Sunday, September 14, 2014

RAAG BHAIRAVI: REALM OF DEATH

............THAT LIES BEYOND THE VAITARNI
 

Each raga aspires to become Bhairavi, but none can reach that point when on the mortal plains...CvB

We plan to write something on Bhimpalasi and Bhairavi…the chelli and the akka of Hindustani…this entry in the blog continuum is but a trailer intended to whet the appetite of the reader hopefully, and the writer…we shall have occasion to revisit the topic…’not wholly and in full measure, but very substantially’, he, he, he..

Bhimpalasi-…the plaintive afternoon raga which became inseparable from Kumarji’s psyche during his mortal phase at Dewas…the threadbare shade under the blazing palash  defying bravely the burning afternoon Malwa sun… and Bhairavi…the akka of the musical Universe…
Bhimpalasi resting in the Palash shade on a hot summer afternoon in Dewas. Kumarji told son Mukul that he'd never be proficient in Bhimpalasi, unless he spent a lifetime of contemplation under that shade...

Bhairavi first today: Panditji, that is BSJ has gone on record stating that though Bhairavi is the richest, it is basically meant for bhajan or thumri  or the like…He says nobody attempts to launch into a full-scale exposition or a khayal  in Bhairavi…why this cold-shoulder I sayyy...?

For the record, here is a Bhairavi in detail, blessed by none other than Menuhin-from none other than our idol Ustad AHJK…it's a bit abridged on the fore, but in a teen-tal, not dadra or kehrwa


                                                                                                                                          Anyway… when the writer’s ear was ripening as a toddler, Dad prophesied that first he’d learn to appreciate Bhairavi, being a sampoorna raga, then Darbari, then Shivranjani, then Bhimpalasi etc etc…In fact he had a thumb rule for novices to Classical trying to recognise the raag of a song: if it just insanely and unbearably beautiful it has to be Bhairavi..tat twam asi...aso…

By and by one unlearnt Dad and came around to Ashok Razdan's view that all music is great.... especially Puriya Dhanashri, Kirwani, and Madhuwanti....but Dad stuck to his position...


But the above two observations fly in the face of the first…we find it inexplicable if the Richest of the ragas is left to sit as a mendicant outside the edifices of Malkauns or Darabari…did not  Panditji sing jo bhaje hari ko sada always and always always sportingly as a consolation cherry to top the cake…?

(on bhajani theka)
The explanation IK offers is simply that láffaire Bhairavi has to be taken in the spirit of the Hindu reincarnation cycle. The mendicant Bhairavi sitting outside the life temple marking its fringes is but THE empress of Death-realm…tip-of-the iceberg of Death, which in essence is Life…what sounds like a charming thumri -the said cherry on the cake- in this world obtains its rightful place...is the staple diet of, the next world...

Vindication of this view (he, he, he...) comes from the fact that when the Golden Record containing sounds from the Earth was compiled by NASA in 1977, for being placed on the Voyager's inter-stellar journey to eternity, it was Raga Bhairavi sung by Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar that rubbed shoulders with creations of Beethoven and Mozart and Louis Armstrong ..

There are no khayals in Bhairavi in the mortal world, for Bhairavi belongs in the Other World- be it jannat or dozaqw…Ustad AHJK’s sitar recital was but a trailer conceived by an ethereal being closer to Allahtala than us. Whoever does that is a step closer to the brahman  than others. Jabrail, tells us that on judgement day, one has to relive the holy and the despicable moments of one's life and here at 1.00 we find shades of Malkauns and at Khamaj...at....When we land in the Other World one day, we shall be welcomed by the strains of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s Bhairavi…Entertained by Panditji’s Vaikunthicha Raya...hopefully he shall enthrall the writer and his dad with a night long khayal in Bhairavi...



Fulfilled by a 3-hour merukhand in Bhairavi by our compatriot Ustad Amir Khan of Indore

And put to sleep by one of the representatives of that kaleidoscopic phenomenon jo bhaje hari ko sada

(on teen-taal)
Simply put: we all feel Bhairavi is the Mount Everest of Indian Classical, but it is in fact the baton that Death will hand over to the brand new Other Life…Bhairavi is the Cuckoo call of the Universe we all shall see one day…when we have crossed the mythical river Vaitarni that runs between the two territories, Life and Death....and that is why Bhairavi is played at the end of a maifil- for that is where it belongs in the living world- and it demonstrates the shape of things to come...and hence it is a truncated version only...!


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