Newsletter January / February 2016

1. Email Problems - New Address
2. Review 2015 - Joy & Fragility
3. Harmonium, Khol & Chanting - New Music Books
4. Nada Yoga (1/4) - Nada & OM
5. Maihar in Germanistan (6/6) - Kamalesh Maitra
6. Orbituaries - Shankar Ghosh, Mrinalini Sarabhai & Sabri Khan
7. Jai's Blog - Cookies and Tea in Vrindavan: A Slight Shift in Perception (1/2)
8. Workshops - February - April
9. Concerts - February & March


1. Email Problems - New Address
Company Info -

Modern technology enables us to communicate all over the world and is supposed to make everything easier. But things can get really difficult when technology suddenly fails... We've had serious issues with our email communication recently. Mails to us were not delivered and mails from us were not sent. And we didn't get any error messages, so we didn't even know about it - until customers complained. This technical disaster has made a mess out of formerly reliable email communication and has created a lot of unnecessary confusion and frustration.

Therefore we have changed our service provider and set up a new standard email address. It is now - the old ending .DE has been changed to .COM !

- save our new email address
- do NOT write to any more

- if you're still waiting for an answer to a mail sent days or weeks ago, please forward that mail to

- if you don't get a reply to an email or website order or website contact request within 24 hours, please send a reminder to check or call us at +49-30-6211724

We apologise for any misunderstandings or irritations that might have occured and we hope that our email communication is working reliably again now.

2. Review 2015 - Joy & Fragility
- Notes by Yogendra -

2015 has been another good year for India Instruments. We could bring joy into the lives of more people than ever before with our high class Indian instruments at fair prices. This is the very core of our work. We know that the joy can only last if two conditions are met. First of all, the quality of the instruments has to be really good. That's why we carefully select all instruments in our assortment in terms of sound quality, playability, handling, look and longevity and we check all these features before shipping. Secondly, the individual human being and the instrument must match. That's why we provide plenty of detailed information on our website and spend plenty of time on personal customer counseling.

Thanks to always keeping up these basic principles, we have grown a little bit once again in 2015, have expanded sales through our distribution partners, extended our team and improved our infrastructure. A heartfelt thank you goes to everybody who has contributed to this development: Our enthusiastic team in Berlin, our staff, partners and suppliers in India, all the anonymous technicians and logisticians who make sure that exchange of information and goods between manufacturers, retailers and users works smoothly, and last but not least all of you who have been buying from India Instruments, who have recommended us or have supported us in so many ways. We hope that we'll be able to continue on our chosen path for many more years to come and that we'll bring joy into many more people's lives that way!

We are also very much aware that we are part of a highly complex interdependent world. And we can't close our eyes when this world gets out of order. In my review 2014  had already shown how fragile and vulnerable our little company is. And I had pointed out what a huge number of people in the world live in misery or as refugees due to continuously escalating wars. Since then many of these refugees have found their way to us. We can see clearly now that Europe can not simply encapsulate itself and that all those unresolved conflicts lead to growing tensions, fear, violence and terror in our own countries. The conflicts keep on intensifying or remain in a frozen state at best. War has not solved a single one of them, however forcefully that might be suggested to us - on the contrary. There are no quick and easy solutions. Mutual steps towards truly solving problems require longterm negotiations, sometimes for years or even decades. The positive results of the Paris summit on climate change and of the negotiations on nuclear disputes with Iran were encouraging examples in 2015. Let's remain patient but persistent in searching reasonable and constructive ways of dealing with apparently unsolvable problems.

BalanceMusic can be a great help in this challenging process. It is a playing field that allows us to experience harmony, flow and togetherness without any pressure. That way it resolves tensions inside ourselves as well as within the community. Music needs and helps to develop patience and perseverance, because musical perception and skills take a long time to grow and require regular practice. It teaches us humility and shows us our limits, because we can never completely grasp and master all its infinite variety. Music helps us to bear and integrate pain, grief, fear and rage. And it invites us to feel joy, happiness and bliss. Let's use the power of music to harmonise ourselves. And let's share the power of music with others to build bridges and bring a little more balance and beauty into this world.

3. Harmonium, Khol & Chanting - New Music Books
- New in Our Assortment -

Chanting is an important pratice in bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Devotees should be able to support themselves and others with instruments like harmonium or khol in order to increase the effect of the chant. We just added three books to our assortment that might help you in this regard. 

 * The Hare Krishna Music Book
Lyrics, notations and chords for 70 Vaisnava songs. Songs notated in this beautifully illustrated book are sung in Krishna temples. For the most part the music stems from the Vedic tradition of India. This is more than a book of songs and melodies; it also describes daily devotional activities that constitute worship for a home or temple.
24.00 Euros, softcover, 176 pages, 6 b/w photos, 16 b/w illustrations
More media on devotional vocal.

* Vaisnava Melodies: 23 Easy Tunes for Keyboard
This textbook by Narayani Devi Dasi presents 23 simple melodies in honour of Krishna for beginners and amateur musician. No prior experience is necessary - everyone can learn to play the tunes on the harmonium or other keyboard instruments with the help of this book.
12.00 Euros, softcover, 110 pages, 5 b/w illustrations
More media on harmonium playing.

* Practical Mrdanga Lessons 
In this methodical, clear and vivid course, Ramanujacharya Das teaches basic skills to play the khol / mridanga. The teaching material includes explanation of the most popular Indian rhythms (talas), stroke techniques, rhythmic khol patterns for bhajans and kirtans, cool breaks and endings.
19.00 Euros, 29 pages, spiral binding, CD with 44 tracks with beats and further details

More media on percussion.

4. Nada Yoga (1/4) - Nada & OM
Practice Hints by Carmen Mager, Barbara Irmer & Frank Beese -

Working with sound as a yoga practice is relatively unknown in these parts. Carmen Mager and Barbara Irmer are authors of the book Nada Yoga – Towards the Inner Sound and teach nada yoga at the European College of Yoga and Therapy,  together with Frank Beese. In this series, they give an introduction to practicing nada yoga and show how to use Indian instruments to support it.  

Nada Yoga

The tradition of nada yoga hs been practiced for thousands of years in order to experience harmony. It springs from the creative, healing power of sound and brings yoga together with the spiritual dimension of classical Indian music. Musicians and nada yogis have investigated the mystery of sound and nature for countless generations. Their deep insights into fundamental principles of creation gave birth to a musical tradition that reflects these principles. It includes reciting a syllable, a mantra or holy scripture as well as bhajans, kirtans and virtuoso performances of classical Indian ragas. Through authentic expression with voice and instruments and through deep contemplative listening, nada yoga leads to a centering of the mind and inner fulfillment

Nada is a wide term. It means tone, sound and vibration. Its physical aspect is the audible sound, created by the encounter of two things (drum and hand, string and finger, the two vocal chords, the clapping of two hands, the air with the mouthpiece of a flute). In a deeper sense, however, nada means the inaudible sound that can be experienced through meditation practice. Nada yoga is therefore the practice of yoga with sound, and the practice of yoga that leads to perceiving the inner sounds. Conscious listening is an important part of it: nada upasana. In nada yoga, you listen e.g. to the sounds of a raga, of nature, of a tanpura, of your own breath and heart beat, of silence, of inner sounds.

The yoga scriptures describe nada yoga as turning towards the inner, mystical sound. Nada comes from the root syllable nad and means sound or streaming. It indicates the sound of creation, which finds its foremost expression in the syllable OM. Nada yoga is the path of uniting the individual soul with the cosmic source (brahman) through sound. Chanting the OM, reciting mantras and singing easy bhajans and kirtans opens up new worlds for yoga practice. Through chanting and listening to outer and inner sounds, we can get to an experience of joy and fulfillment in meditative silence.

Nada yoga practice can be quite simple – it can just be the chanting of one syllable. The most well-known sound in the Eastern traditions, in yoga and especially in nada yoga, is the syllable OM. It is also called pranava, the primeval sound. The syllable OM is the symbol for the primeval sound of creation, from which everything has been generated and is continuously being made anew. OM is considered to be the first and holiest sound. The syllable is the primeval mantra, the embodiment and summary of all language, especially of the revealed words of the veda. OM is also called the embodiment of brahman in a word. The syllable OM is used as an invocation at the beginning of reciting the holy scriptures. It is composed of the phonemes A-U-M.

AUMChanting practice with the syllable OM:

- prepare your body with stretching and yawning  

- take an upright sitting position

- direct your awareness to the breathing movements in the whole body

- feel the space inside your chest from within

- chant OM loudly a dozen times, directing your awareness to the sound of the OM, letting the M sound a little longer than the O

- listen to the reverberation of the sound

- direct your awareness to your breath and the effect in the whole body

- chant OM softly a dozen times with a relaxed exhalation

- listen to the reverberation of the sound and remain in silence for a few minutes

5. Maihar in Germanistan (6/6) - Kamalesh Maitra
- Hintergrundgeschichte von Yogendra -

Great masters of the Maihar school like Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee and Hariprasad Chaurasia have brought Indian classical music to the West and shaped its image worldwide for decades. We tell their story and show how Maihar musicians contribute to the scene for Indian music in Central Europe today..

Kamalesh A history of the Maihar school in Germany would be incomplete without talking about Kamalesh Maitra, one of its great masters, who has lived and worked in Berlin for nearly 30 years and who passed away in 2005. In 1976 he performed at the legendary Metamusik Festival and one year later settled down in the Western part of the divided city and started teaching. In those days, interest in Indian classical music was bigger than today, so he found lots of students and his work yielded fruit, soon. In 1980, Kamalesh founded the Ragatala Ensemble together with his students and kept on composing for it ever since. Solid foundation of his music for this mixed group of Indian and Western instruments was always the classical North Indian raga tradition. The ensemble gave his students the opportunity to dive deeper into the music and get experience on stage before having enough skills to give solo performances. Beyond this educational value, the Ragatala Ensemble was also artistically ambitious, published several recordings, gave successful concerts and toured internationally.

Beyond his work as inspiring teacher and band leader, Kamalesh Maitra also pursued his international solo career during his Berlin years. His main instrument and trademark was the tabla tarang, a set of 10 to 16 single tablas, each tuned to a different note, so you can play classical ragas on the set. Kamalesh was perhaps the only virtuoso, who gave full solo concerts and made recordings on this difficult and intricate instrument. His additional second solo instrument was the sarod. Apart from concerts under his own name, he also worked with Ravi Shankar, Trilok Gurtu, Tri Atma, Falco, Tom Cunningham, Peter Pannke and Mark Nauseef and toured with Joachim-Ernst Berendt's programme Nada Brahma – The World is Sound. His musical vision also comprised compositions for Western orchestras which were performed by various orchestras in Berlin under his supervision.
There are striking similarities between Kamalesh Maitra was born in 1924 in what is now Bangladesh. Music as a profession was not acceptable in his family, so he had to break with family traditions to follow his vocation all on his own. He first learnt tabla and became a student of Keramatulla Khan. Later on he also lernt sarod with Ali Akbar Khan – that training formed his style as a Maihar musician. His active career began in 1950, when he was hired as master drummer for the dance company of Uday Shankar, the great pioneer of Indian dance and elder brother of Ravi Shankar. As a condition for getting that job he had to learn tabla tarang. The very productive collaboration with Uday Shankar lasted for about 20 years, brought him on tours all through the world, and opened him many opportunities of working as composer, performer and teacher in various prestigious projects and renowned institutions in India. A special highlight before his move to Germany was the Music Festival from India tour through Europe and North America in 1974. It was produced by George Harrison, directed by Ravi Shankar, and included a whole bunch of extraordinary musicians like Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shivkumar Sharma, Sultan Khan, Lakshmi Shankar, L. Subramaniam, Kartick Kumar and Alla Rakha.

In 2000, as part of the festival Musica Vitale, Kamalesh Maitra received a special honorary award for his lifetime achievements and his merits for cultural life in Berlin. His great artistry and creativity have revealed the depth and beauty of Indian classical music to countless students and fellow musicians. Learning and playing with him has opened up new dimensions for many of them. For some it has even been a life-changing experience. Kamalesh Maitra's spirit lives on in their hearts and souls.

Raga bilaskhani todi with Kamalesh Maitra on tabla tarang and Trilok Gurtu on tabla.


6. Orbituaries - Shankar Ghosh, Mrinalini Sarabhai & Sabri Khan
- Scene-News by Yogendra -

Shankar Ghosh

Shankar Ghosh was one of the outstanding classical tabla players of the 2nd half of the 20th century, a creative innovator and one of the most influential tabla teachers of his time. He was born in 1935 in Calcutta, received a solid basic music education, became a student of legendary master musician Gyan Prakash Ghosh in 1953, and soon emerged as a brillant young tabla accompanist. Since 1962 he toured the West with Ali Akbar Khan and performed with nearly all great artists of those days, e.g. instrumentalists Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Sharan Rani and V. G. Jog and vocalists Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Omkarnath Thakur, Vinayakrao Patwardhan and Girija Devi. He was among the pioneers of the modern accompaniment style with long tabla solos and lively interaction with the soloist. Later on he also gave tabla solo performances and created compositions that became part of general tabla repertoire. His creativity also blossomed in his compositions for Music of the Drums, his own percussion ensemble, in works for TV and radio and in collaborations with Western musicians like John Handy, Greg Ellis, Pete Lockett and John Bergamo.

His passion for teaching became evident from 1968 onwards, when he co-founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in California together with Ali Akbar Khan and taught there until 1972. In course of time his methodology became more and more systematic and refined, and he trained a large number of tabla players who made a career as professional performers. Best example is probably his son Bickram Ghosh, who has also played with Ravi Shankar and is very successful as a fusion musician. But Shankar Ghosh did not only train professionals – he also tried to spread his knowledge and make it accessible to as many people as possible. One result of this effort was the DVD set The Tabla with Pandit Shankar Ghosh and the online courses of the Shankar Ghosh Academy of Music. In Germany, Shankar Ghosh was successful in spreading Indian music, too. Throughout the 1990s he was a regular visiting teacher in the former capital Bonn, together with his wife, vocalist Sanjukta Ghosh. One of his most prominent local students is Raul Sengupta, percussionist in the band of Prem Joshua. In 2000, Shankar Ghosh received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his lifetime achievements. On January 22nd, he passed away in Calcutta at the age of 80.

Shankar Ghosh 2011 in lively interaction with young sarod player Prattyush Banerjee.
Recording of Ali Akbar Khan with Shankar Ghosh – dhun in raga khamaj in slow 14 and fast 16 beat rhythm.
DVD set The Tabla with Pandit Shankar Ghosh at India Instruments.


Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Sarabhai, born in 1918 in Kerala, was an important figure in the renaissance of classical Indian dance in the 20th century. She came from the educated middle class and lived some childhood years in Switzerland where she got in touch with the new holistic music pedagogy of Jacques Dalcroze. Her higher education took place in Shantiniketan under the eyes of Rabindranath Tagore. After spending a year at an acting school in the USA, she finally found her vocation in classical Indian dance. Dance had a dingy reputation amongst the educated back then, due to its association with temple prostitution. It was just starting to be rediscovered as a national cultural treasure, and there were no training institutions – one had to spend years with old gurus in remote villages to learn anything. In a pioneering effort, Rukmini Devi had just founded what is today the Kalakshetra Academy as the first training institution for Indian dance. Mrinalini went there to study bharatanatyam dance with Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. She also learnt from Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup, being the first woman ever to get trained in the dance drama kathakali.

In 1949, Mrinalini Sarabhai founded her own school in Ahmedabad, the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. Her task at Darpana was not only to pass on classical dance in its traditional small stage solo format, but to enhance it with new creative ideas. In course of her career, she choreographed about 300 dance dramas, in which she redefined space on stage, created group formats, brought male and female elements into a new balance and introduced modern themes into the repertoire. She ultimately took the classical movement vocabulary and created a whole new contemporary dance language with it. That gave Indian dance vital artistic impulses and was one of the foundations for its current popularity. In accordance with Mrinalini's open and creative mind, Darpana did not become a mere dance school, but a boundary transcending academy of creative stage arts. Music, drama, puppetry and performance art are as much part of Darpana as dance. Thus Darpana became a moulding institution for whole generations of Indian performing artists. For her lifetime achievements, Mrinalini Sarabhai received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1994), the Padma Shri (1965) and the Padma Bhushan (1992), some of the highest honours that any artist in India can attain. Her work is continued by her daughter Mallika Sarabhai, herself a famous dancer. On January 21st, Mrinalini passed away, aged 97.

Great 50 minutes documentary on Mrinalini Sarabhai.

Sabri Khan
Sarangi players usually stay in the background. In the classical North Indian raga tradition, they normally accompany the vocal soloists, but don't appear as soloists themselves. Moreover, the sarangi is extremely difficult to play and had an infamous reputation in the middle class because of its use in the accompaniment of so-called dancing girls. But connoisseurs and active musicians always held the few great masters of sarangi in high esteem. Sabri Khan, one of these masters, passed away in Delhi on December 1st at the age of 88. Indian president Pranab Mukherjee sent a condolence message to Sabri Khan's family, thus stressing his great importance for traditional Indian culture.

Sabri Khan came from an ancient dynasty of sarangi players, tracing its lineage back to legendary Tansen, court musician of mughal emperor Akbar the Great in the 16th century. From early childhood he learnt from his grandfather, father and uncle and later on developed his own personal style. Sabri Khan was one of the very few sarangi players who got accepted as a soloist, publishing records under his own name. On tours through Asia, North America and Europe, he was one of the first to present the sarangi to global audiences. His achievements in classical music earned him numerous honours, amongst them the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986 as the highest possible artistic distinction for an Indian musician, and the Padma Shri in 1992 and the Padma Bhushan in 2006, two of the highest civilian orders of the Indian state. Sabri Khan's musical lineage is being continued by several sons and grandsons. Most well-known of them today is his son Kamal Sabri, a sarangi player just like his father.

Sabri Khan's well articulated, expressive and ornate playing is available on youtube in several commercial recordings and live videos. Here is a short TV performance in raga goud sarang with tabla accompaniment (unfortunately movement and sound are not synchronous...).

7. Jai's Blog - Cookies and Tea in Vrindavan: A Slight Shift in Perception (1/2)
- Notes by Jai Uttal -

Jai Uttal, disciple of Neem Karoli Baba and Ali Akbar Khan, is one of the pioneers of kirtan music since the beginning of the 1990s. He has released 18 records and has opened up new horizons in the merging of Indian traditions with Western elements in many of them. In 2002 his album Mondo Rama was the first ever kirtan record to receive a Grammy nomination. His blog lets us partcipipate in his thoughts, feelings and experiences as a musician and a devotee. We would like to share excerpts from his blog in a loose series from now on. More from and about Jai Uttal hereJai Uttal.

On this particular day, as I was walking away from the river I heard a horrific racket. A young sadhu, covered with white paste, and wearing a simple cloth around his waist was sitting on a small stone wall, banging cymbals together and screaming Radhe Shyam Radhe Shyam Radhe Shyam€ at the top of his lungs. Instantly my peace€ was shattered. The cymbals seemed louder than the rock concerts I'€™d left back home in the States. And his raspy voice was like sandpaper to the inside of my brain. Where was the blissful India that I loved?

I hurried my steps and tried to get past him without being noticed. But just then, an old old man in orange robes, bent with age, sporting long dreadlocks, stepped out of the little hut adjacent to the path. The young sadhu became stunningly silent as his ancient guru offered me tea and cookies. We sat and sipped the steaming chai, watching the brilliant emerald parrots fly from tree to tree, sinking into a deep, heavenly meditation, listening to the distant strains of kirtan floating on the gentle wind. What peace...

But, as all things must pass, the chai was finished, the cookies were gone, and the old man dismissed me with a soft smile. I pranamed, touched his ancient, cracked feet and continued my walk. At that moment the racket began anew. CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG!!! The horrible cymbals!!! The hoarse, screaming voice!!!

Oh God, how quickly my inner peace disappeared!

But as I turned around for a last pained look, the magic descended. This old man, who seemed barely able to walk, was dancing in the doorway of his hut. Suddenly his crooked body was filled with the grace and beauty of a young maiden. His delicate swaying hips, his beatific smile, his long flowing hair; the old sadhu had transformed into Radha, the Goddess of Love! And to complete the mysterious change in awareness, the young sadhu'€™s kirtan was now the sound of angels singing. His terrible cymbals had transformed into a divine orchestra of tinkling bells and chimes. My heart stopped beating, tears sprung from my eyes. Here was Radha Rani, dancing her love for Krishna, amidst the gardens of Vrindavan….

When it seemed the world would end in an ecstasy of love, the old man simply stepped inside, leaving me to the heat and dust, and the sadhu'€™s cacophonous song. But my mind was quiet and my heart was full as I continued down the path. I had been given yet another reminder to see beyond the surface reality into what is hidden; to trust the perceptions of the heart before those of the judging mind. I had been given a few drops of grace from the vast ocean of Bhakti.

8. Workshops - February - April
- Scene Info -

Workshops are a great opportunity of getting fresh inspiration for the study and practice of Indian instruments, Indian music and Indian dance. We support that! Therefore we publish an overview of current workshops regularly. Details of all workshops are available in our website's network section on the workshop page.

21.02. MANNHEIM: Harmonium Workshop with Gyanroopa Dickbertel
21.02. BERLIN: Harmonium for Beginners with Reina Berger
04.03. - 06.03. BAD MEINBERG: Mantra Singing – A Way to the Heart with Sundaram
18.03. - 20.03. BAD MEINBERG: Harmonium Basics Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku
19.03. - 20.03. STUTTGART: Nada Yoga with Sundaram
27.03. - 03.04. BAD MEINBERG: Mantra Yoga Teacher Training with Sundaram
01.04. - 03.04. BAD MEINBERG: Introduction to Nada Yoga with Anne-Careen Engel
09.04. - 10.04. CH - ZURICH: Harmonium Basics Seminar with Gyanroopa Dickbertel
18.04. - 24.04. SEHLENDORF (Baltic Sea): Dhrupad with the Gundecha-Brothers
29.04. - 01.05. HORUMERSIEL (North Sea): Harmonium Advanced Seminar with Devadas Mark Janku

9. Concerts - February & March
- Scene Info -

Check our concert calender for more detailed information, venues, times and additional dates in 2016!

05.02. BERLIN: Karuna Sagari Venkatachalam - Bharatanatyam Dance
13.02. STUTTGART: Nasir Aziz - Sitar

14.02. STUTTGART: Nasir Aziz - Sitar

25.02. A - LANS: SitarStation
27.02. LANSERHOF: SitarStation
01.03. A - INNSBRUCK: Klaus Falschlunger - Sitar
03.03. BADENWEILER: Indian Air – Sitar Diaries
05.03. AUGSBURG: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan Concert
12.03. UNNA: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan Concert
12.03. LORRACH: Indian Air – Sitar Diaries
12.03. DRESDEN: Sundaram & Friends - Mantras / Kirtan
13.03. SELIGENSTADT: Satyaa & Pari - Kirtan Concert
17.03. MUNICH: Pulsar Trio
17.03. A - LANS: Indian Air – Sitar Diaries
18.03. PASSAU: SitarStation
19.03. STUTTGART: Sundaram & Friends - Mantras / Kirtan
26.03. LANSERHOF: Indian Air – Sitar Diaries

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