Delayed due to bad traffic and cursing myself that I have missed the opening. (I have OCD like tendency if I am late. So am very very rarely late, to work, to airport, to railway stations and it upsets me when I am).
As I apologised and got to my seat, feeling more than lucky. The show has not started, making an adjustment in a vast network of events, despite being unreasonably late, destined that I hear this song at this point of Time….
Allah hoo…allah hoo…allah hoo…
Yeh Zameen Jab Na Thi Yeh Jahaan Jab Na Thaa
When this earth and world did not exist
Chaand Suraj Na Thay Aasman Jab Na Tha
When there was no moon, sun or sky
Raaz-E-Haq Bhi Kisi Per Ayaan Jab Na Tha
When the secret of the truth was still unknown
Tab Na Tha Kuch Yahaan Tha Magar Tu Hee Tu
When there was nothing, there was you
I do not claim to know a great deal of depth about music, any music. I do not know about gharana, raga, and difference of this from that. But I have grown up with music and listening to music is an integral part of my day. What I love is the lyrics, how words sewn together can pull that chord and connect to the inside of me.
And I totally love live performances, particularly those with minimum use of instruments, where you hear the voice that is singing and the rest bind themselves together to the voice like a honeycomb, building music, Peace by piece. And I absolutely admire the people who can get up on the stage and sing themselves away.
I read up some more on the singers and Sufism trying to gather more that helps in appreciating the music. The singers, Nizami Bandhu of the Sikandra Gharana led by Ustad Chand Nizami with Shadab Faridi Nizami and Sohrab Faridi Nizami, It was good to see the younger generation, the sons of Chand Nizami also taking interest in music and bringing in more layers by infusing classical music. The 650 members of the Nizami Bandhu family trace their lineage to the children who were trained by the legendry Amir Khusro nearly seven centuries ago. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Khusrow, https://allpoetry.com/Amir-Khusro)
Unity with god, the message of Sufism. Medieval mysticism, whether in the form of Bhakti or Sufi ideology, had a tremendous impact on Indian socio-religious thoughts. Like the Bhakti saints, the Sufi masters too explained profound concepts in a simple and lucid style, which was vastly different from the obtuse teachings of professional mullahs who were educated in religious seminaries. This process of transmitting spiritual truth was simple and appealing, but it often led to slightly disturbed listeners, since it usually led to an assessment of the self. (A comprehensive History of Medieval India/ Salma Ahmed Farooqui)
The singers kept the audience engrossed as they sang one after the other, Aaj rung hai, Chaap tilak, Mere raske qamar… singing popular qawwalis from bollywood, sharing jokes and anecdotes all through the programme. There were determined appeal of nationality, being Indian, celebration of holi, a festival which was celebrated this very week, and the assertion of the beauty of diversity in India. I thought of it long and hard, would this have been necessary in other Times?
The essence of sufiyana kalaam is oneness, while qawwali is about ruhaniyat (appeal to the soul). The belief that god resides in our hearts, neither in structures nor in rituals.
Sitting there, listening to this beautiful singing, with the depth of meaning, everyone clapping, moving to the mesmerizing rhythm of the songs, when everything around us is divided in politics, when love is being wrenched out of one’s soul and forced into a name and colour, I wondered, where do we place this solidarity? Does this turn into hatred as soon as we step out of this hypnotising trance?
Or do we/ can we keep this at the Centre of our Being?
पुरे कायनात की केंद्र.
At the Centre of the Universe.
I also felt the strength in Art, the real feeling of existence to appreciate all that is worth. The more politics divides us, the more we must connect on the deeper level of inclusiveness and Art is a platform that connects. I could only wish that there is a coordinated effort by all that is Art to regularly, persuasively, strategically expose humanity to kindness, to spirituality and to the higher purpose of life.
The warring whatsapp groups, circulating all the information that fuels divisiveness, hatred, falsehood, let music and all other forms of expressions, performing arts, show us the strengths in being together.
We live in a Time when so many issues that could have stayed inside our homes, within ourselves, are out on the roads in a battle. No wonder people are pitted against one another. We are forced to prove our nationality, our patriotism, our caste and our religion on a scale that sits on the foundation of enmity. Secular, Liberal are curse words. There is no appreciation of the diversity, the collective living. People come together to destroy, plunder and kill, and hate and declare war on every pretence.
When I think about what has made me feel close to divinity in this life, it has always been the acts of empathy and compassion, the acts of rising against discrimination, against hatred, against exploitation. Sure we have rituals that we have grown up with which is believed to please the divine. But give me a blood donation drive any day. Or a show of strength to end human scavenging, violence against women, end bonded labour, end torture and challenge privileges on the basis of caste, class and gender.
I would like to believe this is divine.
Tha Bhi Tu! Hai Bhi Tu! Hoga Bhi Tu Hee Tu!
You were, you are, and will be only you
The troop was going to sing at Poonch the next day.
May the divinity in Music rise above all else.
Kun Fayakun…Be, and it is…
(Kun Fayakun comes from arabic words “Kun(كن)” which means “to be” or “to exist” and “fayakun (فيكون)” which means “it is” .So its literal meaning is “Be, and it is”. (Roughly translates to Ho jana/ हो जाना in hindi).
A wonderful show by the India Foundation for the Arts.
One thought on “Music for the Soul”
So well said Anuradha! Loved it so! Now I know why Kun faya kun is my all time favourite. Indeed it’s the music of the soul. Keep writing , keep singing.