Though the centerpiece of this wonderful recording is best suited for later in the day then mid-sunny-afternoon I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been listening to Joshi’s rendering of Raga Puriya Dhanshree on heavy rotation for the past several weeks.
I am NO expert in dissecting the intricate workings of various ragas. I tend to go for voices and let their owner’s work their magic. I understand that Puriya Dhanshreeis a complex raga with much scope for expression as well as emotional layering. From dark and wrathful to compassionate and more.
I have found this raga and Joshi’ssinging of it to be reassuring and all encompassing. As if it were a dark but not necesarily threatening but deep cave. You don’t conquer such a place but rather let it reveal itself, its inner passages and concealed redoubts. Its a slow but intoxicating process.
A gorgeous collection of nirgun bhajans sung by the eminent artiste Ustad Rashid Khan. When I purchased this album I automatically thought these would be Kabir dohes so associated is he with the concept of nirgun (the formless ground of all being). In actuality, these are contemporary compositions by Kavi Narayan Agarwal.
In Hindu/Sikh philosophy there are two two types of God: sargun, which takes form and nirgun that which remains eternal and formless and void. The word, nirgun,is made from the two roots ‘nir‘ which means ‘without’ and ‘gun‘ which means ‘material or physical form’ or ‘attribute’ or ‘quality’ or ‘merit’. So these two combined means “without form” or “without quality” or “without merit”. When referring to God it means “un-manifest” or “without attributes”, “without physical form.
No more words are needed for this lovely music. This is music for absorption and reflection and peace, not for analysis and description.
This is about as ‘super’ a ‘super group’ you can conjure. Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain, on the same stage at the same night, creating magic that is simply unbelievable.
Opening with the popular melodious raga Bihag, especially popular in north India and even more especially by Bengali artists, Pandit Jasraj enraptures the concert hall from the opening note. His voice flows effortlessly, like the Saraswati River, only above ground and very real. There is no rush here. The simple unfolding of the mystery with Ustad Zakir Hussain sahib turning his drums into a sonic annotation. Each of Panditji’s syllable’s is met with a beat (so understated, so intuitive, so suggestive) that seems preordained.
After the opening raga and a bhajan interlude, this dynamic duo is joined by the bansuri maestro from Allahabad, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Again, as you’d expect from such All-Star artistes, his contribution is nothing short of elegant. The runs on the bamboo flute are mellow and heavenly, leading and darting between the singer’s words, often times leaving Jasraj himself breathless.
This is volume 1 or a double CD set which we send your way with all good blessings and wishes for the end of 2014!
Pandit Kumar Gandharva was an amazing singer of Indian classical and devotional music. I especially like his bhajans, which this collection is full of (including a few very early recordings when the maestro was still but a lad).
For those who are not familiar with this man, his life and musical style then I suggest you check out the passionate and bursting website set up by a fan here.
I am under the weather in Delhi. Grumpy and annoyed that I am unable to fully enjoy my days and evenings here. Gandharvaji’s lilting, somewhat fragile voice gives me some comfort, for which I am very grateful.
The original Washerman’s Dog blog has a wealth of great music buried in its dead links! From time to time I’ll resurrect some of those as they are always deserve to be listened to and enjoyed and passed on! We start with a post from May 2011.
There is a lot of clacking and howling going on these days. The triumphal volume has really jacked up several notches of late. The internet is burning hot with everyone telling everyone else the “Truth” about Osama and Obama. It’s a bloody racket.
Let’s leave the pundits, mullahs, ministers, mercenaries, killers and corpses behind for a while and listen to some real truth.
About 800 years ago high Hinduism (that type of highly ritualised religion stage-managed by the priestly Brahmins) was pretty much on the nose. Arabs and Turks and Afghans were sweeping in from the northwest mountain passes and laying the land to waste. And they claimed their victories in the name of a new God and new iman (faith) called islam.
The Hindu lords and chiefs of northern India put up some resistance but their civilisation had atrophied. It was stiff and disconnected from the people. Kingdoms fell and brahmanical Hinduism was pushed off center stage. Many people joined up with the new religion, responding more to mystical music than the sword. The northern half of the sub-continent was soon politically under the control of Muslim rulers and a massive cultural revolution was underway.
Between 1300-1550, the old Hindu religion now having to share space with sufi Islam, pushed up a mystical strain of its own. Rituals and high intellectualism were abandoned in preference to a simple devotional message that emphasised love of a personal God and condemned sectarianism, casteism and ritualism. Religion became accessible to the people again. Preachers and folk poets sprang up across northern and central India singing songs of love for Rama and Krishna. This movement is known as the bhakti movement, or Movement of Devotional Worship.
Kabir Das, was one such folk poet, itinerant preacher who is claimed by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike. His life story is the stuff of legend: born into a Hindu family but adopted by a Muslim weaver and his wife in Varanasi, Kabir, learned only to write one word, rama (God). He is believed to have lived for 120 years.
At an early age he knew his destiny was to preach the one Truth: worship and devotion to God, whether that God be called Ram or Allah or any other name. His message, like that of all iconclasts, was radical and equally dismissive of all sects and religions and their teachers, temples, mosques and ideologies. He sang songs and played a simple stringed instrument (an iktaar, perhaps?) as he travelled around the countryside preaching love of god and fellow humans.
Kabir is credited with the composition of thousands of dohas (couplets) and a huge number of bhajans (devotional hymns). These dohas have entered into popular culture and the many colloquial languages of northern India. So powerful and resonant is this poetry that a huge canon has been absorbed by Sikhs, who especially revere Kabir, into their holy scriptures. His influence is traced through and can even be summed up by the mantra of the great Indian holy man, Sai Baba: Sab ka Malik, Ek. (The Lord of All, is One).
The Washerman’s Dog presents this collection of soothing bhajans of Kabir as an antidote to the wild proclaiming and shouting that is going on ‘out there’. The set, beautifully sung by the classically trained Carnatic singer, O.S. Arun, opens with a bhajan that all partisans (of any ideology) would do well to absorb.
Na mein dharmi/nahi adharmi
Na mein kahta/ na main sunta
Neither am I religious/neither irreligious
Neither do I preach/ neither do I follow
This is music that washes over you and calms you. What more can we ask for at this time of chaos?