Hari Ke Charana Kamala

Krishna BabyA very happy Janmashtami to all of you! I hope that you joyfully celebrated the occasion with your families. Are you replete after having many lovely treats as  ‘prasadam’? Our household Gopala is on a diet and gets only fruit even on his birthday!

Other than adding an extra something to my daily prayers or going to the temple, I am not in the habit of celebrating our various festivals. I guess it all started with being married outside my community; my husband has little interest in rituals. He also did not appreciate my kind of festival ‘feasts’ or sweets. In my need to ‘fit in’ at the start of our life together, I gave up most of what were my own cultural ways. But I didn’t pick up any of his cultural festivities either which is my own loss. We moved overseas within a year of being wed so familial influences were lost as well. The thing is, festivals are social occasions rather than religious ones, don’t you think? One needs a community to celebrate them well, or at least a partner of the same mind. My children have never known the pleasure of kneeling on the floor with their mother, painstakingly drawing ‘footprints’ of Gopala to lead from the front door to the Puja room. I remember doing that with my mother and the picture in my mind is of the house we lived in more than 50 years ago. So it is with that memory and my mother’s kind face smiling at me that I mark the festival today.

As for a musical offering, I have wandered away from my normal Carnatic Music posts to this beautiful piece of Hindustani music. In this song, the poet urges us to meditate upon the feet of the Lord to help us navigate this ocean of existence. ‘Those who meditate upon the Lord find reconciliation‘ says he. Are we not all in need of reconciliation? A composition in Shree by Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, it was made famous by the incomparable D.V.Paluskar. (Note to Carnatic Music fans:  Shree Raga is quite different in the Hindustani system). In this version from a 78 RPM recording, Paluskar demonstrates ably why he lives long in the memory of his listeners. I find him simply incredible!

हरि के चरण कमल निसदिन सुमर रे
भाव धरकर (alt : धर सुधा) भीतर भव जलधी तर रे
जोई जोई धरत ध्यान पावत समाधान
‘हररंग’ कहे ज्ञान अबहु चित धर रे

hari kE charaNa kamala nisadina sumara
bhAva dharakara  (alt: dhara sudhA) bhItara bhava jaladhi tara rE
jO’I jO’I dharata dhyAna pAvata samAdhana
hararang kahE gyAna, abahu chita dhara rE

Remember (sumara) the lotus-feet (charaNa-kamala) of (kE) Hari everyday (nisadina). Holding (dharakara)  this emotion (bhAva) within (bhItara) and cross/swim (tara) the ocean (jaladhi) of existence (bhava) . Those (jO’I jO’I) who hold (dharata) in thought/meditation (dhyAnA) find/get (pAvata) reconciliation (samAdhAna). ‘Hararang’ (I think this may be the poet’s pseudonym) says (kahe) hold this wisdom (gyAna) in your mind (chita) from now (abahu).

I was reminded of this beautiful composition when I heard it ‘live’ in a webcast earlier this year. I had made note of it then, meaning to share it with you all. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande is a musician I have admired for a long time and I hope you enjoy her performance as much as I do.

Listen from 15:00 to about 1:02:00.

The Dhrut section reminds us that without a Guru, it is difficult to find a transcendental pathway.

गुरु बिन कौन बतावे बाट
भव सागर का लम्बा घाट
गुरु बिन ज्ञान नाही दूजा
ज्ञान बिना नहीं दीपक दूजा
दीप बिना कैसे देखूँ बाट

guru bin kaun batAvE bAT
bhava sAgar kA lambA ghAT
guru bin gyAn nAhI dUjA
gyAn binA nahIn dIpak dUjA
dIpa binA kaisE dekhU.n bAT

Who except a guru (guru bin) can teach (batAvE) the transcendental way (bAT)? Of the long (lambA) wharf (ghAT) of this ocean (sAgar) of existence (bhava) ? There is no other (nahin dUjA) knowledge (gyAn) without a (bin) Guru, and no other (nahIn dUjA) lamp (dIpak) without (bin) knowledge (gyAn). Without (binA) a lamp (dIpa), how (kaisE) will I see (dEkhU.n) the transcendental way (bAT)?

6 Comments

Filed under Hindustani Classical Music, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Hari Ke Charana Kamala

  1. indigoite

    Happy Janmashtami Suja. So what if it isn’t celebrated “traditionally”. You track, remember and honour every festival. You embody the spirit of the festival better than most who celebrate the form.

    Inevitably, when seeing a post about which I am not familiar at all, my interest was piqued to read more about it. Shree Raga is apparently an early evening, after sundown raga and I waited till the appropriate time to listen to Paluskar !! Not sure if that helped, but I found it a very nice and lilting raga and an enjoyable lovely rendition.

    I understand the raga is very devotional in nature and Wikipedia says its the first raga to feature in the Guru Granth Sahib. Presumably the raga is close to Sikhs too.

    Couldn’t help wonder what the Carnatic equivalent is, but couldn’t figure head or tail. Let that be. I shall revel in Hari ke Charan Kamala one more time !

    • Hi Ramesh, I guess I have a certain amount of guilt for not following in the footsteps of my ancestors, in doing what they did to celebrate festivals. The guilt is bigger than that of course, the guilt of marrying outside my community is still strong even after 36 years have passed. The roots go deep and uprooting them has left a wound.

      I did read about Shree being an evening raga. I am a bit unsure how the recommended times affect our reaction; maybe I should do a small experiment, listening at different times and see if my reaction to the music is different. Of course there are so many other factors one cannot control so the experiment would be moot in any case. There is some good technical information on Shree at this site. Do read the appendix as well. https://www.parrikar.org/hindustani/shree/

      Cheers. Suja

  2. As always, I enjoyed your opening comments with their characteristic lucidity, fluidity and felicity. Why don’t you one day write a vivid and racy novel, instead of just the bhakti-mein-shakti stuff? Since the link was to the peerless DVP, I soaked in his voice with pleasure for a couple of minutes.

    Do you know that DVP was my mama’s music teacher? The same mama whose grand-daughter Avanti Patel is aspiring to become the Indian Idol.

    • Thank you Srinivas! Its good of you to come and read even though you aren’t into the same kind of music as I am 🙂 Do I really come across as the bhakti-mein-shakti type? I had hoped for jeevan-me-sangeet or something like that! Kya karein, hamein to bhakti sangeet hi pasand hai! That said, I am actually thinking of writing a novel one day. I even have a good idea, a story line..but I need to garner some skills. Maybe I’ll join a creative writing class when we move back to Aus.

      Really? Your mama learnt music from DVP? How amazing! Now wonder young Avanti has such talent! She is my fav amoungst the girls but knowing my penchant for classical music, you can guess who I like amongst the boys no doubt 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  3. Sundar Puttanna

    Hi Suja,
    Many many thanks for your wonderful writings on Hari ke charan kamal..in raag Shree. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this piece rendered by maestro late DVP. I must have felt elated as I heard it in the evening. I agree the timings are as important as our moods. Great! Please share the new experiences like this as often as possible. Like you, I too don’t celebrate our festivals in the traditional ways,but enjoy listening devotional music,both Carnatic and Hindustani. Your articles on music certainly inspire me and do not miss to read and listen to the linked songs and music.
    Regards,
    Sundar.

    • Hi Sundar, DVP is just amazing, isn’t he! Festivals are important socially, a way to come together with one’s own community. I wonder sometimes if I have not missed out on this communal solidarity but then that’s life, we gain in some things and we lose in others. Thanks for your kind comment, I will try and write as often as I can.
      Cheers. Suja

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