BENGALURU: What is the connection between the Guru Granth Sahib and Dasara padagalu? What are the similarities between the sacred music of Hinduism-Judaism, Sikhism-Hinduism, and Christianity-Buddhism? Dr Deepti Navaratna, a Bengaluru-based Carnatic artiste, will decode all of this in her musical concert titled, The Dialogues with the Divine, which she will perform, virtually, at the Parliament of World’s Religions, on October 18. Interestingly, Navarathna, who is also the regional director of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, is the first Indian woman to represent the nation at the Parliament of World’s Religions, the world’s premier interfaith convening organisation.
In 2016, Navaratna was part of a musical project called The Dialogues with the Divine held at Interfaith Congregation in the United States of America, where she weaved an experience which amalgamates sacred music from various faiths. Once again, she hopes to recreate the same experience at this prestigious forum. “I was working on a music project called Carnatic meets Hebrew, which grabbed the attention of one of the committee members of the Parliament of World Religions, and eventually ended up as an opportunity for me to script a milestone,” says Navaratna, adding, “I am trying to re-purpose the role of religious music in the contemporary scenario. This project has a multicultural educational aspect to it. It is important to have an understanding and value the beliefs of others. This music makes you realise and infer the teachings of different faiths.”
In this concert at the Parliament of World Religions, Navaratna will be accompanied by Shadrach Solomon on keys and Arun Siva on percussion. The concert will begin with an invocation amalgamating chants: Ishavasyam Idam from Ishopanishad, the Navkar mantra of the Jains and Namyo ho renge kyo – the Lotus Sutra of Buddhists. This is folllowed by a Judaic piyut paired with a Carnatic kriti called ‘piyut and prarthana’.
“I met a Jewish Cantor and some preachers who were reading liturgical texts while I was in Boston. During my research, I found that the Guru Granth Sahib consists of bhakti songs of all faiths. It also includes Dasara padagalu, baul songs, chandi purana. This is how I came across some of the common denominators existing in all faiths. It took two years of research only to build parallel thoughts on inter-faith texts for my music,” says Navaratna, adding, “This is one of my life’s calling. It aligns with my beliefs and I always wanted to be a cultural ambassador, promoting my music as a positive and transformative agent to the world.”