First and second-generation kirtaniyas have created a new song dedicated to beloved ISKCON guru Bhakti Charu Swami, who passed away on July 4th.
Second-generation devotee Nadiya Mani sings lead vocals and Prabhupada disciple Bada Haridas backing vocals on the epic nine-and-a-half-minute standalone single Ocean of Mercy, which was released on Friday July 17th to iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play. https://smarturl.it/oceanofmercy
The deeply moving, soul-stirring track presents the prayer Sri Gurvastakam by Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur in a unique style that combines elements of classical, New Age and meditation music. It has been described by Bada Haridas’ wife Kosarupa Dasi as “pure meditation.”
In a Facebook post about the release, Bada Haridas wrote, “Feelings of melancholy have pervaded the global Vaisnava family after the loss of my beloved Godbrother, His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami. Inspired by Maharaja’s surrendered life at the lotus feet of our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, we dedicate this song to him and his followers.”
Bada Haridas also shared his translation of the song’s first verse, based on Srila Prabhupada’s explanation: “Just as clouds drink water from the ocean and shower their rain upon the parched earth, enlightened spiritual masters receive mercy from the ocean of mercy, Lord Sri Krishna, and shower that mercy on our burning hearts like a cooling rain.”
He added, “We humbly offer this song to you all, with the hope that you find shelter in the poetry of the 17th century Vaishnava saint, Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur.”
The track has been some time in the making. Bada Haridas tells ISKCON News that he has always loved Nadiya Mani’s singing and kirtan. He quotes fellow kirtaniya Jahnavi Harrison, who he says perfectly expressed how he feels about Nadiya’s chanting:
“Her voice is just very special! And always has been….she has a very deep devotional heart and is very humble. I think that really comes through in her singing. But furthermore it has a very clear yet soft and deep tone which I love.”
Over time, Bada Haridas and Nadiya Mani had occasionally discussed collaborating on a project. Then early this year, Nadiya shared that she’d had Sri Gurvastakam flowing through her mind and found herself singing it all day long.
“She said she was hearing piano and strings,” Bada Haridas recalls. “So there was some inspiration coming from Krishna, I think.”
Nadiya’s vocals were recorded pre-pandemic, as was Bada Haridas’ initial piano part. The string parts in the song were written by Bada Haridas and recorded by devotees at home in Vienna, Austria (Varshana Priya on violin and Lidya Maschek on cello), who sent them electronically.
Speaking about the importance of the Sri Gurvastakam and what it means to him, Bada Haridas says, “This song is sung daily by Gaudiya Vaisnavas, but is an infinitely deep song. The words of Visvanath Cakravarti are so powerful. Every time we sing this song, there is some new light and inspiration.”
While the song is sung at mangala arati to the “morning melody,” it can also be sung any time to other beautiful melodies.
“The melody that Nadiya sings on this recording is similar to one that Srila Prabhupada sang and taught to his dear disciple, Yamuna Devi,” Bada Haridas says. “We wanted to do a version that would allow listeners to deeply meditate on and feel the meaning of this song. It’s really a song of gratitude for our gurus, enlightened spiritual guides, who light up our life.”
Ocean of Mercy is Bada Haridas and Nadiya Mani’s first collaborative offering, and the duo loved working together.
“So honored to have had the opportunity to create this offering with Bada Haridas Prabhu!” Nadiya Mani wrote in a Facebook post. “This is the first time I have ever made a track for releasing. It was such a joyful process to work with him and I pray that this meditation is pleasing to anyone who would like to listen. I offer this to my Gurumaharaja HH Sivarama Swami and to Srila Prabhupada. And to all the wonderful Gurus who have guided me in this life.”
Bada Haridas feels the same way about Nadiya Mani. “Everything just flowed very easily from the initial inspiration, and we were always on the same page,” he says. “I felt there were some divine blessings in how it all came together.”
Initial reviews of the track by listeners have been even more enthusiastic. “The response has been overwhelming – devotees are really moved by it,” Bada Haridas says. “So much appreciation. One devotee said he stayed up all night listening to it and wrote a poem.”
Fellow kirtaniya and recording artist Dhanya Rico wrote, “If you want your heart to melt in love of Guru, please listen to our dear Bada Haridas and Nadiya Mani’s new release!”
Acyuta Gopi, another well-known kirtaniya, wrote, “Just a magnificent and soothing offering from some of my favorite people. Nadiya Mani and Bada Haridas take us there. Sooooo beautiful!”
For his part, Bada Haridas says he hopes listeners will derive “A sense of shelter, calm, strength and inspiration” from the song.
A perfect offering, then, for these times.
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To purchase the song and watch the video, click here: https://smarturl.it/oceanofmercy
May 21, 2022
BBT Marketing, Communications and Innovation Team
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium