The Art of Dhrupad

On my recent trip to India, I attended an immersive 14-day Dhrupad workshop through Silvia Nakkach’s Yoga Voice program. Dhrupad is a classical Indian music that was introduced to India in the 14th century by poet Tansen, who gave the practice of Dhrupad to the great Mughal King Akbar at the time as a gift of divine sound to him on his wedding day.

“Dhrupad” comes from the word “druve,” which means immovable and a permanent position in the stars. The practice of Dhrupad is meant to get us closer to finding that one piece of spirituality or stillness within us that we cannot experience because our ego-based minds are always clouding our judgment.

The workshop was held at the Parivartan center in India with a master, Uday Bhawalkar, that Silvia studied with for a decade. Parivartan means “transformation,” so it was the ideal place to hold the Dhrupad workshop. In the Dhrupad workshop, we had a lead and follow with the master who taught our group for eight days, eight to ten hours a day. It was a unique opportunity to participate in this group for which I am grateful.

The workshop participants who were chosen were from 13 different countries. I represented India, and others were from Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Germany, England, Finland, and more. We were able to communicate through music, even though we didn’t always understand each other’s language. The workshop was intense. I definitely felt a stillness, a sense of peace, and a transformation in my being.

Dhrupad requires learning specific techniques. Certain syllables and melodic lines of verse are continuously sung in a slow, deliberate, rhythmic fashion as a pre-meditative form of music. It is a devotional, emotional form of poetry that is sung and is similar to singing mantras. In this, your voice is the musical instrument. But it is also a journey to find peace within yourself. Dhrupad is a process to get your ego-based mind out of the way so that you can access the knowledge and wisdom in your heart and feel the music. It is a slow, thoughtful, spiritual process, or Sadhana, that cannot be rushed and requires repetition, practice and discipline. This pre-meditation form of music is about quieting your mind in order to bring you to a place of stillness and peace within. It is ultimately transformative. It is so much more than what I am saying because it’s very experiential.