Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Song of Love – Part I

Lavanya Dinesh

By Lavanya Dinesh

Ever since recorded history, Indian music has been celebrated as a love-offering to the divine. Music either through lyrics or emotion of the melody has in essence been a love letter to the omnipotent-omnipresent and a human longing to endear the mortal to the immortal. Indian Hindu mythology, religion and spirituality illustrate a vibrant understanding of love of the almighty and the mere mortals depicted in various stories, anecdotes and even philosophical treatises.

Love for a sublime, abstract and unknowable entity gets transferred to an attractive deity, Lord Krishna, who is the epitome of both divine and worldly love and romance. Be it an adorable baby Krishna performing seemingly random miracles or the naughty child Shyaam stealing butter as well as the hearts of everyone at Gokul. It can be the charming, handsome, flirtatious youth Krishna juggling the hearts of numerous Gopikas, including Radha or the older, tactful, confident and wise Vaasudeva leading Pandavas to victory.

Indian classical music has always been an ode to spiritual love and Krishna represents the beauty, angst, helplessness, surrender, calmness, depth, intensity and bliss of that love. Krishna himself is believed to have mesmerized one and all with his esoteric playing of the flute. The little cowherd’s mellifluous strains of the Bansuri (flute) put both animals and humans into a trance. Krishna is the artful wooer of millions of hearts. His love, romance and deeds have been immortalized in many a melody, raaga, composition and song in Indian music – be it classical, devotional, folk or light.

There is no ‘Song of Love’ superior to the one describing the amorous acts of Krishna. The dark-skinned lord is ultimate spirituality, folklore and legend rolled into one. Lyrics of classical compositions and bhajans (devotional songs) lovingly narrate Krishna’s romantic exploits. Indian musicians and composers dating back to sages who lived 5,000 years ago up until Mian Tansen in the 16th century have sung praises of Lord Krishna. A majority of Indian classical compositions performed today are lyrical allegories to Krishna. One such modern example is Pandit Jasraj’s composition “Shyaam Murari Banwari Giridhari Madan Mohan,” which appeals to the multi-faceted Lord using descriptive synonyms. Devotional compositions on Krishna in every language, hue and emotion spanning centuries are still sung and recited in Indian households all over the world. An entire ‘Bhakti Movement’ of the 16th and 17th centuries in India was a Krishna-love-centric spiritual revolution that originated more divine music from seers and wandering poet-saints.

On a recent episode of the reality show “Indian Idol” on Sony TV, Pandit Jasraj who was an honorary guest recounted an uncanny spiritual experience he had in Tampa. I was fortunately present with the maestro when this event happened. Divine inspiration compelled Panditji, who is an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna himself, to come up with a beautiful composition based on raga Shankara. The bandish (composition) is “Hey Kaanha Tum Par Beeti So Beeti, Hum Par Beeti So Kahin Na Jaaye” - Hey Krishna, you have gone through so many trials but my emotions, longing and tribulations are indescribable. The verse further entreats “Hum Jaani Tum Jaaye Pachtaye, Phir Bhi Prabhu Kahaaye, Hum To Rankhahuna Ban Paaye Kaanha” – “I am aware that you regret abandoning me but you are still undoubtedly known as “The Lord”…. Pity the plight of my longing for you … as I could not even be crowned a lowly beggar!”

To be continued …

Lavanya Dinesh, an accomplished performer and teacher of Hindustani classical vocal music, lives in Tampa. She regularly performs at musical venues in India and the United States. The singer has three album releases to her credit. She can be reached at lavanya@lavanyadinesh.com

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