Svara Yoga: An Online Immersive Workshop Exploring Dhrupad Music

About the program

Dhrupad is one of the oldest surviving musical traditions in the world, believed to have originated from the Sama Vedic traditions. Engaging with this musical form is a deeply meditative, yet dynamic and awakening experience. Characterized by a deep focus on fundamental elements of sound, it works on building holistic coordination between the body, breath and mind to create an effective apparatus for musical expression. It is typically seen as a deeply contemplative form of music that emphasizes the beauty of the shades of every musical note in themselves before creating tunes with these notes. In its long history from temples to princely courts to concert stages, Dhrupad survived at the margins of artistic, cultural discourse and patronage for many centuries. Through the efforts of Dhrupad stalwarts in training and performance and the ease of global outreach in the last half-century, Dhrupad is enjoying a growing, international revival today. This also owes to the fact that Dhrupad is a universal science of sound with limited cultural and language associations that offers no constraints for students and listeners from outside India as well. In its application in mindfulness and meditation through sound (naad-yog or the yoga of sound), Dhrupad speaks to modern day concerns and finds many learners even from outside artistic professions, from all across the world.

This program is a practical immersion into some of the frameworks of building sound perception as developed over the centuries by generations of Dhrupad scholars and maestros. Immersing into the practice of Dhrupad music is a wonderful way to practically immerse oneself into the Yog Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali as well, and it is interesting to see the wisdom and the principles of the Yog Sutras in direct application here. The course will explore this intersection by building a context for the Dhrupad practices covered, through relevant Sutras from the text.

Program Objectives:

After this program, the participants will be able to

  • Gain an entry point into understanding as well as practicing the ancient Dhrupad music tradition through the various learning modules
  • Explore the practice of singing as ‘Abhyasa’ in line with the principles of the Yog Sutras
  • Obtain an overview of the various elements of (vocal) Dhrupad music, and develop a holistic understanding & appreciation for the genre
  • Achieve a continued immersion into the practice of Dhrupad music through takeaway practice exercises and modules that can be implemented at multiple levels of training

Topics Covered

  • Fundamental principles of Dhrupad - physiology and voice culture, understanding the Tanpurā and samvād (consonance), syllables of the Dhrupad alāp
  • Building blocks of music; svarā (musical notes) - melodic fundamentals, exercises and patterns to build comfort, control and command
  • Temporality in music - understanding the role of time in music, principles of rhythm and counting, practices to develop and deepen the intuitive sense of rhythm
  • Tāla (rhythm cycle) - understanding the cyclic treatment of time in Indian music through the concept of tāla, and learning the bols or alphabest of a Dhrupad tāla.
  • Rāga - the central concept of all Indian classical music. Understanding the intricacies and nuances of this phenomenon that makes Indian music so special, and learning to sing, improvise and communicate with a rāga in line with the principles of the Dhrupad tradition
  • Bandish (composition) - coming-together of the various rhythmic and melodic frameworks studied with application to poetry in the form of a composed musical piece in the Dhrupad style

Target audience

The workshop will be suited for anyone who wishes to explore practices and philosophies of the Dhrupad system of classical music, and integrate it into their own sadhana of music and/ or yoga. It can especially be beneficial for

  • Anyone looking for a ‘yogic’ approach to sound and music
  • Indian music enthusiasts
  • Music students who want to explore principles of Dhrupad/ Indian classical music
  • Yoga practitioners and teachers, who want to improve their musical understanding

Prerequisite for Students

The workshop is open to participants of all backgrounds with a genuine interest in the subject matter. While prior training in music and/ or yoga can be useful, it is not a prerequisite for the workshop. The modules are structured and arranged in a way to engage the participants at different levels, based on their prior background and skill level.

For best results, the program will require a commitment of 3-4 hours of self practice each week throughout the duration of the program.

Program Includes

  • 15 Live, Interactive Zoom Sessions
  • 1 additional dedicated Q&A session
  • Access to recorded sessions
  • Suggested readings & resource materials
  • Certificate upon successful completion

The workshop will commence on 15th February, 2022 and go on up to 24th May, 2022.

Duration of the program: 2 credit (30 hours) program

  • 1hr 30 mins Live session with faculty every Tuesday between 6.30 to 8.00 PM IST (one session per week)

Session Dates:

February: 15, 22

March: 01, 08, 15, 22, 29

April: 05, 12, 19, 26

May: 03, 10, 17, 24

Delivery Platform: Online via Zoom

Medium of Instruction: English

Program Fee: Rs. 7500/- INR for Indians residents & $110 USD for International Students

*Early Bird Offer: Rs. 7,000/- INR & $100 USD for registrations up to 31st January, 2022*

To register:

Note: Payment links will be shared via email post registration

Program Faculty:

Sri. Sajan Sankaran, Founder, Svara Yog | Dhrupad practitioner

Sajan was introduced to Indic knowledge systems through the Chinmaya Mission in his childhood, and his journey on the path of yoga has been deepened since 2004 through HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & the Art of Living Foundation. He is also a trained yoga instructor from the S-VYASA Yoga University. While doing his B.Tech from IIT Bombay, he discovered a deep connection with the Dhrupad music tradition, which seemed to be a direct application of the principles of Yoga. He felt an urge to learn it in detail, & to his good fortune, he was accepted as a full time disciple of renowned Dhrupad Gurus - the Gundecha Brothers. He spent the larger part of 8 years as a resident student of their Bhopal Gurukul. He now performs and teaches Dhrupad actively, and works on various other artistic and academic projects. He is a partner at the Delhi based Naadyatra Foundation, and has been an integral part of its activities since 2018. He is also an associated with the Bengaluru based theater collective, Still Space Theatre. While Sajan continues his Dhrupad training through regular visits to the Gurukul, he started ‘Svara Yog’ to formally bring his two core areas of interest (Dhrupad and Yoga) onto a common ground, deepen his own engagement with it, and also share it with others.