Dhrupad by the Ganga With Pandit Nirmalya Dey


The annual Dhrupad retreat with Pandit Nirmalya Dey will be held by the banks of the Himalyan Ganga river, in the village of Byasi, 30 km above Rishikesh,between March 10 and 17, 2019.

Every year students who are interesting in learning Dhrupad, the core of Indian Classical music come together from all over the world for an annual Dhrupad retreat to train intensively with renknowned Dhrupad singer Pandit Nirmalya Dey. IN 2016 the retreat was held in the holy city of Benaras, in 2017 in the Himalayan village of Dharamkot and in 2018 by the banks of the Himalyan ganga in the village of Byasi, Rishikesh.

Dhrupad requires regular practice at home. This home practice is inspired, energized and enhanced by the annual retreat where students come from the world over, to learn from the Guru. Two ragas are generally taken up in the retreat and explored in depth and the Guru teaches Alaap and compositions. The day begins with pre dawn kharaj and ends with all the participants sitting by the bon fire after evening practice. The retreat is in deep nature and provides a wonderful balance between intense concentrated practice and relaxation in nature.


In India, from ancient times, yogis and mystics always lived and practiced in forest hermitages, away from the cities. Of these, the most cherished and sought after in yogic circles have always been, the Himalayas. These mountains have a very special energy and yogis and mystics of all inclinations have made a beeline for the Himalayas to deepen their meditation or to give up city life, for living in the lap of deep nature.

The above background puts into practice the immensity and depth of doing intensive dhrupad retreats in the Himalayas, with one of the greatest living masters of the Dhrupad, Pandit Nirmalya Dey.

There are tremendous synergies to doing Dhrupad in the Himalayas.

  • Predawn Kharaj with pure Himalayan Oxygen
  • The effects of Himalayan glacial water on health, body, energy and voice
  • The effects of walking in the mountains on health, body, energy and voice
  • The role of breath in Nad Yoga and the impact of super pure air on breath
  • The meditative vibe in the Himalayas
  • Combining Yoga asanas with other activities in the Himalayas
  • Combining formal meditation with Dhrupad.


Dhrupad is the most ancient form of Indian Classical Music. It is a high art form, and has very strong Naad Yoga and meditation aspect. This is enhanced by practicing in pure Himalyan nature. Byasi is a small village located on the banks of the Himalayan ganga and the retreat is greatly embellished by a daily swim in the Ganga. A more detailed description of the Dhrupad can be found here:


Dhrupad consists of several sections including Alap, Madhya-Alap, Drut-Alap, Composition and improvisation. A more detailed description of the Dagarvani Dhrupad can be found here:


Essentially Dhrupad is a high art form, it is austere, and focuses on the purity of the sound and notes.  The retreat participant will be exposed to the basic as well as subtle aspects of the Dhrupad.



The Nad Yoga aspect of the Dhrupad, is immensely enhanced by the purity of the nature in the Himalayas. The Himalayas are home to thick pine forests, ultra pure air and crystalline glacial water, that are perfect for practicing Dhrupad meditatively and deeply.

India is the ancient land of spirituality. In times before recorded history, a spiritually advanced civilization lived here, and they lived a very high grade lifestyle which brought the world spiritual gems such as Yoga, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, the Vedas and the Dhrupad.

Each of these were an aspect of the higher life. Yoga means to connect with the divine. Ayurveda is the science of health and holistic living. Sanskrit is the language in which all of the knowledge of this higher civilization was recorded. The vedas express spiritual truths. And Dhrupad is Nad Yoga or sound meditation.

According to Patanjali’s yoga sutras yoga is simply expressed in three words:

Citta Vritti Nirodha

Citta means mind, vritti means thoughts and Nirodha means stop. Today yoga has become identified with Asanas or postures, which are a small part of the real yoga. The asanas are designed to get the body and energy into good shape, so as to enable deeper meditation with the goal of achieving Samadhi, or a deep still state of mind.

Meditation, asanas and other forms of spiritual practice are powerful, however according to many music is among the most powerful way to connect with the divine.

According to Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, there are two types of music, Desi and Margiya. While the Desi music is designed for entertainment, the Margiya music is primarily for connection to the divine.

The Dhrupad is Margiya music, and is designed to induce deeply meditative states of mind.


In 2016 we had a very  successful Dhrupad retreat in Varanasi. It was a 10 day intensive retreat that was immensely productive and well attended. This year’s Dhrupad retreat and workshop is an extended opportunity to last years participants to followup on their training. Fresh retreatants are welcome.

This is a video directed by Andrei Demidenko, that documents Varanasi retreat 2016.