Indian songs in Irish Cathedrals


An article by contributing writer Jogyata Dallas
Reprinted with kind permission of Indianz Outlook

Ireland and India, though far apart geographically, have much in common, most notably their bloody struggles to free themselves from British rule. Many of the provisions of the constitution of India were drawn from their Irish counterpart, and Indo-Irish relations were also strengthened by such luminaries as Pandit Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, Eamon de Valera, W.B Yeats and Sister Nivedita. Irish-born Annie Besant too was a firm supporter of Indian self rule. In 1916 she launched the Home Rule League to model Indian independence on the Irish struggle. Then in 2015 we saw the first visit of an Indian head of state in 59 years when PM Narendra Modi personally visited Ireland.

India’s cultural heritage was again on tour this month in the Emerald Isles when the songs of the late Indian spiritual master Sri Chinmoy were sung in cathedrals, castles, historical sites and concert halls on a five day pilgrimage around the southern counties. Fourteen singers from thirteen different countries, including New Zealand, met up in Dublin on April 24th and travelled over 1200 miles to share the timeless message of world peace and the spiritual essences of India’s legacy with audiences in a dozen communities and towns .

Like India, Ireland too is an ancient world, its 10,000 and more years of human habitation in evidence everywhere, the crumbling castles and ancient stone walls, the music you hear that deals with legends and heroes, the spirit of the place. The ploughed fields reek with pathos and history, the earth is filled with the effluvia of the vanished generations, their flesh and bones, their tears and blood. Countless lives have come and gone, brief as the shadows of clouds passing across landscape. Their swords and ploughs and helmets are stitched into the earth, their stories hidden beneath the dark soil of every field. No wonder then the turreted castles and moats, the granaries secured in siege-proof towers, the vaulted iron gates – over the long millennia, everyone has invaded Ireland.

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In this landscape we met up on April 24th. Our songsters form the group called Oneness-Dream and each year we come together to share our love of music with others, to offer songs that, in Sri Chinmoy’s phrase, provide ‘a universal language uniting hearts and souls’. Our troupe has performed in Myanmar, Scotland, Iceland, Finland, Malta, Sicily, the United States and Ireland and form an all-male a cappella choir of Sri Chinmoy’s world-wide students. Music truly is a universal language and in Ireland we could feel the responsive hearts of our audiences opening up to the beauty of the songs and to their simple message of oneness, their reminder of the beauty and dignity of the human soul and the message of a brighter future for humanity. We felt ourselves part of something new, as though the country was opening to a different future, that we had become entrusted to serve this new tomorrow. We were musical ambassadors out in the frontier lands, and every concert we gave, every leaflet given to a stranger, was imbued with our hopes of this oneness-dream and rang with possibilities.

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The Oneness-Dream male choir will be visiting New Zealand in early 2017 – concerts are planned in several of our larger cities and also in rural communities, bringing the language of song and the message of world peace out into the heartlands of our nation.

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