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Raag Malkauns

April 2018 celebrates the Centenary of Swami Vijnananand (P.R. Bhide) — In September 2010, an unusual video was posted on YouTube, by Mr. Bharat Upadhyay of Lata Mangeshkar singing Raag Malkauns. During the past seven odd years, 250K viewers have seen it and commented. I have had in my possession, for many years, a copy of this film that was more or less the same except for very last frame that had been severed in the above mentioned YouTube post. Hence began my search for the origin of this unusual film. Sometime around 2003, a friend sent me a DVD, with two folders. Both had Lata Mangeshkar singing Raag Malkauns for ten minutes. One was a digital version from audio tape, and the other was from a video tape, with … [Read more...]

Voices in Time and Space

The Lost Recordings of Kesarbai Kerkar — Kesarbai Kerkar passed away on 16 September 1977 at the age of 85. She never knew that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched on the 5th day of same month, carried a gold-coated copper phonograph record with samples of her voice, as recorded in April 1953: ‘Bhairavi Hori – Jaat Kahan Ho’. It was the only Indian music the Voyager contained. By the time Kesarbai died, she had long forgotten about her own disc recordings and no longer listened to them. Her dispute with HMV—for releasing her work without approval—had culminated in letters to Gramophone Company and radio stations requesting they not sell or play the records. Thus, the discs were not known to many, even in India. It is then … [Read more...]

Remembering Gangubai Hangal, 1913-2009

Four years ago, on Tuesday July 21, 2009, Dr. (Smt.) Gangubai Hangal passed away at the ripe age of 96 years. Her fans and music lovers were shocked, since they thought that she would complete the century of her life. She was quite energetic in her advancing age and had recently visited Mahalaxmi Temple at Kolhapur. After the Darshan of the Mahalaxmi Devi, she had rendered her musical service to the deity by singing in the Sabhamandap for a short while. She was the ‘Grand Mother’, not only to her family but to the entire state of Karnataka. A State mourning was declared, educational institutes were closed for two days and last rites were performed with state honor. In recent times, she was probably the only artist to receive such … [Read more...]

Remembering Pandit Ravi Shankar 1920-2012

“When a pigeon flies, his wings beat in taal (Rhythmic cycle). You can count the matras if you don’t believe me. And such a sweet voice! God has invested such a treasure of music in each of his creations that man can take armfuls away but never exhaust it. Goddess Saraswati has given me a little too. But not as much as I would have liked. Just when I began to draw something from the ocean of music, my time was up. This is the trouble, when the fruit of a man’s lifelong labor ripens. Who can understand God’s ways? But one thing I have understood a little. There is a fruit, the custard apple. I like it very much. I eat it and throw the seeds outside the window. And one day I look and there’s another tree of the same fruit. With new fruits on … [Read more...]

Lyricist Gandhiji – Revisited

September 20, 2012. ‘Ganesh’ festival holiday. – My wife and I set out for a short visit to Ahmadabad. As this was our first time, visits to Akshardham temple and Sabarmati ashram were the top priorities. We thought Akshardham temple a very nice place but it was quite hot outside as we set out towards Sabarmati. Our driver too was quite restless due to this unusual heat. As we approached the town, suddenly the atmosphere changed with clouds and a real transfer scene. The sky above was full with storming black clouds getting ready to pour anytime. Just before this visit, I had read a nice book ‘Meera and Mahatma’ by Sudheer Kakkar. It had many pages describing this sacred place. It had been an ideal laboratory for preparing … [Read more...]

Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Spiritual Message’ Turns 80

The Nanga Fakir's Speech, 1931 –  In 1888, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) arrived in England to study law, hardly anyone came to receive him at the port. He dressed like an average Englishman and went about his business in obscurity. In 1931 this same man arrived again in England to attend the Second Round Table Conference to broker peace between the British government and the Indian Independence Movement. This time huge crowds of people poured in the streets of London to have a glimpse of him, for he was dressed in a loincloth, like the poorest of Indians whom he came to represent. Hundreds would gather to listen to this “Nanga Fakir” (as Mr. Winston Churchill used to call him). The crowds were touched and influenced by the … [Read more...]