I had the most unusual night club experience in Argentina last weekend when I was in "Groove" one of the trendiest night clubs of Buenos Aires. The DJ was not playing Salsa, Samba or Reggaton. Instead, the club was vibrating with Sanskrit songs... "Jai jai Radha Ramana hari Bol", " Jai Krishna Hare" " Gurudeva Guru Om"" Ganesha Sharanam", " Govinda Govinda" and " Jai Shiva Shambo"
Rodrigo Bustos (age-29) and Nicolas Pucci (age-32), the Argentine singers rocked the bodies and stirred the souls with their mesmerizing voice. An audience of 800 teenagers and twenty somethings were dancing and swaying to the music and also singing with pure ecstasy and abandon.
I went to the bar for a glass of wine. The bartender said, "Sorry No alcohol". Seeing my disbelief and raised eyebrows, he added, " No smoking. No drugs. No meat. Only soft drinks, fruit juice and vegetarian food".
Recovering from the surprise, I was about to order a fruit juice, when the music and dance stopped suddenly. A yoga instructor appeared and asked the audience to sit down, observe silence and listen to the inner music. Then there was slow music for meditation and instructions for yoga exercises. The instructor asked the audience to smile and exchange greetings with the neighbours. The normally restless young generation followed all the instructions religiously and fervently. After a while, the music and dance resumed.
Despite the loud music and wild dancing in the night club, both the singers and the audience maintained a sense of respect and reverence to the Sanskrit mantras and the Indian gods. The atmosphere was clearly spiritual and conducive to the uplifting of the soul. The man who was next to me with his wife and two small kids told me that he had attended many Yoga Rave events and found it cathartic and energizing.
The music and dance went on for four hours. The audience left the hall with smiles and more peace and joy in their hearts. But I went to the back stage, filled with curiosity, to meet the creators of this new phenomenon and ask them...
How did they manage to replace the spirits ( alcoholic) with spiritualism in a discotheque?
How did they convert the dance club into place of meditation?
How did they attract young Argentines with old Sanskrit songs?
Rodrigo, the main singer and the founder of the band listened to my questions patiently with a serene smile like an Indian Guru and explained, " Yoga Rave is an alternative party. It is a new concept in fun- free from alcohol, smoking and drugs. The body and and soul are connected by the mantras, yoga, meditation, music and dance in an unconventional way" . Rodrigo started this healthy and new party wave in 2008 and has already attracted thousands of followers. The first Yoga Rave show in Buenos Aires in 2008 was attended by 50 people, all friends. In 2010 the audience increased to 30,000 and the shows went beyond Argentina covering Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay with a total of 22 shows. In July 2011, they performed in the Berlin World Cultural Festival organized by the Art of Living Foundation. In April 2012, they performed in seven cities in USA including New York. They have not been to India yet but 7000 of their CDs have already been sold in India. They released their first album " Smile " in 2009 and the second one " Blossom" on 20 may 2012.
" So What " is the name of the project/band created by Rodrigo ( in the picture above ) with his band companion Nicolas to provide music to the Yoga Rave parties. He drew inspiration from the Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravishankar, which supports the project and the Yoga Rave events in Argentina and around the world. "So what" is the way of saying in anti-stress situations, explained Rodrigo to me. Rodrigo and Nicholas studied music and wanted to pursue musical careers. Their career and life took a turn when they came across the Art of Living movement. Now they are full-fledged devotees of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. They use the Sanskrit mantras in all forms of music such as Pop, Rock, Hiphop, Reggaton and Electronic music. They have managed to bring the thousand year old mantras vibrate to the electronic beats and a variety of music styles with their creativity and innovation. One of the reasons for the popularity of the shows is that Rodrigo and Nicolas have become role models for the young audience with their clean and healthy personal lives as vegetarians, teetotalers and happy souls. They touch the hearts of others with their contagious cheerfulness and friendly spirit.
Rodrigo and Nicolas - in the picture above - had performed in the IV Festival of India in December 2011 organized by the Embassy. It was a open- air show in the historic May Avenue (Avenida Mayo). There were about 2000 people standing and dancing, as seen in the picture below.
I am not surprised by this Argentine innovation of connecting Indian meditation and mantras to the Latino youth. Among the Latin Americans, I found the Argentines taking the most profound interest in Indian culture and thought. I have seen more young people practicing Indian meditation and spiritualism in Argentina than in the other countries of the region. For the Argentines, the Indian culture is not just a passing fad. It has become mainstream and part of every day life and thought process for thousands of Argentines old and young.
Argentina, an Agricultural Power with abundant land, water and potential, can supply India with edible oil, pulses and other food requirements in the long term. In return, India feeds and nurtures the Argentine souls with spiritualism, yoga and meditation.
I call this as the Alimentary Complementarity between Argentina and India...
Reproduced with the kind permisson of Mr. Rengaraj Viswanathan, Indian Ambassador to Argentina (now retired).