Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Their eyes were all faraway, moistened by the one love that they all share, the love for the divine. True to its beautiful meaning, this Ruhaniyat was without a doubt, 'that which satiates the soul'. On a chilly Bangalore evening I was lost among a few hundred people, lost in the words(which I wished and wished I understood better), lost in the notes and lost in the yearning that these folk musicians laid bare before us. Suddenly George Harrison's plaintive cry in My Sweet Lord seemed like a whimper (I still love the song though) in the face of the full blooded screams that emerged time and again from this stage. There was no caste here, religion was left in the lurch and mundane issues like power and money were scoffed at. All there was energy, in its purest form, emanating like a glow from some of the performers, enveloping you if you were sensitive enough. There were the page 3 folk down for a evening of the arts, eyes half closed, pretending to be lost in a trance but a closer look always revealed that their eyeballs kept moving straining to see who was watching them through the tiny gap in their eyelids.

Ruhaniyat made its first appearance in Bangalore this year, with an ecletic bunch. The show began as with Zikr-e-Rifayi by the Fakirs from Hyderabad, lending a truly mystical air amidst plumes of green lit smoke. Their frenetic beating of the duff in unison gave a solid rhythmic base to the powerful singing.

From the dunes of Rajasthan emerged the group of the evening led by a triumvirates of vocalists. The star, although he'd probably balk at the word was an animated gentleman called Kachra Khan. Apparently many of his older siblings had perished so his parents decided to name him something that wouldn't tempt the evil eye. His vocal chords were pretty much the opposite of his name, as he toyed with Rag Bhairavi among others, soaring, whispering and modulating dropping jaws and bringing palms together with every song. This was the only group that played twice, once in each half of the programme and deservedly so. Khan sahab was ably by a group of phenomenal musicians whose names I wish I remembered on a variety of instruments from the sarangi to an energetic guy on castanets. They sang in a mixture of Sindhi, Punjabi and Multani.

The soul stirring award of the evening would have to go to Parvati Baul. Armed with nothing but an ektara and her voice she drove us to the point of tears as she herself let water flow out of her eyes rivetted skywards. If only our Indian rock bands had one thousandth the feeling that this lady poured out.

Of were two Qawwali groups the one led by Iqbal Banda Nawazi wasn't bad but was completely outshone by the obviously experienced Chisti Brothers group led by the approaching-Nusrat vocals of Sarfaraz Chisti. The vocal jugalbandhi that ensued between him and the supporting vocalists sent a round of shivers through the audience. Its incredible how something can be so complex and so effortless all while expressing the simplest emotions. Astounding.

Zikr-e-Rifayi marked a change in tempo and intensity, preferring the soothing sounds of the Jikir Jari compositions of Azan Peer, a 16th century Sufi saint of Assam. Like an Assamese mist, the group led by Hafiza Begum wafted over us.

I have often heard Buddhist chants especially those by Lama Tashi, Principle Chant Master for the Dalai Lama but those were all CDs. I didn't anticipate the tremendous energy that six monks could generate. Conjuring sounds from deep within their gut they literally threw me from my front row seat every time a crescendo or sudden surge came about. They apparently practice near Jog falls competing in the volume department with the falling water, straining their throats constantly. The resultant effect is supposed to generate immense positive energy. Damn right it did. I felt it in my bones.

I still feel the entire show in depths of my soul and the cockles of my heart. I want to hold on to what I felt there forever or atleast carry a little part of it wherever I may roam. I thank them all.



Rahul said...

What would you expect when the soul meets the Supreme soul? – Bliss! Eternal bliss. Spiritual ecstasy.

This is exactly what I experienced last evening at the Poona Club, Pune, where I was a part of Ruhaniyat. It was one of the best concerts I have ever attended so far – comparison with Roger Waters concert is disputable though! I agree with what you might have gone through coz I went through the same yesterday - a world, beautiful beyond imagination.

Parvathy Baul, Kachra Khan, drummers from Kerala, Chisti Brothers, Niyazi saheb, Tippaniya brothers, Uttaranchal artistes, Tibetan monks among others, all performed par excellence.

I'm still in a state of Trance. Hope this thing continues in years to come as well!

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lovemarks said...

Hi! I'm trying to get details of Ruhaniyat at B'lore in Jan'08. Can you help?...been googling and haven't found much really.