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Raga

Jhinjhoti- The song of hopelessness

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.

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Milind Sheorey – The Divine Confluence

When I listened to Shri. Milind Sheorey for the first time, I remembered what Pt. Shivkumar Sharma said in ‘Antardhwani’, a documentary made by national film archives exploring the journey of this Santoor Maestro.
He says-

A Guru should not look at sculpting dozens or hundreds of disciples. Even if you are able to create one or two disciples who can understand the music of  Guru and then add something of their own to it, that is more than enough.

As my observation goes, this is quite true. Musicians cannot be bulk produced. At the same time, three factors play their role simultaneously. The first is disciple’s hard work- both as a musician and a human being, second is finding a Guru and the third and the last is the divine grace.
I feel, when all these three factors work out together positively, a great musician is born. It is quite clear that rarely something like this happens. It happened with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, it happened with Pt. Nityanand Haldipur and yes, it is happening with Shri Milind Sheorey.

Gurumata Annapurna Devi- The river of knowledge

Gurumata Annapurna Devi, who is taking efforts beyond human capacity to transfer the treasures of knowledge which she has, is very lucky as far as getting disciples is concerned. I could meet and have a discussion with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. During our discussions with both the artists, we realized the tremendous efforts taken by Annapurna Ji and also the two disciples. Listening to Shri. Milind Sheorey made me realize that the chain does not end with these two artists.
Though Milind Sheorey learned music from same Guru, his style is very different than his two Gurubandhus. As Nityanandji had rightly said, Annapurna Ji crafted each disciple considering his personality and skills. As it is said, true Guru never forces his knowledge own disciples but tries to understand each disciple and cultivates him accordingly.
Being accepted as a disciple by Annapurna Ji is in itself a big thing- it certifies that you are honest with your art. Being accepted by a godly Guru is a difficult thing to happen. But, being with such Guru and trying to manifest her dreams is even more difficult. When a demanding Guru and a hardworking disciple comes together, the third factor has to come into the picture- the grace of the god.

Miilnd Sheorey and his Music

It is quite visible from Milind Ji’s performances that he plays Ragas which are generally not played on flute. It is a feast to listen to Ragas like Shuddha Kalyan, Puriya Dhanashree on flute which are generally played on string instruments. As one can imagine, the task is not that easy, I would say, it is not at all easy. Flute is a very different kind of instrument as compared to string instrument where the show is managed by artist’s breath.
Before this, I had listened to such ‘non flute’ Ragas being performed on flute but one could easily make out that something is missing and not fitting. When I gave a try to Milind Sheorey’s rendering, there was nothing missing. It had superb blend of stable breath, correct approach to play the notes, immense continuity.
I am sitting here, close to Annapurna Ji’s house, listening to Puriya Dhanashree, played by Shri. Milind Sheorey. It is a perfect evening, with winds blowing without any control and sea roaring. Milind Sheorey has reached to some different height, and his music is accommodating enough to take me also there, with him. The sun is about to collapse in the sea and the curtains are dancing. So are the notes, though a bit constrained by the rhythm.
Osho says music should bring you to your origin. It should make you look inside. That is what happening. At this time, I am experiencing the three factors pouring in- the hard work of this disciple, the perfect Guru and yes, the grace of the almighty, blowing around as wildly as these winds.

You can further read this article talking about Pt. Kumar Gandharva

Please enjoy this rendering of Raga Kedar by Milind Ji-

 

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Silencing the mind

When I meet music lovers around, I always have one question ready for them. The question is, “Why do you listen to music?” Of course, every person has a unique answer. Some of them listen to music to forget their worries and hassles of the life. Some of them have approach of a learner- they try to learn and improve their own performance. If someone asks me this question, I have quite different answer. For me, music is a meditation. Not only playing music, but also listening to someone else’s music.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur
Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Can music help you to meditate?

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is a unique flute player as far as meditative quality of music is concerned. Very few artists have this quality in their music as it is quite difficult to inculcate it in one’s music. I often face this question by many of the music lovers- what is meant by meditative music? How do we come to know if the music is meditative or not? I have a very simple answer for this question. The answer is, meditative music makes your mind silent. The activity of mind simply drops down. Many times, all of us find it very difficult to cut down the thoughts. During my talks, many students ask me this typical question- we sit silent for hours but we are never silent.  The fact is, it is always very difficult to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to cut the supply of energy going to thought process. Listening to some good music can always be useful.

As I mentioned earlier, Pt. Nityanand Haldipur carries this unique ability in his music. His music is like a constant flow. As soon as you start listening to it, you are dragged in it. Your mind just cannot function.  Almost all the masters who have ever walked on this earth, in some way or other ask us to silent our mind. Zen masters say, drop the mind. For hundreds of years, Indian Classical Music is being used as a gateway to god- in form of worshipping god and also in form of meditation.

If we go a step down, silencing mind is an outcome of breath stabilization. We need to stabilize our breath. So, when you listen to someone like Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, who plays flute with a steady and controlled breath, you are bound to be like him. I always keep on telling many of these students and friends to listen to such kind of music. Many of them report that it helps!

Read All Articles on Pt. Nityanand Haldipur 

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

What did music teach me?

As far as I can remember my past, I find some place for music. The oldest memories which I have about myself, have a tint of music, a unique flavour of records of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi that my father used to play in our house. Those days are still clear in front of me, now. Then came the days when I started practising music. I remember those days when my friends used to laugh on me; saying why you waste the time which you get to play. I do not know the reason, but I always loved sitting alone and practising my music than playing in a crowd of kids.

Almost always it happens with music students that they loose their touch with music when they face their tenth standard board exams. Same happened with me also. But, rare thing is, the thread connecting me and music did not break. It was a temporary separation.  When favourable conditions came, the love for music sprouted up. The reason behind digging out all these things is, an interesting discussion with a friend. The friend very bluntly asked me to tell him what I got out of spending so much of time.

As for as I am concerned, the question makes no sense. We do not do all things because we get something. Rather, doing some things bring so much of joy with them that you do not need any other reason. But still, I can understand the mindset of my friend. He also needs an answer for his rational mind. So, I ask myself: leave the joy aside. What else did I get from spending so much of time on music?

The answer is quite big. There are many outputs, some minor, some significant but all of them are valuable. Playing flute taught me how to be stable. It taught me the art of being unaffected by the surroundings. Stability of breath makes one’s life stable in all the situations. Practising music taught me to sit silently at a place, without getting tired and distracted. I sit in front of my Guru, listening for hours what he teaches. Music has improved my concentration and awareness.

Through this passion, I came to know so many divine artists and could meet them. Each of them taught me something different. I have not met many artists; their music teach a lot even in their absence. Guruma Annapurna Devi teaches us highest level of dedication; towards Gurus, music and even one’s disciples. She is an goddess who takes us beyond all the material aspects, where music is pure, divine. Pt. Shivkumar Sharma taught me meditation. He is simply a yogi. Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a perfect incarnation of lord Krishna. His love and affection towards his disciples is phenomenal. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur teaches us to devote ourselves to our Gurus. It feels really blessed to be among all of them. The list does not end here. Pt. C.R. Vyas teaches us to manage day-to- day life and music together. His dedication, hard work, devotion are beyond imagination. Pt. Suhas Vyas teaches us how a Guru should be in changed scenarios where there are newer challenges in front of music learners.

The list is unending. There is so much to learn; lives will be insufficient to contain all this wisdom.  What music has taught me is beyond all the books and scriptures. It needs a blessed one to get all this.

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Annapurna Devi – So far, so close

Life is really strange. I am always fascinated about Indian Classical Music performers. I always attend the concerts, listen to the records and am submerged in the world. As the years passed, this affection moved to a higher state. I entered a state where I wanted to meet the artists and talk to them.

I am not sure if this is going to do anything better for me; still, I like to meet all these artists. I was quite successful at this. I could meet almost all of these artists. Indian Classical Musicians are magical. They carry a grace with them. Many times, the artist is not a famous artist, but still I meet him because fame does not define an artist.

While being on this journey, I came to know about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi is the highest peak in the world of Indian Classical Music. I have not been fortunate enough to listen to her performance. But, I am fortunate enough to listen to and also understand the music of her disciples like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.

I remember those days when I was honestly trying to know more about Guruma Annapurna Devi. Though I could not meet Guruma, because of this thirst, I could know more about three beautiful persons on this earth- Pt. Nityanand Haldipur, Pt. Suhas Vyas and Prof. Roohikumar Pandya. At that time, I had taken tremendous efforts to find out the place of Annapurna Devi. I went to her apartment and was fortunate enough to meet Prof. Rooshikumar Pandya.

Today, I have my house at a distance of ten minutes walk from her place. My apartment faces the same sea. When I go to Mumbai, I cross her apartment twice a day. Guruma Annapurna Devi is so close. The tall Akashganga Tower is so close. But still, Guruma is far away, inside her apartment.

Every time, when I pass from  Akashganga. I sadly laugh on this coincidence relating to Annapurna Devi. So close, and still, so far. I am trying to reduce the distance from my side. I know, there is no distance created from Guruma’s side. I am the reason for the distance. It will vanish some day, I am sure.

Click there to read more about pt. Nityanand Haldipur

Click here to read more about pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia

 

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Rakesh Chaurasia

Rakesh Chaurasia – The rebirth of flute

Why Rakesh Chaurasia?

In many previous articles, I talked about famous musicians of India like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. These articles can be read here-

Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia – a living wonder

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur – Essence of simplicity

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.

Rakesh Chaurasia

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.

You can enjoy his recording of Raga Des here-

Rakesh Chaurasia- Raga Des

 

 

Categories
Famous Musicians of India

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur : a realization

I don’t know actual year when this event took place. It was some ten years ago. I had gone to Mumbai to enjoy my vacations. My aunt lives at Chembur, in Mumbai. It was a normal rule for all of us; study for the year and then go to Mumbai in vacations. This vacation, I was alone there because all of my cousins were out of India. I used to sleep for the days and nights.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur

One evening, my aunty introduced me to one of her guests who was learning vocal music from Ajit Kadkade. When he came to know that I was also learning music, he gave me a free pass for a concert featuring three artists which starting from the next day in Chembur itself. At that time, I was very choosey about the music I listened. Still as there were no other things to do I decided to go for the concert. I do not even remember the names of other persons who performed in the concert but I still remember Pt. Nityanand Haldipur. I had no big understanding of music at that time so I used to attend concerts just as a formality. But something happened after the performance of Pt. Nityanand Haldipur and hence though I cannot remember what he played that day I can very easily remember Pt. Nityanand Haldipur.

Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was going to conclude the concert. One man was sitting beside me attending the entire concert. From his appearance it was sure that he had come from some faraway place. Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was performing for almost one and half hour and this man near me was totally submerged in the magic of flute while I was seating like a dumb. When this performance by Pt. Nityanand Haldipur was over, the man stood up and joined his hands. He was a man in his sixties. With his hands joined he said, “He is such rare person, at least I could see him” At that time it was beyond my capability to understand what kind of man Pt. Nityanand Haldipur is. Two days before, while listening to Raga Shuddha Sarang performed by him, I was totally lost. Suddenly I fixed an appointment to meet him. I will be meeting him on this Sunday, 10-02-2013

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