Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guru Pournima 2011

I'm quite on a blogging spree this month! Hmm... Loving this interest, and Inshallah, shall be inspired more to sustain it :) During my last session with my Hindustani Guru, Prof. Manohar Keskar, we were discussing about what I should try singing for Guru Pournima celebrations. In hindsight I got to understand how these celebrations are traditional held. There are norms and 'rules' some gurus/ shishyas attach to this day. Whenever I have found myself to be punctual, responsible and disciplined I know I have to attribute it to Dad. He always used to tell stories of struggle, compromise, adjustments and whole lot of that you-know-during-my-time incidents. Sometimes, I wonder how hard it must have been which on the contrary made him a super strong human being, a super dad! Making me a musician was his idea of making his dreams fulfill through me. He got me the best of everything to facilitate my studies particularly in music. From then on life went on a roller coaster ride, swirling through ragas , aalaps and extravagant journey so far.

Along with learning some beautiful, magical nuances in music; I also got to see some beautiful insights of my inner self through my Gurujis' knowledge & experience. I had some very negative impact while being associated to another musician who, maybe unintentionally, almost tarnished my determination and will to do sadhana. Why & How? I do not know. But definitely it was meant to be ,because if it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't have learnt some valuable lessons of life and most importantly, taken a step forward in music.

It is another whole traditional episode for music students throughout India to literally fall at their Guru's feet every time they see him/her. Coming from a much care free teaching system at Gulf, I was not so used to these traditions though I knew I had to do it on important occasions like Saraswati pooja, etc. During one such occasion, for Sai Baba celebrations, a very interesting thing happened. I was supposed to accompany my Carnatic Guru, Perumbavur G. Ravindranth sir, on vocals. I was already on a high when he invited me to sing alongside him, a privilege very few students get *yippee* . Soon after the concert commenced and people had settled down to listen to the bhajans; sir had signalled me to sit beside the accompanying instrumentalists. After that he himself, being an ardent fan devotee of Sai Baba, spoke few generous words on him and music and soon after came and sat beside me. He just looked once towards his right and left and gave a sort of approval to commence the concert. At that point I realized that I never touched his feet and it would be bad luck in that case. I looked at him, worried, with trouble in my eyes I tried to tell him of the horrible mistake I had felt I committed. He smiled lightly and then laughed a little more. That itself was so assuring, but I still felt guilty. He told me, "All this is nothing, child. Respect is in the mind, not by touching my feet. Pray to Sai Baba in your mind and sing, my blessings are always there with you ". That moment was something that will always remain etched in my heart forever. These are such simple things one tends to exaggerate and over exercise in the name of God, rituals, tradition, etc. After that day I was able to believe that everything is in the mind. Our love and fear for God, our judgements based on circumstances, a normal moment turned into aggression for the silliest reason... is all in the mind.

I remember how my very first Guru in Carnatic , Shri. Ramesh K. had come over to my home to commence our lessons. That time my sister would also learn with me. When he began teaching us geetam, there was a time when he would ask me to stop running like a rabbit :) I guess as kids we just tend to be really impatient as though wanting to learn and sing everything all at the same time ! But, he has been the sole reason behind my initial growth in music. He is the most patient person I had met at those times which was why it was a pleasure to learn under him. He is amazingly funny and would always crack little jokes to make the learning process more interesting. I just loved his classes so much that by the end of high school I told mom to ask him if we could secretly pack & bring him to Kerala :) He would never ever praise me for my performances even when I came first for Light music under junior category, consecutively for 3 years! But, that is exactly what made his every comment so exclusive. Probably in my 8-10 year of learning under him, only on 2/3 such occasions was he able to appreciate my singing. On the other hand, my Pakistani guru Ustad Khalid Anwar Jaan, would always keep motivating and praising the slightest nuance or taan I took which was why I felt super confident whenever he taught me.

Some of my musical sessions with Prof. Keskar go without any music at all! Hehe... he is a talker and I am a good listener if it is him on the other end. Initially when I was a new bud who was overtly willing to bloom, he would suppress my impatience with some of his scholarly talks. I remember him telling me how he despised all these poojas that were held at Gurupoornima celebration because it would simply embarrass him. He never liked the concept of Guru being literally treated as God with pada pooja (washing their feet) and restricting them from accompanying their shishyas on vocals or instruments. He has always broken barriers, very successfully, if he felt it curbed the freedom of expressing in any art form. I so love this attitude of his! So, this time during the practice session we were going through this cheerful geet in Raag Yaman . He played the tabla as I tried expanding my vocal chords to suit the rhythm. I so loved the thekas he played that I requested him to accompany me on the main day. He so happily agreed to it reiterating how he dislikes the rules some authoritative people put on Gurus like they are not allowed to accompany people smaller than them, especially if it is their own student. This time with his entire mind he said he would accompany me only for that small composition.

Today was Guru Pournima and I did a 35-40 minute interpretation of Raag Puriya followed by a small geet 'Rang rangile phool khile' in Yaman . Ratnasree, a fab tabla artist accompanied me for Puriya and Guruji for the latter.Also, on the harmonium was a very talented musician, Hussain Ali. Towards the end of the day , Guruji said that how much he teaches is proportionate to how receptive the student is. With the Universe reflecting all the positive energy given out by all my Gurus, I assume that this energy will give me the courage to take fruitful steps forward in most of the things I do ..


Anoop G said...

Loved this post...

Neha.., please write the film world musical experiences also in very detail.. The recordings and all..

Wishing you all the best

Neha S. Nair said...

Sure Anoop :)