माई री श्याम श्याम श्याम रटत श्यामा श्याम भई
अपनी सखिन सों पूछत हैं श्यामा कहाँ गयी
ब्रज बीथन में ढूँढत डोलत बोलत राधे राधे
रही निहार सोच कर सखी सकल मौन साधे
By chanting ‘Shyam Shyam Shyam’ Shyama (Radha) became Shyam
So our friends ask ‘Where did Shyama go?’
Searching everywhere in Braj & Beethan, they cried out ‘Radhe Radhe’
Thinking that there was a mist, they became silent.
We, who take so much pride in our individuality, what do we know of the pleasure of drowning ourselves in the Universal? The greatest of our Indian Saints have sung of this, have they not? And yet we hold on to our separateness, our egos, our individuality. In this world of no absolutes, why do we think that ‘I’ is absolute?
I recently saw a Ted talk recommended to me by one of my readers (Thank you Ravi). The speaker is Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard trained neuroscientist. She talks of her experience during a stroke in her left brain. As a scientist, she observed herself and the world around even as her brain failed. When the left brain stopped functioning, she says that her consciousness shifted into the present moment and she experienced herself ‘at one with the universe’. In a heartfelt and touching speech she says ‘I looked down at my arm and I realised that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can’t define where I begin and where I end’. Is this what the mystics talk about? Is this how Radha, chanting the name of Krishna, found herself to be Shyam? In my last post, I asked myself if the brain was what we called Maya, the illusion which stopped us from seeing the universality of the world. Today I refine my question to myself, is it the left-hemisphere which is the culprit?
It is not often that I pick up Hindustani Classical Music for my posts; though I love it, my understanding of it is abysmal. Yet today it can be no song but this. In this Jasrangi Jugalbandi, Ashwini Bhide Deshpande and Sanjeev Abhyankar weave a magic carpet with Raga Lalit (shuddha dhaivata) as the warp and Raga Puria Dhanashree as the weft. The concept of Moorchana (Hindustani) or Graha Bhedam (Carnatic) is not new; it is simply a tonic shift to change the raga. Pandit Jasraj used this concept to enable men and women to sing duets without losing their own tonal quality. In essence, they sing notes of the same frequencies, but because of the shift they sing different ragas. Typically the shadjam in the female voice is the madhyamam in the male voice. And we the listeners hear a note which weaves from being one in the first raga and something else in the second raga. Is this what Radha felt, when she went from being Shyama to Shyam and then back to Shyama?
This a wonderful 58 minutes of music; the beauty of the ragas is coursing through my veins as I write this post. If you want to listen only to the brisk (dhrut) portion with the bandish I have quoted at the start of this post, start at 42:48.
Footnote (Raga) :
Instead of writing on what I know little about, I am directing you to a good site.
I made an attempt at analysing the graha bhedam but I am probably very wrong. Still, this is what I think it looks like :
I am confused as to why the gandhara in Lalit is not matched by a note, which would work only if Puria Dhanashree has a komal nishad which it doesn’t. I am afraid I don’t have enough musical knowledge to do this right.