From an interview by Manish Vyas with Gundecha Brothers (Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha) in Berlin.
In this conversation Manish Vyas talks with Gundecha Brothers about the magic of the Sanskrit language and they also shared some other suggestions for those people who would like to and are ready to dive deeper in the ancient sciences from India, like connecting with the real source of learning.
M: As far as the language of Sanskrit is concerned, could you explain the connection between the sound of a certain word with its form? In other words, what is the connection between the vibration of a Sanskrit word and its manifestation?
GB: As our basic subject is about the language, the magic of the language, Sanskrit and its pronunciation. I often say that Sanskrit language is completely different from other languages of the whole world. I think other languages were developed… or they were meant to communicate your emotions, but Sanskrit language is not just a means of communication but it is meant to connect you with the almighty. Some hidden connection between you and the upper world, that’s why its name is Sanskrit – Sans means well, Krit mean created. So the masters Rishi-munis they created this language, and the major difference in this language is that in Sanskrit pad and pradarth – Pad means text, sound, word and pradarth means material. So in Sanskrit theory there is no difference between pad and pradarth. If I say vayu means this sound has come from air and this sound vayu can create air. If I say agni it means this sound is made of fire and this sound can make fire. So this is a very special character which is only and only available in Sanskrit language, and that is why the Mantra theory came only from Sanskrit.
Because what is mantra? – mantra chanting means you are repetitively doing something – singing or chanting some words, like Namo Narayana, Namo Narayana, Namo Narayana… so your vibrations and your pronunciations, both are making you things happen, towards you going to the almighty. So, this is the main character, the achievement of this language.
M: So that means Sanskrit is a very systematic language. I have understood that there is a very clear classification sequence in the alphabet of Sanskrit, like how the alphabet starts from the tip of the throat all the way to the dental sounds and sounds from the lips. Can you elaborate on that?
GB: It is only in the Sanskrit language where we have explanation for why Ka comes first, then Kha, then Ga – Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha… (he explains and gives examples of the five groups of Sanskrit alphabet all of which ends with a nasal sound, called anuswar.) So, it is a very, very well defined and well structured, most structured language; these characters can never be found in any other language of the world, no matter what.
M: I heard you once saying, that it is not a language which has evolved, but it came from the people who were evolved.
GB: Generally languages evolve by time and by practice, but Sanskrit was created by already evolved people. Those were masters of knowledge, those who had cosmic experience – they brought this language on this world. Language is basically a physical process and the body is involved in it, the air is involved in it, our ears, mouth, our speech organs are involved in it. But this is the miracle, that how physical action can make you cosmic, and Sanskrit has that power which takes you in a journey of cosmic experience from this physical realm.
M: Both of you have travelled around the world, especially in America and Europe, so I think you are aware about the mantra scene here. What are your views and perception about it?
GB: In one way one is always happy that our culture, our language, our traditions are being appreciated all over the world, in the form of Yoga, Mantra and Music. But at the same time we are also concerned that weather what we are seeing is the real presentation or not. Sometimes it is not. Because, as we talked about the Mantra pronunciation, vibration, and especially the pronunciation of Sanskrit words – if it is not correct, if it is not pronounced properly, then the vibration of the text doesn’t give you proper effect. And that’s why the pronunciation in Sanskrit is very, very important. So, sometimes what we see is that, Bhajan, Kirtan is for entertaining a different thing – about that we don’t want to say anything; but if you are really concerned for devotion, for going at a higher level, pronunciation is a very, very important factor, and sometimes we don’t find it.
M: So what you have seen, some people are just interested in entertainment. But, there are also people who are genuinely interested in the authentic. So, what would be your suggestion or guidance for those people?
GB: My suggestion is that, what they are doing, we are appreciating. But they should go more deep, understand, learn, represent the real essence of our Vedic tradition, of our Mantra tradition, and I think, leaving aside all other things, it will benefit themselves much more that what they are doing today. So, my request and urge is to get more deep into what they are doing. Mantra are our upliftment – don’t just get involved in entertainment. Of course, it is a by-product, but we should take it more seriously and make it as an instrument to uplift ourselves.
Yes, these Mantras and chanting of Mantras should be in the proper way. Then, you, yourself and the listeners can get the proper feeling and result of that mantra and whatever you are doing; you will get the proper result of that Mantra only when you do it in a proper way.
M: What importance do you give to learn a particular thing from a reliable source?
GB: We should try to uplift ourselves, but that also demands a good training. So, if you want to learn, know, experience, explore this depth, I think you must learn it from a real source, real knowledgeable people, who can let you know the essence of this world.
M: And for the people and students who are truly eager to learn Indian classical music, devotional music, Dhrupad… what is your suggestion to them?
GB: In the serious practice of any art and particularly music, first when you are practicing it, you must concentrate on its very basic fundamentals, that’s important. And that’s why in our music world it is said that whatever you play, whatever you practice in music, you must first get training of fundamental basics. And what are the fundamentals? Fundamentals are: Sur, Swar, Laya, Taal. So, I think those who want to learn and develop in this art, they must focus more on Swar, Laya, Taal, and I think these sources are more scientifically taught and practiced in the Dhrupad tradition. So, of course you must learn these things before you start your journey.
M: I am sure these wise words from both of you will guide the sincere students of not only Indian music, but the practitioners of anything from the culture of India and will continue to shed a light on their path for ever and ever. My sincere pranam to both of you.
Gundecha Brothers sang in the end of this interview a beautiful, heartfelt devotional song in Raag Shiv-Ranjani which you can listen in our podcast.
M: What can I say, such music, such expression, such serenity, Ramakantji was right when he said that it takes you from the realm of the physical world to a cosmic experience. And truly, such geniuses of India, continue to share the depth, beauty and sacredness through their music, through their beings. All the sincere training that they had for years and years and practice, and we are so grateful to interact with these amazing beings.
Thank you Gundecha Brothers!
This is the transcription of the last of a series of three interviews which were published in our podcasts during July – August 2021. You can listen in our podcast link: www.manishvyas.com/podcast If you are interested, you can also watch a short video with Gundecha Brothers, done for the purpose of our documentary, “The true world of Mantra and Sacred music from India” https://youtu.be/8_s-SiLOjkU
Gundecha Brothers are from Ujjain, India. They are classical vocalists of the Dhrupad genre of the Dagar Vani, a tradition of classical Dhrupad of 20 generations tracking back to Swami Haridas.
"Dhrupad is the search of the ultimate, the search for a true sound, the eternal sound, the sound of the cosmos. Dhrupad is Nada Yoga - the yoga of sound. It is the best way to get yourself into a calm, peaceful state of mind." Umakant Gundecha
"In Dhrupad, we sing the notes in their pure form. Both the performers as well as the listeners experience the life energy in these notes. Dhrupad is therefore really about going deep into the essence of everything, including oneself. You can see yourself through Dhrupad." Ramakant Gundecha