Friday, August 29, 2014


ON CHILDREN AND ADULTS WITH AUTISM With the sound of music, we have no trouble locating music therapist Lakshmi Mohan’s second-floor house at R.A. Puram. We walk into a bhajan session. As we stand there and listen to the soothing sounds, Lakshmi suddenly lifts her voice and rolls her eyes so as to draw a restless student’s attention. Ten-year-old Anirudh, the student, comes and sits on her lap and begins to meddle with a rhythm instrument. This is not the usual music class where the teacher sings and students repeat after her. 
For 45 minutes, Lakshmi only sings bhajans and the children come just to listen to her. It’s a different kind of after-school activity for these children, who have autism spectrum disorder. They come twice or thrice a week to Lakshmi to listen to the bhajans. For 12 years now, Lakshmi has shown that bhajans can have therapeutic benefits for children with autism.

Last week, eleven of her students performed at the finals of Bakthaswara Bhajan Competition in Bharthiya Vidya Bhavan, where they rendered bhajans for half an hour. On Saturday, her class shifts to Besant Nagar at the facility of the Lotus Foundation, to which she is attached. Here, it is a larger group where students and parents sit together to listen to bhajans. 
Lakshmi, who has also authored books on autism, plans to do a thesis on the improvement her students have shown. But, for now, her parents will vouch for the therapeutic effect bhajans have on their children. “My son hardly sits quietly for a minute. But, at last week’s performance, he sat for 15 minutes,” said a father. Another parent Shoba Kannan said, “It de-stresses and over a period of time, it transforms the inner soul.”

This article, written by Liffy Thomas, shows the marvelous after-school activity done by the music therapist Lakshmi Mohan that benefits children with autism. She gives bhajan classes at her home and in Besant Nagar, a bigger place, which is open for both the children who have autism spectrum disorder and their parents. Moreover, all of them can receive therapeutic benefits of the bhajan. “All my children may not speak, but they love, enjoy and respond to music,” says Lakshmi, bringing an udukkai (a drum used in folk music and prayers in South India) down from the shelf. “Making these children face the stage is a huge challenge and this is the fifth year that we are performing,” she says. Some of these children can sing individually but it takes a lot of practice for them to sing as a group. “Performing as a group needs harmony and a lot of finishing,” she says. Lakshmi’s first task is to make students sit in the lotus position. “I am particular they listen to music sitting in a structured position,” she explains. Vaishnavas Saints from the past and modern devotees of God have rendered the service of offering melodious bhajans for the pleasure of the Lord. These Bhajans or holy songs are still repeated by devotees and are constitutional part of Indian society. No need to be a sadhu, a religious person, not even be familiar with Vedic philosophy to feel ecstatic by listening the spiritual tunes of the bhajans and feel your heart melts with love for God. (Editor's note).

Devotion is one-point attention fixed on the Supreme Lord, without any distraction. The effect of all our previous actions (karmas) of many births gets dissolved with devotion. When such persons (true saints) form a congregation and do kirtan together (sing hymns, or bhajans) in praise of God, they could swim across the ocean of the world and cross over to the other side successfully. ... A number of devotional saints entranced the followers during this period, with their spiritual songs, or bhajans, which have become extant in Hindu society. Even today people render these devotional songs with great passion and feeling. ... Singing devotional songs became the most prolific style of propagating the message of the Hindu religion. For more than five thousand years, places of worship have been steeped in the deep melody and enraptured tunes of chanting the Vedic prayers (mantras), devotional songs (bhajans), and chorus singing (kirtan).

Dr. Hiro Badlani :
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 35: “Srimad Bhagavtam
Continued Spiritual Teachings”

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

No comments: