Gitanjali Diwakar is a journalist with The Hindu Businessline. In her words, she is 'a Jack of many trades and a master of a few'. She enjoys reading a wide range of books, including fiction and philosophy. Her greatest passions, however, are culture and performing arts.

Gitanjali Diwakar

Pandit Jasraj: In him, we sensed ‘heaven’

Gitanjali Diwakar | Updated on August 21, 2020

Pandit Jasraj. File photo

If music could move one to tears, then Pandit Jasraj was power personified

Singing isn’t merely an art or an ability. It is a way of communicating beyond boundaries. Since time eternity, sounds have played a crucial role on a human being’s development. Music is indeed sound with a meaning. How? 

Perhaps this story could do justice to the idea. 

It was the year 2009. Having learnt Carnatic music for a fairly large part of my life, my father felt that it was time to experience the magic of the seven swaras (notes). As we entered the TDM Hall, situated in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, I noticed a gentleman clad in an orange kurta, wearing the most peaceful smile. Soon, this person – who was revered by many – began singing with all his heart; ensuring that my father and I would lose ourselves in his world of raga, rhythm and peace. 

This was my first and perhaps last experience watching the great Pandit Jasraj performing before a live audience.  

His rendition of the song - Vraje vasantham, a song which seemed rather unfamiliar, until that moment - had altered my view on 'soul' music. Indeed, he sang with his heart. Each time Pandit Jasraj decided to sing, he seemed oblivious of his surroundings and sang because it seemed to be his calling.  

As a child, Pandit Jasraj was merely a singer from another State. Devotion or commitment to an art seemed to be alien to me. But, as time went by, I found solace in his voice. Not only was I impressed with the many harkaths or gamaks, but his voice began to leave a lasting impact on me. 

My all-time favourite songs have been Jasraj ji’s version of mal mero man. The song is special for many reasons. For starters, it was the first composition that taught me the essence of honest singing. The high notes, the unwavering control over one’s vocal cords, and the peppy presentation had captivated my attention. What was also striking was that Pandit Jasraj’s performances were meant for everybody – classical musicians, non-classical musicians and of course the mere lover of music. He did not let techniques take the upper hand at all times. Rather he owned every song that he had sung. 

Today, I feel blessed to have witnessed this wonderful personality in his best light. His confident yet humble smile is still a memory that no photograph can ever exemplify. More importantly, his music continues to speak to me, and teach me different aspects pertaining to life’s many philosophies.

Indeed, Pandit Jasraj's spirit and music will live on.

Published on August 21, 2020

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