Fritjof Capra gives an account of his own experience of Indian music and dance in his essay Indian Music and Dance. The author visited Bombay when a major festival of-music and dance was being organized.

In the first evening the author attended the performance of music. It was the musical display of Bismillah Khan. Bismillah khan was the master to play on, shehnai. His shehnai produced various sounds beginning from light-hearted joy to spiritual serenity. The music of Khan reminded the author of the jazz music of John Coltrane. He recalled Mozart and the folk song of his childhood But Khan’s shehnai transcends all musical types.

In the second evening the author attended the Odissi dance performed by Sanjukta Panigrahi and Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.

Odissi is one of the classical dance forms of India. It is an integral part of worship and still a part of artistic expression of spirituality. The author went to the concert along with a dancer friend and a fellow student of hers. They took the author backstage where the author could see Sanjukta and her Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra preparing for dance. They were facing each other with closed eyes and whispers. It was a scene of concentration and prayer. When it ended the guru blessed Sanjukta kissing her forehead. They were dressed magnificently. The performance was wonderful.


The author was fascinated by Sanjukta’s elaborate dress and performance. Her poses were almost like the poses of the deities in the temples. The writer was also attracted by the performance of the guru. The Guruji appeared on the stage with a plate of burning candles. He did initial invocation and offering. Then he danced. His movements were transcending all movements. He appeared to be some being from the other world.