In­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic is based on the shas­tras: pan­dit Jas­raj


Governance Now - - CONTENTS - As told to Yoshika San­gal

Born in a small vil­lage near Hisar in Haryana, Pan­dit Jas­raj comes from a fam­ily of mu­si­cians of over four gen­er­a­tions. Jas­raj was ini­ti­ated to mu­sic by his revered fa­ther, Pan­dit Moti­ram. Soon af­ter his death, Jas­raj went through in­ten­sive tute­lage un­der his el­der brother and guru, Pan­dit Mani­ram, and later un­der Ma­haraja Jai­want Singh. He per­formed in the Me­wati gha­rana style. Jas­raj’s voice is known for its vo­cal range, ex­tend­ing over three-and-a-half oc­taves, per­fect dic­tion, clar­ity in sur and gayaki and com­mand in all as­pects of laya and rhythm. Jas­raj has also trained young vo­cal­ists like Rat­tan Mo­han Sharma and Kala Ram­nath. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1990 and the Padma Vib­hushan in 2000. Re­cently, he sang ‘na­mami devi nar­made’, the an­them of the Nar­mada Seva Mis­sion of the Mad­hya Pradesh gov­ern­ment.

What is your mantra for suc­cess?

i’m a mu­si­cian, so i would say that in or­der to be suc­cess­ful, just fol­low your guru’s teach­ings. You need to com­pletely sur­ren­der to your guru. our par­ents and guru are the liv­ing di­vine for us. The mantra lies in guru bhakti [devotion to your Guru] and through it suc­cess will surely be achieved.

How has the world of mu­sic changed over time?

What we say is alive, if that does not un­dergo change, then it’s not re­ally alive. changes are nec­es­sary. What doesn’t change is es­sen­tially dead. Just as a child at home grows up, be­comes a young man and then gets old. This is such a slow process that no one can ac­tu­ally see the change hap­pen­ing. sim­i­larly, mu­sic is alive and it is chang­ing so slowly that it’s hard to say how it has changed.

You cre­ated a novel form of ju­gal­bandi called Jas­rangi. What makes it spe­cial?

What makes Jas­rangi ju­gal­bandi spe­cial is that a male and fe­male singer sing to­gether, but both are singing dif­fer­ent ra­gas. Both th­ese ra­gas share the same notes but their style of singing and the move­ment of the ra­gas are to­tally dif­fer­ent. Both th­ese ra­gas meet via a tech­nique called ‘moor­c­chana bhed’ in in­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic. That is what makes it unique.

You have the sense of many forms of mu­sic. What is it that makes In­dian mu­sic unique?

our mu­sic is based on the shas­tras. in this mu­sic, ra­gas are sung based on the time of the day. Bhairav raga is sung in the morn­ing, marwa in the evening and dar­bari at night. do you know why? it’s be­cause, at th­ese par­tic­u­lar times of the day, th­ese are the notes that are cir­cling the at­mos­phere. This is why a mu­si­cian, whose mind is open, can hear th­ese mu­si­cal notes in na­ture at th­ese times of the day. it has hap­pened to me more than once that i have tuned my swar­man­dal at the green room for a par­tic­u­lar raga, which is in ac­cor­dance to the time of the day, but when i reach the stage, i put the swar­man­dal aside and de­cide to sing a dif­fer­ent raga. Do you know why? While walk­ing up to the stage, i hear to­tally dif­fer­ent notes in the en­vi­ron­ment. What i had tuned my in­stru­ment for, and what is present here [on the stage] are dif­fer­ent. In such cases, I just put my in­stru­ment aside and sing what i hear. if the mu­si­cian is able to hear and un­der­stand what is present in the at­mos­phere at a given time of the day, the mu­sic will be very ef­fec­tive. This is the unique­ness of in­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic. an artist con­stantly en­gages in cre­ation through mu­si­cal notes.

The Bhakti tra­di­tion and the Sufi move­ment im­pacted mu­sic­great­ly­cen­turiesago.isit­trueeven­to­day?arethey con­nected in some way?

There have been many forms of mu­sic that have orig­i­nated from Bhakti tra­di­tion. Bhakti sangeet has orig­i­nated from sama veda. Whether you re­call it from the shas­tras or from ra­makr­ishna, bhakti is the old­est form of mu­sic. Sufi mu­sic is also, in some way, bhakti mu­sic. Is­lam calls it Sufi, but it ul­ti­mately is devo­tional, nor­mally us­ing words like Al­lah. Sufi mu­sic goes more to­wards the qawwali style of singing.

Tell us about your as­so­ci­a­tion with the river Nar­mada?

in in­dia, we con­sider rivers as our mother, they are life­giv­ing. every in­dian is as­so­ci­ated with one river or the other be­cause rivers are the source of life. i re­cently recorded mu­sic for the nar­mada.

If you were to give a piece of ad­vice to your younger self, what would it be?

one can get the cor­rect ad­vice at the cor­rect time, ei­ther from their guru, or if one’s in­tel­lect blooms, they them­selves can de­cide what is right for them. i do not want to give any ad­vice to my younger self. What­ever mis­takes were made in my life can­not be fixed now, and the mis­takes that didn’t hap­pen have al­ready brought me where i am to­day.

PHOTO Cour­tesy: Www.pan­dit­jas­

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