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Poetry > Who is this Kashmiri Lady on our Masthead Photo who will make the world vibrate on September 20th 2013?

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message 1: by Rakesh (last edited Mar 23, 2013 10:26AM) (new)

Rakesh Kaul (rakeshkkaul) | 50 comments Mod
Have you ever wondered as to why you like hearing music, why it makes you want to dance and why it can put you in a state of ecstasy? First, please watch the interesting link below. Note this post is not about reading but about hearing so the videos are the best part


We owe this discussion to our esteemed member Graham Ajit Bond. Having moved to San Francisco he informed us about this thrilling group, The Vak Choir, composed of 108 human instruments. But we are getting ahead of the story.

First, there was AUM when the void manifested itself into the form of sound vibrations. AUM is avyakta unexpressed non-dual from which arises Shabda word as Naama & Roopa, Name and Form together. Then there was the Greatest Guru of the first millenium Abhinavaguptapaada who brilliantly articulated how sound and alphabets (phonenes) were the articulation of the self-expression of Saraswati, the Para Vaakh Devi. The Malinivijayottara Tantram expounded on this eternal technology. Then came Lalla who with her Vaakhs took the technology back to its roots namely it is about the Song celestial.


But here is what the common Kashmiri did. Given that we are followers of the Krishna Yajur Veda transmission our singing style preserved the original Samaveda precepts. Listen to the link below

Compare with our wanwun and you will see how we have faithfully followed the Samagaana precepts. If now you are a believer please, please go to your mother or your grandmother and learn this art before it is lost. Plus wanwun songs are fun at the parties.

Our esteemed member Professor B V K Shastry has taught us the techniques associated with how Vaakh can empower an individual. Our esteemed member Arti Kaul Tiku is the finest living exponent of Vaakh in North America. In our bookshelf we have Christopher Wallis’ book Tantra unveiled which is highly recommended reading. He provides a brief extract on Abhinavagupta’s analysis of Vaakh at the link below:


Back to the Vak Choir whose 108 members will take this eternal technology and vibrate at their Premiere of A Musical Awakening by Ann Dyer at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Hear their practice session on Ma Sharada below:


We strongly recommend that you contribute, participate and go to the premiere of this historic event.

If this is all theory then we mention in passing that recent research that was published at Oxford demonstrated that after hearing a baby's cry, human beings' mental alertness, energy level and most importantly problem solving skills went up! Interestingly the eminent Dr. Sanjeev Kaul, Associate Head of Trauma and Surgical Care, is spearheading research into the impact of Vaakh on Cognitive Outcomes.

Q.E.D. as the say in Latin, the case for Sonic Energy is closed. Let us invoke it and empower ourselves with it.

Now back to the Kashmiri Lady. This is a Mirror handle with a woman playing the Veena. It is from 6th to 7th century KASHMIR and is similar in terms of material and style to the miniature shrines which are a category of luxury objects that seem to function as mirror handles. While the function of these sculptures remains enigmatic, they clearly moved along the trade routes, and related objects have been found in Khotan. This lady is comfortably ensconced in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Look at her cornrows braided hair. Do you recognize the giant ear rings? Have you ever seen any musician with a cooler seat then hers? The beautifully lattice patterned seat comes equipped with arm rests for her to hold the Veena comfortably. She is so hip with her fashionable boots that she makes modern musicians sitting on the floor look backward.

Think about the fact that one of your ancestors a woman of style and beauty owned this mirror and used it for her daily living. What a lovely place Kasmira was and is.

Look at the Veena and after having listened to the videos listen for the Sound of Silence!

message 2: by Graham (new)

Graham Bond | 2 comments The fluidity and simplicity of the sculpted woman playing the Veena evokes for me the feeling of singing a raga. And it must have felt good in the hand of the esteemed lady who held the mirror! It may not be a scripturally-related form of Sharada or Saraswati, but still it carries the resonance of the same understandings.

This beautiful piece (and my conversation with you, Rakesh) have prompted me to share my thoughts on the relationship of the Cultural Arts to particular historical sadhana paths. I feel that this decorative mirror-handle "carries the Shakti" even though it is outside of the formal domains of temple, scripture and lineage.

It's wonderful that at that time, the Arts reflected the aesthetic of a sahrdaya seeing and relishing the beauty of Consciousness everywhere! (and perhaps more easily for the wealthy, educated woman who held the mirror than for those sweating in labor or poverty?)

Perhaps, bit by bit, we can nourish the seeds of a movement in Western Art that parallels such a liberative outlook of unity-consciousness in ways that are not "New-Age" with angels and crystals, but that are informed by the exalted outlook and teachings of masters like Abhinavagupta.

What vocal artists like Ann Dyer (Vak project) are doing may not look anything like any of the original traditions she is drawing respectfully from. Still I think "cultural expressions" like the upcoming Vak choir performance at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts follow different rules from the practices and expressions that arise from sampradaya and Veda.

Cultural expressions are mostly for enjoyment, entertainment, public spectacle etc. and uplift the vast majority of people who are anchored in the kama, artha, dharma purushartas (which are all valid human strivings.) Whereas initiatory, lineage and scriptural expressions are focused on the very few people for whom sadhana and moksha are predominant.

As well I believe each culture has to find the same universal truths in their own different ways. Christians in Africa dance to tribal drums, Christians in China show Jesus with slanted eyes. Liberal Christianity in America pretty well ignore Christ altogether and focus on his example and humanity! So how can the West embrace the vision of Abhinavagupta if it requires becoming Indian, learning Sanskrit and denying that the Goddess Vak also manifests as the English language? Most people don't have the time!

Instead, I feel, the majority will be nourished by those in the West who have grown up in, or directly encountered, or authentically studied and "grasped the essence" of the original traditions and then, however imperfectly, attempt to bridge the cultural gap.

I am sure Ann will use English in the composition/performance. Perhaps it'll be the main thing? Who knows? But even so, the understandings and inspirations of the original Sanskrit tradition will vibrate in it in the same way that the aesthetic of the time vibrates in the decorative handle.

And to extend the metaphor... such "softly enunciated" cultural creations will also ensure that "The View" - inspired vision of the universe - will be "handled" and loved by the masses outside the more firey and direct original traditions held by those souls who have the time and inclination to dedicate themselves to a guru, a lineage, to learning Sanskrit and so on.

In summary, I feel the cultural arts are the moon reflecting the brilliant sun of revelation. And though the moon may be criticized for not being the "original" or "real" thing, nonetheless it is nourishing, exalted and alluring.

message 3: by Arti (new)

Arti Tiku Kaul | 1 comments Great topic and of great interest to me. I have experimented with Lala's vakhs at different times of my musical journey. During these endeavors I have learnt that the poetic "meter" in her verses is so flexible and nimble that it is pretty easy to experiment with, without causes any damage to the words that shine in any form and shape. As a tradition, Chakri singers sing lal's vakhs during interludes in a composition to add musical variety and carry the listener to a philosophical arena. In modern musical compositions, Lal ded's vakhs composed with modern musical pieces serve to attract the different audience to delve deep into the meaning of these literary gems.

message 4: by Ann (last edited Mar 24, 2013 09:45PM) (new)

Ann Cervantes | 1 comments What a wonderful way to meet the new day — to step into this Kshmendara and discover this illuminating and rich conversation about sound and self! I am enjoying going through Rakesh's carefully curated videos and meeting some of the members of this new community of like-minded friends. Thank you Rukesh and Graham for your words for support for the Vak Choir — I trust some of the gems embedded in these exchanges will find their way into the performance of Vak: Song of Becoming's this fall!

There is much I would like to share, but little time just now as I need to go teach a class! I will return soon with responses to some of the interesting points that have been shared above, but for now I would like to express my thanks to Rukesh, first for creating this group, which I look forward to hearing more from, and for letting all of you know about The Vak Project. For more on this initiative to increase the general public's awareness about our relationship to sound, voice and listening please go to www.songofbecoming.org. I look forward to returning soon!

message 5: by Hira (new)

Hira Fotedar | 2 comments I am really enjoying this discussion group. I am amazed to find information on Sahivite history and culture. I am fascinated with the Vak. I would like to know more about Kashmir's Sharda language.

message 6: by Rakesh (new)

Rakesh Kaul (rakeshkkaul) | 50 comments Mod
Dear Hira ji

Your request for Sharada language is noted and we will have a discussion on it led by a subject expert.

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