Chakra Announcements

Classical Musician Zoltán Bakaja Records Six Goswamis Tribute

by Ananda das, Victoria, B.C.

Posted August 6, 2007

Zoltán Bakaja

Many of us will have heard the poignant story of Srila Shrinivas Acharya and how his nearly inconsolable grief at the successive disappearances of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Gadadhar Pandit, Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami was somewhat assuaged through the guidance of his illustrious siksa-gurus Srila Narahari Sarkar and Srila Jiva Goswami, as well as his diksa-guru Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami.

With his godbrothers Srila Shyamananda Pandit and Srila Narottama das Thakur, Shrinivas Acharya brought all the writings of the Six Goswamis from Vrindavan to Bengal. Although the trunkful of manuscripts was stolen by a group of privateers who had expected to find gold and other treasures, Shrinivas's thoughtful explanations of Srimad-Bhagavatam to King Birhambhir, the ultimate leader of these brigands, so much touched his heart that the king, his court and all his followers became Vaishnavas. Of course, he returned the irreplaceable manuscripts and other books to Shrinivas Acharya, to the great relief of the Bengal (Gaudiya) Vaishnavas.

One of Srila Shrinivas Acharya's most famous compositions is the Sri Sad-goswamyastakam, a poem which relates some of the glories of the Six Goswamis. Srila Prabhupada often sang the verses also. Here is an English translation of one verse:

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Gosvamis (Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami), who are very expert in scrutinizingly studying all the revealed scriptures to establish eternal religious principles for the benefit of all. They are honoured all over the three worlds and are worth taking shelter of because they are absorbed in the mood of the gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krisna.

The beautiful composition has now received a fresh interpretation at the hands of a virtuoso Hungarian devotee musician and composer, the classically trained Zoltán Bakaja, who has made a three-part musical score and engaged a talented choir to make a recording of Srila Shrinivas Acharya's prayer to the Six Goswamis. The group sings with beautiful harmony and devotion, and one performance of Bakaja's score has now been posted for everyone to enjoy as a YouTube video.

From Miskolc, Hungary, Bakaja learned to play string instruments while attending Erkel Ferenc School of Music and Béla Bartók Musical Secondary School. After graduation he continued studies at the internationally renowned Franz Liszt Academy of Music. He studied violin and viola with Csaba Lenkey, János Fejérvári, Ferenc Kertész and Sándor Nagy. For the last ten years he has been teaching music to elementary, secondary and upper classes. Bakaja regularly performs chamber music concerts at which he, along with other expert musicians such as Gabriella Pintér and Tamás Lozsányi, performs the traditional classical repertoire as well as his own compositions.

Bakaja, whose deotee name is Syamasundara das, has been composing since 1998, mostly producing original musical scores for the Sanskrit and Bengali poetry of the Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas. "Reading the poems in the original, I was thinking about how it could be possible to show this treasure to those people who did not know this literature and did not know these languages," he writes. "Since these poems are very musical on their own, in both their rhythm and intonation, I found that the easiest way to present them was to set the poems to music." He has published two volumes of choral works, samples of which are available on his website, along with numerous pieces of recorded devotional music in MP3 format. His music is really easy on the ears and well worth a listen.