|Profession||Theology / Church|
|Date||July 1, 2008|
One of my favourite memories of a childhood in Nepal, as the son of Interserve missionaries, was listening to my mother play the piano as I lay in bed. On some nights she would spontaneously meld western harmonies with the plaintive eastern melodies of Nepali folk songs worshiping Christ. It was unheard of to have a piano in a small mountain village. Thirteen porters struggled for two days to manoeuvre the piano through the rice paddies. I remember this image now; a western piano strangely implanted in the East.
My colleague Pete Hicks was born a few years later in New Delhi, also the son of missionary parents. But they were soon assigned to North America and Pete grew up in New Jersey and Georgia. The one thing the two of us had in common growing up on opposite sides of the globe was rock music, which was already easily available in the form of music cassettes in stores in Kathmandu.
Twenty five years later, in 1995, I met Pete and invited him to join my rock band, OLIO, in India. But I was growing increasingly restless simply playing rock music in a land I knew was full of incredible melodies and poetry of its own. The seeds of a fusion of eastern melodies and western harmony, which had been planted in me by my mother, were growing into something that would soon become my life’s focus. When Pete arrived I began to bring out the sitar, and created with him a fusion with guitar that preserved the devotional nature of the music while incorporating western musical influences. So we formed Aradhna, which means adoration, out of a longing to worship Christ with all of the haunting beauty of the melodies of the East and the familiar comfort of the guitar.
At the time we were not very clear on what our aim in creating this fusion was, but we soon became aware that others were drawn to the deep devotion of the melodies and words. People from both Asian and western backgrounds began telling us things like “For the first time in my life as a follower of Christ I feel like I have arrived home in worship.” Others said, “I never imagined that I could connect with my own country’s music, let alone sense the Holy Spirit’s strong presence in it, but after hearing these bhajans I feel like a whole area of my life that I had rejected is now being redeemed.”
Perhaps the deepest impact of all has been on Hindu followers of Christ whose lives are often characterized by a deep delight in Christ combined with the intense sorrow stemming from the loss of family ties. In these bhajans “(worship songs) they are finding their spiritual voice, and it is bringing them to a wholeness they never knew before. They are showing their parents that, for them, following Christ can be expressed in deeply Indian ways. They are illustrating how being a devotee of Christ is not contradictory to the simple Hindu ideals of spiritual discipline, good works, and an intense pursuit of truth.
It is wonderful for us in Aradhna to be so connected with these brothers and sisters in Christ from Hindu backgrounds. What may come as a surprise, though, is the connection this music is having in the West with people who have no reason in their background to feel connected with bhajans. Many young people are expressing a deep hunger to know that Christ is bigger than western culture, bigger than their own small worlds. And in this hunger we are seeing many begin to sing from their hearts in languages they do not know, realizing that they are singing the praises of Christ with people around the world.
For information on how to buy Aradhna’s CDs anywhere in the world, go to www.aradhnamusic. com/store. Their music can also be purchased from the iTunes store.