CONCERT Pandit Rajeev Taranath’s Gauri Manjari was an exquisite piece
Swarasankula Sangeeta Sabha, an established music organisation of Mysore had organised an evening concert by the scholar musician Pandit Rajeev Taranath, at the Sangeeta Kalanidhi K. Vasudevacharya Bhavana (Nada Brahma Sangeeta Sabha, Mysore) recently.
Pandit Rajeev Taranath chose the extremely complex raga Gauri Manjari, a magnificent creation of his revered Guru, Ustad Ali Akbar Khansahib for his major presentation. Gauri Manjari engages all the notes of Indian classical music except komal gandhara and true to its name — Manjari means a bunch or a bouquet — is characterised by plurality. Like a flower blooming, a raga unfolds at the hands of a sensitive instrumentalist. This is truer of ragas like Gauri Manjari which demand a conscious understanding, meditation and association of ideas.
Pandit Taranath set the tone of his concert in very open terms offering to play alaap and jod and then pursue whatever the raga dictates. He approached the raga with utmost devotion and readiness to accept whatever the raga offers along the path, and dance in joy if it so entails. In his experience, Yaman as a raga, assures a certain sense of repose, whatever the level of playing, he felt. But Gauri Manjari behaves in exactly the opposite manner. As one pursues the raga, it promises placidity at one point and when pursued further, takes the player elsewhere from that point and one never knows what lies ahead and where the journey veers. The exploration is the raga in this very specific sense.
Indudhar Nirodi, the eminent musician of Mysore remarked that the spirit of Khansahib had gripped Taranath during the performance. The illustrious lineage of Maihar gharana is not just a matter of pride but a challenge to be handled with responsibility. Ragas like Gauri Manjari become a part of concert experience through authentic rendering by talented shishyas like Rajeev, especially on the sarod with its deep introspective sound. Taranath’s playing embodied not just the complexity and multiple layering but the depth and purity of the raga. Shades and elements of Yaman, Poorya Kalyan, Puriya and more and of course Lalita Gouri were decipherable along the journey.
Gauri Manjari lives a life of multi-existence and simultaneity. The raga shapes its identity from moment to moment, thus building a universe of great flux and power, and hence rather unpredictable.
The alaap and jod were followed by an unhurried Madhya laya gat in the parent raga Gauri. Raga Kafi was again a transporting experience. Taranath concluded his concert with a contemplative alaap and a bandish in the raga Sindhu Bhairavi.
The Khansahibness of sarod playing was beautifully embodied by Taranath, a befitting shishya of the Maihar sarod tradition. The earnestness, the cajoling quality, the positioning of the smooth glides, the bolkaari, the gatkaari, stood out to mark the evening’s concert as a grand performance.
Udayraj Karpur, the sensitive artist whom Taranath admires immensely offered dynamic accompaniment on the tabla, matching and complementing the exquisite bolkaari of the Maihar gharana. He proved again that a good tabla player enhances the beauty of his own playing and the concert by keen listening and involvement.
A better acoustic system and proper sound balancing could have certainly elevated the comfort level of the artists.
C. S. SARVAMANGALA