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Sufism in word, thought and melody

MALVIKA NIRAJAN SINGH

SYMPOSIUM The Capital rang with Sufi and Hindustani music.



SPONTANEOUS: Syed Zafar Khan on the sitar accompanied by Shafaat Ahmed Khan on the tabla.

Delhi Sangeet Sabha organised a two-day symposium, Sufi Music in Relation to Hindustani Sangeet, in memory of legendary sarangi maestro Ustad Bundu Khan Saheb. The seminar featured eminent musicologists and artistes of the Dilli gharana like Vidushi Krishna Bisht, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan of the Khalifa Dilli gharana, Indrani Chakravarty, and scientist V.K. Rangra.

Old recordings of the late genius marked an inspiring start to the event. Raga Darbari was followed by the evergreen raga Bhairavi.

Fast paced and intricate yet alive in all its glory of bhakti, Bhairavi set a momentous mood for the rest of the evening.

Well-chosen couplets of Kabir, Rahim, Meera and others by announcer Sanjeev Upadhyaya heightened the mood.

Speakers discussed Chishti or Khusrau parampara of Sufism, and its philosophy of universal love, tolerance and surrender.

No better means than music and poetry could make its way to a common man's heart.

And it was for this element of aashiqui in Sufism that poet-musician Amir Khusrau, a figure central to both Sufi and Hindustani music, gave new inventions and meanings to music.

Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan enlightened the audience with expert demonstrations of some of Khusrau's creations like Shahana Malhar, Shahana Bahar, Chandni Kedar and even sang a rare variety like Kalbana, that amalgamates different talas in a single composition, with keen acumen.

Talking of how Sufism bridged the gaps between languages like Urdu/Farsi and Khari Boli/Braj/Awadhi, Khusrau's `Zihali Miski' and `Tori Surat Ke Balihari Nizam' in Zila Kafi were especially pleasing to the ears.

Professor Indrani Chakravarty's speech earned instant applause as she pointed out female sufis like Jahanara whose aura even influenced kings like Aurangzeb.

She concluded saying, "There's a Surdas, Meera and Kabir in all of us but the moment when they surface is not known to any person."

Sitar recital

On the first evening Syed Zafar Khan gave an engrossing sitar recital, devoting himself to the raga Bageshri.

Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan on the tabla matched the artiste phrase by phrase, mood by mood, and such was their perfection, they could make the spontaneous sound rehearsed.

Zafar was superb with melodious delineation during alap and complicated taans. There's no looking back for Zafar with swift hand movements and quick changeover from ati taar to mandra (high to low octaves) during drut taans, as also a sharp mind for brilliant layakari.

One just wished he wouldn't disturb his recital off and on by jumping to the display of taiyari. Khusrau's sehra "Aaj Naval Banna Banni Ko Mubarak" a sweet mix of raga Desh, Peelu and Khamaj, left the audience asking for more.

On the second day, young Farooq Ahmed Wani of Kashmir, with a typical tone for naghmas, gave a short recital of Rahman Rahi and Shamas Fakir's sufi kalams.

Next, Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan (grandson of Ustad Bundu Khan) with his voice range showed potential in his quawwali-style rendition of "Man Kunto Ali Maula" in raga Sanam-Ganam (with shades of Kalyan and Bilawal), a creation of Amir Khusrau.

He went a little overboard with the unrefined way he kept dipping to lower notes during alap and repeating himself in taans and layakari.

But in spite of the gimmicks he succeeded in spiritually elevating the audience. Absence of tanpura in his and Mannu Kohli's recitals hurt the ears.

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