Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gujari Todi and Shankara- Connecting with God.

Everyday when I practice playing sitar or harmonium, or sing softly a bandish to understand the structure of a raag, I see myself gaining that 0.00000000001% extra knowledge from the boundless ocean, and even that fractional amount is sufficient to give they joy that no other activity could ever give. Implementing what you have heard, is probably the most satisfying thing that I can experience. For one, it makes the  pieces of music created by legends fall on my ears, and make me realise why they are known as quality artists, and helps create a strong driving force inside me, to reach atleast to a fraction of those lofty heights.

Then there is the aspect of emotion that is conjured up by just listening to individual pieces of music. No two raagas will deliver the same emotion. Forget that, not even the same raaga by two different people will convey the same emotion. The emotion may be similar, but is certainly not the same. Being absorbed in these generated emotions is probably the only thing thats keeping me doing stupid things that would otherwise have been spontaneous reactions to mindless activities going on around me.

Mentioning the raagas, two have recently jumped up on the list of my favourites. I talk a lot about Jog, Malkauns, Bhairavi all the time- who doesnt like them! But these two- they forge a direct link with an unknown entity. A source of power which tells me there is more to life than the way in which we live. I well and truly have to thank these two ragas- Gujari Todi and Shankara for taking me into a state of mental calmness that I have never quite experienced. I wont talk much about the ragas or their structure- i am not qualified enough to do it, but ill just state what I feel when I listen to these ragas now a days.

Starting with Gujari Todi- a version of Todi in which the Pancham is omitted. Gujari Todi is a majestic raag. It goes beyond explanations. I am learning the raag in my sitar class, and at the start of the lesson when my sir plays the notes on his taraf, there is an instantaneous transcendence, mentally. The first observation is that even a single line of Gujari Todi makes you forget all thats bothering you. Close your eyes when you are listening to just one line, and a picture of a large void envolopes your vision, and when the raag turns out its effect, the void is filled by the sound of Om, and the picture of god. If I consider myself as an electron and my mental state as an orbital, then Gujari Todi has sufficient energy in it to excite me from ground state to the highest possible orbital. Its just an extremely phenomenal raag. Must listen to pieces include those by Pt. Jasraj, Bismillah Khan, Pts. Rajan and Sajan Mishra and ofcourse Ustad Shahid Parvez.

Shankara is another very very cleansing raga that makes your mind go pure. I was maybe helped to realize the grandeur and subtle elegance of this raga by the explanation provided by some ustad on a programme on DD Bharati. He said, Imagine yourself as a mountaineer climbing a sheer vertical snow covered cliff. All you can see is snow everywhere, and to add to your woes, its snowing, and there is no protection or company. You climb and climb, are extremely fatigued, and suddenly, end up on a landing that has a cave on it. To shelter yourself from the freezing chill outside, you run inside the cave. You walk in a few steps, and in front of you is a man sitting in his meditative pose. He is so massive that even when he is sitting, the dreadlocks of his matted hair appear to be in the heavens with the crescent of the moon firmly attached on them. Your eyes fall on him, terrified at first, but his gently, kind, warm and welcoming gaze falls on you and drives away all your fears. That feeling of warmth- that of the largeness of god, immediately spark in your mind. These very emotions are conveyed when you listen to Shankara. The vision of Shankara- the lord of the gods, and the mood of Shankara-the lord of the ragas is very strikingly similar, and is probably the reason why the latter was named so. Again, Pt. Jasraj Ji, Bhimsen Joshi, Bismillah Khan are must listen.

 These two ragas are probably the ones that I will forever cherish for helping overcome and stifle unstablility and related anger problems that go with it, in what really is one of the most testing period of my life as far as patience is concerned. 

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