Each year, the week leading up to Mahashivarathri is celebrated in Isha with Yaksha, our annual celebration of music and dance. Yaksha 2013 has a wonderful line-up of artistes and it promises to be an enthralling week. Join the live blog for updates of all that's happening at the Isha Yoga Center. Yaksha 2013, as it happens....

Day 7

Then the singer offered Sarvam brahma mayam, an absolutely beautiful composition in Raga Jinjoti by Sadashiva Brahmendra. This mystic poet, to jog the memory of everyone who has visited the Dhyanalinga, is one of six saints to adorn the walls there.

The words go:

Kim vachaneeyam kima vachaneeyam
Kim rachaneeyam kima rachaneeyam

Sarvam brahma mayam
What can be spoken, what cannot be spoken

What can be created, what cannot be created

All is Brahma

Then, seeking permission to extend his performance a little longer, the artiste sang the devotional Baro Krishnayya by Kanakadasa in Raga Malika. The next composition was greeted with cheers from the audience: a Tamil song by Poet Bharatiyar called Eppo varuvaro in Raga Jonpuri. He ended with crooning, mesmerising Tamil verse that outlined the evolution of the soul.

To sum up the performance, Sadhguru said it best: “We are entrapped in this weave of sound. This is a subtle and extraordinary talent.”

This is the end of Yaksha 2013, and we saw seven scintillating performances. Thanks for joining us!


Day 7

Next, the artiste sang another kriti to Shiva: Jambupathe in Raga Yaman Kalyani. Part of a set of five kritis by Muthuswamy Dikshitar on the five pancha bhuta sthalas, this one was composed in praise of the deity at Thiruvanaikaval in Tamil Nadu.

TM Krishna then launched into the evocative swarajathi Kamakshi Amba in Raga Bhairavi.

Day 7

T. M. Krishna

Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna hails from a family of music connoisseurs and is one of the biggest stars on the Carnatic music firmament. After tutelage under B Seetharama Sharma, Krishna underwent special Ragam Thanam Pallavi grooming under Chengalpet Ranganathan and also received advanced training from the late Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer for more than seven years.

Krishna is known for his resonant voice and strict adherence to classicism. He is widely considered to be the most prominent young male Carnatic vocalist with great depth of knowledge.

Interested in all aspects of classical music, the artiste has worked on several projects to promote, document and archive Carnatic music. He has worked on several books, including a coffee table book called Voices Within, which he co-authored with Bombay Jayashri in 2007. He is a co-founder of Jnanarnava Trust, an organization devoted to the research, documentation and archival of the ancient traditions in Carnatic music.

Today he is accompanied by RK Shriram Kumar on the violin, Melakaveri Balaji on the mridangam and N Guruprasad on the ghatam. The artiste begins with a song to Lord Nataraja: Kalai thooki nindradum daivame in Raga Yadukula Kambodhi.

Day 6

Then the artiste went to another season with the blended raga, Basant Bahar. In this challenging composition by Dinkar Kaikini, who happens to be the father of the tabalchi Yogesh Samsi. The lyric went Dekho aayi basant ki bahar… and the tune manages to deftly bring in the flavors of both ragas.

Vidushi Guha sings with mastery in the khayal as well as thumri styles. When the Isha media team asked her which style she preferred, the artiste said that she could not choose. “I like both – both have different aspects to them. Though it is said that thumri is a light classical variety, in my opinion, thumri is more difficult than khayal. Because you need to know so many things… the literature, knowledge of the raga, tala, the environment… so many aspects come together. But after that, it is your art, it is you!”

She wound up the concert with a Hori Dadra: a robust dhun about Krishna and his gopis playing Holi: Rang darungi nand ke laalan pe…

Day 6

Continuing the recital, Vidushi Guha sang Adi Shiva Shankara, a dhrupad composition in praise of Shiva in Bihag. Then came a flurry of Malhar ragas and bandishes. As she launched into Sur Malhar with Barkha ritu bairi hamari, the descriptive passages were so beautiful, it seemed as though the rain clouds which have been hanging low over the Velliangiri Foothills these past couple of days would return to listen.

Then the artiste sang a thumri called “adhar bandh” – literally “fixed lips”. The unique feature about this type of composition is that the lips don’t touch throughout the thumri. Written by composer Lallan Piya, this one went: Ae sakhi saiyyan ki suratiya jiyara hare…

Day 6

Vidushi Guha begins her recital with Raga Chayanat in rupak taal ably assisted by her student and support vocalist, Sanjukta Biswas. The bandish goes Joban mora diye jaat daga… followed by a faster paced Malaniya goondh lao ri.

Before the performance the noted musicologist Pt Vijay Kichlu released a new video album. An episode in the fascinating “In Conversation with the Mystic” series, this one is called Ektara and features the legendary Hindustani vocalist Pt Jasraj in conversation with Sadhguru.

Day 6

Subhra Guha

Hindustani vocalist Vidushi Subhra Guha comes from a music loving family, and she started showing signs of exceptional talent at a tender age. She received training from Shri Satish Bhowmick, and later from Pt Sunil Bose, a learned exponent of the Agra Gharana. In 1982, she joined the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata where Bose was a guru. Among her gurus are also Pt KG Ginde, Pt DT Joshi and Pt Vijay Kichlu.

Today, Vidushi Guha is acknowledged as one of the finest thumri singers of the poorab ang. Her repertoire of rare thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti, etc. in the pure Benaras tradition is also matchless. She is equally proficient in the khayal style as well, with a strikingly tuneful voice that exhibits exquisite tonal malleability.

She has taught at the Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata for 11 years now and is one of the few female scholars of her stature. At the outset of today’s performance she said, “I am so blessed that destiny has brought me here to perform on this stage before Sadhguru.” Today she is accompanied by vocalist Sanjukta Biswas, Yogesh Samsi on the tabla and Tanmay Deochake on the harmonium.

Day 6

Glimpses of Nishat’s Khan’s scintillating sitar performance yesterday at Yaksha 2013…

Day 5

The sitarist concluded the concert with a playful, festive tune that appears to be Raga Maru Bihag. If you were watching the live-stream and know for sure, leave a comment!

Before he started to play, Nishat Khan said, “It’s a great privilege to be here. I had looked forward to coming here, having heard wonderful things about this place, about Guruji…. I was asked to come here many months ago, I was waiting for this time, and now the moment has come.” In a pause during the performance, he expressed the wish to play for Sadhguru for six hours! Applauding the recital, Sadhguru said he would remember the promise.

Day 5

A sharp breeze is blowing through the courtyard and has set the hundreds of lamps in the backdrop dancing.

In his elaborate alaap of Raga Marwa, Nishat Khan started slowly but gradually built up to a fast exposition of the raga. Here and there, he teased with barely-audible high notes and then showed the range of its scales with easy mastery.

And then, when the sitarist took one note with gusto, there was a loud twang. The string had broken! Nishat Khan re-strung his instrument to encouraging claps from the audience. Apparently only this morning, when the artiste was addressing the children of the Isha Home School, one percipient student had asked him if this ever happened in the middle of a concert. The answer, evidently, is: yes, it does!

But the sitar is fixed and the recital resumes with the jor segment.


Day 5

Nishat Khan

Sitarist Nishat Khan was taught by his father, the famous surbahar player Ustad Imrat Khan. He belongs to an illustrious family that traces its origins back through an unbroken line of musicians to the 16th century and also links back to Miyan Tansen. The Etawah gharana, which is also known as the Imdadkhani gharana, is a school of sitar and surbahar music, an off-shoot of the ancient Gwalior gharana.

The gharana is responsible for the development of the surbahar, and making major structural changes to both the sitar and surbahar by adding many frets and strings. Also, these musicians developed the instrumental style known as the gayaki ang, and aspects like jor-jhala and layakari with the tabla which are incorporated in every sitar recital today.

Nishat Khan has also collaborated with world musicians from various genres: Gregorian chants, Western classical music, abstract jazz and flamenco. “I love to play with music that has a certain connection to us in its sensibility,” the artiste told the Isha Media Team earlier today. For this concert, the artiste is accompanied by Tanmoy Bose on the tabla, a percussionist of the Farukhabad gharana.

The artiste begins his recital with Raga Marwa, a beautiful evening raga that tends to the devotional in its mood.

Day 5

Earlier today, sitarist Nishat Khan offered Nadha Aradhana at the Dhyanalinga. Take a look…

Day 5

We bring you glimpses of Day 4 of Yaksha 2013, which had a concert by Pt Ulhas Kashalkar.

Day 4

The artiste’s tarana in Malkauns was delightful, and the listeners sitting in the audience were so appreciative of certain phrases, they burst out with spontaneous applause. Pt Kashalkar concluded his recital with Aayo phagun maas, a composition in Raga Bhairavi.

Day 4

Elaborating superbly on Raga Kedar, Pt Kashalkar moved into another composition: Tum sugara chatur bhaiyya in ek taal and then followed that up with a wonderful tarana in teen taal. He then launched into the mellifluous Raga Malkauns with a vilambit composition Sundar badan ke set to jhap taal.

Day 4

Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, today’s artiste, is a Hindustani vocalist who has been trained in the Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra gharanas, and is considered a representative of all three schools. He studied under his father ND Kashalkar, Rambhau Marathe and Gajananrao Joshi who imparted a variety of influences. The artiste is known for his authentic presentations of obscure traditional ragas and also for being able to retain the authenticity of the gharana he chooses to elaborate a raga in, and at times, shifts between the three styles even in the course of a single performance.

Since 1993, Pt Kashalkar has been a guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, where he has mentored several excellent students. The singer was awarded the Indian Civilian Honor of Padma Shri in 2010.

Pt Kashalkar begins his recital with Raga Kedar: the bandish Jogi rawala set to vilambit tilwada taal. He is accompanied today by Tanmay Deochake on the harmonium and Suresh Talwalkar on the tabla.

Day 4

Rain has been threatening all day at the Velliangiri Foothills today and so the venue for today’s performance has been shifted from the open-air Linga Bhairavi courtyard to the Adiyogi Alayam. Volunteers and technicians are working double-quick to make the shift with their preparations.


Day 4

Day 3 at Yaksha was a colorful affair! Take a look.

Day 3

After a brief musical interlude, the artiste emerged in a new costume to present Vasant, an excerpt from Ritu Samhara, Kalidasa’s 6th-century work, which sings paeans to the season of spring. A highly descriptive item, as you would expect. The music for this was composed by the artiste’s brother, the classical musician Madhup Mudgal.

Then came a Champu – which is a type of Oriya folk composition, every line of which begins with the same sound. The one that Mudgal presented, for instance, was a “kha” champu – each line beginning with “kha”. Written by Oriya poet Surya Baladev Rath, this piece was about Radha being teased by her friend for being so audacious as to fall in love with Lord Krishna.

Finally, Madhavi Mudgal ended with Moksha, which is typically the concluding item of an Odissi recital. As it depicts an artiste melding into his or her dance, it represents the dissolving of the soul into nothingness. This was a serious, weighty rendition and the danseuse was magnificent as the music rose to a crescendo.

Day 3

Madhavi Mudgal next presented a pallavi, which in the Odissi form is a visual representation of motifs: here a raga is elaborated through eye movements, body postures and intricate footwork. The music and movement build up gradually bringing out the inherent architecture of the form. This was a particularly spectacular piece with deft, subtle movements and it was a pleasure to watch.

Next, the artiste presented two ashtapadis from the 12th-century Gita Govinda, in which Radha is angry with Krishna for his night-dalliance with other women, and Krishna tries to placate her. A slower piece, full of abhinaya. The piece was set to music by Pt Bhuvaneshwar Mishra.

Day 3

Madhavi Mudgal comes from a family that reveres music and the arts. Her father, Professor Vinay Chandra Maudgalya founded the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a famous school for classical music and dance in New Delhi. She gave her first public performance when she was only four and progressed under the guidance of her guru Shri Harekrishna Behera.

Although Mudgal initially learnt Bharatnatyam and Kathak, she finally chose Odissi as her medium of expression. Her guru, the man who refined her art, was the legendary Kelucharan Mohapatra. She is also an acclaimed choreographer and is noted for her commitment to train and encourage new dancers to finer nuances of Odissi. She was awarded the Indian civilian honor of Padma Shri in 1990.

The artiste begins her performance with the traditional Mangalacharan. The composition, in praise of Shiva, is from the 13th-century musical treatise Sangita Ratnakara by Sharngadeva. As Shiva controls the rhythm of the universe with his damaru, the piece depicts the union of the deity with his consort Parvati, invoking cosmic balance and harmony. Interestingly, the poetry was set to music by the respected Pt Jitendra Abhisheki.

Day 3

Sarod player Abhisek Lahiri, who is still in Isha Yoga Center, offered Nadha Aradhana at the Dhyanalinga at noon today. It was a beautiful and moving experience for everyone present.

After the performance last evening, the artiste said he was very happy with the opportunity to perform in front of Sadhguru. He shared that the open-air ambience, though pleasant, is often a source of concern to performers because breeze tends to disturb audio settings, but, thanks to Sadhguru’s grace, it all went perfectly. He said again, “This is one of my luckiest days.”

We bring you some glimpses of his performance yesterday.

Day 2

As the evening air cooled, the artiste concluded his recital with Raga Charukeshi set to the 16-beat rhythm, Sitarkhani. This was a short but absolutely gorgeous composition that turned its listeners instantly pensive.

After the performance, those present in the audience have moved to the front of the Dhyanalinga courtyard for the maha aarti, which will cap the evening’s proceedings. Join in again tomorrow for more of Yaksha 2013! Meanwhile, we leave you with a collage of images.

Day 2

As the light evening turns dark, Abhisek Lahiri explores the nuances of Raga Yaman with alaap, vilambit and drut, bringing out both the romance of the raga as well as the gravitas.

The lack of frets combined with the tension of the strings make sarod quite a difficult instrument to play, but picking this instrument as his choice was an instinctive one for Lahiri. “Of course, my father played it, so as a child, I would imitate him and it was natural for me to want to play it but I have always loved its tone.”

In the audience are the various local personages and visitors who are thoroughly enjoying this mellifluous cascade of music. On a more practical note, we’d like to remind people living in the environs of Coimbatore that free pick-up and drop facilities are available from various places in the city. Contact details are: Gandhipuram 83000 52000, Ganapathy 98422 53509, Kurichi 97503 72227, Peelamedu 94878 95272, Saibaba Colony 83000 55000, Singanallur 89252 02211, Vadavalli 83000 56000. For general enquiries, contact 9487895272.

Day 2

Abhisek Lahiri

Only 28 years old, Abhisek Lahiri is one of our younger performers in the Hindustani Classical tradition and already, he has won praise for his maturity and depth. He is the son of the renowned sarod player Pt Alok Lahiri: Abhisek was initiated at the age of five and gave his first performance at ten. His style draws from the Shahajanpur, Maihar and Seni Beenkar Gharanas.

Lahiri is fascinated by other genres of music as well, and is very open to collaboration and fusion. He has explored working with flamenco, jazz and Western Classical forms. His latest release “IONAH Trio” is a work in association with Japanese guitarist Hideaki Tsuji, which was very well received. Today, he is accompanied by Subhankar Banerjee on the tabla.

“This is one of the luckiest days of my life, to be able to perform in front of Sadhguruji,” the musician said before starting his performance. He has begun to set the mood perfectly with the beautiful evening raga Yaman.

Day 2

Day 2 of Yaksha 2013 has the young and talented Abhisek Lahiri playing the sarod in the Hindustani style. This is a short interview ahead of the performance.

Day 2

We bring you a small glimpse of the TN Krishnan violin recital that took place yesterday, 3rd March 2013.

Day 1

Next, the artiste went to the popular Raga Kalyani with Nidhi chaala sukhama, sannidhi chaala sukhama where the poet is weighing his options: Nidhi (wealth) vs Sannidhi (closeness), in this case to Lord Rama. Explaining the line, TN Krishnan told the audience, “You decide!”

Earlier, the maestro told the blog team that he never sat down to a recital with a preset programme – he always waited for inspiration to decide what should be played at any moment. By that measure, we are sure we are hosting Saint Tyagaraja in spirit this evening, for he seems to be the one whispering loudest in Prof Krishnan’s ear.

Then he concluded with the beautiful Raga Kaapi, lingering over Adisidallu Yashoda Jagaddodharana by Purandara Dasa before letting the percussionists have their say with the tani, which was met with enthusiastic applause.

Day 1

TN Krishnan began his recital with two pieces from Saint Tyagaraja: a composition in Raga Ravichandrika and Mokshamu galada in the soulful Raga Saramathi. As the 84-year-old genius tried to tell the audience what he had just played, he forgot what the raga was called! What he connected with, he told listeners, was the essence of the raga; it is the nadam that gives bliss, not its name. Seeing that the virtuoso was addressing many spiritual sadhakas both in person and the world over who are seeking the essence, it made perfect sense!

Day 1

TN Krishnan

The stage is set, Sadhguru has arrived, the artistes are seated and the ambience, with hundreds of lamps flickering in the backdrop, is beautiful!

TN Krishnan was born into a family of musical pundits. Introduced to the violin by his father A Narayana Iyer, he was a child prodigy who made his debut at the age of eight. Through his long and illustrious career, the maestro has accompanied greats such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, the Alathur Brothers, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, apart from his master Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

TN Krishnan is the brother of the acclaimed Hindustani violinist N Rajam. The rest of the family is similarly accomplished: his two children, Viji Krishnan Natarajan and Sriram Krishnan are both well-known violinists. Krishnan was bestowed the Indian civilian award of Padma Shri in 1973 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.

Today, he is accompanied by Thrissur KMS Mani on the mridangam and Radhakrishnan on the ghatam.

Day 1

Yaksha 2013 begins today! Preparations are on in full swing – the courtyard outside Linga Bhairavi is full of cords, equipment, ladders and baskets of flowers as volunteers, technicians and decorators are busy getting everything ready.

The festival takes off with the veteran violinist maestro TN Krishnan performing this evening. The artiste arrived yesterday and said he was thoroughly enjoying Isha’s hospitality and the wonderful ambience. The virtuoso offered Nadha Aradhana today at the Dhyanalinga – a moving experience for everyone present. “It was a divine experience! Unless you play or sing yourself, you wouldn’t understand. You don’t get such an opportunity unless you are really blessed. The minute I set my bow to the violin, I was transported!” TN Krishnan told the blog team.


March 3rd – 9th

At the Isha Yoga Center, India

Free Entry. All Are Welcome

6:50 pm – 8:30 pm (Please be seated by 6:40 pm)

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March 3rd – T.N. Krishnan (Carnatic Violin)
Tripunithura Narayan Krishnan is an icon of the melody and reposefulness of music, giving importance to expressional restraint. A Carnatic violinist who was first introduced to music by his father, he was a child prodigy who made his debut concert at the age of eight.
March 4th - Abhishek Lahari (Sarod)
Abhishek Lahiri has risen to prominence as an Indian Classical Sarod Player. He has won the hearts of discerning audiences worldwide with his maturity, depth & perfection.
March 5th - Madhavi Mudgal (Odissi Dancer)
Madhavi Mudgal is a noted exponent of Odissi and is acclaimed for her artistic mastery, technique and creative dance choreographies.
March 6th - Ulhas Kashalkar (Hindustani Vocal)
Pandit Ulhas N. Kashalkar is a Hindustani classical vocalist who has received training of the highest order in three distinct prominent gharanas – Gwalior, Agra and Jaipur.
March 7th - Nishat Khan (Sitar)
Nishat Khan transcends musical barriers with his provocative expression and spellbinding technical mastery. Undeniably the foremost virtuoso of the sitar, he is the torchbearer of seven generations and the 400-year old tradition of India 's most renowned musical family.
March 8th - Subhra Guha (Hindustani Vocal)
Vidhushi Subhra Guha comes from a music loving family, and she started showing signs of exceptional talent at a tender age. She received her earliest training from late Shri Satish Bhowmick. During her growing years, Guha took advanced training from Pandit Sunil Bose, a learned exponent of the Agra Gharana. In 1982, she joined the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata where Bose was a guru. For ten years, she received uninterrupted training from him as a scholar of the academy. Subsequently, she also received training from the stalwart Late Pandit KG Ginde, Pandit DT Joshi  and Pt Vijay Kichlu.
March 9th – TM Krishna (Carnatic Vocal)
Thodur Madabusi Krishna is a Carnatic music vocalist, hailing from a family of music connoisseurs. He was exposed to South Indian classical music at an early age, his first concert being at the Spirit of Youth series, organized by the Music Academy in Chennai.