I have been attending a wonderful bible study at a University, led by a priest. There was piano music with instrumental Hindu ragas played prior to the bible study. I was shocked and prayed silently for protection and didn’t fully realize what was going on at the time. Also, the students will be walking a labyrinth for one week during Lent in the same building as Mass and bible study. A priest told me that I could continue to attend these bible studies and Mass at the University, as long as I did not engage in these activities, and if the music is played, to walk out of the room. I learn a great deal from the bible study, however I do not want to do anything that would put my soul in danger. So, I am asking you for your opinion. What do you think?”
Attending the bible study is fine, but participating in a labyrinth and Hindu ragas is definitely out-of-line. […]**
As for Hindu ragas, a raga is a melodic scale of five or more musical notes upon which most classical Hindu melodies are made. This sounds innocent enough until you understand that Hindu music is considered a means of moral or spiritual connection rather than just entertainment. Ragas are commonly affiliated with certain ethical and emotional properties and some are also associated with magical powers. For instance, one Hindu writer suggests that a raga associated with darkness, if sung during mid-day, has the power to bring darkness upon the earth. For the Christian, this belief is the equivalent of belief in magic or sorcery, which is the deliberate use of occult powers.
The bottom line is that none of these activities belong in a Christian bible study and you should consider writing a letter of complaint to the University’s administration about their incorporation of non-Christian and New Age practices into a Christian study. You have every right, as a Christian, to cry foul, especially if the University neglected to mention in the advertisement for this study that it includes ragas and labyrinths. Commonly held rules of fair disclosure say they should be informing potential students what is in the class, especially if it contains material that is non-Christian and/or controversial (such as the labyrinth). Even if your letter gets no response or ends up in a wastebasket, you have still made the organization aware that their actions have offended someone. Maybe more people would think twice about disrespecting Christians if we spoke our mind more often!
*NEW AGE-SUSAN BRINKMANN
**For information on the labyrinth, see
THE LABYRINTH IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India