The following writeup is thanks to Sanjay Patil:
Chinmaya Mission San Jose’s battalion of volunteers executed the Naada Bindu Festival with grace, precision, and devotion for all of the event’s four days. Different teams worked in parallel with the precision of a clockwork to provide a smooth experience to everyone. Each day, we successfully and professionally hosted eminent artists and their own ensembles along with their unique stage requirements. All volunteers, audience members, and devotees had very memorable and meaningful experiences. An artistic display of rare pictures of Gurudev’s work and life-story in the lobby set a Sattvic ambience, helping attendees quieten their minds and engage in Guruji’s discourse and the evening performances. The venue of the event, the majestic and historic California theatre in downtown San Jose, greatly accentuated the overall experience. Keeping up with the tradition of Chinmaya Mission, the attendees of this event enjoyed boxes of tasty food given at exit.
The melodious Bhajans sung by Vidwan Sri. O. S. Arun in his sonorous voice not only filled the towering heights of the Theater dome, but also touched the hearts of the audience with deep devotion. Personally, I loved how Sri. O.S. Arun engaged the audience to chant Narayana Naama with him, initially coaxing them with silly praise and quickly commanding them to join his rapturous, undulating rhythms of calling out the simple name of ‘Narayana’ over and over. Then, he culminated into an ecstatic melting of voices, musical notes, and feelings of deep devotion into a single experience for all, which none could or would want to escape from.
Smt. Sujata Mohapatra and her beautiful team of dancers presented the classical Odishi dance form in a manner that everyone, regardless of their knowledge and ability, could thoroughly rejoice. The Ramayana episode of Mother Sita’s abduction and Jatayu’s valor, which we have heard countless number of times or seen enacted, was presented in a novel and refreshing dance. Through graceful movements, captivating expressions, charming costumes, and beautiful music of the Odishi dance art, Smt. Sujata Mohapatra truly connected with the audience and rendered Bhagavan through her performance.
Vidushi Smt. Kaushiki Chakraborty, a young but legendary Hindustani singer, stole hears of the audience with her melodious voice and masterful singing of classical Raaga Yamana and several devotional pieces. Her rendering of St. Tukaram’s ‘Sundar Te Dhyan’ abhang, was perfectly reminiscent of Lata ji’s original as well as uniquely soulful. Her offering to Pujya Guruji by singing his composition was a remarkable gesture of humility of this great artist, something the attendees thoroughly enjoyed.
Pujya Guruji’s aura was felt at every moment throughout the entire event. We were enchanted by his first ever concert of Bhajans in US and his humorous and deeply insightful discourses on chapter 17 of Bhagavad Gita. Besides that, his mere presence in the auditorium provided a divine backdrop for the artists’ performances. Devotion is a common theme ingrained within most Indian classical art forms, whether it be Carnatic and Hindustani singing or Odishi dancing. With these great artists performing in front of Guruji and on the same stage after Guruji’s talks certainly turned the entire festival into a divine experience, which will be remembered for long by all the attendees.