Tabla like any other Indian traditional art (or I could traditional art period) has always been taught in the traditional guru-shishya parampara. According to Wiki –
Category Archives: Indian classical music
Today an era of Indian classical music came to a close with the demise of the legendary and unequaled Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. I have heard beautiful stories of a humble man who was passionate and completely lost in his music. He was a true sadhak, true shishya and inspiration to countless around the world.
Guruji wrote a beautiful piece on sadhna and if someone exemplified a sadhak, it would be Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.
One of the Bhimsenji’s most loved songs was the bhajan Jo Bhaje Hari Ko Sada and what an appropriate song it is. Guruji explained the meaning of this poem in in one of his writings, which I have copied here. A rendition by Bhimsenji is found at the end. It is a recorded version which cannot be compared to the live recordings of the same by him, but nonetheless gives you an idea of his mastery.
Here is a wonderful poem by Brahmanand that summarizes what a classical musician must do if they truly want to realize God through their music. Note that this can be applied to any field or work, if one desires to reach that level of mastery in it. This poem has been sung beautifully by Bhimsenji, who is a great model of a true sadhak.
Jo bhaje hari so sada
Wohi param pad payega
Chhod duniya ke majhe sub
Bhaith kar ekant mein
Dhyandhar guru ke charanaka
To prabhu mil jayega
The one who remembers/praises God always
Will attain the Ultimate goal
Leave the pleasures of the world
Sit alone (in meditation)
Meditate upon the feet of your guru
And you will realize God
The actual meaning of the poem is:
The one who always and fully engages in ones work (this can be any work)
Attains the highest aim
Leave behind worldly pleasures
Sits alone with full concentration
Aspire to follow the path your guru(‘s feet) have walked (upon)
And you will realize God
Touring is an experience. It’s been great to reconnect with so many friends over the last few weeks. We’ve really been all over the place, but haven’t at the same time in comparison to what it is going to be like next time around (this time its been VA, NC, SC, GA, NY, NJ, PA and CA, while next time its going to be a more comprehensive US tour).
There have been many highs. One of them being the incredible response we are getting show after show. To see the years of practice that the Tabla Ecstasy artists have done being appreciated and to see the impact they are having on their listeners has been wonderful. The number of well-wishers that this group is just growing and growing. One of the responsibilities I have on the road is to get feedback from the audience after the show and many many times I have been so overwhelmed by the true heartfelt wishes and prayers for the success that people are giving for the group. I am reminded time and time again how fortunate I am to be apart of this wonderful family and to have Guruji in my life.
This week is our last week in the US. We have shows in Albany (tonight), Manhattan (April 17th) and Princeton (Sunday). Then we head North to Canada, where I have the privilege of opening for the group during our Toronto show.
Its a common thing to hear that people are interested in Indian music, want to understand it a but better, but don’t have the time to dedicate themselves to a full study of it. Here’s a great program for those interested in learning about Indian music. If you are already practice Indian music, its a way to deepen your understanding, learn from Guruji (Pandit Divyang Vakil), work with the world fusion group Taan and Rushi and jam with musicians from around the world for a week!
or call (201) 467 4431
When the Muslim dynasties came to India, the cultural fabric of the country dramatically changed. Food, clothing, architecture were all influenced and of course, music as well. Many beautiful forms of classical music emerged from the confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures, including the khayal style of singing (prior to this dhrupad was the mainstay of vocal music) and the introduction of tabla.
Alongside these changes, came the commercialization of music. Until that point, classical music was found only in the temples. Music and dance were for the Divine. To hear it, the king went to the temple, the musicians did not come to the court. It is under Muslim rule, that music made its way into the courts, both Hindu and Muslim courts, and the objectives of the musician began to shift.
Classical music has always been described as a yoga or path to the Divine. Through rigourous and tirelessly worship of sound, a musician purified their notes and their souls, seeking to please and ultimately merge with God. In the temples, the human audience was not of importance – they sat behind the musicians; it was for God that the musician played. The power and depth of these artists, the energy they emitted has become that of legend. Their music was their devotion.
When the musician shifted his stage to the court, the King became the focus. If a particularly type of harkat or musical pattern invoked appreciation (which was often in the form of a gold coin), then more were added to the next performance. The King was to be pleased for he was the lifeline for the artist. The goal became materialistic and coinciding with this change, the power of the music diminished.
A story of Akbar and Tansen explains the phenomenon quite aptly.
Tansen was a legendary singer and the court musician of King Akbar. His prowess is still spoken of today and his influence and contribution to Indian classical music far-reaching.
Once the king said to Tansen, “I believe you are the greatest singer in the world.”
“No, my king, you are are mistaken. My music is nothing compared to that of my Guru Swami Haridas.”
“I wish to hear him sing, call him to my court.”
“I am afraid that is not possible. He does not travel outside of his place. If you wish to hear him, you shall have to travel with me on a long journey into the forest and that too, in the guise of a commoner.”
It was an unusual condition, but Akbar was adamant to hear the person who Tansen claimed to be better than him.
The king ordered for a disguises and the two set off. They travelled far into the forest, ultimately coming near remote hut along a river.
“We shall wait here,” Tansen said, asking the king to rest after the long journey.
Soon they hear the most divine notes from the direction of the hut and the king was lost in a state of ecstasy. Slowly he made his way towards the source and found himself in front of saintly man dressed in a simple dhoti outside the hut.
As the last notes faded and silence descended upon them, the potency of the music remained with Akbar.
The singer opened his eyes and greeted the visitors. “Welcome, O King of India. Your wish has been fulfilled.” Swami Haridas recognized the king, despite his peasantry clothing.
The king began to offer much wealth and land to him as recognition for his art, but Swami Haridas would have nothing of it.
Taking leave of his guru, Tansen and Akbar made their way back to the city.
“You sing magnificently, but there really is no comparison to that of your Guru,” Akbar pointed out.
“That is no surprise as there is one major difference between us. I sing for you, my guru sings for God. “
As Rhythm Riders continues to grow, there have been lots of changes happening, including a makeover of our electronic presence. We’ve launched our newly-designed website. Please check it out at www.rrmproductions.com. It’ll give you more information about the wonderful people I work with and the amazing environment of music that I am blessed to be apart of.