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November 2019

The Melodies of the Rain……   

 

Tania Banerjee

‘A lifetime of showers moistens the soul’ –says an ancient proverb.

Rain and the magical season of monsoon (as it is called in India because of the southwest wind current which brings rain in the country) have always been the throbbing heart of Indian life and culture. Whatever form of music—classical, folk or devotional— we are talking about, rains and their incessant music are a recurring theme in India’s many-splendored art treasure. Vignettes of farmers looking longingly at the skies for the first signs of fleecy black water-bearing clouds are familiar in our daily life.

However, monsoon become a popular theme during the golden age of Indian classical music. The Ragas (Raga– is an array of melodic structures with musical motifs, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to “color the mind” and affect the emotions of the human mind) have come to be associated with particular emotions and rendered at particular times of the day or season. The onslaught of the rainy season, spectacular after a hot summer, has inspired a family of at least 36 Ragas classified as Raga Malhar (The name derived from the Sanskrit words Mala and Hari, which is literary mean” Mala= ‘uncleanness’ Hari=remover).

Tansen was deservedly called Nada Siddha or the achiever of Godhood through music and melodies. Tansen recognized six basics ragas of Indian classical music among which was Megh which he described in his own words “Raga Megh manifests itself when the rain clouds crowd the sky”. Tansen raised his singing to such a divine level that legends say that he could actually bring on rains when he sang monsoon Ragas like Megh, Megh Malhar or his own compositions ‘Mian ki Malhar’. History says that Tansen and one of the India’s great poet-saint Sant Surdas, were close friends and shared their musical expertise. Surdas also created the monsoon Raga called Sur Malhar. His father Sant Guru Ramdas too, was a learned musician and contributed Ramdasi Malhar to the rich cornucopia of Indian classical music. Other than these, Monsoon Ragas that found expression in the thousands of years of Indian Classical music were Madhu Malhar, Mishra Mel Malhar, and Dhulia Malhar and of course the more gentle Gaud Malhar.

Centuries have passed since all these masters sang these Monsoon ragas and wrote rain songs to celebrate water as the life-giving force of this earth. The beauty and appeal of Monsoon Ragas has not diminished even in this age of Bollywood (Indian Film Industry as it is called) beats and memorable songs like Bol re Papihara in Miyan ki Malhar (from the film Guddi) and Ghanan Ghanan (from the film Lagaan) continue to enchant music lovers.

However all these Ragas has their first expressions in the Vedas, thousands of years ago and in the next of these series of Articles we will see the roots of these rich tradition of Indian Classical music.

To be continued… ☺

 

Enjoy this spectacular music form about Raga Megh. Two pandits singing it in a live performance:


 

 

Abhishek Chakraborti

is the Contributing Editor of the Music Page

Abhishek lives in Holland and is an excellent musician. He is also devoted to the ideals of Sri Ramakrishna, Mother and Swamiji.