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.