About Madhura Mridanga

Madhura Mridanga is a product of Research and Development jointly conducted by Centre for Traditional Education and Karunya Musicals. 

After compiling a spirited article in May 2011, titled as “Our Sankirtana Tainted with Blood of Slaughter” that was published in various websites, Bharat Chandra Dasa was remorseful that no solution has been struck in spite of meeting various people and planning things to fulfill the instruction of his Guru and Srila Prabhupada in this regard.

His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had instructed that in the Sankirtana movement, the use of leather is to be avoided and “alternatives such as plastic, etc., could be used”. Especially, when it comes to Mridanga, Srila Prabhupada instructed that leather can be used, “but NOT by killing cows, but from naturally dead cows. THAT IS OUR PRINCIPLE”.

 

  • Listen to Srila Prabhupada categorically stating that it is “OUR PRINCIPLE” NOT to use leather obtained from slaughterhouse but from naturally dead cows for our Mridangas (Khols). Srila Prabhupada also states that “alternatives such as plastic should be used” instead of leather. [Conversation with Prof. Gombrich, 1973, Stockholm, London.]

     

By mercy of Sri Krsna, Bharat Chandra Dasa had chance exchange of email with Smt. Diana Ratnagar, Chairperson of “Beauty without Cruelty” who in turn directed him to Dr. Varadarangan of Karunya Musicals. It was a dream come true to meet a Vidvan in Carnatic Vocal, but a scientist and a great human being at heart. A very unique combination, all in one person. This meeting was a divine arrangement!  It was a meeting of assurance, of confidence and exchange of thoughts on cow protection. Dr. Varadarangan had already pioneered the design, development and distribution of the very complex traditional South Indian Mridanga and Tablas too. All made synthetically! with a beautiful name: SRI Mridanga (Synthetic Rythmic Instruments). Surprisingly, during the same time the article of Sriman Bharat Chandra Dasa was published, Dr. Varadaranganji had started his research and also had come across the said article!

Rest, what happened could be guessed. Back and forth of constant testing, trials and discussions ensued over many months. As a result of which, we now have “Madhura Mridanga” a 100% Ahimsa Khol with superb sound quality!

Central to the mission of sankirtana movement is the resounding sweetness of mridanga & kartala as espoused in the daily prayer of Gaura arati in thousands of temples across the world – “shankha baje ghanta baje madhura mridanga baje”- the name of the product should resonate with emotions of devotion in devotees.

But such divine purpose should be fulfilled with Mridanga made from the leather obtained from naturally dead cows. If this is not available, then alternative methods such as use of synthetic materials should be used.

In other words, religion should not become the cause for sinful practices as grave as cow slaughter. Annually around 6000 to 10000 Khols made of leather are sold all over the world directly causing the killing of at least 3000 to 5000 cows! And these Khols do not last longer than 2 years and at most upto 8 years with single hand use. Apart from that, the rugged usage in the Sankirtana movement make it all the more difficult to maintain such a fragile instrument. 

This was exactly the reason for Srila Prabhupada had instructed his disciple Sri Ishana Das to explore making Mridanga with American technology. Srila Prabhupada stressed on this Mridanga making project (along with Kartala making, Saree making and Doll making) so much so that even in his last days of his manifest pastime, in 1977 from the bed, Srila Prabhupada had sumonned Sri Ishana Das from USA to enquire and encourage him about Mridanga making project.

In this humble endeavour to fulfill Srila Prabhupada, in service of Gomata which are dear to Lord Krishna, we are offering Madhura Mridanga, a Made-in-India product.

We endeavor to consistently maintain our quality assurance a zero defect manufacturing process. We are also implementing industry best practices in Customer Care Support.

Current Scenario of Leather Mridangas being manufactured

  • 99.9% of Leather Mridangas are made from the leather are obtained from slaughtered cows.
  • Leather is more than a byproduct of killing. In fact the leather business is more lucrative. That makes the meat market as a byproduct and leather as the main business. Cows are ferried regularly in Mayapur (boats) and border area for slaughter.
  • From one cow on an average 2-4 mridangas can be made.
  • Around 8,000 – 10,000 Leather Mridangas or Khols are sold annually all over the world. In other words, around  5000 cows are being killed annually just for the sake of catering to the Mridanga market all over the world!
  • Only leather of cows sounds best for Khols/ Mridangas. Not that of buffalo or goat, etc. Hence cows are routinely killed for leather to be used in Mridangas. In fact for the large side (left side) of the Khol is made exclusively from Calf and the small side (right side) is made exclusively from the skin obtained from the neck region of a cow [Please note that the term ‘cow’ includes cows, bulls and bullocks]
  • Leather Mridangas are mostly made from mould made of mud. Rest are made from brass or fibre. But the heads are still made from leather.
  • The disadvantages of leather khols are that they are Not Durable, the Pitch varies drastically with variation in temperature, they are Not Tunable, they are Very Fragile and Very difficult to maintain (to keep it safe from animals and insects which destroy leather, apart from the fungus that catches the leather in regions with heavy rainfall).
  • On an average, one leather mridanga with mud body DOES NOT last long for more than 2 years if it is handled by multiple players (which is the case in a temple or a congregational centre).

What makes Madhura Mridanga different?

  • It is durable – half-life is 20 years. Does not break unless dropped from above 10 feet on a stone.
  • It is tunable within minutes. It can be tuned to a wide range of semitones.
  • It is Bio-safe, made from plastic used for implantable materials.
  • It is weather-proof. In other words, it does not vary with changes in humidity and atmospheric temperature .
  • It is light weighted and hence easy to carry for longer duration during sankirtana
  • It is liked by expert players. The sound quality is better than the average leather Mridangas available.
  • With every Madhura Mridanga sold, at least ONE Cow and ONE Calf will be saved from slaughter.
  • The Karane or syahi  (the black part) is chemically bonded. Hence there is no wear and tear of this part for many years to come even with daily rigorous usage. 
  • The heads are made from Bio-safe material – Polypropylene and polyester films. There is no chance of laceration or bleaching because the polymer is a single molecule material. Vegetable colors are also used making it safe on the skin.