Famous Musicians of India music

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

It is said that it is very difficult to have something very precious and not to show of it. People who have nothing, even they can not stop themselves from showing of. But yes, there are some persons who have some very rare and precious things, and yet, they do not show of. This rule is applicable even to arts and artists.

Bhimsen Joshi

Artist has two basic qualities with him. These qualities are insight and skill. Most of the times, artists lack in insight and are skillful. Such artists show off their skills. But, there are some artists, who are on a much higher plane as far as both insight and skills are concerned, but they never show off. One of such artists is, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is unbeatable as far as insights and skills are concerned; but, he is so much absorbed in his music, that he totally forgets that he has to showcase his talent. Bhimsen Joshi Ji, unlike other artists, goes somewhere within himself when he is singing. This outer world disappears. All those claps, audience praising, everything falls away. What remains, is Bhimsen Joshi Ji and his meditation.

Indian is a land of artists. There are many artists having a musical background stretching up to 8 to 9 generations. Bhimsen Joshi, had no such background. This man, ran away from his home after hearing a record of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. What I love, is this fire of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Ji. This can be seen in performances even at the age of 80.

I remember, a video of Bhimsen Joshi Ji singing a Bhajan by Saint Tulsidas. His eyes were closed. Absorbed somewhere inside him. As if he was searching for something or rather he was refining something. I have never seen any artist so much absorbed in his art.

Critics have one complaint against Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Ji. The complaint is that when he sings, lyrics cannot be heard properly. He does not have a clear excruciation. The thing to note is that, it is not that he cannot pronounce. The first priority of bhimsen Joshi is the flavor, the juice. And many a times, it happens that wordings affect this juice. Bhimsen Joshi is so much absorbed in flavor, that lyrics just do not matter. Words are lame, the juice, the flavor is what matters. If someone compromises lyrics for flavor, I would love the person.

At the end, I remember a sung Bandish by Bhimsen Joshi ji-

I am awake…….

With your eyes,

submerged in the juice….

Image taken from-

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Jingle Bells and Amjad Ali Khan

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan had been invited to USA for delivering a performance. He was requested to perform Jingle Bells. And he performed it nicely. But it attracted a number of critics and Ustadji was blamed a lot. So, I consider it my duty to throw some light on the quality of performance.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

The first thing is that, he was condemned so much because it was not a traditional classical composition. If we analyze the tune of Jingle Bells, it fits very well in Raag Khamaj in Hindustani classical music. In instrumental music, words play no role. So, why this composition was not accepted as a composition in Khamaj Raag? I think critics somewhere consider other types of music substandard and that’s why they are hurt so much when a Hindustani classical artist plays a Western Tune. And I can point out thousands of tunes having same notes being played by many other renowned artists.

The second thing is that, many critics many times say that Ustad Amjad Ali Khan lacks deapth in his music. I totally disagree. This is basic mistake committed by humans. We associate simplicity with less quality. I would like to highlight that simplicity is the highest form or the highest   virtue of any art. If we judge Amjad Ali Khan on these criteria of simplicity, I think probably no other musician will reach the heights which Amjad Ji has seen. His music is very deep. But it just flows simply..and that’s why people misunderstand it as substandard or as deficient in depth.

It hurts when people call him a second rate artist. It hurts when people doubt his dedication. When his Sarod was broken, he was broken with it and this shows his dedication, his love for his art. His wife brought his spare sarod herself next day. It was not difficult to send the Sarod by courier by any other agency; but his wife comes. This shows the love and intimacy of Khan Couple towards the art.

I will request the so called learned condemners of Amjad Ali Khan that please have a look at him when he is holding his Sarod in his hand. Observe the care, the love and also the depth. It Is rare to find artist who is so much absorbed and who is so much in unison with his instrument.

Famous Musicians of India music

Famous musicians of India #3

A young boy, at a very tender age, hears a very touching gramophone record being played in a music shop.He is so much fascinated by the voice, that he leaves the house, runs away without a single penny in his pocket to find a teacher who will teach him this divine art.This little boy was, todays most famous Indian classical vocalist,Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, and this divine record was sung by, Late Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan Sahib.

Abdul karim Khan

Very few musicians in India had the divine voice quality;among them, one was Abdul Karim Khan Sahib.Along with vocal music, he was a gifted Been ,Sarangi and Tabla player.He was born in 1872 at Kirana, a place in North India in a musical family.Initially he was a Sarangi plyayer but then changed his focus to the vocal music.If one is asked to list down the singers who had most soothiing voices, no one will challenge the position of Ustaad Abdul Karim Khan at the top of it.His voice was very much delicate and filled with the divine nectar.
He was the first north Indian musician who deeply studied the Karnatak style of Indian Classical Music.His style of singing Sargam was much in accordance with the Karnatak style.He had very minute knowledge about the various notes and his voice could put them in front of the people very clearly and with ease.He has also contributed much to Marathi Devotional music and Natya Sangeet(Music which was used in stage plays instead of dialogs.)
The significance of work of a musician can be mapped on three parameters-
1.The quality of music
2.Disciples produced by the musician
3.Contribution to the growth and awareness about the music.
Work of Abdul Karim Khan is literally immeasurable on all these three parameters.Quality of his music was so much divine that many respected scientists,philosophers,social activists in India were in love with him and did not miss his single concert.C.V. Raman,Lokmanya Tilak and many such eminent personalities were his fans.Devotional songs sung by him could bring tears in eyes of listeners.Bhimsen Joshi turned out to be a musician only after listening to his miraculous voice.
If we consider the list of disciples of Ustaad ji, we can find very respected and well known names in it.Savai Gandharva,Suresh Mane,Hirabai Badodekar are just few of these names.And this generation again produced an unending list of talented artists such as Pt. Bhimsen Joshi,Gangubai Hangal, Firoz Dastur, Manik Verma etc.Abduk karim Khan started Arya Sangeet Vidyalay at Pune where he himself taught music and free accommodation and food was provided to needy.He spent most of his concert earnings on parenting the needy students.He settled in Miraj afterwards, where he used to organize a grand music festival.A large number of saints were fed free of charge and also, many musicians were promoted through this platform.
He had a huge number of followers in South India where his lovers used to arrange a procession of him with garlands all over his body. Inspite of all this, he lived like a saint.After having a look at his mystic eyes, Annie Besant enquired a disciple if Khan Sahib was a drug addict.The disciple answered, he is addicted to only one thing-music.
In 1937, he was visiting pondicherry.He was feeling uncomfortable so left the train and started singing prayer in Raag Darbari Kanada and while singing the divine song, left his body.
We are really fortunate that his records are available and we can experience the divinity through his records.

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Famous musicians of India #2

Ustaad Allauddin Khan

It was a noon time.A poor man was trying to sell his sub standard music drums called as Dafli which are played with the help of hands.He was merely successful in doing go.Along with him were sitting his poor children waiting for a customer;if he buys the drum they are going to get the food.Suddenly a man comes to the man.Not bearing the pain of the poor condition, he just lifts up one of those drums and starts playing them.Within a moment, the whole crowd is enchanted by that magical rhythm played on those very ordinary drums.For the entire time,people are out of the

ir senses.The performance is over.People within a moment, hypnotized by that divine music,take out whatever they find in their pockets and put it in front of the man.That man collects all that money,hands it over to the owner of the drums and without speaking a single word,leaves the place.

This soft hearted and India’s most loved and most respected musician was,Ustad Allauddin Khan.What we call as divine music is the music of Allauddin Khan.Allauddin Khan with a lot of efforts was accepted as a disciple by famous Veena player Ustaad Wazir Khan of Rampur.He was court musician to the Maharaja Of Maihar Estate.

Ustaad Allauddin Khan unlike other musicians, never practiced music as an profession.He was completely absorbed in music or rather music had absorbed him completely.He had reached the highest peaks and also the deepest and most subtle roots of the music.Allauddin Khan was a Sarod player, but he could play any instrument with so much mastery that anybody would think that this man must have wasted his whole life in playing that instrument.He could play all sort of instruments with equal ease and equal command.

As a musician he was the most successful; but as a Guru or Music master also, no one will deny the fact that he was most successful.He was father and Guru of world famous Sarod player and one of the finest musician of this country,Ustaad Ali Akbar Khan and very divine SurBahar player, Shrimati Annapurna Devi(Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia is a pupil of Annapurna Ji).Many of the most successful musicians like Sitar players Pt.Ravishankar and Pt.Nikhil Banerjee, flautist Pt.pannalal Ghosh were his disciples.If we consider producing a chain of worthy disciples as a success, no one is as successful as Ustaad Allauddin Khan.

Along with the musician,Allauddin khan was a very spiritual person.Greatest musicians of those times and also today’s music lovers, with love and respect call him Baba,which means father.He was also one of those rare musicians who explored themselves through music.He was equally in love of all religions and also always absorbed in the godliness.Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho was very much interested in Baba Allauddin Khan and used to visit him frequently.When Osho was asked that if he knew any musician who had attained enlightenment through music,Osho answered that it was only Baba who had realized the self through his music.As Osho says,while playing the Saord, Baba got his enlightenment.As at that time Allauddin Khan was above 100 years old, his delicate and fragile body could not bear that load, and Allauddin Khan left his body at the very moment.

This essence of his divine search can be felt in the music of Baba Allauddin Khan and it is a real mystical experience to listen to his music.

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Famous Musicians of India #1

I am very pleased to announce that for the first time I am starting a new series here on this blog.The series is named as Famous Musicians of India.India can be considered as birth place of music.Thousands of years ago Vedas were sung in musical notes.From there originated the concept of Sura(note) and Taal(Tempo or rhythm).On these two fundamental parameters based is the Indian music.

From its origin time, Indian music has undergone a series of transformation and now has reached the form it presently has.In this journey,various talented artists have made their contributions.The specialty of Indian music is that the same note can be sung in thousands of ways according to the way voice of the artist or the hand of the instrumentalist is trained. There are Hundreds of Ragas and also hundreds of different styles which make Indian classical music  a sheer joy and a very inspiring source for contemplation and meditation.

Another strange fact is that all of the famous musicians of India were having a very strong spiritual background.Their music was nothing but the journey to the self exploration.These musicians were practicing their music not as a source of income or as a source of entertainment but as a door to the eternal which can be found inside themselves.

So it is very insightful experience  to explore these famous musicians of India as it can give you anything you want-from entertainment to very deep contemplation.The very first musician which I will be discussing will be Allauddin Khan. The actual series will start with the next post.

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Rhythm Divine:Myth or Truth

There are many things which at first sight seem absurd and unbelievable, but at the root lies very simple reason.India is quite famous for producing such personalities whose skills have been underestimated as myths.One of such personality is Taansen, the legendary singer.

The fact about Taansen is that when he used to sing, all the instruments would be automatically played with him.No person was needed to play them; rather his voice and his perfection was only thing which was sufficient.Today this is considered as a myth.But any person with a little bit of musical and scientific knowledge will come to know that this is not a myth but highest height of perfection and totality.

While learning Indian Classical Music tradtionally at home of my Guru I  came to know that while tuning one instrument when its frequency is same with some other instrument, the other one vibrates and makes sound automatically over a considerable distance.And practicing a  little bit for 8 years I myself reached the point where Just by singing a note I can bring it out automatically from Harmonium.Just the principle of resonance.

While singing a Raaga, Taansen used to be in such a totality that all the instruments placed there used to produce the same note due to resonance and the result was complete raaga being heard on the instruments.So, the story of Taansen is not a myth;but a story of Devotion,Totality and perfection.

music mysticism Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Kirwani – Pt. hariprasad Chaurasia

Human being are blessed as far as one context is concerned. Human can sense the superhuman quality of something which apparently seems totally human. A  nice example of this is that some small phrases, or some short lines given by great people which apparently not at all seem     great, attract us. Those lines are ordinary, but have become famous or rather immortal as they carry within them a glimpse of super humanity which their author had.

The same thing holds true for any art. A mere line drawn by a legendary painter like Picasso has a magnetism in it and can attract people. Same is true with music. In Indian classical music there are many many ragas, each having its own flavor, each created by a different person. Through my journey of music, I have came across numerous ragas, each having a different  impact on me or rather each pulling out different emotions from me. But this above  mentioned raga, Kirwani,is something different. The thing which I have written about poets and painters, applies here to Kirwani.This small tune, a combination of Suras,has really a magic within. There are two possibilities, either it is a man made tune or a raga derived from a folk tune.But whosoever has created it was an enlightened one.There  are hundreds of beautiful ragas…..very beautiful….created by intelligent people…….clever people……..genius people. The quality of creator can be easily  seen through the raga he created. But as far as Kirwani is concerned, I can’t even think of commenting on the quality of its creator….it is beyond my scope.

I have heard this raga for at least  a hundred times…..I sometimes continuously hear it for 7-8 times. But juice of this raga is eternal…..which can never exhaust and I think this is possible only because of immortality of the creator of Kirwani. Numerous artists have performed this raga.I can say that Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia has understood it completely……totally. Hearing Kirwani  of  Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia is a meditation……a realization… life moves…….circles within circles…….the game of mind…….everlasting……….the illusions……… bottom, how they are created by us…… we know this fact and then how easily we ignore it…….how we are attracted to our own people……how they go away from us……what betrayal means…..what love is … we bring it down…..while doing an effort of taking  ourselves high….Kirwani is a puzzle…….completely solved for you…….so you can see, that how everything moves……….how things are fitting in each other……Kirwani is a realization…….highest realization…….

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