Those who have been following my blog know of the sad demise of my laptop after an accident with a cup of tea last month. Well, I finally received my fancy little convertible laptop/tablet last week. Jumping into the task of setting it up with geeky delight, I was soon enough swiping my screen this way and that, downloading and discarding apps, and playing with my start screen until I had it just right. A few frustrations, evidently, but I am ready and back in business!
What should my first post on my new laptop be? Such a dilemma! Should I pick one of my favourite ragas? Isn’t it the raga which sets the mood? Or should I pick one of my favourite musicians? Perhaps I should look for some meaningful lyrics, something regarding a good start maybe? Should it be for Ganesh, the God of beginnings? Or maybe a song for my ishta devatas, the Gods on whom I lean the most?
Frustrated with the convoluted thinking of my left brain, I looked enquiringly at my right brain. She smirked knowingly and said ‘Just pick what you love’. She has this supercilious air common among those who believe that being touchy-feely is somehow superior to logical reasoning! Frowning ferociously at both the ladies, I determinedly turned away from their squabbles.
This brings to mind a conversation I had with with my friend, a psychologist, who mentioned in passing ‘the wise mind’. Looking it up, I found ideas which I always believed in but never articulated. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy contends that there are three basic states of mind. When we operate with the reasonable mind, we have a rational and logical but somewhat detached world-view. When we operate with the emotion mind, we are driven by our perceptions and emotions, distorting factual information but listening instead to what our emotions dictate. The wise mind is the middle-way where our thinking is intuitive, an integration of ‘direct experience, immediate cognition, and the grasping of the meaning, significance, or truth of an event without relying on intellectual analysis’.
What has all this to do with music? Just my belief that when we listen to music, we must do so with the wise mind. One one side we must analyse and appreciate the skill of the composition, the expertise of the rendition, the meaning of the lyrics, the knowledge of the raga and tala but at the same time we must be open to the emotions the music evoke, to feel, to experience and then to gather all that music and make it a part of our souls.
And so finally to my music selection for the day. I have known this piece of music for nearly 30 years as it is a tukkada item in one of my favourite CDs ‘South Meets North’ about which I wrote early last year. I love it now as much as I loved it when I heard it the first time. The Raga Pahadi speaks to me of snow-capped mountains and rushing springs, of wide spaces and cool air, of peace and other-worldliness, of Lord Shiva in deep meditation on Kailasa. I had only ever heard the instrumental version of this song and thus far my response to it had been on a purely emotional level. I loved it so much but never thought of looking for a vocal version. Imagine my delight last month when I was enjoying my daily walk, the ice-cold Lac Léman gleaming under the low winter sun, the snow-capped Alps rising majestically in front of me when the new album I had loaded on my iPod presented me with a vocal rendition of the same song! Suddenly I heard the words and it opened a whole new world of appreciation to this piece of music. And so today to share my delight with you I present this wonderful Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman in the Raga Pahadi. The simple sahityam in Sanskrit says
मङ्गल कर महादेव शंकर शम्भो भवभय हारा
गङ्गाधरा गौरी पते तव पङ्कज पादौ भजामि
mangaLakara mahAdEva shankara shambhO bhavabhayahArA
gangAdharA gaurIpatE tava pankaja pAdau bhajAmi
He who causes welfare, the Great God Shankara, the beneficent Lord who removes all fear, He who holds Ganga, the consort of Gauri, I worship your lotus feet.
Listen first to Lalgudi Jayaraman’s rendition of his own composition from the album South Meets North.
Now listen to the Hyderabad Brothers vocal rendition from their album Annapoorne.
I hope you have enjoyed the music as much as I have!
Footnote (Raaga) :
The scales of Pahadi are as follows :
Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R2 G3 P D2 P D2 S’
Avarohanam (Descending) : N3 D2 P G3 M1 G3 R2 S N3 D2 P D2 S
Pahadi is considered a janya raga, derived from Dhira Shankharabharanam (see below) which is 29th on the Melakarta Scale.
It is a Hindustani Raga, arising from the folk tunes of Kashmir. ‘Peace, power, pathos, poignancy’ says Haresh Bakshi about the moods of this raga in his blog. This raga will be familiar to listeners of Hindi film music as it is a favourite among composers. ‘ Chaudvin Ka Chand’ in the film of the same name, ‘ In hawaon mein, in fizaon mein’ in Gumrah, both by Mohammad Rafi and ‘ Sawan Ka Mahina’ by Mukesh & Lata Mangeshkar are all well-known and well-loved songs based on Pahadi. But what I like best are the many dhun’s that Hariprasad Chausaria has performed in Pahadi; somehow the bansuri brings out the best moods of this raga. You can listen to a nice example here.
Note : The 12 notes in the octave are named as below. Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Carnatic Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the gamakas(ornamentations) are a very important part of a raga.