Monday, 23 January 2012


“You make sure I win, and I promise to chant 16 rounds every day.” Devotional service started with a bargain for Nirdosh, the lead guitarist of the band   De Innovatives. “I knew all the philosophy but my faith was a hardcovered seed with a sapling waiting to crack out.” Nirdosh adds. He was in the queue for auditions of an MTV talent hunt, standing far away from the entrance behind thousands of contestants.

Suddenly, there was a huddle and few moments later he was the first contestant in the line; the anxiety of chanting  sixteen rounds daily superseded the happiness of his altered first position in the queue. In the next few weeks he encountered more incidents where Krishna responded to his challenges and surprised him. His faith believed in everything which his common sense was not allowing him to believe in. Finally, he won the contest beating more than 5000 contestants bagging the title of best guitarist and the winner of MTV - Rock On. He surrendered to Krishna by  beginning to chant 16 rounds.
Five out of seven members of the band hail from Chandigarh. One of the members, Namrata  got connected to Iskcon Chandigarh during the time when De - Innovatives used to perform in their city. Eventually, she took up devotional service seriously.
Soon the other members of the band followed, her lead vocalist Neha Behl, rhythm guitarist Gagandeep Singh, and sound technician Barinder Pal Singh also accepted Krishna consciousness, except her brotherNirdosh, who wanted to wait till he makes it big in the world of music.
In 2008, Namrata and Barinder got married, and they took initiation from His Holiness Gopäla Krishna Goswämi Mahäräja to become Nämabhakti Devi Däsi and Braja Kisora Das. In 2009 Nirdosh moved to Mumbai to audition for the MTV India reality show Rock On, a talent hunt for best rock musician in the country. After the success of MTV Rock On, Nirdosh convinced his other band mates to shift to Mumbai for better prospects in the world of contemporary music. In Mumbai, they couldn’t find any opportunity, and it became difficult for them to make two ends meet. They were supported by their family to manage their finances. Gopäla Krishna Goswämi Mahäräja  gave them an opportunity to perform at ISKCON Juhu’s Jagannätha Ratha-yäträ. After this event, the band decided to adopt a new name—from De-innovatives they became Madhavas, after Their Lordships Sri Sri Rädhä Mädhava, the presiding Deities of ISKCON Chandigarh. 

Post Ratha-yäträ, their lives became an exclusive offering to Srila Prabhupäda’s mission. They began to perform attractive rock kirtanas at Ratha-yäträ festivals and in colleges across India. It was then that they came across another opportunity to participate in Asia’s biggest talent hunt show, India’s Got Talent. Though uninterested in the beginning, they finally agreed as they didn’t want to miss an opportunity to sing and glorify Krishna's holy name on a popular TV show that will fetch global coverage. By this time they had two new members in the band—drummer Isaac Chinnaya who is a catholic, and tabla and dholak player Mehul Waghtla, who appreciated Krishna consciousness. From their first auditions the group stood out owing to their traditional attire of dhotis and saris with Vaishnava tilaka marking their foreheads and japa beads hanging around their necks. A scintillating rock fusion performance of the popular bhajana “Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama” that merged into Srila  Prabhupäda’s classic tune of the Hare Krishna mahä-mantra produced a spine-tingling moment as the audience went crazy and started singing and dancing along.
As Madhava’s moved to the second level they were asked not to sing Vaishnava songs and Hare Krishna's mantra to thus ensure variety. It was a testing moment but Krishna guided them with intelligence. They recalled a popular Sufi song, “Dama Dam Mast Kalandar,” which was written in glorification of the Sufi guru Jhulelal by one of his disciples. With lyrics like ‘You, guru, have given me a chance to sing the holy name, all glories to you,” the song was completely in sync with Krishna conscious philosophy. They sang a verse from this song along with Çréla Prabhupäda’s praëati mantra (nama om vishnu padaya). The audience was mesmerized.

After the performance a devotee wrote to them, “Dear Madhavas, you have given a deep message to the whole of India, in fact to the whole world, that the Hare Krishna people love and respect everyone without any distinction of religion. Therefore your performance was of great significance with respect to universal brotherhood and peace. As His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupäda says, ‘You can go through any religious process if the aim is to love God. Then your life is perfect.’ The entire ISKCON community will be grateful to you for this matchless gift. You are already victors. Whereever there is Krishna, there is beauty, strength and victory.”
The Dama Dam performance was deeply applauded by everyone. It widened the panorama of many devotees who until now critical of this band were touched by their efforts to Krishna-ize their performance and spread the message of Srila Prabhupäda on such a large platform. Madhavas moved into the semi-finals with the highest number of votes in the competition. Continuing with their singular approach they sang a Sikh bhajana by Guru Gobind Singh in praise of the guru. This was followed by Krishna’s immortal words from the Bhagavad-gita, yadä hi dharmasya glänir bhavati bhärata/ abhyutthänam adharmasya tadätmänaà såjämy aham. The flamenco rhythms of Madhavas articulated to the whole world about the importance of surrendering to guru and Krishna.
While they were preparing for the finals, the India’s Got Talent team filmed the band and showed how the band members engaged daily in spiritual acts of offering food to their Gaura Nitai Deities, honoring prasäda and chanting. The show also covered the morning program at ISKCON Mira Road temple, and shared with the audience about their pledge to donate their winning amount to the temple if they win. They entered the finals with the maximum number of votes.
By now they had started receiving blessing not in the form of votes but emails and messages also. ISKCON Vrindavan requested all the devotees during the mangal arati to vote for the Madhavas. For their finale performance Madhava’s were asked to sing a romantic Bollywood song from guest judge Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming movie RA-One. Still, they found a way to Krishna-ize it by giving it a foreword from the two texts of Sri Isopanishad.
Then, there was the time for the results of the finale. All the contestants were nervous but Madhavas were peacefully chanting on the stage. When the results were announced, they came third and were happy. They knew Krishna will give them whatever is best for them and they will accept it as happily as possible. In caucus they admitted that the whole act would have been impossible without the blessings of devotees. They were especially grateful to His Holiness Gopäla Krishna Goswami Maharaja and Kamala Locana Däsa (band counselor), without whom they couldn’t fathom the task. “Because of India’s Got Talent, now wherever we go, even if we are performing at a wedding or corporate party to make our living, people will expect us and want us to sing Hare Krishna, because that was our signature on the show,” Nirdosh says. “And if they sing along with us, just by chanting Hare Krishna, they are starting their devotional lives.” 

- Manish Goel.

1 comment:

Shagun Sharma said...

*BIIIIIG Smile* Love you guys.
Shagun Sharma.