Experience God Through Song and Dance with Fr Charles Vas (SVD)

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Experience God Through Song and Dance with Fr Charles Vas (SVD)

Mangaluru: He is been called as “A Singing Visionary”; “A Dancing Missionary”; “A Bhajan Chanting Catholic Priest”; “An Evangelist through Dance”; and by many other names- he is none other than Fr Charles Vas, belonging to the Society of Divine Word (SVD) congregation. Fr Vas has been preaching about experiencing God through song and dance, and for him life has become a “melody of Love” (Prem Ragini), a love song. He has produced 40 plus CD’s of devotional music-Bhajans and Hymns, that have enriched Church singing in different languages.His music and hymns have been most popular devotional hits in the country especially in Hindi speaking areas. Fr Vas is a Poet, Composer, Musician and a Director of various musical events. A number of ballets, music dances and Bhajan programmes exhibited within India and abroad were the fruit of his hard labor.


What better “medicine” than a “treatment” that has only positive side effects and “therapy” that is actually enjoyable? That is the “miracle of music” when applied with intention. Music is primal to life and expressed by each of us every day whether through dancing to a favorite tune, keeping rhythm with a pencil or remembering a special time when hearing a forgotten melody. Music links us to our world and provides a pathway back to our past. Listening to Devotional Songs by Fr Charles Vas sung in various languages will remove your stress and give happiness in mind.


Music and dance have no barriers and caste, creed, language, religion, race and country. It is rightly said, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak”. Fr Charles Vas is one such prodigy who has imbibed the spirit of music and dance, cultivated a habit of living with musical instruments and has traveled widely both in India and abroad delivering the fragrance of Good News of Jesus Christ through ‘Prem Ragini’- a Dance Music creation of himself. Music and Dance are two skills that go hand in hand -and for that matter, the blending of these two creates wizards, and one such wizard is Dr Fr Charles Vas.


Dr Fr Charles Vas SVD, belonging to the Society of the Divine Word was born Charles Vas was born to (Late) Jacob and (Late) Seraphine Vas on 12th February, 1944 in Omzoor parish in Mangaluru Diocese and grew up in an idyllic and silvanic environment. Being the fourth child in the row, Fr Vas has one brother who is a High Court lawyer in Mumbai and three sisters, of which two of his sisters are religious nuns. As a child he played side drums for the village band , sang in the Church Choir and developed a taste for Western music. Charles Vas was ordained a priest in the year 1976, after which he continued his studies and presented his “doctoral” thesis “East meets West” to the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Miraj, which awarded him a doctorate in music in 1983.

He began doing the systematic study of guitar and Piano during his philosophical studies at JDV Pune. He began his formal training in Indian classical music under Ramakrishna Joshi , a great exponent of Hindustani music.He was graduated in Piano through Trinity College of Music, London under the guidance of late Miss Roberts from Pune and well-known pianist Shanti Seldon. The theme of his thesis runs through the work of Fr Vas , which began in a big way with the launching of Sangeet Abhinay Academy, an institution of Song and dance in Mumbai in 1980.The main aim of the Academy was to spread the message of Christ through the finer arts of music and dance, by locating latent talent, nurturing it and bringing it up to professional standards, particularly among the weaker sections of the society.


The Institution attracted enthusiastic youngsters who were able to give expression to Fr Vas’s ideas.The result was “Prem Ragini”- a ballet-musical on the salvation history. The ballet, where performers dance both in Indian as well as Western styles. The Musical “Prem Ragini” is still going strong with more than 500 plus shows both in India and abroad. One of the highlights of the foreign tour was the presence of Pope John Paul II , when ‘Prem Ragini’ was performed at the Vatican . Deeply impressed by the show, the Pope invited the performers to his private chapel to experience the liturgy of the Mass in Indian style with devotional dances. Besides ‘Prem Ragini’ he has written and directed about 32 ballets for companies and different organizations; some of them having a cast of 1500 artists and horses, elephant and chariot.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Sangeet Abhinay Academy-Mumbai got its first opportunity to proclaim God’s love and mercy in their trademark music and dance style, this time in the Diocese of Mangaluru, through the performance of ‘Prem Ragini- Melody of Love’, the internationally acclaimed dance drama, composed and directed by Dr Fr Charles Vas SVD. The first performance was at Puttur on February 20, 2016 which was organised by Mai de Deus Parish Youth in collaboration with St Philomena’s College, to mark the 10th Anniversary of ICYM; while the second performance was on February 21, organised by Fr Andrew D’Souza, founder manager of Daivik Amrit, a Religious Konkani Monthly publication and his team, on the occasion of the decennial celebrations of the monthly, and was performed at the Holy Cross Church grounds at Kulshekar.


Both the shows were performed before captive capacity crowds who were mesmerized by the scintillating performances of the SAA artistes, first in the colourful cultural dances, and then in the hour-and-a-half non-stop dance drama – ‘Melody of Love- Prem Ragini’ (Mogacho Naad in Konkani.) Through these shows, the audience found out that Prem Ragini was truly a melody of God’s unconditional love for sinful humanity, as depicted in the Biblical story of creation of the universe and humans as man and woman to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, the God- promised Redeemer, all this presented in captivating music and dance. This breath-taking light and sound dance drama, composed and directed by Dr Fr Charles Vas SVD, had been widely appreciated by clergy and laity, both Christian and non-Christian alike.

The Troupe also represented India at the World Choir Festival held at Stuttgart in Germany. Also represented India in performing Desh Hamara Ballet at Dusseldorf in Germany for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of India’s Independence. He was asked to compose the theme song for ‘Krist Jayanti 2000’, and also to compose Songs on ‘Youth for Youth conventions’ all over India. He has the backing of cine musicians and playback singers from the film world, such as Kavita Krishnamurthy, Bhupinder Singh, Mitalee Preeti Sagar etc. who render their voices for the Church.


Fr Charles Vas was awarded “Alankar Shiromani Puraskar”award in 2006, and Kalakar Puroskar award in 2008, for his excellence and outstanding contribution in the field of music and dance. In 1983 he got his Doctorate degree from Gandharva University in Hindustani Music; Degree from Trinity College of Music-London in Piano and Western Music; BA honors in English from Bombay University; and BTh degree from Papal Athenaeum-Rome. Presently he is the founder-director of Sangeet Abhinay Academy Mumbai and goes around with his troupe of young talented dancers embracing different religions. There are Sikhs, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims besides Christians and their professions range from engineers, doctors, executives to the young students. A wonderful combination and a real blend of cultures indeed.

Fr Charles is the first Indian missionary to blend both Indian and Western music and dance to spread the message of the Gospel. The latest Musical that is presented all over India is “Ma Tuje Prannam”. A Ballet on the life of Blessed Mother Teresa, composed and directed by Dr Fr Charles Vas. He was asked to compose this ballet by CBCI on the occasion of the Birth Centenary Celebrations of Mother Teresa in New Delhi. Fr Vas a selfless priest evangelizes through the God-given gifts of music and dance and shares his knowledge and expertise with those interested to learn music and rightly deserves the crown of honour.


Following are the excerpts from a brief interview with Team Mangalorean, when Fr Charles Vas had visited his hometown recently:

Q : What inspired you to start this concept of spreading the love/Gospel of God through music?

As I was completing my doctoral Thesis in music, I was inspired to spread the message of love through music and dance because I belong to the Society of the Divine Word. And its mission is to spread the message of Gods love to all mankind.

Q : How far has it helped people who have believed in it?

It has helped thousands and lakhs of people. Through music and dance, people grasp the message easily and effectively.

Q : What is your main motto behind this concept?

My motto is to make people realize the goodness of God towards people and his creatures.And also HIS forgiving love towards others.

Q : What feedback do you get from your fans/believers?

I really love and appreciate my fans and readers. They give me a lot of support and encouragement in my work and mission. I know they pray for me and my work.My work inspires not only believers but I am happy that it also touches the hearts of unbelievers.

Q : Your message to the readers of Mangalorean.com

Praise God in all that you do through music and dance. And if one is talented in music and dance , use it for the glory of God.

Team Mangalorean compliments Dr Fr Charles Vas (SVD) for his persistent work in the field of music and dance, and wish him all success in his music talents; and also pray that he may continue to share his talents with others.

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