The Breath of Life

‘Music is the breath of my life. I breathe it in and I breathe it out. The breathing in process happens on a sub-conscious level. My ears are permanently alert to any good music. I absorb it unconsciously and it manifests as a result of rumination, getting metamorphosed into an unrecognisable element of my singing. It is only later that I try to find the source of a particular nuance. As long as this breathing process goes on I hope and pray that I shall continue to sing… in total surrender to His Will…seeking His audience as my ultimate goal.’ – Pandit Jasraj

The music of this man has left the deepest impression on me of all the Indian music I’ve listened to. His powerful bhajans (‘om namo bhagavate’ etc), captured me first, at the time when I was just getting into Hindustani classical music. When I learned to sit with his longer presentations of ragas and relax into his mesmerizing sound (I like his Raga Bihag the best), I was even more deeply moved. Both his style and level of mastery are unique.

Another quote from his web site:

“A three-year-old Jasraj, with just the seven notes as his inheritance from his departed father, stepped out into the cold world of harsh realities. Today, those seven notes make up his rainbow… his bridge to a mystical realm of sound… that lies beyond the applause, the awards, the titles, the trophies, the honours…putting him in touch with the music of the infinite.

So if you hear in his voice, the whisper of the unknown… and if you experience in his singing the stillness of unheard sound… you are filled with a sense of gratitude, that he is here singing, and you too are here listening…a witness to a very rich Indian musical tradition… so vibrantly alive, despite the trials of time and the inexplicable twists and turns of fate.”

I’ll leave you with the a few videos of Pandit Jasraj live.

1. This is a bhajan to the famous Indian Saint and Bhakta named Meera.

2. Here is Pandit Jasraj still singing into his 80s in his robust yet elegant style with a 3 octave range. He was born into a musical family and started as tabla player.  I think it’s his mastery of the rhythm that is part of what grabs me. For example,

3. Finally, for the folks in a rainy Mysore today, a very atmospheric rendition of Raga Malhar, a raga associated with the monsoon. Legend has it that the yogi can bring torrential downpour with this raga.

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