Sometimes I just wonder about some Ragas and moods they create. There are more than hundreds of Ragas in Indian Classical Music, each different from the others. I wonder what led to creation of so many ragas. Some say Ragas were ultimately created by picking up some phrases from folk music which sounds quite reasonable. But I don’t think this is true for all Ragas. I feel some ragas are indeed created by some persons, saints or meditators to be precise and then these tunes came into folk or classical music.
What makes me think so is the feelings created by these ragas. A common man is far from feeling these emotions and hence a raga portraying these emotions won’t come from him.
I think Jhinjhoti is such a Raga. I listened to it first time when I was a tenth standard student. I had purchased a cassette in which Pt. Kumar Gandharva had sung this Raga.
“Its so boring and sad kind of raga”, I had muttered and had almost concluded that I wasted my money on this record. Many of my friends who are learning Indian Classical Music often do not take troubles to listen to this Raga as it is utterly sad and boring.
I remember those days when I was a heavy meditator, somewhere around first or second year of engineering. I happened to listen to Rasdhara, an album where Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia have played Raga Jhinjhoti together.
During those days, I had started to realize that I need to find my own way. Rather it was a beginning of the journey within. During those days, for the first time I had tasted the situation where one does not have any hopes. It was rather a state of hopelessness but quite different than usual hopelessness. The Jhinjhoti played by Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia together was a perfect potion. I remember watching people running on a narrow street right from my balcony while listening to Jhinjhoti played by these two stalwarts I still remember the way I saw it- utterly mechanical, running blindly behind their hopes or even for satisfying others’ hopes. We are hopeless when some hope which we projected does not get fulfilled. Hope is the engine which keeps our lives moving. And when certain hope is not fulfilled or destroyed, we become hopeless. This hopelessness lasts until we find a different set of hopes.
The hopelessness which I faced at that time was quite different, it was a state where you realize this complete cycle of hope and hopelessness. At that time, you are totally stagnant- as the engine to pull you is missing. Raga Jhinjhoti rather sings out this state of ‘no hope’. Those who have not tasted this kind of hopelessness find it sad and boring.
Since that point, Jhinjhoti is not boring, but a companion on the way. I met many versions of Jhinjhoti so far, some resonating with my understanding and some not.
I could feel this flavor in the Jhinjhoti played by Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. It makes you silent- taking you away and making you a witness to your own mind and your own hopes. It rather reminds me of the sea outside Guruma’s house, having infinite turbulence and energy but still without any hopes.
Another Jhinjhoti, the one to which I am listening while writing this article is the one sung by Pt. Kumar Gandharva, the same which I had found boring a few years ago. At that time, I was certainly a guy who had many hopes and wanted to fulfill them. It is quite reasonable that I refused to enjoy Jhinjhoti at that time. I think the correct time had not yet come at that time.
I have listened to Jhinjhoti played or sung live by many great artists. Not all of them pitch the same flavor and I do not expect them to do so. But when I listen to any rendering of Jhinjhoti, I always see if this intangible ‘hopelessness’ pours out of it or not, but I certainly do not ‘hope’ that it should always exist.
He is whimsical and many people in the world of Indian classical music simply avoid talking about him. Still, many more miss him and miss his divine music. Mukul Shivputra quenched a thirst of music lovers which no other singer can.
His concerts are now rare. Not many of his recordings are available in the stores. Some clips are uploaded on the internet but they lack the quality.
A few days ago, when we were attending a concert by Rahul Sharma [Barkha Ritu], on a CD stall there, I found a recording of Raga Jaijaiwanti and Kedar by Pt. Mukul Shivputra.
Without a second thought, I bought the CD.
Raga Jaijaiwanti- by different artists
I have listened to this melodious late night Raga Jaijaiwanti by many artists. Many of them are records and a few were the live concerts which I attended. The first rendition of Raga Jaijaiwanti which I came across was that of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. [Kanchan SInghasan and Jhanan Jhanan]. Later, I got more and more curious about this Raga and listened to its renditions by different artists including Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia,Pt. Jasraj etc.
Till the date, I loved Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Kumar Gandharva’s approach the most. This recording of Pt. Mukul Shivputra has changed the situation a bit.
Mukul Shivputra : Jaijaiwanti live in Mumbai
Jaijaiwanti is a vast Raga, with many possible combinations producing strikingly different emotions and moods. An artist can mend it to justify his feelings. At the same time, Jaijaiwanti has its own flavor also, which is very delicate to keep intact through out the concert.
Pt. Mukul Shivputra has done a really marvelous job while presenting this Raga. His swift movements from Dha to Ga, a trademark pattern in which he takes both the Gandhars together takes the Raga to another level. This also opened up a completely unexplored aspect of personality of the Raga. The quality of the recording is also excellent which adds up to the overall joy of listening.
I would highly recommend music lovers to listen to this live recording to experience the nonperishable beauty of this Raga.
Dear Readers, a few years ago, I got a chance to interact with Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia for around one hour. As all of us know, Hariji is a towering figure in the world of Indian Classical Music. Apart from that, he is a very nice human being, trying to spread flute and music around the world. During this interaction, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia touches different topics- from his Guru to Osho. He also talks about his Gurukul, other musicians and the young generation taking the responsibility to carry forward the tradition. Presenting the first part of the interview. Mandar- Our generation knows flute only as an instrument. But it is something beyond that. Can you please tell us something about this divine instrument, flute? Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia-Flute is the only instrument in the world which is associated with lord Krishna, made by the lord himself. In case of other instruments, you have to the factory, you have to buy and you have to choose. In case of a flute, you need not go to any factory. You have to go to the forests and get a bamboo. You have make holes according to your fingers and your breath. Flute is the oldest instrument; It is just a hollow piece of bamboo. There are no strings, no skin and no straining. In a way, it is the purest instrument. In case of other instruments, you have to tune the instrument to get the proper sound. In case of a flute, it is absolutely reverse. You have to tune yourself according to the flute. In case of other instruments like Sitar etc., you just have to tune it and play it with some practice. It is not the case with flute. You have to tune your entire breathing pattern according to it. It may take one day, one month or even years. So, it is the most difficult instrument.
Mandar- What do you exactly feel when you are playing the flute? Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- Just like sitting and playing the flute. Music is certainly like a prayer and god also does not understand English or Hindi or Marathi or any other language. But, he understands my language. Mandar- How is music connected to spirituality? Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- It is very closely connected to spirituality. It is a form of meditation. Particularly, flute helps you to regularize your breath. It is Pranayama. It takes care of your devotion and health both at the same time. Mandar-Can you please tell us something about your Guru? Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia-Shrimati Annapurna Devi is my Guru. She is my mother, she is my teacher. She is everything for me. She is more than a goddess. Mandar- What was your schedule like when you were a student of music? Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia- My lifestyle was just as usual. I just used to play as a prayer. There was not any fixed schedule or time. It just depends. It was just like Pooja. You do it when you wish like doing it. You do not have to find a fixed time. Whenever you feel like doing it, you do it. Mandar- It is said that music is a way of worshipping Nadbrahma. Have you ever experienced this vibe of Nadbrahma? Panditji- Everyday! When I sit with my instrument, I feel it. When I play the flute, I feel the vibe. And remember; only when I feel it, my audience will feel it. Mandar- In Indian Classical Music, there are hundreds of Ragas, for each and every human mood. What were then your inspirations behind the inventions of new Ragas like Haripriya and Kalaranjani? Panditji- I thought about creating something new for the young generation. You know, sometimes, young generation wants to listen to something new, which is not written in any books. So, I wanted to create something for the young generation.
Mandar-Which is your favorite raga?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia– All are my favorites. It depends on ones mood, mindset and also the timing. But to be honest, all are my favorites. Like you have ten children. You cannot say that I should love this one only and not the other. The useless child we love the most!
Mandar- your latest Album was Kirwani- The message of the Birds. It was praised a lot by the listeners in India and abroad. Can you tell us something about this album?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – (Laughing) Yes! You, know, Kirwani is a south Indian Raga. But these days, we north Indian Artists also play this Raga. What I observe while playing this raga is that, it is appreciated very much by the people in Europe or you can even say in the entire west. They have similar notes in their music also. So, they just love it. When we play it in the Indian way, they love it even more! Also, I have noticed that people outside India understand and appreciate this raga even better. So, no wonder, the Album was a hit!
Mandar-Are there any activities other than music which you love to do?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia– I do not have time to do any activity other than music. (Satirically) I would love to do some business so that I can earn money and become rich!! Whatever time I get, I spend it here, in my Gurukul, with my students. I try to make them musically fit! Whatever I have, I give it to this Gurukul. Many people are helping this Gurukul. Students do not have to pay anything here for accommodation. The supporters are working hard to earn their money and they give it to the Gurukul. So, I have to take care that it is being utilized properly.
About His Gurukul
Mandar-What is your vision behind this Gurukul?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – Because I love my teacher, I love my Guru. My teacher’s father had even a bigger Gurukul at Maihar.
Mandar- Are you talking about Ustaad Allauddin Khan?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia– Yes, Ustaad Allauddin Khan, Annapurna Devi’s father and Guru. They used to have a great number of artists and students there. These students used to play music, sing music, write about music, and think about music. They used to compose new songs. There used to be many festivals arranged there. Various artists used to come and play. So, everything was just musical! So many activities were going on there. So, I thought, that I should try. I should just see if I can also do it, if I can do something. And yes, god is there. He is helping me. When god is there, many people come forward to help you. To help us, many people came forward. Mr. Rajeev Gandhi came forward to help us and he helped us a lot! Mr. Ratan Tata came forward. I cannot think of even one inch of land to buy here in Mumbai to make this kind of Gurukul. It is so costly. But when god is there, one need not worry.(Laughing) God must I have loved my business and the way I do it!
Mandar– Your favorite musician?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – Every musician I like very much. They are doing really very well. You know, everybody is doing his part in this world of Music. No one is the whole. I am doing my part of music; other artists are doing their part of music. I have something to tell. So, that is my part of music. Others are also having something to tell, that is there part of music. And I love the whole music. So, I love the each part.
Mandar- What are your views about the approach of young generation about the music?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – They are really very very hard workers. They try to do something, they try to learn something. They try to learn as much as possible, through the books, through the teachers. They are thinking wonderfully about music, they are writing thoughtful articles about music, they are composing very well. We were just dumb! They are very sharp.
Hariprasad Chaurasia on Osho
Mandar- Can you tell us something about Osho, who was a very intimate friend of you?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia– What can I tell you about Osho? He was not one, but he was many He was the best speaker in the whole world. He was the best philosopher I have ever seen. He used to play flute very beautifully. I have not seen a person having so much knowledge of all kinds of activities going around. Very calming and down to earth. There was a time when were friends, when nobody knew him, he was not famous. But then, he became internationally famous, everybody knew him. But, he wanted to keep the friendship with me which we had earlier. He did not change, his love did not change. So, I used to come often to Pune to play for him, to record for him. When he left this world, when he left us, I do not go there anymore. It was he for whom I used to go to Pune so often.
Message for Young Generation
Mandar-What is your message for the young generation?
Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – It is the time they must do something about music; not by playing only, but also by listening, thinking, involving themselves in the world of music. There are many young people interested indie and outside India. So, it is now duty of teachers that they must take some time for the younger generation; they should put some efforts to create interest in the young generation about the music. So, it is your responsibility to take out not much but at least some time for the music!
I know, many of my readers would have already jumped to the conclusion that flute is my favourite instrument. Well, not so true. This is realized when I really gave it a thought. The general observation is, if you ask several people which their favourite instrument is, and what makes it so dear to them, you will receive quite surprising answers. I have this habit of asking people their favourite instrument. My general observation is, it takes quite a long time to get accustomed to the sound of any particular instrument, to understand intricacies of it. So, many of my friends hate the sound of Sitar, reason being they do not understand which strokes are to be listened to and which are just supporting strokes. If one fails to understand the same, the performance will sound like just noise and nothing else. Conclusion is, in order to appreciate any instrument; you should listen to it for quite some time before commenting over it.
If you ask me, what my favourite instrument is, the answer which I give may sound funny and even stupid. My favourite instrument is tanpura, the instrument which is hardly capable of making three notes out of it. Though tanpura is a weird answer, I certainly have some reasons behind making it my first choice. The first thing is, you can listen to tanpura for infinitely long time. In case of other instruments, let them be extremely melodies and skilfully played. Still, after some time, you will get bored of the sound. In case of a tanpura, you won’t get bored. On the other hand, listening to a well tunes tanpura can make your whole lifestyle melodious. The sound of tanpura never irritates you.
Another interesting point is, in case of other instruments, the artists try to show their knowledge, talent and creativity while playing the instrument. Tanpura is the only instrument where the player has no role to play. So, the one who plays a tanpura is not trying to show his talent and skills. In other words, tanpura can be played in a ego less mode, without any interference of the person playing it. For this reason the sound of a tanpura is closest to me.
Apart from the above mentioned reasons, listening to a tanpura carefully can help the seekers of music. It is the very foundation of any musical performance. Many of the great experts in field of music judge an artist just by observing his way of tuning a tanpura. This instrument is very humble, not dominating it over other instruments. Irony is, there is hardly any artist who can sing or play his instrument without a tanpura, which in itself speaks out the greatness of this instrument.
Winter is the season of concerts. I somehow find winter to be most pleasant season around. The first reason is, it is truly a pleasure to sit silently in sunlight early in winter morning. The another reason is, winter is,the season of concerts. In these four months of winter, dozens of concerts take place. So, for almost three months ahead, we will be fortunate enough to enjoy dozens of enchanting concerts.
the series has already started with a wonderful concert given by Rakesh Chaurasia. As Rakesh Chaurasia says, he enjoys playing for Pune audience. It is in a way true. Every year he comes to Pune and delights the music lovers with many memorable concerts. The another remarkable point is, he always plays something new. We have attended around eight concerts where he performed. Every concert was unique with a different raga played. We were quite curious to see which Raga he chooses for Swarbhaskar Festival.
the entire audience was excited when Rakesh Chaurasia said he would be playing Raga Janasammohini. Considering the time constraints, he explored the raga briefly but thoughtfully. After that he started playing Raga Jog, one of the most loved late night melody. Jog is a popular Raga, with quite strong and intoxicating flavor which depends a lot on how the performer uses two Gandhars- the sharp and the flat. I liked the way he posed both of these notes and used them to establish the mood.
considering the limited time available, he switched to Pahadi. Rakesh Chaurasia has played Pahadi in almost every concert he gave. Everytime he explores it in a different way. The concert concluded with the ever green tune of Vaishnav Jan to.
It is really nice to see not only consistent but more and more refined performances from Rakesh Chaurasia. He is performing with Ustad Zakir Hussain at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, Pune on 08 Nov. 2013. I guess, that is the most exciting concert of the season!
I remember a stage where I could listen to flute played by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia only. Rakesh Chaurasia broke the tradition. Flute was made popular and established as an instrument in the world of Indian Classical Music by late Pt. Pannalal Ghosh. Personally, I could never enjoy Pannalal Ghosh’s music. For me, it missed something.
The first instance when I listened to Rakesh Chaurasia was somewhere in 2009, when I listened to his record of Raga Hansadhwani. This recording did not make any special impact on me. I missed one of his concerts in Pune, in 2009 which was arranged somewhere near Karve Nagar. The first chance to listen to Rakesh Chaurasia came when he performed live at Garware College auditorium, Pune. Rakesh Chaurasia played Raga Puria Kalyan that day. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia has played the same Raga in an album named Possession in Osho Ashram, Pune. I have never listened to a Puria Kalyan of that quality. I even now keep on listening to this record as it has non-diminishing beauty. Considering all this, it was quite a big challenge to perform Puria Kalyan and create a lasting memory.
Rakesh Chaurasia was absolutely successful in doing this herculean task. I can still remember the Puria Kalyan played by him, very skillfully and innovatively. This is not the only concert which we attended. After this concert, we have not missed even one of his concerts in Pune. We met him couple of times. I and Dakshayani used to chase him so much that at one concert, Rakesh Chaurasia stopped and asked if we follow him like his shadow!
Out of all these concerts, the concert which I enjoyed the most is the one which was organized by Bedekar Ganpati Mandir in Pune. This temple is a very small temple located in Pune which has a long tradition of organizing outstanding Indian Classical performances. As the temple is really small, we were sitting just 6 feet away from Rakesh Chaurasia and Vijay Ghate who was accompanying him on Tabla. He played Raga Durga, then Kirwani and after that Bhairavi. The concert went off more like a personal concert offered for handful of visitors though there was huge crowd.
Being a flute player and a student of vocal music, I am a great admirer of Rakesh Chaurasia, amazed by the level of his performance. He stands tall on all the fronts- practice, skills, innovation, devotion and the most important, dedication.
While having a long discussion with him in Pune, we slipped a small card in his hands. The card read-
‘Krishna was not as fortunate as Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia as he did not get a disciple like Rakesh Chaurasia’
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As a tender student of Indian Classical Music, I started studying both vocals and harmonium together. For some years, I kept on studying both the things parallel, progressing well in both of them. After some time, I reached a certain mindset where I believed that harmonium cannot have the grace which s required in Indian Classical Music. With this thought in my mind, I reduced practising harmonium day by day.
Around ten years after that, I see a small advertisement in newspaper declaring a free concert by Dr. Arvind Thatte, the famous harmonium player. The concert was scheduled in the evening in the auditorium of Garware College, Pune. I make it a point that this concert should be listened. I try to leave from my company before time so that I can reach the venue un time struggling in the Pune traffic. I and Dakshayani reach ten minutes late, which is before time as far as most of the concerts are concerned. When we reach, to our surprise, the auditorium is full with people occupying the isles and the stairs. We somehow managed to get some space on the railings of the staircase.
The musical atmosphere inside was even superior than the physical. Hundreds od listeners paying attention to Jod in Raga Puriya Dhanashree. Dr. Arvind Thatte has a doctorate in mathematics. He is very studious person. It is rare to find the person who is both studious and artistic. Dr. Arvind Thatte is the perfect blend. The evening was colored so well by the notes of Puriya Dhanashree; the color still appears in front of my eyes. I was watching and listening to Dr. Arvind Thatte, who had taken the harmonium beyond all the limitations.
I learned a big lesson that day. It is okay if your instrument has some limitations; you should not have them. Dr. Arvind Thatte is a perfect example of the same.
This was the only solo concert of Dr. Arvind Thatte that I could attend live. Apart from this, we have seen him accompanying many great artists such as Pt. Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Malini Rajurkar etc. Listening to his accompaniment always highlights that accompanying artist is never inferior to the main performing artist of the concert.
I know Dr. Arvind Thatte personally. He is one of the most humble persons you can find out. He is not an ordinary artist who will sell his art. In his eyes, you can see the fire of studious personality, always researching, improvising. He is very simple and hence, very outstanding. Again, I consider myself fortunate and blessed that I could see him performing, could meet him and talk to him for long.
Generally, in India, Kerala is considered to be god’s own land. For me, Pune is gods’ own land. Of course, my context is totally different. Kerala, one of the most beautiful states in India is blessed with incomparable natural beauty. Pune has its own reasons to be called as gods’ own land. Pune is gods’ own land because gods often come to Pune.
Who are these gods? For me, they Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar and many more artists are these gods. They come to Pune and have blessed this city with their divine music. For many days, we did not have a single good concert in Pune and hence, I was desperately waiting for some concert. This thirst is soon going to be fulfilled. Pt. Jasraj and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia are performing a concert Panchtatva in Pune Festival. I again got a reason to consider myself blessed.
I keep all the activities of the day aside and travel a lot to get passes. After getting the passes I am really happy. This situation is worth thinking. Why it makes music lovers so happy if they get an opportunity to listen to their loved artists? The credit goes to both; the artists as well as the listeners. I just came across a video recording of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. He is old. He looks to be tired. But when he is playing, he is at ease. His breath is relaxed; as natural as wind blowing through woods. His ease, the flow in his breath, the flavor created by his fingers and his breath, his steady, firm exploration are all beyond human capacity.
Each Raga has a unique nature. Its unique nature and presence is the identity of the raga. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia gives you the perfect taste of the Raga. You can almost personalize the Raga. It gets a perfect personality, with emotions and nuances.
Pune Festival is having a performance of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. I am eager to feel his meditative breath resonating in the Bamboo energized with hours of this meditative resonance.
This is for the first time that I am talking about Rakesh Chaurasia. I liked him the moment I saw him for the first time. As far as i am concerned, I feel that every artist carries some aura around him. There are many great musicians, who are truly great artists but I don’t like their aura. In case of Rakesh Chaurasia, his presence spoke much about him. One can feel freshness, energy, openness from his being. So is his music.
Well, I never missed his single concert in Pune. The reason is his unparalleled flute performance. He is unmatched, in true sense. Rakesh Chaurasia comes with exceptional skills. He has really mastered the flute. His patterns are also out of mind. His entire performance is like a power pack. When he starts, he is unstoppable. In all the concerts I attended, he played different Ragas without repetition. Every Raga was mastered. It was not like a few Ragas mastered. We sat 4 feet away from him in one concert at Bedekar Ganpati Temple in Pune and he played Raga Durga. It was really unimagined version of Durga. I could never imagine that some one will be able to play this Raga so ably.
Rakesh Chaurasia is a humble person. humble nature cannot be an excuse for lack of skills but it complement your skills. Same happens in this case. Everything meets to make a perfect blend- talented, skilled, humble and humorous artist. Apart from this, he has deep respect for his Guru and his uncle, Pt. Hariprasad Chauraisa. When we met him, most of the time he was engrossed in talking about his uncle and not about himself. It is really rare to find all these qualities together in an artist of today’s generation.
Flute is the magical instrument, which is more magical in hands of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. It is utterly simple yet very mesmerizing. To play flute is an art. To play it nicely is a meditation. To be honest, I have heard almost all the flute players India has. I liked Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia the moment I heard his flute. Same happened with Rakesh Chaurasia, the talented disciple and nephew of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Apart from these two exponents of flute, there was no one who could give the divine test of flute. A third name entered the list when I got a chance to listen to Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. Both Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur are disciples of goddess Guruma Annapurna Devi. But, it’s really difficult to make out that same person is the sculptor of both of these artists. You can make it out only if you have the ability to sense the divinity behind the notes.
Both Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur are travelling on the same mystical path of music. The only difference is, their apparent ways are different. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur’s music is so simple that its simplicity makes it very special. It is quite difficult or I would say almost impossible to get a chance to listen to such simple music. This simplicity makes the music magical. This simplicity carries the essence of meditation.
It is a fact that it is quite difficult to understand the magic of his music. Over the time, we have lost our sensitivity for simplicity. Only special and extra ordinary things attract us. In this race of being more and more extra ordinary, we have lost our touch with the simple things. Hence, it is almost impossible today to find something utterly simple. Though his music sounds simple, it is absolutely difficult to play so. Each note is a master’s stroke.
I don’t know how many people have ability to enjoy mystical music of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. I guess, it is God’s grace that I can dissolve myself in the web of his notes, sitting silently.