Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gopaal by Pt. Rattan Mohan Sharma - Rare compositions of Soordas

Pt. Rattan Mohan Sharma, nephew and disciple of Pt. Jasraj needs no introduction. His repertoire of devotionals are prolific . Starting from his hugely successful album ‘Gayatri’ released by Times Music, he has sung every genre of devotional music ranging from haveli sangeet to chantings. Like his illustrious guru Pt. Jasraj who has to his credit a couple of temple music of ‘Astachhap Poets’, Pt. Rattan Mohan Sharma has shown his forte in haveli sangeet in his 4-CD set of ‘Temple Music of India’ released under Music Today label. ‘Gopaal’ released by PRAGNYA exemplifies his excellent hold over the rendition style of haveli sangeet. The Album contains 10 compositions of saint poet Soordas. Though the Album declares for having rare compositions of Soordas, it has both his popular and not-so-well-known compositions. We have ‘Prabhu More Avgun Chit Na Dharo…’ rendered brilliantly by Hariharan in ‘Bhakta Triveni’ and ‘Sabse Oonchi Prem Sagai….’ popularized by  Jagjit Singh in his Album ‘Hare Krishna-In Live Concert’ released by the now defunct CBS Tapes & Records. The Album is accompanied by a booklet which gives both the transliteration and translation of the divine poetry of Sooordas. The Album makes a compulsive addition to the collection of every lover of devotional music.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is the ultimate collection of devotionals brought out in the shape of a photo album containing 16-CDs and around 150 bhajans by the Bhajan Samrat Purshottamdas Jalota. The Album was issued by NA CLASSICAL most probably in 2007 and perhaps the definitive collection of bhajans by Purshottamdas Jalota.
It is a treasure trove for all the connoisseurs of devotional music.The album is also accompanied by a bound book containing all the lyrics.Priced at Rs.2500/- ,it is a must-buy for all the fans of Purshottamdas Jalota..The recording quality as well as the presentation of the album makes it a collector’s item.
The significance of this collection is that it contains the famous devotionals of the mystics and poet-saints as Meerabai, Kabir,Nanak, Tulsidas, Surdas and many others. It has the delightful Madhurastakam and devotionals of Astacchap poets as well. Other gems include JHUNAK SHYAMKI PYANJANIYA /HO RASIYA MAIN TO SARAN TIHARI/NAHIN AISO JANAM BARAMBAR and many more. 
Given the recordings of Bhajan Samrat are not available in prolific numbers, it is a commendable venture by NA CLASSICAL to bring out this collection for all the discerning fans of devotional music.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


‘Jahan-e-Khusrau’ , the annual festival on Sufi Music is being organized by Muzaffar Ali since more than a decade. Selections of its live recordings are available through his music label ’SAMA’ which presents choicest selections of Sufi Masters ranging from Rumi to Bedam Shah Warsi. However every annual festival is not followed by release of music album for the respective years, selections from annual festival from 2002 to 2004 and 2009 to 2012 is available. 
The Album under review is the compilation from the Festival of 2011. Abida Parveen has been a constant fixture at Muzaffar Ali Festivals and she has a long association with Muzaffar Ali starting with ‘Raqs-E-Bismil’ released by MUSIC TODAY. The compilation for 2011 does not feature her renditions. 
Disc I features Hans Raj Hans with his popular ‘Nit Khair Sohniya…’ rendered for almost half an hour and is a listening pleasure. Disc II features another favourite singer of Muzaffar Ali Shafqat Ali Khan with whom he has earlier released ‘Kaj Kulaah’ featuring Persian poetry of Amir Khusrau. Two songs in this Disc also features the Sitar Maestro Shujaat Hussain Khan lending his voice and sitar renditions. Disc III features Malini Awasthi and Azalea Ray. Both of them support the poetry of Bedam Shah Warsi and Turab Ali Shah with their strong vocals. Disc IV features Qawwalis by renowned masters of the art as Chand Nizami & Group, Wajahat Husain & Group and Sami Brothers. 
The compilations include a beautifully produced booklet giving English translation to the featured poetry in the Album which is a bonus. The ‘SAMA’ Albums are difficult to find even from the online stores .However one can easily buy the entire collection of the label from  Kotwara Studios, Jaunapur Main Road, Mehruali, New Delhi-110047, Phone No- 011- 26658614. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amrut Ras by Lakshmi Shankar : Divine Melody

Lakshmi Shankar has been a celebrated singer well known in the realms of Hindustani Classical music for more than half a century and is credited with popularizing Indian Music in the west. Her wide repertoire includes Thumri. Kajri, Bhajans etc. Her age-defying voice is a testimony to her command over her singing. Her recordings with HMV mostly done in the 60’s and 70’s are yet to be released in their entirety in CD. Her other recordings has been through Music Today in the Shringar series released in early 90’s.Most of her later releases have been through European recording companies. The Album in review is Amrut Ras released by Audiorec Limited,U.K.

In this Album of devotionals, Lakshmi Shankar has given a sensitive performance from the devotional traditions to the accompaniment of only Tabla and Sarangi. The playing of Tabla by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee and Sarangi by Pt. Ramesh Mishra are notable creating the mood for the divine melody transcending the limitations of being mere accompaniments.

The opening number is the Meerabai number Eri main to prem diwani.. sung in Raag Bhimpalasi .Meera says that none but the wounded know the pain of love’s wound. The Sarangi piece perfectly highlights the pathos and anguish suffered by Meera. The second number is again a Meerabai song, Daras bina dhukhan lage nain..(Without a sight of you my eyes feels pain…).The divinity of the Lord expressed by His physical beauty is what Meera longs for to have a glimpse. Sung in Raag Nat Bhairavi, the number is spell- binding.

The succeeding two numbers are again classic Meera poetry Hoji Hari tum kit gaye neha lagaaye.. and Jo tum todo Raam main nahin todu.. Lakshmi Shankar renders these numbers in Raag Todi and Raag Kirwani respectively. Her expressive voice aptly brings out the sentiments of Meera spell bound in devotion to her Lord.

The next number is Kabir’s Maati kahe Kumhar ko tu kyun rounde mohe.. Kabir making a mockery of the transitory nature of the material world says that the potter who moulds his clay should remember that his ultimate fate is to return to the clay himself. This beautiful poetry in metaphors has been sung in Raag Pahadi.

This follows again with a Meera number Mere to Giridhar Gopal.. sung in Mishra Pahadi. The rendition of this song has been done with a sense of deep and ardent devotion imbuing the surroundings with spirituality. Raidas’s Prabhuji tum chandan hum paani.. follows the number sung in Raag Ahiran. The devotee-poet sees his relationship with the Lord as inseparable as the sandalwood which requires water to form the paste. The vocals in this number communicate the sublime feelings.

Tulsidas’s best-known hymn Sri Rama Chandra Kripalu bhaja mana.. sung in Raag Abhogi forms the last number of the Album. This solemn hymn in praise of Lord Rama has been sung by many eminent artistes. Lakshmi Shankar adds a new dimension to the rendition to the perfect embellishments of Tabla and Sarangi pieces.

This Album released in 1991 has of late been available by the Indian subsidiary of Audiorec Ltd. in the label of Audiorec Classics. (This review has earlier been published in

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I write,I recite by Meena Kumari

Much has been written and discussed about Meena Kumari as an actress. Her swansong ‘Pakeezah’ perhaps epitomized her Screen personae as the unquestioned ‘Tragedy Queen’ of the Indian Cinema. However, the lesser known faculty of this Screen legend has not been given its due it deserves. Meena Kumari is also an accomplished poet and most of her writings after her demise in 1972 passed on to Gulzar, who was instrumental in publishing her poems.

I write, I recite is the only recorded Album of the actress wherein she recites her selected poems. The composer of the Album, the inimitable Khaiyyam has contributed his genius in crafting the poems to suit the voice of Meena Kumari. The poems are a reflection of the personal tragedy and loneliness which the Actress encountered in her own life. Strains of melancholy and sadness are evident in her poetry.

First poem is a recitation in free verse…Akelepan ke usi Bekinaar Sehra mein/Uljhi Bikhri hui, Takdeer ko lakeeron mein ghiri…..
The next number is a slow rendition of her immensely beautiful poem. Accompanied by Sarangi/Santoor, the number gives an ethereal experience.
Tukday Tukday Din Bitaa/Dhajji-Dhajji raat beeti/
Jiska jitna aanchal tha/Utni hi saugaat mili….

The following number is again a beauty. The rendition simply mesmerizes by its simplicity and the emotion-laden voice of Meena Kumari.
Puchhate ho to suno kaise basar hoti hai/Raat Khairaat kee sadqe kee sahar hoti hai… (You ask me, How do I survive? /Night goes in earnest and Prayers fill my morning….)
Mera Majhi meri Tanhai ka yeh andhaa sifaq…. is again recited as a free verse and keeping in mood of the poetry, the voice is modulated for the desired impact.

Chand tanha hai asman tanha/Dil mila hai kahan kahan tanha.. is the subsequent rendition which again characterizes the melancholic mood. The theme is repeated in the next number Aaghaz to hota hai anjam nahin hota/Jab meri kahani mein vo naam nahin hota…( There is a beginning, but without any end/ When his presence is no more in my life….) The remaining numbers are Abala paa koi dasht aaya hoga… and Yeh noor kaisa raat ka sarong pehne….. enhances the mood so far built up in the Album. Who else, but except for the poet can better express the feelings. Meena Kumari pours out her heart in the renditions. The last number is Yun tere raah guzar se diwana vaar guzre/Kandhe se apne sar rakh ke, apna mazaar guzre….which has been aptly chosen as a finale to the selection.

The Album as LP has been released by EMI and was re-released as CD in 2001 by Music India. Now the Album is available in the label of Universal Music .A must-buy rare collection for every lover of Hindi Cinema.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prayers of the Heart by Viju Kulkarni

Prayers of the Heart or Vandamala is a garland of devotionals sung by Viju Kulkarni,released by Chitshakti Publictions of Siddhayoga Ashram,Ganeshpuri. This beautiful collection includes songs by Kabir, Tukaram, Rabindranath Tagore, and others. Available both in cassette and CD format, the Album contains ten tracks with a duration nearing one hour.

Perhaps this is the only Album available in publication by the singer.Not only her voice is impressive, but the renditions are soulful conveying the essence of the devotionals selected for the Album. Each and every piece stands out in creating the bhava or the moods so essential in devotionals. Antara mama vikasita karo(Unfold the glory of my heart)/Mahima Mahaprasad ki(The glory of Maha Prasad)/Kehi Samajhau(How Can I Convince You ?) are the selections which usually do not find place among the Devotional Albums and are the pieces that can be heard over and over again.Other selections include Santa Charana Raja/Prabhu teri Mahima Parama Apar/Biraje rom roma mein ram/Prabhu more/Prem mudita manase kaho/Amuche Prema Guru Padi raho/Chadariya jhini re jhini.

This Album is to be treasured by lovers of devotional music. Since this Album is not released through any music label, this Album is difficult to get noticed.. Information for buying the Album can be obtained from or in communication with Chitshakti Publications,104, Dhanlaxmi Complex,Rutu Estate, Off. Ghodbunder Road,Thane(W), Maharashtra-400 607/ Phone/ Fax –022 2586 2766/2791

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Astachchap Poets : Praising Sri Krishna

The published Albums by Bhajan Maestro Purshottamdas Jalota are few and these are a Collector’s delight not only for their choice of very best in devotional poetry but the magical voice that continues to regale listeners. Praising Krishna-Astachhap poets is one such Album.

One of the major proponents of Saguna Bhakti has been Vallabhacharya of Sixteenth century. The devotional sect formed by him and his son & successor, Vitthalnath was based on the worship of Shrinathji, a form of Lord Krishna. The deity is worshiped through a process of elaborate rituals personifying the Lord as a living person.The hymns written in Braj Bhasa by the eight saint-poets formed the basis of temple worship or what has been called as Haveli Sangeet. These eight poets are disciples of Vallabhacharya and Vitthalnath. As introduction to the Album Pushottamdas Jalota describes the meaning of ‘Astachhap’ as the influence or ‘Chhap’ of these eight poets on the Indian society.

Paramanandadas,Nanddas,Govindswami,Khumbandas,Chaturbhujdas,Krishnadas,Surdas,Chittswami are these Astachhap poets.The selection of the poetry has been done according to the timing of seva or service offered to Srinathji starting from the morning Darshan to the Shayana or ‘bedtime’ of the Lord. The selection of the ragas has been in consonance to the timing of the seva. The Album starts with mangala or the first darshan of the Lord with a composition in Raga Durga-Chitta ko chora abahin jo paun by Paramanandadas wherein the devotee speaks of giving milk and butter to the Manohar in person. The singing portrays a persuasive mood where the Lord is awakened in the morning.

The next poetry by Nandadas Ram Krishna kahiye uthi bhor has been sung in Raga Bhairav,and is sung during Shringara where the Lord is dressed up in fineries.The song focuses that both Rama and Krishna are the incarnations of Vishnu. The rendition in this morning raga by the Maestro is mesmerizing.

Shringar is followed by Gvala,the third Darshan of the Lord when Krishna takes the cows to graze and is dressed as a cowherd.The composition by Govindswami Kaha karun baikuntha jaun is sung in Raga Darbari for the seva.The poet says that there is no point in going to heaven, as Krishna’s flute only resounds in Vrindavan. Purshottamdas Jalota being a master of the art again does full justice in evoking the appropriate mood.

The next Seva is Rajabhoga where Krishna’s feasting in his main meal of the day is celebrated.The poetry of Kumbhandas is used for the hymn during this period of darshan.Bhijata kaba dekhaun ina naina is the composition sung in Raga Hamira.The devotee in ecstatic mood desires to see Radha and Krishna beneath the Kadamba tree in the monsoon rain.The intense desire is reflected in the singing of Bhajan Samrat.

Surdas composition is used as hymn for the folloeing darshan i.e,Utthapana or awakening of the Lord after the mid-day sleep.Ab main nacyau bahut gopala is the popular number sung in Raga Mishra Khamaj.This is a celebrated song in the repertoire of Purshottamdas Jalota.

Bhoga is the next darshan where the Lord is offered fruit and sweets in the middle of the afternoon.The hymns of Chaturbhujadas Naina aisi bana pari/binu dekhe giridharana mukha jugabhara ganata ghari has been used for the seva. Sung in Raga Bhopali the single-minded devotion of the poet is manifested.

The hymns of Chittaswami Pritama priti ten basa kinon sung in Raga Yman form the song for the Sandhya Arati where the evening worship of the Lord is done. The tenderness of this special hour is brought to life by the rendition.

The Shayana forms the last seva where the Lord is left for His sleep. Gvalino Krishna darasa ko ataki is the composition by Krishnadas sung in Raga Malkauns as a hymn for this period of darshan. The rendition represents a form of lullaby ending the day-long seva of the Lord.

The last piece is a selection from Sursagar where Surdas sings in praise of his guru Vallabhacharya Bharaso dridha ina charanan mein (Firm is my faith in the feet of my Lord) is the perfect ending to this Album sung in Raga Bhimpalasi by the inimitable Purshottamdas Jalota.

The Album is accompanied by exhaustive sleevenotes by Dr.Rupert Snell,Reader in Hindi at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.The Album was originally produced in 1993 by Audiroec Limited,U.K.Of late it has been released in India through the subsidiary of the company in India under the label of Audiorec Classics. This timeless Album is a Collector’s delight and is a must possession for all those keeping interest in the divine poetry.