One of the real joys of my life have been listening to Hindustani classical music. Coming from a tradition that holds in its heart a deep intimation that sound, when not profaned by our ordinary talk, can convey something of the depths of human existence. Hence, the singer may repeat the same line ten times, not because the lines are so beautiful, but because the sound of the tune in which it is sung is.

This performance by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan conveys desire, separation and union. The pain of the absence of the beloved is weaved together with the immense delight of seeing him, before the pain of separation returns, only for the joy of union to emerge again. A beautiful interplay of pain and joy, all conveyed in words that almost do not matter because what matters are these intricate interludes of Raag Tilak Kamod.

At its core, it drives home the old Indian belief that language, structured through grammar, is only the most gross manner in which our human voice can express itself. Breaking through the mundaneness of this everyday use of the voice, this performance connects us to a more subtle level of existence where every utterance is sacred, every note sounded carries the scent of that Origin of all there exists, unsullied by the conventions of everyday existence. It is Hindustani classical music’s ability to effortlessly take us back to that level of being which is its spiritual, aesthetic gift for us.

The words are of a woman singing about her intense desire for Krishna.

~ by tdcatss on March 21, 2014.

One Response to “Jhoola”

  1. I suggest you check out a group called Musafir–their album, the only one I know of, is called Dhola Maru. A brief description from the back cover: From the windswept Thar Desert of northwestern India, Musafir stirs up a whirlwind of masterful rhythms and spiraling polyphonies from the Gypsy, Muslim, and Hindu traditions of Rajasthan.

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