Raga, Marwa, and Malkauns

On 31st July, at 20:20, Raga went into her surgery- for a tail amputation. She had developed gangrene and the decision was taken in the morning itself when I had taken her to the vet’s, for a catheterization- to empty her bladder. On a sudden thought I decided to take my electronic tanpura with me, hoping the vet would not mind my intrusion into his surgery!

IMG_20170802_100836400

I braced myself and asked him, if he would be okay that I played the tanpura to my little girl. He was a little amused that I asked, and asked me, if the dog understands it– I said, yes, I am a musician and this girl whose name is Raga is actually steeped in classical music!

He was amused I am sure and he gave me a nod. But not before asking me, whether I would be staying in the surgery while he performed the amputation. He must have thought this woman is a nutcase! But he was too tired to thrash out anything further, being the fag end of the day for him. In any case I wanted to stay because she was not going to get general anasthesia but a local one and having her in the surgery without me would not have been possible that way.

I played the tanpura and put my arm on her across her neck- two boys held her, and the procedure went ahead. There were three boys to support the vet, and I sang along to my baby. I sang Marwa first- piya more anat des (Amir Khan Sa’ab’s bandish) and then I sang what Khan saheb is singing here-

Obviously I was in no mood to sing the Raga in the sedate way it is supposed to be- my intent was more to keep my girl calm. I was sad, but deeply calm- ditto her. Was she sad? Cannot say, but definitely very quiet and unperturbed.

And then when I felt that things were progressive, and possibly I ran out of ideas of how to do more alap in Marwa, I turned the Madhyam on the tanpura and lo and behold Malkauns popped in front. Jin ke mann ram biraaje, by Khan sa’ab connotes Malkauns to my mind. Another deeply felt bandish, that I sang a great deal once upon a time.

The surgery was over in less than an hour. Raga, me and Imdad bhai returned home- it was a new experience for everyone. My baby was cool enough to come home and have a meal- as I had not fed her earlier as per the vet’s suggestion due to the surgery.

Life and surgeries can go so smoothly with the right melodies…

 

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The arrow of the ‘Bani’

The late nineties were a period of intense suffering for me. There was the suffering of the bipolar, which had made me a social outcast, and there was the suffering rather search for myself, via my musical self; which had to appear much later in life, at a philosophical and experiential level. One of the sources of this suffering was an uncertainty about the musical ‘knowledge’ (if I may use this word about it) I had. It felt, and was inadequate, half-baked, shallow, hazy and botched up, to say the least. The need for a guru, to lead me out of this darkness, was acute- rather desperate.

It was not the internet age. One did not know how to find a guru, the world was not so seamlessly connected and neither was one exposed to a lot of musicians in an average Indian, Punjabi household more so.

1998, saw me at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya (GMV) in Delhi- taking the bus, walking the long sunny path, hiding behind the shadows of the UGC building at ITO, taking the footpath from the bus-stop till the school, climbing the stairs to enter the classroom, of hopeful ladies wanting to learn classical music from a reluctant-to-teach guruji (who in fact was more keen to get private students from the public ‘pool’).

Six months in the 7th year (Master’s) class there and I was done with it! The search began all over again- this time it brought me to two teachers together- two men, with different worldviews, but both saying the same thing- they would not charge me for teaching anything, once they were certain I was the right ‘disciple’! Both had different roots and different methods. With one I lasted but a few months, and found him to be one of the most rotten encounters of my life. The other was A guru who molded my mind, and raised my musical consciousness- the first among the wise teachers who would teach me.

Dasgupta-ji was unlike any music teacher one would ever meet. You entered into his small living room, where there was a high diwaan and two chairs on the side, and an adjacent kitchen. My parents had accidentally met him in the house of a common friend, and had offered to drop him home, as they were all coming back in the same direction. Upon discovering that he was a music teacher, they got curious as they had a musically curious and eligible student in the form of their own daughter (me) as a point of reference. On the way back home, the music teacher shared all about his musical pedigree and the parents were sufficiently convinced that this was someone who their daughter should be sent to.

At the same time, the daughter-me, had encountered the other musician- Hari Charan Verma, who was very gifted as an artist, introduced by the tabla- accompanist of the GMV 7th year class. I was taken in by his singing and knew that I had found my guru. It was a tussle for awhile…but I paid heed to my parents in a few months and decided to meet Dasgupta-ji.

The Guru with a Quirk

Imagine meeting a music teacher who has the following conditions-

  1. I will not take any money for teaching you;
  2. You have to learn with me three days a week!
  3. It will be the way I want it- and possibly over two hours at a time!

Perhaps the average music student would be thrilled with such a prospect. So was I! what better than a guru so generous…until one really got down to it.

So the training began- two and a half hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week. The first half hour was devoted to singing the pancham- by the clock too. Guruji would put his wrist watch on the harmonium in front and we would both get down to singing the ‘Pa’. The next hour hour was devoted to ga-ma-pa-dha; also by the clock. I do not remember what would happen after the first hour…but I do recall that I would be looking forward to the Marie biscuits and tea that aunty would bring forward, somewhere along the course of this. That was the sole bright spot of the whole singing- the Green Label Tea with its light aroma, and always the same taste- which I love till date.

But what a thing. Hours of singing and no musical ragas, no compositions, no fast paced actions, nothing- all at a century old pace, a leisurely dip in one note at a time for a youth (I was 25) who was so restless (thanks to psychotropic drugs), anecdotes from the lives of his gurus- Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan and Ustad Ishtiaq Hussain Khan, comments on the popular musicians of the day- which I hardly bothered about, and musical ideas that his gurus had handed down to him. I would be angry at times at the rebuff- he would stop me from singing so many times, and insist I slow down, I sing more precisely, more accurately. I was 15 years of a trained student, not a novice, and this was nothing but an insult for me. But I kept taking it- because he was never mean about it. He would explain to me, the significance of the ‘shuddh bani’. For the first time I heard it from him and understood the meaning of bani- and then I understood there were other ‘banis’ also going around- Dagar bani, Khandhar bani and one more (whose name I forget).

He would repeatedly tell me, ” Just learn the shuddh bani from me, and then sing whatever you want to sing. Sing classical, bhajan, ghazal or anything- but sing it in shuddh bani. Your voice will never become hoarse- you will sing the same into your old age, you will never go off-key.” Half the time, as i stood on the bus-stop later to take the never-to-appear bus home, I would tell myself I am not going to come back here again. But two days later I would still come back.

My stint with him did not last long- only for about a year or a little over. But it was enough to drop the seed in my head- the seed of the shuddh bani and then began my search, which would take me to many a guru and style, until I would come within and integrate them all.

When I would press him to know which musicians sang the Shuddh bani that he advocated so much, he would only name Mehdi Hassan and possibly Lata Mangeshkar. Among the classical musicians he was not willing to name any! It is not proper to name all the musicians he could find faults with- for this is a public medium and in India we hold musicians so ‘sacred’. But the fact of the matter is that, forget about Raga interpretation, even on the count of ‘swara’ musicians could find faults with one another. I have a lot of memories in my head about the family of Ustad Mushtaq Hussain that guruji shared with me- in particular how Khan sa’ab was so dismissive about most of his family and extended relatives. The only person guruji told me, who had any merit among Khan Sa’ab’s sons after Ustad Ishtiaq Hussain was Ghulam Taqi- but I think he also died early.

There were two people who I went to meet with guruji, on two separate occasions. One was Smt. Sumati Mutatkar- who was then into her eighties and the other was Ghulam Hussain, possibly a son of Khan sa’ab, or his son in law (I forget). The former lived in the Asiad Village and the latter in Zakir Nagar, Okhla. She had retired as the Dean of the Music Faculty, of the Delhi University, while he was a radio artist if I can recall correctly. And later guruji would have told me how Khan saheb had refused to teach either of them! But that is life.

When a tree becomes big, many can see it and reach out to it, to touch it and take cover under its umbrella and claim it to be a relationship, just because they have been close to the tree- regardless of whether the tree acknowledges that or not. In India, the musical learning tradition has no clear-cut pathways and anyone can claim to be anyone’s disciple (the way a certain big musician claims to be the disciple of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, without even meeting him!). Delhi was full of musicians once upon a time who wanted to learn with Ustad Mushtaq Hussain, and Khan sa’ab would shoo everyone away or just while their time away, because he could see an ardent disciple from the ones who just came after his name.

He had after all seen Dasgupta-ji’s passion for a long time and tested him out, before taking me on as a student, but not before he himself had turned 93!

Mummy also stepped in

My mother has a strange relationship with some of my ‘people’- friends, teachers and gurus. With Dasgupta-ji also this happened- may be because mummy and papa had first met him, and not me. But mom got both guruji and his wife, a senior citizen’s pension, because she knew the local counselor of Kalkaji, who gave them the status of senior citizens. Guruji’s wife was very happy as for the first time in her life, she got money in her own name.

I learnt with guruji not more than a year, I think- but he got the pension from the government till the end of his life. I may not have paid him directly, but my mother ensured them some money for the rest of their lives. I feel proud of my mother for this, as also gratitude that she would do such things for people who had little connection with her in a direct way.

Today I remember Guruji, with gratitude that he raised my musical consciousness to that level where I could understand the different aspects of rendition and what makes a music touching as opposed to a musical wrestling, jostling or ‘smartness’. A deeper musician does not need to be smart at all, you just need to be simple and your music will speak to the heart of another directly- you don’t have to worry about impressions at all!

Last week brought a surprise…

A few days ago, a former student of Dasgupta-ji connected with me, thanks to the intricate web of the internet from somewhere in the US, and we got ‘talking’ (on email) about so many things- largely about our guru in common. But the uncanny thing was, that he said that he wanted to make a donation in the memory of our common guru, to Hansadhwani Foundation as a support for the work we are doing.

I am just thinking> money has a strange way of going around and coming around! This universe is so full of mystery, that it baffles me what all can happen. I am touched and humbled at the same time. The mysteries continue to unravel. Is this a blessing from guruji, by any chance? Is this an acknowledgement from the universe that I am on the right path- where without even me asking anyone someone is stepping forward to offer support? Is this a mystery or is it logical?

Kindness that leaves one speechless

On 25th June, I wrote a post on this blog,  in which I mentioned about Deepak Raja and his new book- Raga-ness of Ragas. Since he had invited me for a promotional lecture about the book, via a WhatsApp message, I thanked him and promised to give it an honest effort. (now of course with the changed situation of my spine, which is getting better and I am gaining in confidence, due to the treatment, I may be able to go) But just to be on the safer side, I kept my doors open, and I told him so. Also the traffic situation in Delhi is quite tedious in the evenings- I have stopped going out at all in the evenings! But that is also characteristic of me- for I prefer my own home, my writing, books, music and reading over mingling with people in the evenings, or on some occasions riyaaz as well.

So anyhow, out of curiosity I thought I would take a look at the contents of the book, since I would not want to remain totally ignorant of what is happening in the world around. So when I opened the publisher’s link I found many interesting things, and this was my response to Deepak-ji at that point.

Prateeksha Sharma

25 Jun (8 days ago)

to Deepak
Dear Deepak-ji
Coming from you, this is heartening to say the least. But alas ghazal is not the genre I dabble in these days- only khayal. Since I never made any recordings of my khyal music, this was the only thing I though of sharing upon a whim.
If you read this piece of writing, which has my music also embedded in it, it may give you insights as to how the ghazal came about in the first place. But of course reading may be a little tedious considering you must be reading so much else as well.
Just out of curiosity I looked at the index of the new book and I am feeling very keen to buy it, though it is so steeply priced. These days a lot of my expenditure is in the direction of my phd books. But lo and behold I find another compelling reason here- you are doing a point by point analysis of bandishes and taans and whatnot. 
Just last week I was working very ‘profusely’ in Durga. I worked on a bandish whose lyrics came from Bhatkhande’ s book, yet music was my own. then I worked out a song for little children (between 5-8 years) and then on another tarana, all in Durga. Concomitantly, I learnt three or four bandishes with my own guru. I am still learning, as my learning has never been continuous thanks for a very unpredictable life. Anyhow, things are much more settled now and therefore this gush of musical compositions, in this or that raga.
I think it is only a matter of time that I will buy the book- am hoping they would come out with a paperback as well.
warmest regards
In response came this mail from Deepak ji (26th June 2017)
Dear Prateeksha:
I am sending herewith the manuscript of my book on Raga-ness. I hope you find it interesting. 
Regards. Deepak 
And lo and behold, the book manuscript comes into my computer!!!
The gentleman took 15 years to write the book or however we see it…and I cannot imagine his generosity and kindness in simply sending the manuscript to me- just because I said I cannot buy it immediately. But of course i have to buy the book, there is no option to that, not even for a moment, in my mind.
My response to him-  (26th June 2017)
Dear Deepak-ji
This is extremely kind of you. I am honored and so touched by the gesture. 
I will make do with the manuscript for now ( I have no words to express my elation). It is only a matter of time that I will buy it, because reading a hard copy has no substitute, as of course the sense of seeing the book in print and holding it in your hand. I value books immensely and therefore buying one that I deeply value is only a matter of time for me, and juggling a bit of resources- but I usually get what I want. 
I also value the fact that you took a long time to write the book, so if I take a little time to buy it, there is no loss. In the interim I have the manuscript to refer back to. I have many books that I want in both versions, because each form has its own place in our hearts and our reference systems. This is one of those precious ones.
Someday I will get my copy of the book autographed by you. I will read the book and come back to you slowly, because there is so much to learn in every direction. I am just planning a research article for a journal, which has recently accepted my abstract for a forthcoming special issue.
I wish you more books and scholarship ahead, and may the world be enriched by your knowledge.
In gratitude
And this is the letter I received in response-

Deepak Raja

26 Jun (7 days ago)

to me
You are welcome. Prateeksha. 
A reader of your caliber is a privilege.
Regards. Deepak
In my life I have seen and interacted with many a person and musician. The only thing that comes to mind from my interaction with Deepak-ji is that here is a musician who is a human being first. It is not easy to find humans among musicians– they are musicians first and last and their musical egos live on giant mountains. To interact with a person who has a great acuity of ideas, in addition to musical knowledge, language and expression is a matter of great fortune, nothing short of it. I know in my lifetime I would have met some fine minds and I am grateful for it.
The book is a real treasure for a person like me, and having seen it in the manuscript form I am only too excited to order and get my copy as soon as I can.

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.

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.

Music therapy for Recovery in serious mental illness

This is my recent publication in the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy. So this post is nothing but a sharing of that link and the rest is self evident. Oh yes, the acknowledgements are not proper in this version of the paper and they have to read as follows, which they do in the final version and in the hard copy which I will have in hand soon (am told it is in the mail). Here is the final acknowledgements-

 The author would like to thank professors Ajit Dalal and Girishwar Misra for their engaged critiquing. In making this publication more concise and thorough she would also like to express gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and appreciation. The Editor of this journal also is thanked for her support, feedback and help with developing this manuscript. The author is grateful to Michel Satanove for help with preparing a final version of this paper.
And perhaps I cannot but share again that this article was so important for me that I even wrote an informal autoethnography about it, which had been shared right on this blog, several months ago. This article was really a torturous road!

When the guru aligns with you

I did not know that Saturday was guru purnima. Neither did Madhuri aunty, my guru, when she called in the morning to say that we could do an extra class together. I notice for the last few days she is generally happy with teaching me, and is more generous in sharing complex compositions that she has acquired over a long span of learning with her own teachers.

On Thursday, 10th July 2014, we started with Raga Lalit- a raga that I have always founded complicated and liable to go off-key easily in. But may be because I had not sung it in the last nearly two decades, nor learnt again ever after taking the exam in my teenage…it just came easily this time. Aunty gave me the option of one khayal, which could be either raen ka sapna or arre mann ram. Since I had learnt the former in my younger years, and its poetic appeal to my mind was not very high, I chose the latter. And both of them are uploaded here. In any case most bandishes for me are now about Bhakti or music is, or perhaps life itself is.

(The first bandish which talks about the night’s dream, perhaps alluding to the illusion of ignorance, which is akin to living in darkness of the night- does not really attract anymore. I find in it an element of lament that the illusion has been shattered, because the dream seen in the night is so confusing that the person who has seen the dream is unsure who to share it with.)

raen ka sapna, kaa se kahoon apna

(who shall I share the dream with, the one I saw in the night?)

When aunty heard me sing the khayal, she was so happy that she said she might teach me an extra class on Saturday. As per promise she called on Saturday morning herself and said we would have an extra class. I just thought what a turnaround life is – once upon a time there was a time when extra-classes looked like such an anathema. And now? A blessing from above. This is what I mean by the guru’s energy coming into your line with your own, when they are now willing to share their knowledge with you freely and by choice, by seeking you out. I have no gratitude to express, for I came close to this situation so many times earlier in my life, but never quite THERE- so now I am. Deepest gratitude to life, my teachers, my torturous road and my family in all parts of the universe.

Neither of us knew it was guru purnima that day, till another of her disciples called up to offer her regard and pranam to Aunty. And then for the first time in my life I had a strange feeling, that on guru purnima, this was the first time perhaps that my guru was ‘shining on me’. Purnima after all means the full moon. In general our learning is steady and progressive.

The next day she taught me a traditional bandish in the same and today an Jaipur gharana bandish. I hope to cover the one that Amir Khan saheb immortalized – for that is the final frontier for me. But even if I do not, for it is not important to sing the exact bandish, but the style is what matters ultimately, and fortunately I have learnt the pathway of that- rest is my honing, if I can.