The Kirtan, The Flute, and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiaji – A remembrance on his Birthday

Its 1st of July, As the continuation of birthday celebration of maestros, I am here with my humble offering to the pundit who’s name has been synonymous with flute world widely.

Sometimes life treats you with surprises, which you could not even dream of. My Karma score must have been quite a bit higher than my academic scores. The reason is still unknown, but certainly, something has been carry-forwarded, presumably from my past life. This saga is one such treat which I received from a God.  

It took place almost thirteen years back. I was teaching as the music teacher at a reputed senior school of Kolkata at that time. Since then I have been fortunate enough to be associated with Spicmacay.

An afternoon on those gala days I came to know that there is a classical concert organized by Spicmacay, and I must gather our students and attend that concert in that very evening. To my utmost surprise I then came to know that – The living legend, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia ji will be performing there.

There was not much time. Initially, it took me some moments to register and then in jet speed I addressed all my lovely students and convinced them (At least that is what I thought) to go there.

It was a cozy, homely baithaki at the top floor of 6 (?)Hunger Ford Street, Kolkata. I reached there with only a handful of students and there he was, sitting majestically on that tiny stage. Again fortune smiled and I got a chance to sit in the front row. And then within a few minutes, the soulful music started with a long hold Sa. The first presentation of that recital was in Raag Hamsadhwani.

It was not my first exposure to Pt Chaurasiaji’s live music. I experienced that magic many times before that day. But since it was a concert which was conducted to engage, mostly the school students, and give them more exposers to Indian art and culture,  Chaurasiaji’s immense sense of humor started emerging from the interaction session. He played the tune of Jingle bells asked the students to identify that tune. Each and every student identified that very popular Christmas carol immediately. Panditji then divinely played these few lines of that legendary Bhajan–

“Vaishnava Jana To, Tene Kahiye Je
Peed Paraayi Jaane Re,
Para Duhkhe Upakāra Kare To Ye
Mana Abhimāna Na Āne Re
Vaishnava Jana To, Tene Kahiye Je
Peed Paraayi Jaane Re”

There was pin-drop silence in the room which he broke by asking the students to identify that tune, but unfortunately, no students could do that, and thus he started explaining the rich heritage and culture of our own country, which we must explore, through his magical narrations.   

Spellbound, I was waiting there at the end of the concert. I touched his feet, he must have been noticing me sitting there with teary eyes during his performance and to my absolute astonishment, Panditji started asking me about the concert, and also about me. As usually, I started talking gibberish and told Panditji about my passion for Padabali Kirtan and also said that how I wish he could play Kirtan on that baithaki. Panditji was kind of surprised with such a request and said – ‘oh, ok, do one thing on such and such date I am coming to Kolkata again at the science city auditorium, you be there, and I will play Kirtan for you there.”

Almost two months later, that day arrived and I was there at the science city auditorium to listen to the maestro again. He played Raag Durga and then as usually started asking the audience for their choices. Many enthusiastic Kolkata listeners started shouting – ‘dhun dhun’, some said ‘pahari, pahari’ ( Jiya dharak dharak from the film  Kalyug was still hit), and some said “ Banaras Ki Pahari”….. and it went on.

Pt Chaurasiaji then started laughing – ‘arey banaras ki Pahari, banaras  mein pahar kahan hai bhai’ and then came that magical moment of my life. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the living legend, said that he would like to play Kirtan as he promised that to someone in his last Kolkata visit.

I was certainly not believing my ears and my eyes rather any of my senses at that moment. The swing of that kirtan sustained in my soul.

I am not at all a backstage, or autograph or selfie kind of person. But that day I could not resist myself. I went there and touched his feet without saying a word again with a pair of bleary eyes. He was there, that soulful tune of Kirtan was there and these two verses of Padakarta Chandidas were there in my mind….

  • ajhoro jharae mor nayanero pani, Bnashir shabade borai haraili porani”

Pranam to the maestro on his birthday.

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *