Kahat Kabir: Pandit Chhannulal Mishra


Pt. Chhannulal Mishra

Varnasi is an old city. Some say the second oldest in the world; Damascus in Syria usually taking the honours. It is a favourite spot of mine, one I visited at least once a year as a boy between the ages of 7-17 and one to which I return everytime I find myself in India.

One of the enduring pleasures of the place is rambling through the narrow urban canyons of stone, wood and concrete that make up the old city down by the river Ganga. These streets are called gali (lanes) and home to neighborhoods of craftsmen, confectioners, musicians, ashrams, religious people of all faiths, wrestlers, instrument and incense makers, barbers, sari sellers, kitemakers and guardians of burning ghats.

Any time of day you happen to find yourself in the galis you will hear the sort of music I share today. It will waft out of windows of music schools, from the courtyards of temples or from under open air recitals in wide spots in the alleys.

These songs you could classify as bhajan, the simple devotional songs usually associated with Hindus, though technically they are the sayings of the mystic poet and seer Kabir (15th Cent.) who was born and lived for many years in Varanasi.  Kabir is one of those characters who is claimed and embraced and celebrated (in song, scripture and in legend) as equally Muslim, Hindu and Sikh.  A truly universal messenger.

And this music does not require a knowledge of medieval Hindi or any faith. If you love music that calms or music that inspires or brings joy and peace you’ll connect to this music.

The songs of this gorgeous album are sung by another great son of Varanasi, Pandit Chhannulal Mishra. I must thank my dear friend Hanif Haji for gifting this album to me. It is a wonderful addition to my small but growing collection of Kabir dohe (couplets).

I have no doubt you’ll fall in love with this music.


Track Listing:

01 Kaise Sajan Ghar Jaibay Ho Rama

02 Man Pachataiyhay Avsar Beetay

03 Bhajo Ray Bhiya Ram Govind Hari

04 Bhai Ray So Guru Satya Kahavay

05 Ray Ma n Murakh Janam Gavayo

06 Avadhu Bhajan Bhed Nayara




Wrathful yet Compassionate: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi


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 Dhanshree is 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’s singing 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.

I have spoken in other places of my love affair with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and only refer you to another’s loving attribution to him.



Track Listing:

  1. Puriya Dhanshree
  2. Tulsidas ji ka Bhajan
  3. Marathi Abhang


Formless: Ustad Rashid Khan


Ustad Rashid Khan

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.

Track Listing:

01 Prabhu Ki Preeti Jagi

02 Subah Shaam Tera Naam Japu Main

03 Tum Ho Aadi Tum Ho Anth

04 Yeh Andhiyara Mit Jaayega



Classical Super Group: Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain


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!

Jasraj Chaurasia Hussain Jasraj Chaurasia Hussain_0001

Jasraj Chaurasia Hussain_0002

Track Listing:

  1. Raga Bihag (pt 1)
  2. Raga Bihag (pt 2)
  3. Bhajan Kafi
  4. Raga Bhairav


Pandit of Bhajans: Kumar Gandharva

Pandit Kumar Gandharva

Pandit Kumar Gandharva

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.



Golden Milestones - Pt.Kumar Gandharva

Track Listing:

01 Kahe Ko Jhuti Banao Batiyan

02 Aaj Kaisi Brij Mein

03 Gundh Laori Malania

04 Sagari Rain Ki Jaagi

05 Sir Pe Dhari Gang

06 Have Main Ne Tosi

07 Jaag Piya Re – Bhajan

08 Sanvali Mhari Aaj – Bhajan

09 Aai Rut Aai

10 Na Batati Tu Pahachan

11 Ja Ja Re Bhanvara Ja

12 Hari Hari Ja

13 Main Janu Nahin – Bhajan

14 Mhari Preet Nibhajo – Bhajan

15 Mori Nain Lagan Laagi

16 Lade Bira Mhane Chunari


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