Many years ago, during a sabbatical in Bengaluru, a friend had handed me a book called ‘What the Ragas told me’ by Vasudev Murthy. The author was a friend of a friend, and I was being asked to write a critical review of the book. As I perused the book, flowing with eloquent prose on the images and experiences the different ragas evoked in the author, I realized that the keyword in the title was not ‘Ragas’, but ‘me’. In other words, the experience of a raga is at once universal and personal. No two musicians agree on what the raga is telling them, although many musicians may agree on the Raga’s characteristic phrases and the general nature or chalan. For example, Kanada always evokes images of grand mountains and deep gorges in my mind. I’ve wondered if it is the samvaad of the dN–P and MPg– phrases that conjures this image. Who knows? In the business of Raga music, I’ve learnt it is best to be agnostic. In an art form like Khayal, you are both the creator and the observer. Perhaps, the space between them is necessarily unknowable – hence the mystery and magic…and rasa.
So, here’s Bageshree Kanada. I came upon this raga by sheer chance. I was toying with the Komal Gandhar in Bageshree and it led naturally to this beautiful jod raga – with some very nice bridges between Bageshree and Kanada. While there are many versions of this raga out there – points of differentiation made along gharana lines – my version here is based on an extrapolation of this Ramrang bandish. Here, Pt. Jha centers the raga around the middle of the saptak (M sthaan from Bageshree and P from Kanada) – even the antara (unconventionally) rests on P, revealing the center of gravity of this raga right in the Kanada base. Now, how does a plaintive ‘shringaarik’ raga like Bageshree color the gravitas of Kanada? You decide. For me, this vista from a recent hiking trip to Banff sums it up: like colorful kayaks in front of the majestic Lake Moraine.
Bageshree Kanada/ Rupaktal/ Pt. Ramashreya Jha ‘Ramrang’
मुकुट बिराजे सिर कानन कुंडल, अलक मलक की अत शोभा कपोल
दामिनी दमक चमक द्युति, राजत रामरंग किलकत हंसत बोलत अध-बोल