Inner Journey: Daler Mehndi

Lord Ram

Lord Ram

There have been a lot of religious celebrations in India of late. A couple weeks ago was Janamasthami, the birthday of Lord Krishna and this weekend the Hindu world marked the birthday of the elephant headed wise One, Lord Ganesha.

So today Harmonium shares a Hindu-gospel album! Daler Mehndi is a Sikh singer (but born in Bihar, not Punjab) who rocketed to popularity in the early 1990s. With a full voice and an exuberant personality he was for some years the dominant pop star (outside of the filmi music world) in north India. Combining bhangra and western beats with sometimes masale-wale lyrics his tapes and CDs were popular with Punjabi and Hindi speakers from Islamabad to Kolkatta. In recent years he has recorded a number of ‘patriotic’ songs as well as notched up some huge super hits (Rang de Basanti) and dedicated a considerable amount of energy and money to environmental and social causes.

Daler Mehndi

Daler Mehndi

Here, in this traditional religiously-themed outing, Mehndi, sings of his devotion to Ram, the most accessible and widely used name for God in northern India. All four tracks are essentially the same in structure and pace. Though the album suggests the tracks represent various moods and times of worship, this is in fact one single track. It is repetitious, but on purpose. The desire is to induce a trance-like or meditative state of mind in the listener. To bring her/him into the presence of the Lord, focus the mind and soul on nothing but Ram.

This is not a record for Saturday nights or getting pumped for a big evening out. Rather, it is an aid to taking that inner journey.

Hai Ram!

Daler Mehndi Daler Mehndi_0001

Track Listing:

01 Mere Ram (Moksha Dwar)

02 Mere Ram (Morning Prayer)

03 Mere Ram (Kabeer Prophesies)

04 Mere Ram (Evening Repose)

R A M

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.

 

Enjoy!

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

 

b h a j a n

More from the Archives: Links Restored

mWPIVofPGHbhNPV1dF9cvSwFrom January 2012: Bengali baul music and folk music from Bangladesh

From January 2012: Mystical Music from Malwa: Kabir and Meera

From January 2014: Sitar Music from Poonchwaley and Bannerjee

 

From the Archives: O.S Arun sings Kabir

Kabir Das and disciples

Kabir Das and disciples

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.

 

 

Kabir Das

Kabir Das

 

 

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).

 

O.S Arun

O.S Arun

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?

The Bhajans of Sant Kabirdas

 

            Track Listing:

1.    Na Mein Dharmi

2.    Beet Gaye Din

3.    Maan Lago

4.    Naherva

5.    Hari Bolo Hari Bolo

6.    Sadho

7.    Uru Rang Laga

8.    Dohe

9.    Jai Jai Aarati