Shivmat Bhairav

From the start this has been a difficult year in terms of health. First it was the ‘breakdown’, then came the Phd admission, then the spinal problems and now the chikungunya. Wow! talking of living in a ‘poor’ country, one cannot but worry about how the average person lives here. Everyone seems to be sick in the city of Delhi/Faridabad. The government is giving out its own statistics, but the reality of life seems so different. In every family I am fiDSC00940nding people having fever, and body aches. I myself was suffering from immense body ache at present, and it seems as though the body has been hollowed out- without life in it.

Notwithstanding that I have been chipping away at my writing- the book on music, that is, and today I also plucked the courage to  start singing once again with my guru- Madhuriji. It must have been in March or April I did some learning with her. And after that long a gap- now. It always takes awhile to pick up a new raga with aunty, because she dislikes certain and then does not think all ragas need to be sung elaborately. I wanted to pick up either Anand Bhairava or Jogiya. But she said Anand Bhairava was only sung by Jitendra Abhisheki and nobody else! and Jogiya is a a raga for thumri, nothing else! So that made my choices somewhat limited. In any case eliminating made choosing easier as well. So between a number of ragas, since I wanted to learn something new, we settled for Shivmat Bhairav.  It belongs to the Bhairav family, having both gandhar , both nishad notes. It resembles Jogkauns somewhat. (That reminds me that I have to go over Jogkauns all over again as my illness seems to have obliterated the memory of that raga in my mind for now).

The world of Hindustani ragas is so vast and colourful it seems endless- there is so much to learn, to teach, to share, to write about, to create and whatnot. And here I am grappling with chikungunya- sleeping with body ache and lifelessly so- in my bed. The book is going around in my mind at most times. Yesterday I was writing about the folk songs of women of Garhwal and thinking about the role of folk music in the life of people. It is so deeply entrenched, yet so overshadowed by the popular reign of film music and other forms of music from the cities. There is a reason to be worried. I am writing this down in the book, because if a country does not preserve its folk art and music, it is sure to be lose its voice and identity.

What is diversity if not difference from the dominant prevalent culture which is handed down by civilizational leaders? Currently the leadership comes from the West to the rest. That leadership permeates every field- including artistic and musical traditions. Foolishly enough people in third world countries think they can and ought to follow the trail of the (Western) leaders because they are markers of civilization, advancement and development. In that self doubt and self conscious assessment, they marginalize their indigenous knowledge and traditions. It is happening all over the world and India is no exception. Even Indian music is not immune to such self conscious assessment. In part one has to hold the planning around art and culture responsible for this lack of self confidence and need to be accepted by the Westerner before we can accept ourselves.

And though I am delving into the deeper end of the current, in search of newer ragas and compositions, my heart is in pain to think of how the average person is so far removed from the immensity of experience that our music brings. In talking to many people for the writing, many points of view emerged- especially on the issue of whether our classical music is our real music or should it be some folk form of music. Ramakant-ji told me that this is a classical tussle in all traditional forms of knowledge, particularly in language and mathematics. So I do not have to dig the well again, but understand the work done by linguistics and mathematicians in the realm of finding a compromise between folk and classical traditions, rather than depriving the average child in the country of both!

The book is half way done. I mean I have written just over 20k words and I need to write equally as many. It is not the easiest of books to write, though when I had sent the proposal it did not look so confounding. It is a great learning and covers a big range of topics, yet the learning has come from most unexpected quarters for me- the fact that writing a book proposal is so different from executing it! Sometimes it is so easy to nail down a broad outline, but try filling up the outline and you know what a tough challenge it can be. I have only learnt this now. Of course writing the first book was a different sort of challenge- something that I am about to embark on once again! Of course, nobody needs to do that if you find a publisher at the outset. But since I want to change the entire book, it is asking me for that sort of effort.

The PhD does not budge

If anyone asks me how my phd research is going, I feel annoyed, because honestly speaking what are they thinking? Do they think it can get over in a day? The truth is that apart from reading and outlining a few preliminary articles, I have not really embarked upon the road in any earnest manner. Shifting home 2000 kilometers, setting up a new home, falling sick and all sorts of adjustment issues that I have had to deal with these past few months do not make research the easiest things to start. SO I am staggering under the various burdens- but slowly gravitating towards an equilibrium- one part of which includes counseling with my clients.

So life goes on thus…(will write later as someone is at the door)

Recent, unsuspecting encounter

Upon landing into Delhi,

Recently

Some unexpected surprises seem to flood the mind

And remind (me)

I ought to take my due role in the world

As fool among the swans,

or Swan among the Swine!

But worringly so, it seems that the EYE of civilization

Keeps a tab on me across time…wherever I look,

An eye watches

Someone says ‘please sing for me’, some says lead the way

And me just hae hae hae…

Hae Raam

Enna paagalaan te

Kar apna reham je…mera pind chhuda

Mennu ton jail to chhadeya, enna anneyaan nu jail wich paa

APNE aNDAR DIYAAN AKHIYAAN KHULAN, NA KI MERI PICCHE DIYAN!!!

Meri saari wae, hunn enna di pucchh jalaa

Rabaa, tennu na pata hove, ae  ho nahin sakta je

Haan tu mera gmail da inbox naa check kitta hove- enna mann sakni haan

Ae te ho hi sakda vae…kisse gwaachi hui rooh, dooron payi boldi hai

Tu sunn odiyaan ayaan, onu lageya hai, teri-meri koi hotline khuli je

Dekh oye haraam khora…logaan nu bulekhe vich naa peya paa

Ae tera mera private connection hai, ennu open access na bana

Main umar saar kar cable pai je..jaa hunn tu mar,

Mennu lubb apne paaglaan vich

Main janam jalaa ke teraiyaan paag di chaahwaan pai wae

Ae lae phaer padh lai oss gawache hoy da farman

Jinnu tu naya naya paagal banaa ki, ankhaan te patti pai wae.

Ae le email communication rabba…paaglaan nu apne paag la

Meri pind chhuda, main pind chhad ke pind judaai wae

Jokes apart this is an actual email communication-

4th Dec 2015
He…
Hello,

I am F M, currently a philosophy student at the University of California, Riverside. I am a bit naive in my exploration of Foucault, but perhaps you would grant me the tremendous privilege of basking in your guidance. I thank you for your time.

Best,

FM

Oye rabba oye…ae Spanish Inquisition kidare hor mor…mere picche naa paa…machhu-picchu de wal tor.

(YAAR, how can you thank me, i have not yet agreed to ‘give’ my time…just because you ask! If I go to your university, will anyone meet me without an invite or intimation, then how dare you send me a pre-thanked note this way?)

Mennu thoda doubt ho gaya…main kya…ae kiddi jasoos picche pe geya. Cautiously I inquire-
In what manner may I be of assistance to you son?
I am only humble seeker,
basking in the heat of (my) civilization– peeling it slowly,
like the layers of an onion-
full of tears, staring at my fears…
whiling my time.
How can I, such an ignorant idiot
guide a western soul…
from an American University at that
the acme of human intellect 
However, i invite you to venture into my home,
stay as long at it appeals,
look around,
read what I add to the confused mess,this cacophony…
Then ask me a question.
If your question appeals,
I may consider further interaction.
Or else this is it.
From a humble dog feeding fool
p…p…p
OYE HOY odde baad oss barbaad di chalaki vekho ji- for god’s sake, watch the beguiling rascal’s rascal-‘hood’… kenda wae/he says
I understand that your self-criticisms are but an indication of an intellectual practice far greater than my own. I, the western soul, seek something far greater than perhaps I can fathom at the moment. You see, I wish to write a book of poems, but a western one would be against my intuition. I thus, have come to you, a stranger whose words touched me greater than those who have surrounded me. I only seek guidance, a few steps I should take before venturing on the solitary path of self-exploration and discovery.

p.s. that e-mail was, after my Violence Against Women class, mind-blowing. I hesitated writing back to you, for I felt I was not worthy of your time, then I journeyed into your home. Thank you. You have already done so much for me.

Warmest regards,

kinna baemaan ae..what a deceitful bugger…

pata nai keddi jhooti email di gal peya karda wae jhootha!

Mae te onu koi email nahin likhi…raba, anneya…hun behra na bann

Tu gawaah hain! tu mera saakhi ban

Me to him

Right I hear you child…i hear the dim stirrings of your feminine soul, I hear you.
I await you

Main keya…hor dhakaa maraan..

I toss a koan at thee…ponder over it, and let not your poetry be a lament over yourself. remember that…

When sing, no sing…only cry
When study, no study…only play

S/he who understands, knows it all, 
S/he who doesn’t…never walks tall…
(this is not a quotation from anyone…but a challenge to those who ask me questions)

Ja oye raba’a sambhaal apne paaglan nu

Apne paag la, mere picche na paa

pa pa pa pa

When age gets to you faster than your time

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile now, but due to extreme pain in my spine the time I am spending on my computer is extremely curtailed. But when I saw ideas piling up in my mind, I thought I might as well, put this down, lest…I lose it completely or all the others that seem to be wafting in my mind, of late.

I recently had to go through spinal x-rays, IMG_20150719_105931388_HDR (1) as my back has been in a lot of pain. If I would sit on the computer, I would get up and walk crooked for the next several seconds, before it would un-stiffen. The orthopedic I went to in a government hospital nearby told me it was all well, i should take some pain killers and go for physiotherapy. I know so much yogasana, but thanks to a lack of inner discipline about this one aspect of my life I have suffered irreparable loss.

Next I went to an ayurvedacharya – he recommended this treatment Churna Pinda Sweda (PODI KIZHI)- Fomentation massage by bolus of medicinal powders in hot medicIMG_20150813_121054917ated oil. Right now that is what I am getting nowadays and then sit in a bath of steam for at least ten minutes!!!

The experience is so painful, because the effort is to apply heat to my calcified vertebrae and then make the calcified portions become softer. I was a bit saddened to hear from the doctor that at age 43,  “What appears at age 50, is what you are showing already.” He wondered how it happened. I then told him that due to long illness of bipolar, I was in deep depressions for long periods of time, and remained mostly confined to my home and had a very sedentary life. I look back at those years wistfully now- how much they took away from me; a full time career in music, possibly as a performer, introversion for years of solitude with no friends to fall back on, and no networks who would one day support my music, if at all I would be able to sing someday, or have any other form of career. And now this. I am not mentioning here, the liver damage, the other bone issues or the thyroid that happened as a result of medication.

But just when you think the worst is behind, it really is not the case. So now this oil therapy and all the other ayurvedic pills I have to consume for a few more days. Right now the pain is extreme, even while sleeping I find myself in agony. I am really hoping this treatment, by increasing the pain is getting them out. What if it does not and makes it a part of my daily experience?

As it is sitting continuously is difficult, also for riyaaz. Tragically today my guru, Madhuri aunty told me that there is no way I should not become a performer. I have a throat, weight in the voice and strength that if I apply myself I will most certainly be a performer again. My heart winced in pain- if only she had said that long years ago, I would not have bothered in any other direction, trying to find a toehold. At 43, it seems late to begin. The only courage I have is to remind myself of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, who started his training at 39. I, of course, started young but to be a performer, is a different ballgame. So having done the long road of bhajan and ghazal, if there is one thing I want to now do it khayal, and that is all the current effort invested in.

2014 065

This is a view of the greenery in our village home. The slopes are part of the space of the house- a great number of trees have been grown by Andre and yet many comes down from generations ago.

What comes ahead is a mystery, but it is a great thing that I have a partner who loves my music, who is always happy to hear my tanpura playing, who demands that I do my riyaaz, even if he does not understand Hindustani music, who is creating so many kinds of spaces in a rustic village home for me to sing and work on musical ideas, that nearly all that I could have asked from a life of extreme pain seems redeemed. And yet, not really so. how can your pain be over, when humanity suffers?

A heart without suffering

A heart without suffering,

Neither softens, nor pays heed

Me watching the sunset in Udaipur

Me, the sunset, Udaipur

To another- life or to another’s pain

Suffering, in many ways, can be a gain

If it makes one shine, like a stone carved or a metal polished

Without which we all remain merely cold, affected and inured

To all that we could have appreciated, not bored

By too much of joy, abundance and health…

(that was an impromptu thought)

The reason for this blog post is to share another piece of my writing, in which I write about the role played by Urdu poetry and ghazal in my healing, and eventual recovery from bipolar. I am excerpting a short piece and connecting to the main location where the article is hosted in Cafe Dissensus. To read the main article please click the link in green that says, ‘my writing’.

Every song has personal, social, and universal symbols attached to it. This can be detected not only a musician but also by a listener, if he/she identifies closely with the music. One of the features of my engagement with music is that I have not delved into existing repertoires of music to the extent I have on my own compositions. Possibly, the resonance which poetry produced within me was an echo of my suffering, and in expressing that suffering via a musical medium I got rid of the suffering. I have often thought about the connection between bipolar disorder and its tendency towards artistic creativity, and whether that gave me the scope for working with three forms,  bhajan, ghazal, and khayal, as well as connecting to poetry in at least four languages- English (which I have never used in music), Hindi/Braj, Punjabi (my mother tongue), and Urdu.

Of publishers, authors and their books

These past few weeks, starting from late March have been interesting in parallel ways. I got to read two books, by two artists, one from India and one Australia, in the domain of mental illness. The common thing between the two books is more than this- for both the books were given by their respective editors/publishers to me. One gave me a hard copy in person and the second a pdf version over the email. I am expected to write a review of the second, which I intend to in a few weeks.

I have known the author of the first book, an Indian woman called Reshma Valliappan, and the second book author, himself approached me and asked me if I would be willing to do a review of his book. The author is an artist called Alfredo Zotti, based out of Australia, though of Italian origin. The first author lives with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and is known to me for several years now, and the second lives with Bipolar II, and someone I am getting to know via his writing.

When I was reading Reshma’s book my own writing about the role of childhood suffering stood completely validated, for here was the author writing in detail about her family and the role of her parents in a very vivid and descriptive manner. It was extremely painful to read her book and only if someone really wants to read about her personal story, or to know her past, one may want to read the book. I am not offering a review of it here, for I found it difficult to even reach the end of the book, for reasons of ethics and how we need to treat people who are living still.

Reading her book, which is autobiographical, brought to mind all the dialogues I have had in the past with one of my senior (academic) friends, Prof. Ajit Dalal. One of the chief reasons why writing about one’s own self is very difficult is that there are others around that one ends up writing about and they are also living in the same world as we are- so what happens to them when we tell our stories with them appearing as characters in them? Can we reveal a past of abuse within family and not point out a finger at the abuser or tell the world about how a younger/older sibling treated us, abandoned us or hit us, without damaging our current relationship with them? That is where autoethnography, autobiography and memoirs become difficult zones to explore.

Anyways, reading Zotti’s book is an entirely different experience, dotted as it is by his art, interwoven with his musical explorations, which of course one cannot hear but imagine nevertheless, and the work he does with supporting others around the world. I find his book a very beautiful example of how someone can deal with their personal suffering, emerge courageous from it, more compassionate and deeply wise. It is a great contrast to the other book- which is so full of anger and pain that one feels sorry for everyone who is written about in the book, including the author herself. When I write a full review of his book I will share a link to that, but for now I am just appreciating the kindness with which Zotti has written about himself, how he has chosen to portray his father with whom he had a ‘hate/hate relationship’ and how he chooses to forgive him towards the end of the older man’s life. I really think it is a book that must be read by those who want to deal with their own or their loved one’s illnesses in any real way.

Zotti comes out as a real artist in the enterprise, and it is a pleasure to read his book- even though the differences that I have are many and I will articulate them in due course: some publicly, some to him alone and some to myself only.

Recovery story of one means that recovery of another is also possible

The companions of my research journey

The companions of my research journey

A few days back I wrote the following, for a public forum. I write with the idea that since we acquire all our knowledge in a social domain, we can also take ideas from the lives of others. When I was seriously ill, I had no one whose story could inspire me to get well, or even think that wellness was a possibility. But encountering the writing of Kay Jamison Redfield changed that perception. But considering that she was a big professor and I was a very small fry put me in no small anguish. That is why to write about the ordinariness of living a humble life, full of suffering and no real accomplishments, I hope would offer some milestones to others. Of course music is a unique part of my life and work, especially its contribution to my wellness.

Anyhow, this is the piece that was meant to be shared on that site, and it sheds a little light on how to read the story of one person’s successful recovery from a potentially disabling condition and why it is NOT a person’s story alone, but a cultural success for all humans, for we can see how within the resources that we have we can also create new outcomes for our suffering. This is my hope too. So while this is another link to my main paper (directly download from here), the other article follows here-

Recovery Stories foreshadow other recoveries

(This little writing is a prelude to my longer publication, which I ought to have offered to everyone who read the main paper. However since I did not think of it earlier, it does not absolve me of the responsibility of doing so at a later date. By writing this piece I hope to simplify the reading of my publication and to invite many other dialogic and creative possibilities using the arts, or music for that matter, toward therapeutic outcomes)

I do NOT want this to be read as a personal victory, for in that case I need not document it, by going over the laborious task of research writing and publication, which took a year and a half to be finally seen by others! The reason for me to work in research like several others, post our recoveries, is that we wish to see the patterns of disabling conditions at hindsight, enriched by our lived perspectives. Research always begins with a subjective agenda, but also has its own criteria. We cannot be telling our stories just to seek attention toward ourselves, but definitely there is an element of attention seeking involved here- yet not toward the person but the question of the research.

The question that I wish to address via this writing is that Recovery is (often/always) possible in serious mental illness, and that this paper shares the process of one such- the evidence of such a recovery. This is also a little background of why I head an arts based non-profit, a research organization of recent origins, whose agenda is to create synergies in health and education via the arts, and to create possibilities where more of such recoveries happen via the interfaces that such an immersion can bring about.

Auto-ethnography is NOT self advocacy

I often use autoethnography as the method to write about myself and it is not to be confused with self-advocacy. The purpose of the two is quite different. While we work in research we sometimes work in situations where we do not have access to others or our  stories are so unique that they, by themselves, carry enough seeds of ideas. This is more so in survivor- research (though my own preferred usage now is emancipatory research). The other situation in research is that once we get out of the tunnel ourselves we have seen the inner dimensions of it so well (which often I am afraid even the best professionals would have no access to, unless they are fearless like Stanislav Grof, who experimented with LSD, to understand various aspects of consciousness, the root of all that happens in psychosis or other serious troubles)

I vaguely try to distinguish between autoethnography (a/e)and self- advocacy thus:

  1. A/e is a legitimate qualitative research method, self advocacy is a PR tool.
  2. The purpose of a/e is documentation in a framework which can be used by researchers and lay people alike (if they want to read it), whereas the purpose of self-advocacy is to draw attention to the recovery of one person in the hope that they would inspire others.
  3. Purpose of a/e is to draw attention to the phenomenon, while in self advocacy the person is the phenomenon.
  4. A/e is never written for popularity but with a commitment that we offer our stories for the world, as a reflecting surface in which they can see their own stories, in particular those who face similar crises. Self advocacy is a way to draw attention toward oneself and sometimes to show the injustice one has faced. Likely every person in this unjust world faces a lot of injustice, as autoethnographers we just choose to respond to that injustice in a different manner-as compassionate warriors, not simply passionate ones.
  5. In doing a/e we go through a lot of heartburn for we have to write our stories ourselves and then bring in research evidence from various dimensions to show that they are valid, whereas in self advocacy mostly there is no writing involved of that academic nature. People have already bought your concept and you just have to go and talk about it- there is a market and there is a product. Who does not want to listen to the story of suffering of another and then pat their back? But how many have the courage to say, that listen, I am not suffering now, but I did in the past, so may be if we could just look at it together there could be something lying in my recovery that you can use.

Having said that, without wanting to be patronizing and self-righteous, with due respect for all those who work in self advocacy, I still want to say that we are all on the same side of the fence- teammates of the same team, though our methods differ, in accordance with our trainings, inclinations and abilities. It takes all sorts to wage a war, and people of varying abilities need to bring their abilities together to deal with the enemy that we all deal with- the enemy of human suffering. Let the generals come from all ranks, and those ranks not be determined by the dominant voices of a certain sort only.

There are of course scores of things that can be written here, also on the subject of why autoethnography and NOT autobiography. I will write about that separately on my blog that you can follow, if you like, here

 

Musical recovery of a musician is not the same as that of a non-musician

You will read ahead that I work in many aspects of music- including in research in  areas of pedagogy on one side, therapy another and also want to see the role of music in its interaction with identity. Even some of my published research in music is within the folds of psychology among other disciplines. I am not a musician whose work is all focused on performance, though that is among the many things I do on rare occasions.

Music Education or Music therapy? 

These are two close issues that need to be seen on a continuum. Music education involves an engagement with music directly, whereas music therapy is engagement with music mediated by another person, who is treated as the expert.

For a musician like me since engagement with music is at so many levels it is actually an occupational thing, not therapeutic- unless the musician herself is so incapacitated that there is no connection of that person to the outside world as a musician (which happened in my case), and the only connection you have with music is a means of venting out your emotional-spiritual chaos. But yes, it also provided me with a means to redefining my identity and not just view myself as ‘poor girl’. In later writing I hope to share the role of my dogs, who have been one of the key pillars and closest companions of my recovery, the role of my mother, and other members of my family, the homeopath and the chance encounter with him, via my sister and one or two close friends…and that is still not the end of the list. An 18 year long illness cannot be summarized in a few journal articles- it is slow, laborious and excruciating to visit it again and again, and I do not know when I would run out of steam.

In another paper of a bigger dimension (currently under review) in which I write about the overall work I do, in the creative dimensions, I have explored the role of music in a multimodal sort of a way toward my recovery, for the first time writing about my poetic side too, as well as weaving all these with what I do in research as well. On the one side I analyze about whether the work should be seen as serious creativity, on the other I contrast it with the death of another musician by suicide, to bring together evidence that music is not always therapeutic- even for musicians.

All my research is in fact an advocacy for music/art pedagogy, which in due course can have other outcomes too. If we see in the larger context it serves the purpose of my advocacy for art-education, for I believe that the arts ought to be a part of every child and adult’s life, not only in the process of education, but also as a means to expressing the emotional and spiritual fluctuations of being alive and resolving inner dilemmas in socially legitimate ways. I also believe this about other things, like connecting with nature, gardening, sports etc- but this is as far as what I can personally contribute via my (non-funded) research and its agenda.

How would music therapy work for the non musicians or those who are not interested in music at all?

I would like to treat these as two separate issues. I am not just referring to music (or a particular kind of music) but music as a form of art. So if some people do not respond to music, they may respond to other art forms. There ought not be to a forcible reduction of everyone to using music alone.

Everyone whether they know it or not, has a musical self, which is part of their larger personality. Many are aware of their musical abilities and inclinations but some are not. So we do not focus our energy on the method but the person and whatever they respond to, is what should be offered as their therapeutic medium. If we work in coercive ways, then we would force everyone in one way only and sadly this is what happens with modern medicine, but if medicine knew its limits or that it need not be hierarchical or dominant but collaborative, people would become the center of everyone’s work and I think that no problem would be above a solution then.

I have often worked with people who seem to have no music in them, which to my mind is unthinkable. But in saying this I show a bias within myself, for am I not then stereotyping them? I once worked with a group of school teachers who I could select out of 90, into three groups of ten each- I said I would only work with 30, as a pilot. There was  a group that just did not respond to musical notes, and I brought them all quietly together, without telling them what the common ground for connecting them was.

Then I started working with them using rhythm, not melody! They were all so thrilled firstly that they had not been excluded for they all had a very poor self image viz a viz their musical abilities, and then they were more keen to prove themselves worthy! I accomplished many things I thought with this little exercise- building self esteem, letting people identify their musical abilities and not be dominated by the view that they were tone deaf (which in fact they were!) and create new possibilities even for them. If we can turn around teachers we can turn around most things in the world. This is my philosophy.

With this introduction I invite you to read this article , as an offering in creating new possibilities in health via the arts. I would be happy to answer any further questions via this blog so that more people can also read them.

The month that wasn’t

 All doors seem locked

This passing month of july has been a month of what has not been!- for almost nothing tangible happened, what a painful month. NOTHING AT ALL!

There was someone expected to join the household for assisting around the home, no sign yet. All the small pieces I wrote here and there are hanging fire, which includes one abstract, one full piece titled, why the music therapy article by me, should not be seen as anything but a case for music pedagogy and an exercise in advocacy. Just imagine, making your own suffering look so small! but then, i do not want that people should focus on the person and not the phenomenon. That is why you do research in the first place- it is not a PR exercise after all, but an act of dissecting yourself in the public eye and pretend it does not hurt, while you may be crying on the inside. That is what autoethnography is all about- unless you are writing about your honeymoon! (and it was a good one)

Oh but today I spoke with an editor in a publishing house discussing my new idea about a book- I think it is best to work in music, because few would be sitting inside and offering the sort of insights I can or a few like me can- who have had a huge range of learning and teachign experiences.

that reminds me about the communication I had recently with a journalist friend on the subject of the halo around the word TRADITION in the Indian context or how in fact it has been molested beyond repair or how we cherish our arroagnce of not having a written tradition, seemingly favouring the oral over the visual one. And that is why the best research even about Indian tradition does not seem to be happening within India, because we Indians do not believe in codifying anything or leaving anything for posterity- just pander to our senses in the present and think we have made the greatest contribution possible. We are nothign but egoistic buffoons. Sadly so.

Ustad Amir Khan- online repertoire

Ustad Amir Khan was such an enigma that most people have not been able to analyse the reason for the appeal of his music. Anyhow this link that I shared above is a compilation by someone who was kind enough to permit me to use from his site. Here it is the entire thing, though the link in the opening line, takes to his blog or site.

Ustad Amir Khan

“Amir Khan’s music combined the massive dignity of the dhrupad with the ornate vividness of khayal.” — Susheela Mishra in the “Great masters of music” series.

Ustad Amir Khan (1912-1974) was among the greatest and most influential Hindustani vocalists of the twentieth century. To quote Ustad Faiyaz Khan (from Susheela Mishra’s article ), “One must play with a raga with a lover’s passion. One must learn to love it to pay court to it, like a cavalier, and then alone can a musician tell the story of joy and grief; of laughter and tears. Music must please and move.” This is an apt description of Ustad Amir Khan’s music. Amir Khansahib had an intellectual’s approach to Hindustani music while always managing to bring out, with great sensitivity, all the emotive aspects of a raag.

As is well known to insiders, much of the recordings of great Hindustani musicians languishes in private collections. In recent years, thanks to the internet and the generous efforts of people at sawf.org and sarangi.info and numerous others on websites like esnips.com, a large number of recordings are now freely available online to music lovers. Unfortunately, these collections are often hard to locate. I have attempted here to put together a list of recordings by Ustad Amir Khan along with links to recordings online. This is just a beginning; I hope that, over time, and with the help of other fans of Amir Khansahib, I will be able to make this a more comprehensive list so that these gems are easily accessible to all music lovers who have access to the internet. Many links appear and disappear in time; I would appreciate information regarding broken links and any new links that may have appeared.

Musicography with links to online resources

  1. Abhogi “Laaj rakhi lee jo mori” on youtube
  2. Abhogi “Charan dhar aayo” on esnips.com
  3. Adana on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  4. Adana “Muhammad Shah Rangile” (78 RPM) on youtube
  5. Ahir Bhairav: Vilambit khayal “Jago re bande” on youtube on esnips.com
  6. Ahir Bhairav: Chhota khayal: “Piya para been parama sukha chatura” on LP/tape recording titled Surmanjari. AK’s composition.
  7. Ahir Bhairav: Chhota khayal
  8. Aiman (Yaman): on sarangi.info
  9. Aiman (Yaman) kalyan: on sarangi.info
  10. Amirkhani Kauns: Madhya laya “Paar karo” AK’s composition.
  11. Asavari Todi on on Rajan Parrikar’s site
  12. Bageshree: “Bahu guna kamna” on Rajan Parrikar’s site and on LP/tape recording
  13. Bageshree: “Kaise kate rajni” (from the film Kshudito Pashan, with Protima Banerjee) on youtube
  14. Bageshrikanada: “Gore gore mukh par” on sarangi.info
  15. Bahar on esnips.com
  16. Bairagi: “Man sumarata” on sarangi.info
  17. Barwa on youtube and on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  18. Basant Bahar: “Parana koyaliya kuka rahi” on youtube on sarangi.info
  19. Basant Mukhari: “Prabhu daata” on musicindiaonline.com and on esnips.com
  20. Bhatiyar: “Nisa dinana” on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  21. Bhatiyar: “Barani na jaye” on youtube on sarangi.info
  22. Bhimpalasi
  23. Bihag “Kaise sukh” on youtube on musicindiaonline.com
  24. Bilaskhani Todi: on sarangi.info
  25. Chandni Kedar Ye ri tu dhana dhana
  26. Chandrakaunsi: tarana on Patrick Moutal’s website
  27. Charukeshi: “Laaj rakho tum more” on sarangi.info . AK’s composition.
  28. Darbari: “Mori aalee, jab se bhanaka paree” (piya ke awan ki) on sarangi.info
  29. Darbari: “Tumari jay jay karta”
  30. Darbari: chhota khayal “Yare man biya biya” (Persian). AK’s composition.
  31. Deshi with D.V. Paluskar: “Aaj gawat man mero” on youtube
  32. Deshkar
  33. Gaud Malhar (short live recording) on youtube
  34. Gurjari Todi
  35. Hansdhwani vilambit: “Jaya maate” on youtube on sarangi.info
  36. Hansdhwani dhrut: tarana on sarangi.info
  37. Harikauns
  38. Hemkalyan on esnips.com
  39. Hemkalyan on esnips.com
  40. Hindol Basant
  41. Jaijaiwanti on youtube and on esnips.com
  42. Jog: “O balma” on youtube on esnips.com
  43. Jog: tarana on esnips.com
  44. Jog: tarana (in Persian). AK’s composition.
  45. Kafi Kanada
  46. Kalavati “Anmaani Piya So Rahat Hai”
  47. Kalashri
  48. Janasanmohini: “Kaun jatan ” on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  49. Kaushikanada vilambit on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  50. Kaushikanada dhrut on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  51. Khamaj thumri “Piya ke aavan ke” on sarangi.info
  52. Komal Rishabh Asawari “Jagat Sapna” on youtube or on esnips.com . AK’s composition.
  53. Lalit Vilambit khayal: “Tadapath hoon jaise” on sarangi.info
  54. Lalit Chhota khayal: “Tadapath hoon jaise” (second version) on LP/tape recording
  55. Lalit (“Jogiya mere ghar”) in opening credits of the film “Raagini” on youtube
  56. Lalit (“Jogiya mere ghar”) with a Farsee anthara added (perhaps his own composition) on youtube
  57. Lalit khayal: vilambit “Charan kaise aavu”, dhrut: “Jogiya mere ghar aaye” on sarangi.info
  58. Madhukauns “Bairanbhai Rain” youtube and on esnips.com
  59. Malkauns: “Jinke man Raam” and “Aaj more ghar aali na balma” on youtube on sarangi.info
  60. Malkauns: tarana on youtube (with video)
  61. Malkauns: “Jinke mana raam” mehfil recording on sarangi.info
  62. Malkauns: “Lagi la manwa” live recording. AK’s composition.
  63. Marukalyan on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  64. Marwa Vilambit khayal “Jag bawra” on LP/tape recording and (poor quality recording) from a concert in Pune on esnips.com AK’s composition (?)
  65. Marwa Vilambit khayal “Piya more anat des” on sarangi.info
  66. Marwa chhota khayal “Guru bin gyan na pave”. AK’s composition
  67. Megh “Barkha ritu aaye” on sarangi.info
  68. Megh tarana on esnips.com
  69. Miyanmalhar “Karim naam” on esnips.com
  70. Miyanmalhar and Ramdasimalhar “Karim naam” on sarangi.info
  71. Multani vilambit “Jaako mana Allah” on sarangi.info
  72. Multani dhrut “Balma mohe tumso laagali preet” on sarangi.info
  73. Multani “Daya karo hey girdhara gopala” bhajan from the film Shabaab on R. Parrikar’s website on sawf.org
  74. Nand youtube or on esnips (part 1) on esnips (part 2)
  75. Nat Bhairav: “Sumaranko” on esnips
  76. Pancham Malkauns bandish
  77. Priyakalyan (or Ramkalyan) on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music . AK’s composition. He also created the raag.
  78. Priyakalyan “Sarmad gham-e ishq” Persian composition. (clip from an interview) AK’s composition. He also created the raag.
  79. Puriya bandish title
  80. Puriya Dhanashree “Tori jay jay karta” on esnips.com
  81. Raagmala with Bismillah Khan Sur Malhar, Bageshree, Chandrakauns, Ramkali, Bhatiyar, Desh. From the film “Goonj Uthi Shehnai”. on youtube.
  82. Rageshree “Beguna ko guna de” on youtube (with video) and Patrick Moutal’s online collection (video) and on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  83. Ramdasi Malhar Chhayee Badariya Kaari
  84. Ramkali on esnips.com on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  85. Shahana on youtube
  86. Shree “Hari ke charana kamala nisadina sumarana re” on sarangi.info and on youtube
  87. Shuddh Kalyan “Karam karo” on youtube and “Mandara Bajo Re”
  88. Shuddh Kalyan tarana on esnips.com
  89. Shuddh Sarang on sarangi.info
  90. Suhakanada on The Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music
  91. Suha tarana on youtube Suha sughrai
  92. Todi vilambit and madhya laya (“Man ki panchi”) on esnips.com AK’s composition for madhya laya.
  93. Todi vilambit (“Ja re ja pathikava” (Sadarang)) and madhya laya (“Man ki panchi”) on esnips.com AK’s composition for madhya laya.
  94. Todi tarana (short recording) on esnips.com
  95. Mian Ki Todi, All India Radio programme, vilambit khayal “Shagun Bicharo Bamna’ and drut ‘Garva Mai Sang Laagi’
  96. Yaman vilambit jhoomra on youtube (Kishori Ray’s links) , continuation: also on youtube (Kishori Ray’s links)
  97. Yaman kalyan “Kajra kaise daroon”. AK’s composition (?) and LIVE recording of Yaman Kalyan, Kalashree and Darbari (London) on youtube

If you know of others, please let me know the name along with (if possible) information about where to find them. Many of the bandish titles above are probably misspelled, especially the ones with question marks, since I have relied almost entirely on guess work. If you notice any mistakes on this page, please inform me, thanks.

My email address: mharan@stat.psu.edu

Acknowledgments
I am grateful to Daibashish Gangopadhyay for corrections and additions to the above list. Bhuvanesh Bhatt also provided corrections.

Several of the recordings listed above are available online at these wonderful repositories of Hindustani music:

A short Films Division documentary on Ustad Amir Khan can be found here.

Perhaps the best website devoted to Ustad Amir Khan is one put together by John Campana and others at the University of Toronto: Amir Khan memorial website.

On living Kabir

the simple pleasures of seeing smoke coming from country kitchens in my neighbourhood, on a rainy afternoon in the village

the simple pleasures of seeing smoke coming from country kitchens in my neighbourhood, on a rainy afternoon in the village

This morning, an unusual one in the sense that I turned the computer on quickly, unlike other days when I focus on bathing and getting the food ready for the dogs, or think of my music on rare occasions, when I turned the computer, I had two emails in it. One from the editor of CJMT and another from someone unknown to me. He says this-

Congratulations Prateeksha for the great artcles which show how intelligent, brave and persevering you are.
May Lord Shiva always bless you and may you always reveal Kabir’s philsophy in your life.
Namaste.
Mahendra
( I have copied the above text exactly without editing to retain its original essence)
I am musing about this and wondering if my life did not really finally turn out like Kabir’s and possibly as a small reflection of that when I created a Kabir blog so many years ago, I did not say anything except that I live Kabir, not just sing him through my throat- which is the meaning of the blog title. This morning I am going over all the recent conversations and how difficult it is for me to even survive and live a single day, what to mention work in research, which additionally necessitates a certain withdrawal from the world, just contradictory to my professional needs of a musician to go and showcase my art or how accomplished I am, if at all. Every day is a struggle for fighting with myself at so many levels and in the end thanks to the fact that there is no facilitation from any quarter, I just remain within the home and with my writing, not even my music, because musical expression needs a certain expansion of spirit not contraction which situations like mine bring. How much can I sing alone?
The word heart-broken is not even what I ought to say about myself, it is just a part of being alive- for the heart is broken in so many shards, that it is unlikely it will ever heal. But that I suppose is the curse that every healer has to carry, till the world around them can recognize that they were there every moment of their lives, only trying to make the world more healed, not themselves! What an irony! And more because the heart has been wounded by so many (or perhaps all at one or another time) that one does not really know whether there is any scope of justice even left. And that is why it should come as no surprise that in the presence of simpler beings like animals, birds and nature in its verdant greenery I rejoice and my soul finds an anchor, or why I moved away from the spiritual coldness of city life to a village..
Notwithstanding the sufferings that come my way, I still do what I do, and one stray appreciation, one kind word makes so much  difference, when I am over with the tears that flow with every act of unkindness, which I cannot respond to at their level naturally.. I think the person who wrote me the above mail, could not see that just like Shiva who lives in world, internally anchored and unmindful, unwavering despite what goes over him, even if they be reptiles that glide over his body- I am already there myself in some way. We are not gods, but mythology is all about symbolism and seeing our behaviour which is archetypal and not personal. Also reminds of how so long back itself I had understood this, and wrote this. The churning of the ocean is all about living a life of stability in the midst of chaos of the world.
Anyhow living Kabir becomes so difficult, which I have more to write about – especially about the fate of my book, which is pending review with the publisher, that I can only for now try to shut out the doubts about me, with words of kindness from a younger researcher, who says
Dear Prateekshaji, I read your paper yesterday. I want to congratulate you on the brilliant, rigorous and well thought out piece. Your meticulous research and hard work is well reflected in it. I am very happy for this achievement of yours. Hope a lot more is coming up soon. Best Wishes, Y.
This is a young person, currently pursuing her doctoral research in a US university, but who had encountered me several years ago, by a chance encounter with my music via a film, that had also included me as one of the musicians who sing Kabir. At that time I did not have such visibility, neither the internet had come into its present dimensions, and I was living a more secluded and invisible life than I do now. She was doing her M.Phil research in some aspects of contemporary singing or engagement with Kabir. As a smaller part of the study, she was also interest in seeing how women musicians interpret Kabir, for which she had extended communications with two women, me among them. We met on multiple occasions in different locations every time- Faridabad, where I then lived, then in Calcutta and finally before she was leaving for further study, in Delhi. I still remember how we talk about the subversive element of Kabir. So now it should be no surprise that I am also a subversive who is trying to challenge the dominant discourse of my times, the manner Kabir did in his- though my context is different for now…but likely I will also jump into the same discourse about securalism in due course, knowing that my challenge is not just to concepts of mental health, knowledge creation and research.
If only she knew how much it matters, at least on some occasions when the world is punishing you from all dimensions for really living Kabir!

Canadian Journal of Music Therapy- please download paper and connected (introductory) paper directly here

In case you are using this link, kindly look at the right hand of the main blog and you see a Box.com widget, from which you can directly download any of the papers I have shared there. This post is only meant to facilitate further dissemination of my research- no other reason.

Additionally I have shared an informal bit of writing which explores the reason why someone ought to write their story, post recovery or what it offers to others. How one story is a possibility for others, if its ideas are morphed to suit the situations of another life, is what this paper talks about.  I felt that my story is the narrative of a musician, so does it mean that non-musicians cannot utilize the benefits of music or its therapeutic potential. All these ideas are shared as part of the writing called Recovery Stories foreshadow other recoveries.

I just (1st august 2014) discovered another way to share research publicly. Here is the link to that. Am trying in my own limited ways to reach the this inquiry to more.