Girija: A Journey through Thumri is not about the Benaras gharana, or Girija Devi the reigning queen of Thumri or Purab Anggayaki. It is the portrait of an artiste and a journey in music, as seen by a poet.
Written with a deep sense of gratitude bordering on reverence, this book presents Girija Devi in all her manifestations: singer, guru, householder, Bhakta. Amazingly, she manages to project herself as a very credible, flesh-and-blood person of the here-and-now world: someone who can sing on-the-verge-of-extinction compositions with the same effortless ease as she rustles up a meal and watches an mitabh Bachchan film. Humility and majesty, non-attachment and deep attachment: apparent contradictions fuse together to form the Girija Devi that Yatindra Mishra presents to us.
Girija Devi has a symbiotic relationship with Kashi. She and her music draw sustenance from the hoary tradition of the eternal city. They also sustain the tradition. It would be inconceivable to think of one without thinking of the other. In keeping with the tradition of Kashi, Girija Devi imparts spiritual depth to even the most erotic compositions. In her singing, the world of the spirit goes hand-in-hand with the world of the flesh.
An adventurous venture, this book is the result of an interface between two closely related art forms: music and poetry. The poetic sensibilities of the author provide for rare glimpses into the mind of a great artiste and the influences that shape her art.
Excerpts From Reviews:
'A marvelous labour of love...Unbelievable, but this friendly introduction to the music tradition of Benaras has come from someone who is not formally initiated into a gharana. A pleasant read...A must for all music lovers.' - Gangubai Hangal
'A hymn of deep gratitude. A fresco perceived across the mist and the silence of music. The absence of Gods from our times creates a depressing vacuum. Indian musicians often enter this vacuum and connect us with the Gods...Through the music of Girija Devi, Yatindra allows us a glimpse of those hallowed moments which become landmarks in our barren lives. A lyrical work...After reading this, we will never be able to listen to music as we used to.' - Nirmal Verma
'Stylishly written and trendy...This is an unusual little book, not a conventional account of a singer and her times, but a very personal and affectionate tribute. Mishra's book is the latest addition to the rich tradition of writing on classical music.' - The Book Review.
'Poetry and music are invariably linked in India as in most cultures. So when a poet turns towards music for both inspiration and subject matter, the encounter yields something out of the ordinary. Yatindra Mishra brings to his pen a sense of inquiry and a flair for expression that is quite different from any writing on music that one has seen in recent times. Girija is not a biography in the conventional sense. It is, rather, a work that lives a life of its own that is as engaging and tantalizing as its celebrated subject.' - S. Kalidas
About the Author :
Editor, poet, critic, music aficionado, Yatindra Mishra edits Sahit, the bi-annual journal of literature and the arts. He has traveled to Britain, Mauritius and the US to speak on music and recite his poems. Mishra's series of Ayodhya poems have been translated into German and published in Berlin. He has also published two anthologies of poems, Ayodhya Tatha Anya Kavitayen and Dyorhi par Alap.
He is a recipient of National Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship and Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Puraskar for his work through Vimla Devi Foundation Nyas from Ayodhya.
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