A Drug (Ecstasy) without Side effects

Yes, as you might have guessed, I’m talking about Music for sure. A good divine music is indeed like the drug Ecstasy except that one doesn’t experience its side  effects. It’s addictive like a drug but  a good addiction without any hangover. When   you are exposed to it,  it slowly takes you out of the sea of samsara or bondage to the sea of ananda (ecstacy)and before you realise you will feel completely liberated and free from all the  a worldly worries. This is especially so with Hindustani music. The magic begins the moment a maestro introduces a raga from its lower octaves at a very leisurely pace. There’s  absolutely no hurry as the artist stays on each note for a long time. (In contrast, in Carnatic style the musician shows a sense of urgency in moving  from one set of swaras to another).

However, for the magic of music to unfold, one needs a special ambience and special performers to do the job. Here is an account of my recent experience.

It is said that the path to paradise begins with hell. The path  is strewn with obstacles which the faithful should overcome.  This was indeed my experience yesterday when I decided to go for an evening Hindustani concert at Nehru Centre in Worli. It’s an unusual programme in the sense that it started early in the evening at 5pm and ended at 11pm (A full six-hour programme). The programme is titled Teen Prahar. Teen Prahar literally means three quadrants.  Hindustani tradition divides 24 hours of a day into 8 quadrants of 3 hours each and Ragas are classified according to the time of the day. For instance there are early morning Ragas, morning Ragas, afternoon Ragas, early evening Ragas, late evening Ragas, night Ragas and so on. The notes of Ragas play an important role in this classification. For instance, Ragas with shudha madhyama  are normally preferred in the morning like Bhairav, for instance. This was okay in the olden days when people had plenty of time on hand to listen to music throughout the day. But in the present day scenario there are two problems: Firstly, most of the programmes are arranged only in the evenings. Secondly, people have no patience to sit for more than a couple of hours. The net effect is that one gets to hear only a couple of repetitive evening Ragas like Yaman, bhairavi or bhageshri which specifically cater to the mystique of the twilight hours. Teen Prahar is an initiative to cover at least three quadrants of a day and present Ragas which are normally not heard in evening concerts. When it started a decade ago in Bombay, the programmes used to start early in the morning and end only at 11 or 12 midnight. The programme itself was called bhairav se bhairavi Tak by people who are musically savvy. That is, you start with bharav raag,  say, at 6 am and end with bhairavi raga at 12 midnight. Nowadays, the same programme is compressed to 5 to 6 hours – from 5pm to 11pm.

Yesterday I ventured out to attend this annual programme held at Worli which is about 30 km away from where I live. I left home at 3.30pm with packed dinner in hand. The first question was whether to take my car or take public transport. There are pros and cons and I finally decided on public transport since it was a week-end. I got down at Dadar station.  But then, as I came out of the Dadar platforms on the west side, I saw a sea of humanity  eating roadside junk food from Vada pav to pizza, spitting merrily everywhere, buying and selling readymade clothes etc. There was filth and dirt all around all the way till I reached the taxi stand. There I hopped into an old fiat – the so called kaali peeli cabs (yellow & black cabs) – which are perhaps 40 years old with worn out and corroded body and the interior perfectly matching with the shabby exterior in all respects. God knows whether they clean or replace the seat covers ever. As soon as I got in, the driver from UP (who else, on earth, can toil so hard in filth!) turned on the metre and to add to my disgust spat out paan and tobacco which he was chewing all along. The entire scene took me back to Mumbai of 1980s.  So, has nothing changed ever since then in these parts of Mumbai? Our PM Modi should visit this place at least once to see the ground realities and understand why Swatch Bharat doesn’t work. It’s not about spending money, it’s about changing people culturally.

In any case, meandering through several lanes and bylanes, my taxi got out of this messy place. We then passed through more decent localities such as Prabhadevi, drove through posh buildings of Worli and eventually reached my destination.

Yes, indeed, I did realize that the path to paradise is strewn not just with obstacles but lots of dirt and filth as well. And faithful as I am to Music, I managed to reach my destination which is even better than paradise.

So, did the evening fare prove to be as good as I expected? Yes, it surpassed all my expectations. It started off with Rahul Desh Pande’s Vocal recital in Shri Rag which one gets to hear rarely . This was followed by a great Santoor performance by Rahul Sharma who is the son of Pandit Shiva Kumar Sharma. He equalled or even surpassed his father. Towards the end of his concert, he attempted an innovation to bring in folk music. A Rajasthani folk musician came on stage and led the proceedings. He would sing a couple of lines and Rahul Sharma would follow it up with his own improvisations. It was a great contest to watch. This also showed how rich our folk culture is.

The grand finale to the evening was provided by Ustad Sujat khan on Sitar. Expectedly, he presented two great night Ragas, namely, bhageshri and bhairavi (bhairavi is the equivalent of sindhu bhairavi of Carnatic). Bhageshri is a night Ragas associated with the emotion  of a woman pining for her lover. There are a number of old film songs based on this raga. Here is one very popular Hindi song  from the film Anarkali based on this raga.


Published in: on March 19, 2017 at 11:27 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Lovely.Well expressed.Enjoyed the song jaag jaag from Anarkali film.Looking forward to next blog after a good Carnatic kutchery.Athimber

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