Sangeet Abhinay Academy of Gyan Ashram, Andheri East will be completing 25 years of its illustrious existence on July 27, 2005 said Rev. Dr. Charles Vas SVD in a press conference held at Andheri East on 1st July 2005… Its aim is to reach out the universal message of peace, love and harmony through the rich medium of music and dance…
"Since past over 10 years the academy is also a college of Music and Dance accredited to Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal*, Mumbai, imparting quality training in various disciplines of music and dance to people of all ages and walks of life, enabling them to acquire recognised degrees," said Fr. Charles to the press people. "While celebrating Silver Jubilee, the Sangeet Abhinay Academy has also an ambitious plan of setting up the college in its own premises with the view of its future expansion and growth." announced Fr. Charles.
See alsohttp://www.asklaila.com/listing/Mumbai/Andheri+East/Sangeet+Abhinay+Academy/qpKqqBsZ/ 3. Dr. Fr. Charles Vas S.V.D. A singing visionary and a dancing missionary http://www.daijiworld.com/chan/music_view.asp?m_id=2EXTRACT
An evangelist through dance! A bhajan chanting Christian priest! That is what Dr. Fr. Charles Vas is who preaches "God experience through song and dance."
Dr. Fr. Charles Vas is the director of Sangeet Abhinay Academy - a religious institution of song and dance in Mumbai.
Harmless, so far; but in 2008, Fr. Charles Vas SVD is still professionally associated with Fr. Francis Barboza who has left the SVD congregation and the priesthood years earlier.
4. http://rasikas.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4773 February 20, 2008 EXTRACT
"pls. note today 14.30 CET 30 min on SAT Bibel TV http://www.bibeltv.de/programm/index.htm giving rare footage of legendary Guru Gyan Prakash Dr. Francis Barboza, Dr. Charles Vas of Sangeet Abhinay Academy, Mumbai
Sangeet Abhinay Academy is accredited to a Hindu institution that promotes Bharatanatyam.
Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of attending an "Anticipated Mass" at a Jesuit Parish in Bombay where Father Charles Vas S.V.D. performed a Pagan Liturgical Dance in front of the altar in a semi-naked state aka "Bharat Natyam Style" on the Second Saturday in August 2005. See more on page 22.
In Mumbai, while sitting in on one of Fr. Vas's vocal lessons, I noticed that one of the songs he was teaching had the word Shaam in it. After asking Fr. Vas whether this was the word for "night," he said that Ihad misheard it, and it was actually Shyam, another name for Lord Krishna, one of Hinduism's most popular gods. 37.
When I asked him why he was teaching a Hindu worship song, he replied that this was just for instruction, and that some ragas were set only to lyrics of a devotional nature. In other words, in teaching this particular raga, he had no choice.He had no reservations about learning or teaching Hindu devotional songs for the purpose of mastering Indian classical music. He considered it wrong, however, for a Christian to compose and sing songs in devotion to other gods (Vas, 1999). For Charles Vas, the purpose of learning Indian music is to praise Jesus Christ.
Most Protestant Christians and even some Catholics would not agree with Vas. Viju Abraham*, for example, expressed alarm when I told him about Vas' practice.
*director of A.C.T. (Association for Christian Thoughtfulness), Mumbai
8. Gyan Ashram
http://www.svdinm.org/gyan.htm / http://www.svdinm.org/gyanlife.htm [poor English, punctuation mistakes are theirs]
Founding of the First Indian Catholic Ashram 1948
The inspiration of Mahatma Gandhiji (1869) at a Hindi Prachar meeting at Indore in 1935 in which Fr. G. Proksch was also a participant, triggered off the gigantic task which he accomplished for the Church in India during the following years.
Inspite of adverse surroundings and circumstances, Fr. G. Prakash realized the need to establish an abode to proclaim the message of the gospel to the Indian tradition. Fr. G. Proksch wrote, "Today I met a man who is able to hypnotise, because he is the image of a man of God. His life bore the seal of the ancient Ashram ideal. He seems to move between "Tapasya"= self discipline his successful proclamation. With these two ideals of self-discipline and sacred meditation he established the "Gyan Prakash Ashram". Life in this "Ashram" meant a chaste community living, a never-failing warmth of understanding to all persons, simple living with contemplating on the Sacred Scriptures culminating in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
The specific aim of this Ashram was the Proclamation of the Word inIndian art and formin a way that was true to Indianculture and understandable to Indian people. This was the Ad Gentes initiated as early as in the year 1935 by Fr. G. Proskch.
Guru Gyan Prakash as he was commonly known by his Indian name claimed that the gospel message in India would not make any impact on the Indian people as long as this message was imported from Europe. When he came to India in 1932 he had no Bhajans=Hymns or Kathas (=sacred narrations) to preach like the century old Gurus of India. This forced him to study Indian languages. Hindi and Sanskrit, the sacred literature of the Hindus, the Vedas Upanishads and Puranas. He learnt a number of different folk dances, folk songs and a series of ragas of Indian music along with different Indian instruments like the Veena (=Harp) and sitar, warod (=Flute). During a number of which he attended with Mahatma Gandhiji, he was able to discuss the thinking of Indian people and their culture. This was again another missionary approach by Fr. G. Proksch. The establishment of an Indian form for the people in India and make available Catholic literature and material presented in Indian danceand music for the missionaries working in India.
Fr. G. Proksch found little or no support in the early days; there were bishops and priests and even his own confreres who doubt his intentions and feared that he was turning Christianity into Hinduism; moreover this missionary method and idea did not conform to what other missionaries were busy with. Being convinced of this method, he finally got a temporary approval of his religious superiors and with the interest of an Indian priest Fr. Valerian Gracias, experimented in presenting Christian themes in Indian art and form.
The themes and context of the dances and dramas depicted the conflict between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, a series of great. Hindu dramas like Ramlila and Mahabharata, besides these, there were Catholic themes focused on the unending love=Anupam Prema) Christ the good shepherd(=Mesphal Bhagwan) the promise of the Messiah, his life on earth, his suffering and death on the cross, the triumph of the resurrection with the ascension to heaven as conquering death and darkness. One reads in history of his first public presentation to an audience of 30,000 people at the Marian Congress held in Bombay in December 1954, where he depicted the Marian Mystery in six scenes: paradise, the fall, the shout of lost humanity, the promise of Mary, the immaculate conception and the annunciation; thereafter in several other mission areas of India, where the Good Shepherd theme became very popular; several performances in Europe, and the presentation of a special ballet, performed by 300 dancers and 250 musicians and 1000 singers, prepared for the XXXVIII International Eucharistic Congress at Bombay, in the year 1964, which was attended by Pope Paul VI, presented to an audience of 60,000 people. It must be acknowledged that for the first time, Catholic hymns were sung in Hindi in the Churches of Bombay and elsewhere, many of whose words and melody are tracked back to Fr. G. Proksch. The most famous were the hymns Shri Jesu Bhagawan and Tera Nur Jagame Huwa Hai Fr. G. Proksch can rightly be called the greatest pioneer of our times.
The Gyan Ashram, Andheri, Bombay
George Proksch wanted to give mission work another dimension. His name is Gyan Prakash, Gyan meaning knowledge, knowledge of Christ and Prakash meaning light/revelation. Song and dance is his material, he tries to religiously educate the Indian people." This was a remark of an eminent guest at the Gyan Ashram after the performance of the Mesphal Bhagvan during the 38th International Eucharistic Congress. Fr. G. Proksch had already founded a Catholic Ashram and had given precedence for this kind of a missionary method in India. This ashram once thought of as a novelty in Catholic circles in India soon became a reality of great significance.
Life in this ashram equally called for tapasya penance a centre living, an option for simplicity in food clothing and demand a meaningful silence. 38.
The personal study and understanding of the Sacred Scriptures a swadhyaya, in Catholic missionary perspective this was the study of the Holy Bible. The sacrifice and offering to the Almighty upasna was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist Sewa Prem was expressed to all who entered the ashram with the motive to bring them closer to Jesus Christ. Besides this meaningful way of life another aim of the ashram was to train lay persons to proclaim the gospel message of salvation in Indian form for the people in India, and to make available Catholic literature and material presented in Indian dance and music for missionaries working in India. To facilitate this work Fr. G. Proksch received an affiliation from the Lucknow University toward academic degrees in Indian music. The ashram was also seen as a learning centre which attracted non Catholic to learn Indian dance and music and these skills were used to present biblical themes. One reads in the history of the ashram that examinations were annually conducted by a professor from the Lucknow University Music College, and for the year 1968 there were more than 35 students.
The Ashram Way of Life
Life in an Ashram is no new way of spiritual asceticism in India. It was traditionally the place where a hermit lived where his disciples gathered around him. One reads in history that Indian sages pursed their spiritual search in this way for centuries in the past, and in recent times the classical example of Swamy Vivekanand may be cited in the non-Catholic Indian context, who after his concept of God and the ideal of Ramakrishna’s work founded an order of monks. The monk who was previously known as Naren initiated 140 spiritual centres, where more than 600 members were obliged to religiously meditate, to study philosophy and serve humanity.
It must be admitted that the form of the ashram in India has undergone changes. As against the beginning when ascetics sanyasis renounced the world, went into the forest, lived in solitude and contemplation with the Almighty in prayer and penance, to today’s ashrams which vary from single men living in caves or one room huts to others like the Ramakrishna Mission and the Divine Life Society, where the disciples undergo a formal religious training. Some centres, like the Belur Mutt and Sivananda Ashram, have more than a hundred sanyasis living in a community. They run colleges, hospitals, and printing press and send their members even to Europe and America to propagate their ideology.
The quest for the Almighty has always been part of the Indian mind, even several centuries before St. Benedict wrote his rule describing the purpose of monastic life as being to seek God there were hundreds of ashrams throughout the length and breadth of India, where men and women lived in the greatest simplicity under obedience to their guru spiritual guide, and dedicated themselves totally to this yearning and longing for the Almighty. Their spiritual yearning drove them insatiably to plunge into the interior mystery and to seek the inaffable presence of the Almighty.
Life in an ashram demands tapasya penance, which is the basis for ascetic living, making a basic option for a simple way of life, in food and clothing, and maintaining a meaningful silence. It demands a personal study and understanding of the Holy Scriptures swadhyaya to absorb its contents and make it one’s own.
Present Activities of the Institute
Dance: Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathak
Music (vocal): Carnatic Sangeet
Fitness Exercises: Yoga, Aerobics, Acting and Personality Development course.
Names and Year of SVD (Directors) worked/working
Fr. George Proksch: 1958 - 1984
Fr. Francis Barboza: 1984 - 1997
Fr. Bernard Rodrigues: 1997 - 1999
Fr. Gilbert Carlo*: 1999 - 2000 *Leading exponent of yoga including "Yoga Healing Masses". See page 41.
Fr. Charles Vas: 2000 -
In items 8. and 9. above, we see how even the best of people with the best of intentions are burnt when they play with the fires of Hindu “art”. George Proksch SVD became Gyan Prakash. That is acceptable Indianisation or inculturation. But the transition from bhajans [Catholic hymns … sung in Hindi] in the church to Bharatanatyam in the liturgy is not. It is Hinduisation. Fr. Proksch’s intentions, to “proclaim the gospel message of salvation in Indian form” using “biblical themes”, “the Proclamation of the Word inIndian art and form” are commendable. Another goal of his ashram was “simple living with contemplating on the Sacred Scriptures culminating in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist”. From examining the evidence on the previous pages and of more SVD priests on the succeeding pages, one can see that something has gone horribly wrong. What started with the study of “Indian languages. Hindi and Sanskrit”, the use of “different folk dances, folk songs and a series of ragas of Indian music along with different Indian instruments like the Veena (=Harp) and sitar, warod (=Flute)” and “experiment[ing] in presenting Christian themes” has ended in adopting symbols and rituals that are particular to Hinduism, and a torrent of New Age. After all, one of the major influences on the New Age paradigm is Hinduism. Like most inculturationists in the Church today, Fr. Proksch did not realise or recognize the very thin line separating Indian from Hindu, culture from religion. 39.
He crossed that line when he widened the scope of his inculturation to include “the sacred literature of the Hindus, the Vedas Upanishads and Puranas” and “Hindu dramas like Ramlila and Mahabharata”. That appears to have been fatal for the Catholic spirituality of many priests in the SVD congregation.
The writer of the above piece on Gyan Ashram admits that “Fr. G. Proksch found little or no support in the early days; there were bishops and priests and even his own confreres who doubted his intentions and feared that he was turning Christianity into Hinduism”.
I know a few SVD priests who believe that the opposite holds true today, that those who protest the ongoing Hinduisation find little support in the congregation and in the Indian Church at large. 10. VIDEO: LOTUS AND THE CROSS-THE HINDUISATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA http://ephesians-511.net/docs/LOTUS_AND_THE_CROSS-THE_HINDUISATION_OF_THE_CATHOLIC_CHURCH_IN_INDIA.doc
FR. CHARLES VAS SVD: SANGEET ABHINAY ACADEMY, Mumbai EXTRACT
NARRATOR: "Fr. Charles Vas is a Ph.D. in Indian classical music and wrote his thesis on East-West trends in music."
Fr. Charles Vas: "The Sangeet Abhinay Academy was started with the aim of spreading the message of love through music and dance. I have in my troupe, people from all denominations [he probably means all faiths]. I consider the one point that God loves us without any preconditions. It’s a different kind of dancing in the church and in the halls. We raise our hearts and minds to God through very devotional gestures. It’s not jumping around."
WE ARE SHOWN, IN ELEGANT DANCE FORM, A DEPICTION OF THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE BY GOD.
"With devotional gestures and mudras… we show the creation. Dance and music form is the best form of portraying our ideas, and the religious ideas also can be portrayed and depicted… Biblical ideas can also be depicted…"
"We have started singing bhajans in the church. A few years back it was considered as paganism, but now we praise and thank the Lord through bhajans. It helps to pray better…"
WE WATCH A DANCE DEPICTING THE FALL OF MAN AND HEAR THE COMMENTATOR SAY THIS ABOUT ADAM AND EVE:'ANDTHOUGH THEY SINNED, BUT GOD WAS SO GENEROUS AND KIND THAT HE PARDONED THEM'.
THERE IS NO MENTION OF ORIGINAL SIN, REPENTANCE FROM ACTUAL SIN, AND THE NEED OF A SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD. What else can one expect from an institute that teaches Bharatanatyam, Enneagrams, Vipassana and Yoga to lay persons, priests, seminarians and nuns through retreats and seminars?
In the golden jubilee souvenir Saccidanandaya Namah ofSaccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, Vandana Mataji’s list of ashramsincludes the Gyan Prakash Ashram. [SeeCATHOLIC ASHRAMS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CATHOLIC_ASHRAMS.doc.]That means that the Catholic Ashrams movement acknowledges that Gyan Ashramis one of its member ashrams, sharing the same heretical visions and goals. In fact the Gyan Ashram site itself lays claim to Fr. Proksch’s “Founding of the First Indian Catholic Ashram 1948”. That might well be true. It was only followed by the Kurisumala Ashram, founded byFr. Bede Griffiths OSBandFr. Francis Mahieuat Vagamon in Kerala in 1955.
In the Catholic Ashrams report I have already briefly discussed the centres of the SVD Fathers in the Sacred Heart Parish of Andheri, Archdiocese of Bombay:Gyan Ashram, Atma Darshan, Institute for Indian Cultureetc., where severalNew Agepractices likeEnneagrams,Vipassana,Yogaetc. are taught at ‘retreats’ which are advertised in the Bombay Archdiocesan weekly The Examiner.
Here is a slightly edited extract from yet another of my reports: ATMA DARSHAN / GYAN ASHRAM, ANDHERI, MUMBAI, MAHRASHTRA [THE SOCIETY OF THE DIVINE WORD (SVD)]
Almost every issue of The Examiner, under the 'Local News- Forthcoming Events' column, advertises for programmes with yoga, vipassana, NLP, enneagrams, etc. mostly at the SVD-run Atma Darshan centre in Andheri or at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre or Retreat House or in some parish or school hall in Bandra, which means that these New Age courses are institutionalized. As examples,
The Examiner, December 29, 2001
Yoga Based Christian Meditation … SVD Fathers will conduct …from 22 Jan 2002 to 27 Jan 2002…
Atma Darshan programme [From The Examiner, April 29, 2006]:
Vipassana, May 24-June 4
Atma Darshan Programmes 2008 [From The Examiner]: Healing through Yoga Meditation Jan. 16-18
Understanding Your Dreams Jan. 24-26
Psycho-Spiritual Inner Healing Retreat Feb. 27, 28, Mar. 1
For the understanding of the New Age in these "psycho-spiritual" courses, please see
SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY, ETC. http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SANGAM_INTEGRAL_FORMATION_AND_SPIRITUALITY_CENTRE_GOA-NEW_AGE_PSYCHOLOGY_ETC.doc
and PSYCHOLOGY AND NEW AGE SPIRITUALITY 02
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/PSYCHOLOGY_AND_NEW_AGE_SPIRITUALITY_02.doc Atma Darshan programmes 2009 [From The Examiner]:
Psycho-Spiritual Inner Healing Retreat, June 26-28
Stress Management, August 28-30
Christian Meditation Programme
This programme, the "Christian Meditation" of Fathers John Main and Laurence Freeman, has been shown to be New Age, see FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
All these programmes are found to be at http://www.archbom.org/, the site of the Bombay archdiocese, as well as at http://examinerindia.blogspot.com/2009/01/local-news.html, the site of the Archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner.
The Examiner, April 21, 2007 carries a one-and-a-half page article "Making of a spiritual mall" by Divine Word Father Jose Arayathel, SVD. It gives the history of the founding of this centre. The initial land was donated by Catholic families, the D’Almeidas and the Mathews in 1958. Later 20 properties were bought and added on and the Ashram now covers 18 acres.
Its aims and objectives were "to form a group of young men and women who would live a life of service to proclaim God and bear witness to Him, exalt the ways of God to humanity and take humanity to God through the medium of Indian culture. Fr. Proksch visualized evangelisation by proclaiming the Word of God…" Then the German priest fell ill and returned home. Now, "Atma Darshan is a centre for spirituality and counselling." We know the actual scene as it is today.
In a Chennai-based Catholic fortnightly, The New Leader, December 1-31, 1999 an advertisement for
The St. Theresa’s Parish bulletin, Bandra, December 2003/January 2004
Retreats and Seminars at Atma Darshan [January-March 2004]:
1. Jan 9-12 Understanding your Dreams
2. Jan 11 One-day seminar on Dreams
3. Jan 16-18 Yoga-based Meditation
4. Feb 2-12 Retreat with Enneagram Spirituality
5. Feb 16-22 Guided Retreat
6. Feb 27-29 Psycho-Spiritual Inner Healing Retreat
7. Mar 5-7 Meditation for God Experience and Healing
The Managing Editor of the parish bulletin is a Fr. Berly Pallan, an SVD priest. He has misused the bulletin to advertise their New Age programmes, and it doesn’t seem that any of the parishioners notice or understand or care if they do.
One of my priest-relatives who mistakenly attended a "Yoga Meditation" retreat there under this priest came away very unhappy. I had written to him expressing my deep concern about what was happening in Catholic Ashrams [this was about a year before the release of my October 2005 report on the Catholic Ashram movement] and the priest wrote back:
"I have never been to a Christian Ashram as such, but they have different names. I think that your mail is timely, because from tomorrow I am on retreat for a week at a religious institution called 'Atma Darshan'.
It seems to fit the description of 'Ashram'. Since the retreat is labeled contemplative, I have decided to attend it, and also to experience just what the teachings are. Perhaps after this my first experience, I may be able to relate my experiences- nn"
He sent me a copy of Gilbert Carlo’s* "Meditation on Jesus for Healing and Joyful Living". In the booklet, Carlo attempts to Christianize yoga. He uses the chakras, mantras, etc., but with words having non-Hindu connotations. I have written a lot about all this in my several articles on yoga. Anyway, my priest-friend found the book to be absolute rubbish, and I am in complete agreement with him. Along with a letter strongly criticizing Atma Darshan, the priest-friend sent me the brochure
*See page 39. He was the fourth director of the Sangeet Abhinay Academy/Gyan Ashram. Atma Darshan Programme 2005
Again here we are invited for Yoga Meditation, Dream Therapy, Enneagram Spirituality, Vipassana Meditation, Psycho-Spiritual Retreat… plus Stress Management, Inner Freedom, Self Discovery retreats, etc.,
The Enneagram resource persons are Sr. Carmelita UFS., and Fr. Henry D’Souza, SVD.
In the Atma Darshan brochure, both Sr. Carmelita and Fr. Henry D’Souza SVD are described as having Masters degrees in "Counseling". But what are they teaching retreatants? ENNEAGRAMS. 41.
Then, there is a one-month "Human Development and Development to Christ" retreat. The brochure says, "Herein one will be helped to live by the new awareness by being more open to the Spirit."
Sounds refreshingly different and good, until one reads the list of Resource Persons and finds that they are the same as those who give the Enneagram retreats, etc. And, what’s more, the brochure invites all those who attended the "Development to Christ" retreat to "stay on for the 10-day Vipassana Meditation programme" which would be given by their "Authorized Vipassana Team".
One does not have to wonder whether it is the Holy Spirit or a very powerful deceiving spirit at work in Atma Darshan…
But the ignorant and the innocent, especially lay people, nuns and seminarians, continue to be deceived – and they in turn deceive others into joining these programmes -- because they are conducted by priests at Catholic centres with the blessings of the Archdiocese, as these letters demonstrate:
The Examiner, July 4, 2009. Letter to the editor:
I attended a 3-day Retreat from June 26-28. This was a different experience for me…The resource persons are all priests who have done studies in Psychology and Counselling, and are experienced. 42 persons attended the Retreat which comprised youth, adults, senior citizens and Religious. The ambience is excellent and the rooms are airy and comfortable… Atma-Darshan has already chalked out their yearly Programme for 2009-2010, which includes Meditation for God-experience and Healing, Stress Management, Ageing Gracefully, etc. Do attend these programmes and experience peace and joy. Rui J. Dias, Borivli, Mumbai
I thought that I saw a similar letter in a recent issue of The Examiner, but I could not locate it. Here is one from the January 23, 1999 issue:
Wholesome Spirituality [Half-page write-up] EXTRACT:
The time is right. The place is right. The institution is right… From its inception just a few months ago, over 200 people have already stayed at Atma-Darshan. Keeping a clear focus on spirituality and counselling, Atma Darshan has chalked out its plans. Being a centre for spirituality, there is a feast of retreats on inspiring spiritual subjects. In the first week of February there is a retreat with Enneagram spirituality, a Charismatic retreat in March…
For those who want to try something different to get enriched in their spirituality, there is a course on Yoga Meditation in March and Vipassana Meditation in September. One could even attend a Nature Healing programme in November.
What this means is that Atma Darshan is a 'must' place for every taste in spirituality… Sylvester Lobo, Mumbai.
It is clear that The Examiner and the Archdiocese of Bombay support the New Age spirituality of the Atma Darshan centre.
I wonder if Sacramental Confession is a part of these psycho-spiritual retreats. After all, the resource persons are priests. I also wonder if these SVD priests ever talk about sin and repentance and then sit for confession during these retreats, and if they do, do they take a psycho-analytical approach or a biblical faith-based one in counseling the penitent?
To me, Dias’ letter seems more like an advertising gambit for Atma Darshan than a testimony. After all, he did not say how he personally benefited from the psycho-spiritual 'Retreat' that he attended. Lobo’s letter, too, is quite obviously an advertisement for the Ashram.
And finally, I wonder if I wrote a letter to the editor of The Examiner pointing out the problems with these 'Spiritual Retreats' at Atma Darshan and warning Catholics of their possible dangers, would it be published? That is a rhetorical question.
4. Fr. Joachim Andrade SVD, the Provincial of the Congregation of the Divine Word for the Southern Region of Brazil is originally from Mangalore, India. Trained at Gyan Ashram, Mumbai, he teaches Bharatanatyam at own school of dance, Ravi Santosh Performing Arts, located in Curitiba, Brazil.
Below left: note the huge idol of Shiva [Nataraja] in the background and a little icon of the Virgin.
Centre: the occult yin/yang, extreme left on backdrop, with the symbols of all religions. Syncretism!
Padre Joachim é professor de dança clássica indiana
1. Priest launches book on Indian classical dance styles of India June 9, 2008
June 19 (Thursday) in Curitiba Park Shopping Bookstores Barigüi the national launch of the book "Indian Dance - History - Evolution - Style," written by Catholic priest and professor of classical Indian danceJoachim Andrade. A native of Mangalore (city of Karnataka state in southern India), Joachim Andrade holds a degree in classical dance style Bharata Natyam by Gyan Ashram Institute of Performing Arts in Mumbai, one of the most prestigious schools in India. In his book - produced from the PhD thesis in Science of Religion who defended the PUC-SP in 2007 - Andrade is to present classical Indian dance in depth, to reclaim the religious elements, aesthetic and body that make up this ancient form of artistic expression. "How was based on academic information and experience of dance in India and Brazil, the work can be very useful for dancers and teachers. Even people who do not know the dance, but they have interesting information about Indian culture by reading the book," says Joachim. Practiced by millions of people in India and increasingly popular in countries like USA, UK, Canada and Brazil, the Indian classical dance ritual began as part of Hinduism. Influenced by Islamic culture from the Mongol invasion (XVI), come to our days as a national treasure of India. During the book launch, the public will enjoy choreography of classical Indian dance Bharata Natyam students presented by Joachim Andrade. The event will be attended by the Consul General of India in Sao Paulo, Mr. Sivaraman Swaminathan.
Launch of book "Indian Classical Dance - History - Evolution - Style" by Joachim Andrade (168 pages, suggested retail price of $ 42.00) Date: 19/06/2008 (Thursday) Time: 19:30 Location: Curitiba Books Barigüi Park Mall (Store 169)
The dance performances with the students of Ravi Santosh Performing Arts occur at 19.45 and 20.45.
2.Festival da cultura Indiana do Recife August 26, 2008
Padre Joachim Andrade dança na abertura do festival [Father Joachim Andrade dance at the opening of the festival]
Joachim Andrade (Mangalore, 1962), is a Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Divine Word. Graduated in Philosophy and Theology from Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune (India), graduated in English from the University of Mysore and a specialist in Bharata Natyam dance by Ashram Gyan Institute of Performing Arts, Mumbai. Living in Brazil since 1992, a Masters in Social Anthropology at the Federal University of Parana and Doctor of Religious Sciences at the Catholic University of São Paulo. Currently, besides the priesthood - Joachim Andrade is provincial of the Congregation of the Divine Word for the Southern Region of Brazil - coordinates its own school of Indian dance, Ravi Santosh Performing Arts, located in Curitiba.
There is loads of yoga at this 'Festival of Indian culture' at which Fr. Joachim Andrade SVD performs the Hindu dance, Bharatanatyam, centre photograph above.
The priest studied at the Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth/Papal Seminary, Pune.
Read about what many of the seminary’s theologians teach, at NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 02-THE PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, INDIAN THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS
See the picture on the extreme left, on page 43, Fr. Joachim Andrade SVD, performing before an idol of Nataraja [Shiva] and again below left. Below right, Fr. Joachim Andrade SVD dances before the tabernacle and what appears to be an upside-down cross. Art? Now why am I not surprised?
The South American country of Brazil is no doubt famous for its soccer, beaches, coffee, volleyball, carnival and those hot women who sashay the international modeling scene with aplomb. This former Portuguese colony no doubt boasts of a unique and flamboyant culture of its own as its carnival festivities are famous across the world attracting thousands of people. Despite the distance that separates But Indian dance,yoga,art and culture is finding its flavour in Brazil thanks to the efforts of a few Indian missionaries and other smitten Brazilians who have been instrumental in spreading Indian flavour in this coffee land.
Today about 5 million Brazilians are practicing regular yoga and several dance and art schools have mushroomed all over Brazil, says Fr Joachim Andrade, a Mangalorean SVD priest who has been working in Brazil for the last 17 years.
"Major Hindu influence began in Brazil to be exact was in 1953, when yoga was taken by a French man, who took the Indian name as Shivananda, who started a yoga academy in one of the towns of Brazil. Later, many other forms have entered such as Hare Krishna Movement, Vedanta Philosophy, Indian classical music and finally Indian classical dance. The Brazilians got hooked to Indian music, vegetarianism, food and culture and there has been no stopping its popularity", Fr Andrade declares.
Indian way of live has penetrated deeply among the people and some of the Brazilians have great admiration towards Indian culture. Many have ventured out to take a trip to India visiting several ashrams and gurus. They have taken back to Brazil a kind of Indian culture which has created a deep rooted impact among Brazilians.
This receptiveness among Brazilians prompted Fr Andrade to make a deeper study on the phenomenon of the diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil. Born in Vamada Padavu in Bantwal taluk, he joined seminary and was initiated to Bharathanatyam during his college days in Mysore. Fr Andrade gave a public stage entrance in Pune in 1991 in Bharatanatyam and left for Brazil in 1992 after his ordination. He continued his passion in Brazil and did his masters in Anthropology choosing the topic “Dance as a ritual: a case study of Indian Dance” for his dissertation. For his doctorate he chose the topic of “diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil and used Bharatanatyam as the medium for diffusion.
As Fr Andrade worked in southern part of Brazil where the church activity is mostly pastoral and was compelled to make a slight shift in his missionary work and concentrate on ecumenical as well as inter-religious dialogue activity. Because of his close involvement in inter-religious dialogue activities, he has been appointed as the coordinator of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious dialogue dimension of the arch diocese of Curitiba.
Responding to public enthusiasm Fr Andrade has opened an academy of dance in Brazil recently where Brazilians learn the Indian dance and propagate it to the Brazilian people. “My motive behind this is to utilize the art form to diffuse Christian themes and combine the art and spirituality to the Brazilian culture” he says modestly.
Recently his pupil Ivanilda Maria Moreira Da Silva, a yoga teacher for the last 20 year hailing from Curitiba in Brazil was in Mangalore to add perfection to her Bharatanatyam dance which she has been learning in Brazil from Fr Andrade for the last four years. Ivanilda spent two months at Sandesha College of Fine Arts fine-tuning her skills in Bharathanatyam and left back for Brazil with a promise to come back against next year with her 13 year old daughter Yane to learn more about Indian dance. “I learnt the techniques and perfection of the movements of the Indian classical dance. I am greatly impressed by the visuals, the grace, the music and the expressions of Bharathanatyam. Having stayed here for two months and learning dance I feel dance comes from within and it is very satisfying to make the movements, articulations and gestures. It is made me what I am”, Ivanilda confesses. 44.
Ivanilda came to be associated with yoga just by fluke. Her husband wanted to learn martial arts and yoga formed a part of martial arts. She had accompanied her husband to the university and when her husband got specialized in Martial arts Ivanilda got a tryst with yoga and since then as the cliché goes there has been no looking back for Ivanilda. A few years back she was exposed to Indian dance and got enamored by it prompting her to join the academy as Fr Andrade’s student…
It only goes to prove that art and spirituality makes a great combo to make a striking impact.
Daijiworld readers’ comments on the above piece by Florine Roche:
Excellent article by Florine Roche and congratulations to Fr. Joaquim SVD and his efforts to spread the indian culture and values. Good luck! Clifford D’Souza SVD, Taccode/Montreal/Canada April 07, 2008
Congratulations to Fr. Joachim. For nearly 16 years we were companions in the seminary formation and he is known for his hard work and love for the art which he has kept till today. Wish you good luck in your task of spreading the Gospel values through the Indian dance in Brazil. Fr. John Stephen Roche, SVD, Fajir/México April 08, 2008
Great work Fr. Joachim, god bless in your sincere efforts. If i remember correctly we were studying together in SVD kirem in 1976. All the best to you. C. Hillary D’Silva, niddodi/mira road, mumbai April 08, 2008
Hi, I had read articles on Father Joachim being a Bharat Natyam dancing SVD priest before, I envision him as the only rightfully ordained RC priest to dance Bharat Natyam himself for daily mass. Can anyone enlighten me more about it? God bless nigamaa, church universal June 02, 2008
Two commenters are SVD priests, the third is either a priest or a person who left the SVD seminary before ordination, and they all congratulate their confrere on his spreading “Indian dance” in Brazil.
And “nigamaa” actually states that the priest dances Bharatanatyam at daily Mass! 5. More examples of SVD religious promoting Bharatanatyam/performing dance during the Liturgy of the Mass: first, one in Tizza, Ghana, then another in Holy Spirit church, Eichstatt, Germany. 1. Ghana Province SVD Newsletter August – November 2008
Immediately after the Holy Communion there was a cultural dance inside the Church. This dance is called bawaa. Xylophones and drums are normally used to produce the bawaa music. Usually, the dancers dance around the players of the instruments with the male and female dancers intertwined. Some of the con-celebrating ministers joint the dancers to exhibit their dancing capabilities. That made the celebration a very colorful one.
(The writer himself participated. He danced so well that he earned about GH 11.00 cedis for the official dancers. Let us not forget our roots!).- Fr. Martin K. Ninnang SVD
The group also was at Mass for Pastoral workersin Eichstatt and performed using local drums from Ghana which moved all to dance. A song composed by Rev. Bro Stephen Domelevo, SVD entitled "Walking Together: we are all to walk together" became the most popular song for the youth and old in all the parishes.- Stephen Domelevo, SVD Many SVD centres in India are dedicated to the promotion of Bharatanatyam. It is no wonder then that so many of their priests are taking to this Hindu dance. More on the SVDs in dance on page 87
Star over Bethlehem is the story of the birth of Jesus rendered in the beautiful Indian classical dance form called Bharatnatyam. Producer: Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVDfrdominic@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Date of Production: 2006 Duration: 8 [minutes]
"It does take time to develop a sense of equanimity. It can be achieved to some extent after long discipline and self-catechesis," Rev Dr Dominic Emmanuel SVD, director and spokesperson of Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, declares. Finding most comfort from Jesus’ teachings, he adds, "The principle of yin and yang or even the middle path taught by Gautama the Buddha, have also been of help to me in maintaining equanimity."
Life Positive is India’s leading New Age publication. That’s why the “yin and yang” passes muster.
For details, see page 18 ofFR PRASHANT OLALEKAR-INTERPLAY AND LIFE POSITIVE
Catholics have enquired with me about Sandesha, a Mangalore diocesan enterprise, for years From:Austine J. CrastaTo:prabhuSent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 9:21 AM Subject: Re: THANK YOU
I can only try to fit it in the schedule of my next trip to Mangalore which will depend upon an appointment to be given to me by Fr. Francis Lewis. I may not be able to visit Sandesha until Fr. Francis takes over on May 10th. Till then, you can take a printout of contents on their website and it may be treated as official/"in print" matter. When you do so, please don't copy and paste it to another location and print. That will not count. You must print it directly off Internet Explorer so that it automatically carries the webpage address.
This is to guard in case if website contents change later. URL: http://www.sandesha.org/Austine, Bangalore
Dear Mike, Thanks a ton for the article. Please visit this site and let me know if these guys are ok. I had given a presentation at the Bishops house today and met the directors of this place. http://sandesha.org Blessings Dom, Bangalore
1a. Odissi Dance Workshop at Sandesha-Mangalorean Catholics digest no. 667 dated March 5, 2007
Posted by: "Francis Lewis" email@example.com Sat Mar 3, 2007 6:16 am (PST) EXTRACT
Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya is delighted to inform that a Karnataka State level workshop on Odissi dance will be conducted at Sandesha from Sunday 4th of March to 10th of March 2007. St Mary’s College Shirva in collaboration with Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya opens a new avenue in Odissi dance.
This workshop sponsored by the University Grants Commission will be conducted by the eminent Odissi dance exponent Smt Itishree Devi (Disciple of Padmavibhushan Gurushree Kelucharan Mohapatra)
The inaugural function of the workshop will be held on Sunday the 4th of March at 5.30 pm at the Sandesha Kalabhhavan,
Any undergraduate student from the colleges can participate in this workshop. There are no fees payable. The workshop will be from 11.30 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm from Monday March 5, to Saturday March 11.
Rev Fr John Barboza, Principal , St Mary’s College Shirva.
Smt Vani Rajgopal, Principal, Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya
Fr Francis Lewis*, Director, Sandesha firstname.lastname@example.org 1b. Report ofOdissi Workshop-Mangalorean Catholics digest no. 669 dated March 8, 2007
Posted by: "Francis Lewis" email@example.com Wed Mar 7, 2007 5:54 am (PST) EXTRACT
Mangalore: I am happy to be here in this temple of art and culture and look forward to the experience of meeting so many youngsters at the workshop on Odissi dances said Smt Itishree Devi, here at Sandesha on 4th March…
The eminent exponent of Bharatanatyam, Karnataka Kala Tilaka Sri Ullal Mohan Kumar was the Guest of Honour stressed the need to preserve the great art and classical dances of India and he also said that we welcome whatever that is good in other cultures without sacrificing our own.
Fr John Barboza, Principal of St Mary’s College, also stressed the need of preserving the rich cultural heritage of India and called upon the participants of the workshop to fine tune their knowledge and technique of art by making the best use of the workshop… The college day celebrations were also conducted along with this function with a display of the talents and techniques acquired by the students during their study at Sandesha. There were presentation of Carnatic Music, Western Music, Baila and Bharatanatyam dances, music and songs.
*I wrote to the Directorof Sandesha, Fr. Francis Lewis, see below, with no response From:nnTo:firstname.lastname@example.orgSent: Saturday, March 10, 2007 8:09 PM Subject: MANGALOREAN CATHOLICS
Dear Fr. Francis Lewis,
With regard to your recent report on Odissi Workshop at Sandesha in MangaloreanCatholics, I have seen this old UCAN report** which I am reproducing below. Since both the Reverend Fathers are from Mangalore, could you please tell me how I can contact Fr. Jerry D'Souza and Fr. Francis Barboza because I am very interested in this subject of Odissi and Bharatanatyam? Regards, Yours sincerely,
**I refer here to the 1994 UCAN report which I have copied on page 21.
I will write about Odissi dance and Mohini Attam [see below] in my article Bharatanatyam-II. 2. http://sandesha.org/EXTRACT
Sandesha was born on November 26, 1991 with the main goal of fostering a value- based society by promoting universal values of love and harmony among people of different faiths, customs and traditions.
Sandesha’s home page has a quotation from Annie Besant, a leading theosophist. The Vatican Document on New Age says that Theosophy is one of the pillars of the New Age paradigm. 3. Sandesha Lalithkala Mahavidyalaya
The Sandesha Lalitkala Mahavidyalaya aims primarily at promoting the rich cultural heritage of India for a greater inter-cultural dialogue leading to better national integration.
The Institution prepares students for the B.A. Degree in Bharathanatyam, Carnatic Music... The institution is affiliated to Mangalore University and recognized by the Government of Karnataka…
Sandesha has an aesthetically designed prayer room located at the centre of the Sandesha building. It is the heart, the power house, a veritable GUDI of divine presence, prayer and peace…
Board of Management Rt. Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza [Bishop of Mangalore]
Most Rev. Dr Bernard Moras [Archbishop of Bangalore]
Fr. Francis Lewis [Director. The previous directors were Fr. Denis Alexander D’Sa andFr. Valerian Mendonca] Sri. P. M. Castelino
Sri. Galdin D’Souza Fr. Jayanathan
Smt. Merlyn Rasquinha
Sri. Roy Castelino
Sri. Marcel Monteiro
Also see http://www.konkaniworld.com/mission/index.asp?id=257
4. Sandesha photo gallery
Sandesha’s slide show in the photo gallery contains public performances of yoga. One slide shows the founder of Sandesha, Fr Henry D’Souza, the Executive Secretary of the Social Communications Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Henry D’Souza is presently the Bishop of Bellary and he continues to be very much associated with Sandesha and with Bharatanatyam dance. 5a. http://www.bangalorearchdiocese.com/circular1_apr08.asp April 1, 2008 EXTRACT
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Henry D'Souza, presently Executive Secretary
of the CBCI’s Social Communications Commission as Bishop of Bellary. Fr. D'Souza was the first Director ofSandesha… 5b. http://www.udupichurch.com/news.asp?id=44EXTRACT
Sandesha Foundation, founded in 1991 by Bishop Henry D’Souza5c. http://www.konkaniworld.com/news/indexMore.asp?ID=1004&title=Rajyotsava%20Award%20for%20SandeshaEXTRACT
Mangalore: Sandesha’s relentless efforts at preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of India Were publicly acknowledged when it was honoured with the Rajyotsava Award (Karnataka State Formation Day Award) on November 1, in Bangalore at a glittering function. Sandesha Foundation for Culture and Education is a registered charitable Trust under the auspices of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops Council and is the regional centre for Social Communications. The Award was presented by the Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri Dharam Singh at the Ravindra Kala Kshetra, Bangalore, in the presence of hundreds of dignitaries, officials and the public… The state level award was received by the Director of Sandesha, Fr Denis D’Sa… Founded in 1989 by the visionary Fr Henry D’Souza (the present Executive Secretary of the of CBCI Social Communications Commission) and registered in 1991… The subjects offered are Bharatanatyam, Carnatic Vocal…
Mangalore, Feb 9, 2010: The Sandesha Foundation for Culture and Education (under the auspices of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops' Council), organized the Sandesha Awards 2009 presentation Ceremony, on Sunday, 8th February, 2009 at 5.30 p.m. at Sandesha, Premnagar, Bajjodi, Mangalore.
All the guests and the Awardees were traditionally welcomed with Poornakumbha Swagatha by the students at the entrance of Sandesha and the guests were escorted in a ceremonial procession.
An invocation dance was then performed by the students of Sandesha. All the guests were escorted to the dais by Fr. Valerian Mendonca (Director of Sandesha), introduced to the audience and honoured with floral bouquets. .. After the award ceremony, the Chief Guest, Most Rev. Henry D'Souza (Bishop of Bellary), said that he was extremely happy to be present on the occasion and felt that he was back in his home town. He congratulated Sandesha for completing its 20 years and remembered the early stages of its inception in 1989.
Endorsed by the institutional Church, the poison of Bharatanatyam is spread far and wide
5e. Talent abound - Shaila is a rising star By Violet Pereira, Team Mangalorean – Mangalore July 21, 2009
Sometimes an accomplished person can be unsung and unknown but it doesn’t take long for talent to get noticed. One such talented young person is Ms. Shaila Saldanha Kamath. This "Natya Vidhushi" in Bharatanatyam, is a unique achiever of the Konkani Community. The unassuming young lady not only holds the high "Vidwat" degree in dance, but also has qualifications in Carnatic Vocal, Western Keyboard, as well as excellent academic laurels adding up to the Masters Degree…
[Her father] admitted Shaila to a dance class in Neermarga, to learn more about dance. After some months, this dance class was closed and all the students were shifted to Sandesha at Bajjodi… "Vidwat" is a final degree in dance (Post graduation)..
Probably she is the first Christian raised to qualified levels in what is generally thought as Hindu culture to the simple thinker, despite art and culture being universal. Ms. Shaila is now dedicated in teaching "Bharathanatyam" and Carnatic Music in many institutions. With the support and encouragement of her father, she has set up an open school called "Nrityangana" at her residence to encourage and bring out more and more dancers from her area…
More on Shaila Saldanha on pages 149 through 153 The Institute also promotes Yoga; we have already seen that in item no. 4, on the previous page.