Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Abhangs of Sant Tukaram

Tukaram, also known as Sant Tukaram, was a 17th-century poet-saint of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra He was part of the egalitarian, personalized devotionalism tradition called Varkari. Having being born during the times of a prevalently strong caste system into a so-called lower caste then, he believed and propagated equality in devotion and access to worship by all. 
Tukaram is known for his Abhangs in Marathi (devotional poetry) and community-oriented worship with spiritual songs known as kirtans - basically, group songs sung in a rhythmic and repetitive fashion to facilitate an immersive and meditative experience with devotion. His poetry was devoted to Vitthala or Vithoba, an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu.
Tukaram encouraged kirtan as a music imbued, community-oriented group singing and dancing form of devotion and reverence to the supreme deity. The greatest merit in kirtan, according to Tukaram, is it being not only a spiritual path for the devotee, it helps create a spiritual path for others.
Tukaram's literary works, along with those of travelling Marathi saints Dnyandev, Namdev and Eknath, are credited to have propelled the pilgrim-style religious Bhakti movement. 
Around 108 psalms or poems of these saints that were composed and sung in honor of Vitthoba have been translated.
I will be sharing my attempt of a popular Vitthala Abhang in Marathi, sung originally by Lata Mangeshkar. The song, Aga Karunakara, was tuned and composed by Shrinivas Khale, as part of the album "Abhang Tukyache".  The beautiful composition set in Raag Todi, evokes the pathos and the Bhakti rasa in a listener.





Lyrics and Translation:  
Obtained from Heritage of India: translations of the Psalms of Maratha saints
Aga Karunakara - I beseech you, o Lord of compassion and mercy!

अगा करुणाकरा करितसें धांवा ।              
या मज सोडवा लवकरी ॥१॥

ऐकोनियां माझी करुणेचीं वचनें ।
व्हावें नारायणें उतावीळ ॥२॥

मागें पुढें अवघा दिसे रिता ठाव ।
ठेवूनि पायीं भाव वाट पाहें ॥३॥

तुका ह्मणे आतां करीं कृपा दान ।
पाऊलें समान दावीं डोळां ॥६॥
Dear, Lord of Compassion, I beseech,
Come speedily and set me free.
When he hears my words of compassion, Narayan responds with eagerness
In the empty world apart I hearken, awaiting thy footfall
Vitthal, You are my mother and father, please answer my call
You alone are left to me, All else is vanity.
Now, Tuka pleads, grace us with your presence
Let my eyes behold thy feet of equality. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Malhaar ke Prakaar - On Miyan ki Malhaar - The Giver of Rain

Miyan ki Malhaar - The marvel and the mystique

Malhar is an old raga in Indian classical music.[1] Malhar is associated with the atmosphere of torrential rains.[2] Besides the basic Shuddha Malhar, which was the original Malhar, there are several Malhar-related ragas that use the Malhar signature phrase m (m)R (m)R P, including Miyan Malhar, Ramdasi Malhar, Gaud Malhar, Sur Malhar, Des Malhar, Nat Malhar, and Meera ki Malhar. 

In my post here, I am presenting some details on Miyan ki Malhaar, one of the most distinctive Malhaar prakaar ragas. Miyan Malhaar is a monsoon raga, popularly used for invoking and embracing rain to drench the earth and welcome monsoon.
One of the Navaratnas (nine jewels) of Emperor Akbar's court - Miyan Tansen, created this raga - which is a musical prayer to monsoon for a rejuvenation of life. 

The melodic structure of M.Malhaar stems largely from the raga's use of both Shuddha (while ascending) and Komal (while descending) Nishad, Ni.  The melodic movement between the two Nishads, for e.g. nDNS".. or nDNP.. is the one of the signatures of this rain invoking melodious raga.  Miyan Tansen was known to be so musically adept that he could invoke the rains with his rendering of the raga.

Several Rasas or moods/sentiments can be expressed through music, popularly known as the Navarasas - Shanta (tranquil or peace), Shringara (beauty), Veer (heroic), Karuna (compassion), Bhayanaka (fear), Bhakti (devotion), Vatsalya (parental love) etc.  
Miyan ki Malhar creates a sense of courage, strength and heroism, primarily through Veer rasa. 

Though mostly performed at night, it can be performed at any time during monsoon. The fragrance that emanates as the first raindrops touch the scorched Mother Earth is indescribable. Crickets sing, peacocks dance, frogs croak, the earth smells fresh, wet and cool. Poets, dancers, painters and musicians express exhilaration for the resurrecting powers of Nature during the rainy season.  Miyan ki Malhaar can portray the joy and relief of the first torrential rains that cool the earth but on a dramatically contrasting note, it can also portray a sense of restlessness and fear of the unknown - the Chanchal rasa.  In other words, a myriad of expressions can be presented in this Malhaar raga, but the Veer rasa with Karuna rasa stands out to express a plea for peace. 

In this post, I am sharing a short Alaap in Miyan ki Malhaar as an offering to implore for peace and victory over unrest and violence. May the rains wash away all the heat and hatred that is prevalent in this world in the form of jealousy, ego, anger, violence and terrorism.

I finish with a humble attempt of a song from the movie Saaz. It was originally sung by Shri. Suresh Wadkar Ji and Kavita Krishnamurthy Ji. 

Song : Baadal Ghumad Badh Aaye (Female)

Singer : Kavita Krishnamurthy
Music : Yashwant Deo
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Movie / Album: Saaz (1998)
Cover and Alaaps by: swaravanshi (Sudha Kumar)
Disclaimer: This alaap and cover are purely my interpretation of the raga and song, and meant to just share music and spread joy. No copyright infringements intended.


Sources of this post: Wikipedia, Malhaar blogs from classical music veterans


Saturday, July 16, 2016

My live Bhajan performances

Sorry for the time lapse with new posts.  In the semi-classical genre, I am always drawn to Bhajans, Abhangs and Asthapadis, due to the pace and rhythm, along with the ability to emote in honor of the Supreme Being.
I had the opportunity to perform for a few Bhajan sandhyas - the first is a beautiful Bhajan originally by Pts. Rajan and Sajan Mishra - Chalo Man brindavan ki Or..



The second one is a performance I had during Rama Navami celebrations in the local Dwarkamai temple,  Aadi Ant Mera Hai Raam, originally sung by Smt. Haimanti Shukla and composed by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Navarathri - Sarva Mangala Maangalye..

Navarathri 2015 in Boston area was as colorful and festive as it always has been.  From displays of colorful dolls and dioramas on a set of odd numbered steps (Kolus) to belting out the different songs (devi krithis) in honor of the nine Devi goddesses to step dancing using colorful sticks (dandia or Garba raas) - Navarathri in Boston is abuzz and replete with traditions. Visiting several homes for Golus and Haldi-kumkum is a sweet tradition that the Indian Hindu community tries to follow so our traditions do get passed on to the younger generation even if it gets diluted. 

I had the pleasure of attending a soulful concert by Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar in Spring. I have been an avid follower of his music, and it's really generous of him to provide downloadable access to many of his compositions as well.  

A pristine moment for me, sharing a click with Pt. Sanjeev AbhyankarJi.
A down to earth person, truly dedicated to music, and delivers it with so much soul and bhaav of the raga, in his sweet voice. 

For the Navarathri festival, I wanted to chant a Durga Dhun composed in Raag Bibhas by SanjeevJi.
This powerful sloka is from Devi Mahaatmayam, chanted to invoke Goddess Narayani, and to bless us with protection and safeguard us from negative influences.

सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥

Sarva-Manggala-Maanggalye Shive Sarvaartha-Saadhike |
Sharannye Tryambake Gauri Naaraayanni Namostu Te ||

Meaning:
Source of All Blessings, Auspicious One, She Who Is Refuge, She Who Has Three Eyes, Golden One, Bestower of All Wishes, Blessed of All Blessed Ones, I honor you, O Narayanee
Om and Salutations to Durga, that feminine energy which protects from all manner of negative influences
Let us all invoke the blessings of Goddess Narayani and Durga Devi by chanting this mantra.
Durga Chanting and Mantra by: swaravanshi
Mantra, dhun, inspired by Bibhas/Marwa version from Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to one and all!


Wishing a very Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to all those who celebrate. May the Lord Vighna Vinayaka remove all obstacles in your paths and shower you with peace, happiness and prosperity.

Growing up in Mumbai, Ganpati festival has had a special significance to me.  Enjoying the day with Ganesh pooja performed by my father, lovely sweet and salty modaks (Vella Thengai and Kadalaparuppu kozhakattais) prepared by my mom, and visiting every possible Ganpati - Chembur, Dukes, Tilak Nagar, Matunga, Dadar, Siddhivinayak Mandir, Lalbaugcha Raja, GSB Seva Mandal in Kings Circle : this is a memory captured in the heart and etched in the mind of every true Mumbaikar.

That combined with listens of Aartis and Ganpati bhajans by Lata Mangeshkar makes it a memorable treat.

I would like to share with you my cover rendition of a traditional Marathi Aarti, popularised in Lataji's mellifluous sweet voice.  My musician friend, Adwait Ranade, has accompanied me for chorus and sloka chanting.  Thank you, Adwait. 


Sukhakarta Dukhaharta (harbinger of happiness and dispeller of distress), is a popular Marathi arati dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesha, composed by the saint Samarth Ramdas (1608 - 1682 CE).It is included in the "most standard and almost universal" arati songs sung at the end of Puja (worship rituals) of Ganesha in Maharashtra, especially in his festival Ganesh Chaturthi as well as in Ganesha temples in the region.
Ganpati Bappa Morya! Have a beautiful start to all your works!




Saturday, September 12, 2015

Marathi Abhang : Ya Pandhariche Sukha 


Sorry for the long absence from my side on blogging and sharing my work.  
I lost my beloved father in January 2015. He was my solid rock and support for all my musical endeavors and experiments and always encouraged me with all my work. He was one of my most avid followers on the blogworld.

It is back to basics these days, as I have rekindled my love for Yaman, listening to stalwarts like Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Kishori Amonkar, Basavaraj Rajguru, and attending workshops in several Gharanas like Jaipur, Agra etc. 

Coming to today's share, My love for this Sant Eknath Abhang is immense.  I listened to KishoriTai Amonkar's rendition on a loop. 
Eknath was the grandson of Sant Bhanudas. Vitthal (Lord Vishnu who was established in Pandharpur, also known as Pandhari) was their family deity; Eknath also worshiped Vitthal from childhood. As Eknath was born in a family of saints he inherited bhakthi towards Vitthal from his family members. He learnt the sastras from his father till he was about 12. He then wanted to go to a Sadguru and learn sastras under him. Eknath wanted to get a good guru and prayed to Vitthal to guide him to one. Vitthobha then came in his dream and asked him to request Janardhana Swami to be his guru. Janadhana Swami was a great yogi; he had his ashram in a forest. Eknath felt that if he informs his parents they will not let him go and so one day went to Janardhana Swami’s ashram with out informing them. He joined the ashram and started serving his guru. He served his Sadguru for 12 years. 
He wrote many great poems in honor of Vitthal, and this is one such composition.

या पंढरीचे सुख पाहतां डोळां ।
उभा तो जिव्हाळा योगीयांचा ॥१॥

म्हणोनियां मन वेधलें चरणीं ।
आणिक त्यागुनी बुडी दिली ॥२॥

जनार्दनाचा एका धांवे लोटांगणीं ।
करी वोवाळणी शरीराची ॥३॥

Lyrics - Sant Eknath संत एकनाथ
Music - Kishori Amonkar किशोरी आमोणकर
Singer - Kishori Amonkar किशोरी आमोणकर
Presentation by - Swaravanshi

Please do visit my presentation of this Divine Pandhari Abhang, set in Yaman Kalyan, with its pristine composition by Kishori AmonkarTai.  
Taal is Drut Deepchandi - 14 beats.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dil Hoom Hoom Kare - a beautiful Bhoop composition by Late Bhupen Hazarika

Further to my classical post on Raag Bhoop, I would like to share a lovely light composition on Raag Bhoop, by Late Bhupen Hazarikaji.  This is a beautiful song called "Dil Hoom Hoom Kare" from the 1993 Hindi movie, Rudaali.
Its a very dark movie, about "Rudaali", a custom in certain areas of Rajasthan where women of a lower caste are hired as professional mourners upon the death of upper-caste males. These women are referred to as a "rudaali" (roo-dah-lee), literally translated as "female weeper" or "weeping woman". Their job is to publicly express grief of family members who are not permitted to display emotion due to social status. 

The film is set in a small village in Rajasthan, India. It tells the story of a woman named Shanichari, who was abandoned by her mother shortly after her father's death. Bad fortune follows as she marries an alcoholic, who leaves her with little hope of a brighter future for herself and her mentally challenged son.   

Throughout Shanichari's lifetime of misfortune she has never cried. This creates great difficulty once she is called to become a rudaali until Bhinkni, an experienced mourner, enters her life. Shanichari and the local landlord's son fall in love with each other, but Shanichari is reluctant to ask the rich lover for money as she does not want to lower her love even for the sake of getting out of poverty and misery.

Movie/Album : रुदाली (1993)
Music By : भूपेन हजारिका
Lyrics By : गुलज़ार
Originally Performed By : भूपेन हजारिका, लता मंगेशकर
Cover by : Swaravanshi

दिल हूम हूम करे, घबराए
घन धाम धाम करे, डर जाए
इक बूँद कभी पानी की
मोरी अंखियों से बरसाए

तेरी झोरी डारूं सब सूखे पात जो आये
तेरा छूंआ लागे, मेरी सुखी डार हरियाए
दिल हूम हूम करे...

जिस तन को छुआ तुने, उस तन को छुपाऊँ
जिस मन को लगे नैना, वो किसको दिखाऊँ
ओ मोरे चन्द्रमा, तेरी चांदनी अंग जलाए
ऊंची तोर अटारी, मैंने पंख लिए कटवाए
दिल हूम हूम करे...