Music is one and only field which follows and respects Indian culture and heritage. Worshiping Guru as God is an age old tradition in India, which is being, even today, practiced at one place: music world. Music world specifically because along with the private pedagogy of teaching, the music institutions and universities follow the tradition of touching Guru’s feet and holding ears in apology while speaking out Guru’s name by the students. Musical performers, be it veterans or amateurs, are known by the identity of their Gurus, unlike in other streams.
Guru-Shishya i.e., teacher-disciple relationship is one of the most divine and sovereign relationship, as it reflects the wider realm of knowledge, sanskaar, and belongingness. There is a deep relationship of knowledge, values of respect and motivation, and sense of Guru’s aura and intimacy around.
Origin of Guru-shishya parampara: Oral Tradition
Oral tradition is a style of pedagogy, which incorporates dictating knowledge verbally. Oral tradition dates back to 5000 years, when the Gurus transferred their in-depth knowledge to the disciples verbally or orally by merely narrating. This is the reason oral tradition in hindi is called ‘Maukhik Parampara’, which means ‘mukh se or through mouth’.
Mythologically, it is believed that the epic Ramayana was written by Adikavi Valmiki, but is narrated and interpreted different by other authors and in other countries. Later on, it was retold and reinterpreted by different other sages, which led to around 300 types of Ramayana. The point is at that there was no trend of writing down the facts. Instead, the Guru sages narrated their tales to disciples and the knowledge further got transferred through generations. It is, therefore, believed that the upanishads and puranas were finally penned down after 800 years after it was narrated by the disciples, the reason why only 75 percent of it was written.
The similar aspect was adopted in inculcating musical education (Talim). The Gurus used to imbibe all the musical hymns and theory orally and the disciples had to grasp it only with the audible sectors of the body. For this reason, the pupils had to stay with gurus at their homes in order to seek this time-devoting knowledge in-depth and fully. Since the guru and students shared a place as a family, students, apart from seeking education, conducted almost all the reasonable or unreasonable household tasks asked by the Gurus. This way Gurus tested the curiosity of their disciples. And the students were committed to it. Even the bathroom cleaning was conducted by the students as a feeling of respect and ethical gesture. Students too believed that committing life fully over Guru’s care is a great and true path towards knowledge. Therefore, oral tradition gave birth to the tradition of Guru-parampara.
Psychology Behind the chemistry of Guru-Purnima
Eternal respect: Guru-Shishya Parampara establishes a relationship, which is out of the world for a disciple. Disciple gets attached with that knowledge-father and develops an eternal and Godly respect. Touching feet of Gurus and elders is not merely a tradition, but reflects on many more in-depth interpretations. Touching Guru’s feet signifies ‘May your qualities and knowledge get inculcated in me through your feet dust particles.’
Dedication Towards seeking education: Not only with the Guru, a student attaches but envelops an utter identity with that particular field of knowledge he is seeking.
Motivating Factor: The feeling of “I will achieve something and make my teacher proud” is the element, which emanates into the student which leads to numerous successes and awards.
Inevitable Perseverance: Eminent maestro Kaushiki Ji once told in a concert when asked how she perfected the super fast gayaki, “My father (Ajay Chakraborty) lighted a candle and made me practice one particular till the candle is burning.” This is called sur-sadhana personified. Even after reaching a zenith of success, a student remains in the student-zone when he is in touch with his/her guru. Regular and prolonged practices becomes the part of his lives and he connects himself with the Guru and the stream.
Veena Ji (1948-2016)
I heard Veena Ji twice in the spic Macay concerts in Delhi. The first time I heard I did not understand the effectiveness of her gayaki as I was too immature for that. The next time when she was about to perform, my Guru recommended me to listen to her and with the open eyes this time, jotting the crispy notes analyzing whatever she sang. I obviously attended the concert as it was like an assignment for me. It was way too complex for me but I analyzed and noted in my diary. I recorded the whole performance to note down further at home. I think this is the best thing I did: I recorded it. I heard the recording repeatedly for few weeks and explored something new and peculiar every time I heard.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe, a renowned Gwalior gharana vocalist, passed away on June, 29th, due to Parkinson disease, leaving Indian classical music on an incomplete journey. Again, the music world is reminiscing the transcended standards set by the great stalwart, leaving it halfway.
VeenaTai’s journey towards Swaras
Veena Ji, popularly known as Veena tai (elder sister in Marathi) by her disciples and other connoisseurs, was a skilled combination of sweetness and vigour. Her gayaki demonstrated a stabilized blend of Jaipur and Kirana styles, apart from the Gwalior heritage. However, she was gifted a musical family background, an eminent Bodas family of Kanpur, where her father, Shankarrao Shripad Bodas and brother Kashinath Bodas had been nurturing her with various Gwalior techniques. She also achieved talim by Padmasree Pt. Balwantrai Bhatt and Pt. Gajananbuwa Joshi.
A captivating Gayaki
Veena Ji had an immense vitality and simplicity in the treatment of notes which could hook the audience for hours. Beginning a raga, she immediately featured the prarambhik aalap with its captivating twists, imprinting her gayaki peculiarity on its first page. Her nectarous voice, powerful though, with the added softness imbibed a new folds to the ragas she presented. Preferring the mid-pace instead of the overly-slow (ati-vilambit) rhythm in the bada khayal was another exceptional features of her gayaki, which engaged even the laymen. Her mandra notes were exceedingly deep and resonant that one could meditate in the moments. Her melodic phrases combined with rhythmic intonations with effortless voyage within all three octaves manifested the jaipur gayaki and its characteristics.
Another characteristic of her singing, one perhaps influenced by the Jaipur gharana, was repeating the same note twice or thrice in a melodic phrase, before moving on to the next. The subtlety and swiftness while acquiring the upper notes and phrases implicitly reflected her ages-spend competence and contemplation.
According to an article in The wire, “Veena Ji’s bol-tans and tans (the patterns exploring the notes of the raga within the rhythmic cycle) were robust, with a profusion of gamaks. And a thread running through all her presentations was her wonderful voice modulation – soft, strong, at all times expressive. Some disapproved of her ‘jabde ka tan’ (jaw movement while singing tans), but the richness of her note patterns and force of her renditions overshadowed this shortcoming.”
Veena Ji as a Bhajan Exponent
Apart from the Khyala gayaki, she was well-known for the bhajans, especially her scintillating style of singing Kabir bhajan, ‘Man lago mero yaar fakiri’. Once she had a bhajan recital at Sawai Gandharva music festival in Pune, when Pt. Bhimsen Joshi heard and invited her at his concert. That was the era when Veena tai uplifted with fame as a vocalist.
She presented a few lectures, workshops, seminars and music conferences, primarily in IIT Kanpur, in which she explained and shared her vast and deep knowledge in the ragas. Listen to this short clipping from later years, where she speaks of subtle differences between Ragas of the same scale. Her experience as a teacher comes through when you listen to how effortlessly she changes the Ragas Puriya, Sohini and Marwa that are from one scale.
The first time I heard Niladri Kumar was at kamani auditorium, Delhi, but was unable to perceive the uniqueness of his playing as he was super fast. The gat was going literally out of anticipation for me; tala was racing with my mind and went far beyond the sam till I realized. Therefore, my final judgement of him was, “too fast”. The next time I heard him was in the advertisement of Taj mahal tea when again he seemed to demonstrate the tidal waves but I observed the kids danced at the ad. Then I realized why he is popular among the youngsters. Sometimes one needs to plummet down back to kids thinking level to inculcate any art among them. Niladri Ji did the same. Kids and youths are fascinated with the fast tempos and that’s exactly what he is up to.
The other day I heard him in a video floated through whatsapp and I was just mesmerized. He was endorsing an event tieing up with Madhuri Dixit and he played her movie songs like dhak-dhak, Mera piya ghar aaya, Ankhiya milau, and all her rocking ones. He made the audience and Madhuri so engrossed that nobody could make out what instrument he was playing. Have a look:
Zitar was the instrument he was playing which is his own creation. Zitar is the cool combo of sitar and guitar (electric) having a beautiful maroon color. This indicates the passion, perseverance and lifetime practice of the maestros with which they land up to their innovative inventions of instruments transcending the level of classical music.
Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar might be smiling proudly above to watch his student being compared with him indirectly in the concert last evening in the Vishalakshi Mantap, Bangalore. His scintillating performance uplifted immensely with the lethal combination of Padmashree Pandit Vijay Ghate on Tabla. The concert titled ‘Soul to soul’, unfolded the Raga charukesi with its startling approach towards aalap and superfluous, beyond anticipation, fast renditions on higher octaves.
Apart from Charukesi, they both extended the event by presenting some fast track medleys maintaining the comity of the deep-rooted classical art. The intricate versatile and doughty rhythms by Pt. Ghate injected the natural bliss and metanoia among the audience.
TV actress and host Vrushali Mandal was a great violinist apart from being a so-so actress. After an year of her successful career, her love life started deteriorating with an obvious reasons and finally it came to an end. Since Vrushali was committed to her work, she continued to act mechanically but fully shattered from within. Her lonely apartment pinched her with the lovable memories and she went into chronic depression. For two months, she locked herself in a room, when a music academy was opened in just the next door. The inevitably audible music of the duirinal classes surpassed her ears daily, which initially made her vexed. Gradually, her depression streaks started plummeting and her gormlessness subsiding. She joined the classes and found her life more towards acceptance and value of relationship. One fine morning, she called her boyfriend to apologise and patch up the stuffs. They kickstarted their life and in an interview she shared a statement, “Tunes and sounds have played a great role in my life; I would suggest all to value music at all times.”
The rhapsodic tunes of music reverberates our soul to an extent that it can change our attitude towards life and people around us. The sonic currents of musical tunes penetrates our body and pleasure hormones called dopamine and estrogen and balances them. Researches reveal that constant listening to your favorite tracks alters the perspective we have for people and we try to see people with more positive and accepting glairs. Fast and slow tracks also contribute essentially in the attaining and subsiding the optimism in people. Fast tracks generally stimulates one whereas the slow ones relaxes our mind. Soft and slow music unleashes the brain knots which have been tightened throughout the long day of routined office and family life. Fast tracks stimulates us and compel us to get energized to execute something more productive. In a way both the music do good in their own way.
Indian music therapy that’s the raga therapy have nemeity of specific ragas for the specific kinds of psychological and mental issues like negativity, non-acceptance, bewilderment in decision making, or depression. For instance, Raag Ahir Bhairava is beneficial for relaxation, Raga Dwijawanti quells paralysis, Raga Hansdhwani injects energy and vitality, Raga kafi fights with depression and anxiety. Similarly ragas like Keerwani, Kokilam, Neelambari, Ranjani, Hameer, cures the physical degeneration like kidney diseases, insomnia, arthritis, etc..
Read out another story of Sarah Myers, an extremely passionate and enthusiast student of Smith Cotton University. What she thinks of being into the musical environment; How she perceives being born as a musician; How she managed to gather scholarships.
Music is studded with varied faces and has an immense power of altering human’s life for better. Usually music is considered in three prime forms: Gaayan, Vadana, and Nritya or singing, playing (instrumental) and dance. These three aspects has its individuality and integrity both at the same time. In other words, playing, singing, or dancing can be performed and would implicitly be called music even if they are executed solely. As in, you can enjoy the vocals with or without instrumentals and dance, or vica versa. Hence we find the musical aura much identity-oriented and unified as well.
With this aspect of music, can you associate music with some other faculty? Probably our mind. Our mind implies the same temperament if we take time to examine it. Believe me, the mind cooperates us much more than we think it is. If we keep it single-sided directing it on one object, subject or field, it will make us master that individual area. On the other hand if we multi-direct it to the plethora of subjects and areas, that will culminate the mind and destiny work in multi-dimensions in various fields making one more versatile, competent and all-rounder.
The story of a young Bharatanatyam dancer Lakshmi Raj clearly illustrates the theory much clearly. Her specialization since childhood was corporate marketing. Like many other routined IT-freaks and monotonous traders of happiness, she too graduated and mastered in business marketing to work with Logistic companies as a business developer. However, Indian classical dance prevailed in their family liking but overlooking the reality and hanging on the conservative affairs is what Indians are good at. “My mother aspired to be a dancer herself when she was young but she grew in a rather conservative society where in the ancient India, dance was considered to be performed by the girls of low society to entertain the Royals. Hence she never got a chance to pursue her dream.” Says Lakshmi. To have a prestigious education and job, she pursued the IT and marketing.
Around two decades back, to accompany her introvert sister into dancing area, she joined dance since when she starting delving deep into the dance world.
“My mother got my sister into a Bharatanatyam class very close to where we lived in order to make her dream come true through her daughter. It was my good fortune that, to the fear of new faces and the sound of the ‘Tatta Kazhi‘ (beats) my sister would do nothing but cry in the class; so to give her company, I was introduced to the world of dance and since then there is no stopping.”
Lakshmi started her dance journey by receiving training from my ‘Guru’ (mentor) Ms. Lata Raman for the last 18 years now. She realized her mechanical, cliched life and non-contented money-making scenario in marketing job and give it an end entering purely into the nritya-sadhana.
Lakshmi lives in Boston and is a well-known Bharatanatyam performer in the States performing in the events like Telugu association of Greater Boston.
“My sister and I did a duet dance for a dance reality show in 2001 on Star Plus (India’s leading family entertainment channel). We even won the title for that show named ‘Kya Masti Kya Dhoom‘ that was the first time I was on television and happens to be the most memorable one!” Lakshmi shares ecstatically.
Whether or not we are cognizant, our mind and brain attains an incomprehensible power of attaining knowledge at any age. Now It depends on how we want to walk on its unfathomable circumference. Whether we deplete our mind in dwelling the normal unwanted routined life just for the spondulicks; or we choose to stop by, contemplate on what exactly I want in life and grab the bite of the related knowledge.
Out of the blue, while vocalizing natural note-phrases for a long time, you are asked to sing the Re-Komal that is Re-Flat. Now that’s the puzzling, tension-some era. More than 90% of my beginner students, or even amateurs get the jimjams and go wrong, out of tune, when asked to switch from natural notes to Komal. And why not? this is one of the most reasonable and possibly appropriate timings to get puzzled especially when you have started randomly without pondering over it for a few seconds.
- upper case denotes shuddha/natural ones
- lower case+italics+Underlined = komal (re ga dh ni)
- lower+italics+apostrophe = teevr (which is only ma)
As usual, Adil, Ruhi, and Rati were enjoying their brief daily walks post dinner, around nine thirty, humming songs, when a white ford-fiesta halted. Some guys jump stood exactly before Adil obstructing his path. The car left. Adil held the two arms tightly, his wife’s and sister’s, and tried to pass from beside them but one of them didn’t let him.
“What’s the matter guys ? let me go,” Adil spoke to them with a mix of politeness and rudeness.
“Oh really! you think so ? but I think you’ve two spicy pieces with you,” one of them uttered twitching Rati’s cheeks, “So! leave them and go”.
By the time Adil react furiously to this, two of them grabbed both his hands and clothed his mouth. The other one trapped and wrapped Ruhi’s mouth by his arm; remaining two, ready to rape Rati. Adil vociferating badly, Ruhi screeching and screaming blatantly. Striding Rati was flat on the ground and the goon threw her dupatta away, scratched her waist, dragged down her lower when they heard a boisterous command.
Ruhi and Adil were renowned and lovable couple in their small, compact locality, consisting approximately seventy residents in a small province of Kanpur. Altruistic, cooperative, and full of acceptance. Ruhi lived with her in-laws and respected them like her own parents. She had an intense compassion for her younger unmarried sister-in-law, who was studying to become a lawyer. Rati, Adil’s only sister was gradually crossing marriage age, as unfortunately, she had some gynae problems; therefore, several families rejected her intimidating that she won’t be able to conceive. Ruhi’s in-laws’ were upset, but not disheartened. The family was extremely educated, loving and liberal.
They, especially Ruhi, were the first to give acceptance boldly to the issues, which are unapproved by everyone else, because of orthodox-ism. For instance, once Farhan, their forty years old married neighbor, was found involved in an extramarital affair, for which his father got aggressive and kicked him from his house. Rest of the folks accepted his decision except Ruhi. She justified the father and brainwashed Farhan so gracefully and peacefully, that everyone not only forgave him, but his wife also accepted her to give a second chance.
“Wait! leave her…let her go, I say,” shrilled Ruhi intrepidly, by chance her lips got freed from the trapper’s arm.
The man, who grabbed, released her by chance hearing her tenor voice, while the rapist got distracted and turned.
“Please! I beg you, leave her,” she attained a persuading tone now.
“Unless? what will you do ?” the rapist chuckled devilish.
“Please leave her and take me as your prey,” Ruhi continued, “She’s unmarried; her life would be ruined; please let her and my husband go. Nobody’s honor will be tarnished me being your victim.”
Silence fulfilled the tragic situation for few fraction of seconds when Ruhi warned again.
“Listen, this is a residential area; my locality. Everyone will be out here at one call. I am anyways giving you an option; but you’ve to let my husband and this girl go.” She was perspiring with fear.
The man kept staring at her for a while and snatched her from her necklace, releasing the other one, “As you say, darling.”
“Rati, go with bhai (brother), please leave. Adil, go from here,” Ruhi shouted.
Adil was already held by the two so he couldn’t. The rapists dragged all Ruhi’s clothes; making her nude. Ruhi’s eyes were fiercely red and down, while two of them were holding her. The boss was in the process to victimize, when Rati propelled a wooden log, which got hit somewhere over the man’s delicate part, and he went giddy through chronic pain, hurting one of his henchmen and the rest puzzled. Within milliseconds, as the main one became wilder, Rati held the log as her protection, and shouted out loud like a beast, or as if some UFO has fallen on her.
People entered their balconies, some sensed the situation, while the others couldn’t as it was dark . The best part was majority of the males came down within a few seconds. All five men, watching the team arriving, bewildered, released Ruhi and tried to escape. But Adil didn’t let them. After covering Ruhi with his shirt, he kept whacking the main one as brutally as he could. Others were hitting the rest vigorously, finding a wooden/iron logs. Ruhi managed to go inside with a woman’s help.
By this time, women of the locality and Adil’s family entered the scene and started sledging spontaneously. Everybody was so engrossed in thrashing, that calling the cop didn’t knocked their mind, until a young girl’s alert mind helped and the cops arrived in a while.
Few weeks passed, but this facade was still traumatic and indigestible for Adil’s family, especially for Ruhi. Kept thinking, always in trance and consternation, sudden random burst of tears, frequent sobs, not having meals properly since three weeks, perpetually attentive on the bell-ring: this was her condition, leaving everyone else tensed about her. She had sleepless nights, sitting on the rocking chair, literally no expressions on her eyes, when Adil took her to bed, as if paralyzed. Nights passed cuddling, embracing her, loving her. The moment he thought of something more, she turned her back to him. She intimidated any sexual touch. Then he teased or conversed with her unnecessarily, trying to be funny: in short, applying all possible tactics to normalize her.
Although, Adil tried his best to pacify her, but he was dying daily to see her beloved in this state. Almost shattered and detrimental, may be because all this was taking time to resolve, and he was losing patience. Realizing no improvement through the passing time, Adil decided to consult a psychiatrist. Ruhi denied, “no! I won’t”. These were the first set of words she uttered after the incident. She expressed, “I’ve been molested badly, that’s why you don’t love me; I am not durable for you anymore. That’s true…I’m ruined, I should be dropped to a….”
“Stop it! What are you saying, Darling ? I mean, I don’t believe…. you’re my love, my life,” Adil was startled on how to react, “well, you know that’s not true,” he hugged her tightly.
“You’re my princess and will always be…I can never think of me doing what you did at that point of time. What a bravery and presence of mind you’d shown, and what I did I do to rescue you two? nothing. I’m proud of you, dear…and ashamed of me.” convinced Adil for a long time.
The good news was, by now, Adil was aware of her mental conflict and headed towards optimism. He was determined to bring back Ruhi’s confidence and the same dauntlessness. No psychiatrist is needed now. He maneuvered Ruhi towards positivity smilingly and patiently. Family helped her in every step. They took it as a now or never project with an ambiguous inspiration, which has no deadline. All five of them had various jaunts and finally moved to the main city and joined several classes. Yoga retreat, martial arts, and self-defense training school, to empower Ruhi; to bring her back to the days when she empowered others; to ensure her that they loved her unconditionally.
It took them around six months to revive Ruhi from her trauma, but eventually, they did see and feel the sun crystals clearly. It was a God-gifted day for the family, when Ruhi suggested her Dad-in-law with a gentle smile,
“Dad, isn’t it a good idea to go back to our town and open a yoga centre for our own mates? they indeed need it”. Dad burst out with delectation.
If you desire something wholeheartedly without any ifs and buts, it can snap you high till the skies. Passion and determination makes one advance to any unlimited extent. Tanya wells is a true upcoming example.
Doing it once again she presents a famous Ghazal ‘Gulon Mein Rang Bhare’, written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and sung by Mehdi Hassan. Watch out the news here.
Tanya lived in India for over three years, attending school in the foothills of the Himalayas. She later returned to study Indian classical music (including light classical, Thumri, Bhajan and ghazal) and has performed original material in a number of clubs and festivals on the Indian sub continent. Tanya continues to draw upon personal experience, writing and performing songs that express a range of diverse cultural influences.
Tanya has recently been involved in a number of live performances, including a guest appearance with Natacha Atlas at Ronnie Scott’s, performing vocals for Anoushka Shankar at the Cannes Film Festival, and opening for Joss Stone, Nitin Sawhney & Nicki Wells (her twin) at Mama Stones.
Tanya’s competence and skilled renditions of other Ghazals such as ‘Ae Ishq Humein’, Duniya Kisi ke Pyar mein’, ‘Rafta Rafta’ of Mehdi Hassan proves her dedication and respect towards Indian music. By her efforts and way of maneuvering the difficult ghazals, it’s truly said that Music actually has no boundaries.
Apart from the Ghazals, she also trialed some Bollywood songs and Thumris like ‘Na Jaane Saiyaan’ and Maar Dala.
If we, as Indians, are singing British and american songs in totally copied accent, it’s not a real rocket science because English is a general language in India, in fact a primary language. For that matter, accent can also be imitated by listening and vocalizing it several times, because eventually we can understand English. But in the countries like UK, US, they don’t have Hindi-speaking process and they do not know the normal meaning of the Hindi words except ‘Namaste’. Thus, this has been a commendable work on Tanya’s side and we should promote. Hat’s off!
Overwhelming are the tiny tales narrated by a renowned music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane, which are related to the infants heeling during a delivery. Immensely satisfying feelings emerges to observe that sound vibration heeling is creating its place in the world where human’s genuinely positive vibrations are missing. In the coming era, where the fetuses are arriving carrying disturbances along, where relations are soon turning into repulsion, where the old parents are deprived of their children’s real smile, these music therapies produced by the divine sound frequencies and resonance will be the only source of treatment and bliss. Good news is that people are working hard to bring it forth. Watch out this interesting talk on music therapy by Dr. Deforia Lane: