This album is a tribute as well as a celebration of the years of warm and heartening companionship I have felt with all of you. An ancient shloka tells us that during the times of the Swati Nakshatra, associated with the goddess Saraswati, rani drops trapped in oyster shells turn into the most flawless pearls. The seventh fifth birthday of Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj has provided us a golden opportunity to dive down to the bottom of the infinite ocean of his music and open some of these oysters, thus presenting you with this string of pearls. If we have omitted any names in thanking those who have made this possible, please do forgive us.
“Janata mein janardhan, atma so paramatma, jo aap sab mein hai,” is what Pandit Jasraj Says to his audience in a humble salutation to them before commencing all his concerts. With the same reverence and thankfulness, the family of Pandit Jasraj presents to all his fans and admirers a few recordings taken his concerts.
The foundation of the Mewati gharana is its intense spirituality. Over the generations its various exponents have been given to a deeply introspective disposition and Pandit Jasraj is no exception.
When Jasraj was only fifteen years old, another unfortunate incident occurred in the life of the already beleaguered family that had fallen into a terrible adversity following the death of its head-Pandit Motiram. Pandit Maniram, the next head of the family and the sole breadwinner suddenly woke up one day to find that he had lost his voice. All medicines and treatments including mild electric shocks to the throat had proven futile. The despairing family, not knowing what to do turned to maharaja Jaiwantsinghji Waghela, the ruler of the principality of Sanand in Gujarat. A great music lover and a staunch devotee of the Goddess Kali, he was a keen player of the rudra veena and a well-wisher of the family. He also happened to be the disciple of Ustad Munnawar Ali Khan, the adopted son of the founder to the Mewati gharana, Ustad Ghagge Nazir Khan, a relationship that had bound him in Perpetuity to the family of Pandit Motiram. Maharaja Jaiwantsinghji or Bapusahab as they fondly called him, could empathize with the pain and hopelessness that Maniramji was going through. One morning he took him aside and told him, ‘Panditji, today the Goddess Kali will give you back your voice. Have a bath this evening and come down to Her temple. I will first enter it and then bid you two brothers inside. You must sing any composition in praise of the Almighty. It could be Eshwar or it could be Allah.’ At the appointed time the two brother went down to the Darbar.
Hall where Bapusahab was engrossed in his evening prayers. Pandit Maniramji tuned his tanpura and prepared to sing. He began with a prayer in praise of Lord Shiva, ‘Gala bhujanaga bhasma anga’, composed by his late father, Pandit Motiramji. Pandit Jasraj was accompanying him on the tabla at that time and was a witness to this wondrous event that unfolded that evening, as Pandit Maniramji related to him later on. Maniramji told him that as he stated to sing, he could hear a melodious female voice a short distance away and he began to join in along with her. To his amazement he found his voice, that would usually crack up in just ten minutes, growing stronger and more tuneful and that evening, he sang for a good couple of hours. It was never to crack up again. This incident was to change the course of the lives of the two brothers and they established themselves firmly as the State Musicians of Sanand.
The Spiritual Vision
Those were the days when Bapusahab had written several hymns in praise of Goddess Kali and Pandit Maniramji set them to music. Many of them, ‘Mata Kalika’ in Raag Adana, ‘Niranjani Narayani’ in Raag Bhairavi, ‘Jai Jai Shri Durge’ in Darbari Kanada, ‘Shri Kameshwari’ in Bilaskhani Todi, ‘Lasat sira Chandra’ in Khambavati, were exquisite creations of those times. But the fact that Pandit Jasraj had found a spiritual guru was perhaps the biggest outcome of those days in Sanand and thus began his everlasting quest to commune with the Divine. Visions would occur to him, one of which haunts him even today. He saw a huge Durbar Hall of a king. In the place of noblemen and courtiers, he saw sages and holy men all engaged in some worship or the other. A few were reading Holy Scriptures while others were meditating. Seated on a magnificent throne in the centre was a naked bejeweled baby Krishna who looked straight at him and said, ‘let them worship me in their own manner. I want you to please me through your music.’ From then on and even today, nothing gives him greater satisfaction than singing in temples in the presence of the Almighty.
With J Krishnamurthy
Another incident that involves the great philosopher J Krishnamurthy remains an unforgettable memory for him. Pandit Jasraj had visited the Krishnamurthy foundation school at Rishi Valley for a concert. He had been told that Krishnamurthy was not in the habit of listening to musical recitals for too long and that he should not take it amiss if he were to suddenly get up and wander off in the middle of the concert. Pandit began his recital. He sang Multani for 45 minutes and then waited for a signal from Krishnamurthy. To his surprise the latter signalled to him to continue. During the interval Krishnamurthy took his permission and went off for his walk. Panditji recommenced his music. At one point when his eyes opened to his great surprise he saw Krishnamurthy in a corner leaning against a pillar enjoying his singing with his eyes closed. Soon something in Sanskrit. That evening with a heart filled with gratitude and amazement Pandit sang Mata Kalika and jai Shri Durga before k Krishnamurthy who sat till the very end of his concert. This album seeks to recapture these intensely spiritual experiences in his life.
Renditions in this Album
Bharon so dhrudha in a charanana keron this song set in Raag Bihag is a very important hymn among the Pushtimargi Vaishnava sect. The first time when Pandit Jasraj presented it before the renowned Vaishnava acharya Baba Shyam Manohar Goswani, the latter was moved to tears at the renditions.
Vibhushitangnaga Riputtamangaa a hymn forms the last stanza of the Ganga lahari and epic poem in the praise of the river Ganga written by Panditraj Jagannath a medieval saint poet. It was composed by Pandit Jasraj as he was cruising down the Ganga from the ghats of Varanasi.
Sumitrana Kara le mere manaa is a hymn written by Guru Nanak Dev. The next composition Mata Kalika as we know was written by his spiritual guru Maharaja Jaiwantsinghji Waghela and set to tune by Pandit Maniramji Sundera Sujaana Kripa Nidhaana forms the last hymn of Ram Charita Manas the epic Poem of Goswami Tulsidad in praise of Lord Ram.
1. Raag Shankara
Vibhushitanang Riputtamnaga-Madhyalaya Teentaal
From Panditraaj Jagannath’s Gangalahri
Composition: Pandit Jasraj
2. Raag Adana
Mata Kalika – Madhya Laya Teentaal
Written by Maharaja Jaiwantsinghji Waghela
Composed by Mahamahopadhyay Pandit Maniramji
3. Raag Bihag
Bharoso Dridha In Charanan Kero…-Addha Taal
Written by Santkavi Surdaas
4. Raag Bhairavi
Sumiran Kar Le Mere Mana…-Madhya Laya Kehrava
Written by Guru Nanak Dev
Composed by Pandit Jasraj
5. Raag Bhairavi
Sunder Sujaan Kripanidhan…-Madhya Laya Keherva
From Mahakavi Tulsidas’s Ram Charit Manas
Composed by Pandit Jasraj