Rejoicing in the song of the ghats
The recital by Rajan and Sajan Mishra at the Spirit of Banaras festival provided some scintillating moments.
PHOTO: RAMINDERPAL SINGH
BY THE SACRED RIVER Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra in concert.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations organised a cultural festival, The Spirit of Banaras the other day in the Capital. It was held to celebrate the 117th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad this past week.
The real spirit of Banaras echoed in the kajaris and chaitis of Ustad Bismillah Khan's shehnai and the vocal recital by Pandit Rajan and Pandit Sajan Mishra, the most revered representatives of the Banaras gharana.
Ustad Bismillah Khan shared his reminiscences of the good old days in Banaras when he played the morning ragas to wake up the Lord Vishwanath early in the mornings and the olden time charm of the mehfils of Bari Moti Bai to Siddheshwari Devi on the big boats, the bajaras, sailing on the banks of the Ganga.
Many a times he is requested to come go to foreign countries to play and teach this rare instrument but he says, "I told them, bring my Ganga and the Banarasi rang there, then only I can think of visiting your country."
The popular duo of Rajan and Sajan Mishra started the concert with raga Shankara as an invocation to Lord Shiva, appropriately since Banaras, also known as Kashi, is the abode of Kashi Vishwanath.
The bara khayal "Aaj Mahadev been bajai" set to vilambit Ek tala was a very old and rare composition that depicted Lord Shiva playing the veena instead of his favourite damaroo. The pentatonic raga was elaborated to highlight the meaning of the composition in great detail. At times instead of coming back to the pivotal Nishad to mark the sam, they would slide back to Gandhar straight away from the tar Shadja, which gave a beautiful sense of wonder, but the Sa Ga Dha Pa sequence had a somewhat western flavour to.
The following chhota khayal was also a unique composition set to the 10-beat cycle of Jhap tala that went "Khwaja Moinuddin Peer Ajmer aaye", where the bandish would sound as if it were set to fast tisra gati before it wound off in slow motion of the normal Jhap tala to catch the sam.
They would weave enchanting webs around each swara as they went ahead, gradually taking each of them as the nyasa. The varied emphatic taans proved that raga Shankara was a veer rasa pradhan raga.
They went on to sing two compositions in the raga Hamsadhwani next.
The first one was set to drut Ek tala that went "Shri Ganapati Gajaanana" and the second one "Jai jai jai Maatangi Mata" was set to Teen tala.
Mostly Rajan took the lead during the whole concert, but when Sajan got the opportunity in raga Hamsadhwani, he treated the audience to a variety of taiyaar taans.
Ritesh and Rajnish, the younger duo and disciples of Rajan-Sajan Mishra, also repeated a couple of difficult taans sung by Rajan earlier.
The inspired concert was enhanced by the sensitive support of harmonium by Mahmood Dhaulpuri and the brilliant tabla of young Akram Khan.
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