Posting for the year end 2011

December is slowly casting its cold wintry spell. Today is by far the coldest day so far- maybe the following days will be colder. I cannot say. I am looking back at all these past years, not that I have a clear picture of all the time, but yes ...Kabir has very much been a part of the road for me.

On the last count I had nearly 40 odd Kabir bhajans in my repertoire. It seems to be such a bias. But it is a fact. This month, in fact the last one, I composed that much sung Kabir bhajan - man mast hua tab kyon bole. I was never convinced whenever anyone sang it, because I never understood the lyrics of it. But when I composed it myself and sang a few times I could make out the meaning.

I thought and thought that if the heart was so 'mast' then why would it not communicate. Then I remember the sufi song- dama dum mast qalandar...Why would a happy heart not want to communicate? Or is the outer expression of happiness only a superficial expression. Even in another of Kabir bhajans I recall the lines...

याहू रस पीवे गूंगा गहिला
ताकि कोई ना बूझे सार रे

Ah! which meas that Kabir is saying that once you have really understood what the essence of Ram/Brahman is- you will not need to communicate it and you shall be so much in your own ecstasy that the outer expression will cease. Understood now, why when the heart is 'mast'..it will not speak any further.

मन मस्त हुआ तब क्यों बोले
हीरा पाया गाँठ गथिआयो
बार बार वा को क्यों खोले...


Of course the picture does not fit here. But Nikki the lab, who has her snout on Ginger the retriever is actually one of those dogs who refuses to bark too much . AM wondering if she is the one who is truly in her own masti!


November 2011

This November proved to be an active month- कबीर-wise for me. For now what I call as 'active' does not have to do with anything except my own riyaaz, compositions and writing. But this month I also had a little program, in the house of a recently made friend; who happens to be a senior professor in Lady Irwin College of Delhi University. Meeting her had been another accident and an interesting tale too.

Her mother met me a few weeks after I met her and upon hearing that I sang Kabir expressed the desire to hear me sing. Looking at her and the way I usually am with the elderly I said I would come down to her home and sing it! And a few weeks later, her daughter arranged it for her mother's pleasure; to have an evening of Kabir bhajans; in a little gathering that comprised a few of her friends and fewer of mine. Since I was venturing into singing out after a long time I thought at least one or two who really wanted to hear me sing ought to be invited. I invited one professor from the CIE and one from Psychology. The former came and the latter apologized later, but invited me to sing at another place later! (in this picture it is me sitting with aunty- Mrs Bhalla after the singing was over and she hugged me)

 On the left here is Dr Anjali Capila and one of the other guests for the evening Vijay, while the one on right- is Tansen Shriwastava; my tabla artist friend and accompanying artist for the evening.

So on the said evening-13th Nov 2011, I sang Kabir bhajans for the longest till yet- approx two hours and a quarter, to a group of about 12-15 people. Tansen played the tabla with me, Karim provided the humour for the evening, Murad pitched in with his poetry, his mother invited me to sing in another program, Poonam-ji invited me to sing also, something she wanted for some time now...and of course there is an invitation to sing somewhere in the mountains too. Whenever more of those singing programs happen I shall note them down here.

But for this prog I must note here that I sang one bhajan of Smt Veena Saharabuddhe (ghat ghat mein panchhi bolta) taught to me by my guru, Smt Madhuri Dandage, one by Kumar Gandharva- jhini jhini (and even shared the meaning of it) one by Madhup Mudgal -haman hai ishq mastana. The rest about 12-13 were my own compositions. The last one that I sang was aaoonga na jaaoonga -

आऊँगा न जाऊंगा ना मारूंगा न जिऊंगा
गुरु के सबद मैं रमी रमी रहूँगा


29th Dec 2000- The release of Kahe Kabir Album

these are a few pictures from the day, my Kabir Album was released. It was released by the older of the Singh Bandhus- Sardar Surinder Pal Singh-ji at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi. I have shared here a news item that appeared in the Hindu paper of 29th Dec 2000.
Below, in this picture I am standing with my guru, Smt Madhuri Dandage.
 This third picture is of me singing with the other musicians on the occasion of the release. It is so long back, that memories are really faint for me- but when I look back today...I can only reconfigure it in my mind with the word, "Oh, so this also happened in my life!!"


This October

This October

A young woman who is doing research in Kabir and performance in music and sociology came home and we talked on two occasions; several hours of discussions actually. A very bright young woman. Always inspiring to meet such young people for there is many a one who is on a different quest- and you realize that even if your music or your thought touches one more person in the world somewhere it is worth it. Her study is part of her MPhil work at the Jadavpur University, Kolkata. I am still not clear why she chose me among scores of other singers who sing Kabir. But yes, it is me and Neela Bhagwat who she is working on for her present study. Maybe for Phd it would be more senior performers.

Thanks to her for getting Kabir out of my long ago creased folds of the brain- I sat down afresh after long years...and the change that I wanted in my compositions finally started to show. This time I could work on compositions in pure ragas; unlike the manner of the past when I had made musical compositions and they were not necessarily within ragas.

So the new compositions are in three distinct ragas...and i am really thrilled that I have worked in something completely unprecedented for me- Durga, Shuddh Kalyan and Vibhas (with a shuddh dhaivat, not Komal)
I am happy because before this I have never worked in this manner, not that I have not tried, it has not happened for me that I could work in three uncorrelated scales this way.

Oh yes! this October on 2nd - I sang Kabir in the Deer Park Institute, Bir, Himachal Pradesh- on the concluding day of a conference in Education/Shiksha- it was extremely well received. I am grateful for the opportunity - either ways. It was a great conference, with scholars from scores of schools of thought and traditions. In this picture we see a Jain nun giving a talk, while in the audience there are scholars of every hue and shade sitting there. I was fortunate for such an august gathering. IT was the Director of the Krishnamoorty schools, Bangalore who coaxed and egged me on to sing so that he could hear me:) But everyone else did too by the end of it...including the Rev Samdhong Rinpoche.

Okay here are the starting lines of each
पानी में मीन प्यासी मोहे सुन सुन आवत हांसी (Durga)

मन रे तू करी ले साहिब सों प्रीत (Shuddh Kalyan)

जीवन मुक्त सोही मुक्ता हो (Vibhas)

I do want to say this here- that at the conference there were a number of international audiences. And it was so touching to receive mails from at least three of them (2 who did not understand the lyrics of Kabir) that they felt touched by the music. I am utterly grateful to god for their kindness and giving me the hope that my music is worth the effort I  make- for it touches. These two were from Sweden and Australia- two separate individuals actually. The third who acknowledged that in a public email to me is a Buddhist monk.

Satguru mohae bhaavae

From my four CD Kabir album, called Kahe Kabir, this is one bhajan that I am now in a position to share. It was recorded when I was i...