Hindustani vocalist Nabanita Chowdhary pays a teary tribute to her guru Pt. Rajan Misra. The maestro succumbed to Covid recently.
Padmabhushan Pt. Rajan Misra, the serene Sur-Sant of vibrant and breath-taking “Benaras gharana” departed to the Surlok on the evening of Sunday, April 25, 2021. The rustic yet refined and radiant Benrasiya who stole savants’ hearts with his divine, spiritual music juxtaposed to the Pancha bhutas on that fateful day. The meditative and musical worshipper, the fondest offspring of Maa Saraswati, who taught us to delve and find music in the pauses and silences between notes (swaras), then unequivocally ceased the melody of the entire universe with his demise.
The quintessential Chhoda ganga kinarewala of kalakaaron ka mohalla from Kabir Chaura, Benaras, Pt. Rajan Misra (Bade Guruji) with his constant companion and sibling, Pt. Sajan Misra (Chhote Guruji) presented their “Adwait Music” in unison, reverberated around the world for the last 54 years.
The musical miracles of Bade and Chhote Guruji that were honed under the tremendous tutelages of Pt. Bade Ramdas, their father, Pt. Hanuman Prasad Misra and uncle, Pt. Gopal Misra, brought laurels like Padmabhushan, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Gandharva National award, National Tansen Samman, honorary citizenship of the USA and countless others to the inimitable duo.
Bade and Chhote Guruji, the true originators and harbingers of Jugal-gayan or sahagayan (not Jugalbandi) fervently expounded the world that each raga is an artefact to behold, to view, touch, feel, dive into the labyrinth and transmit the similar energies to the discerning audience. Hence Gurujis’ matchless style of rendering the bandishes with profound penetration of the sincerest meaning of each phrase to the listeners lifted the audience invariably to the upper plane of consciousness from the mundane sphere.
In 1985, when the magnificent movie, Sur-Sangam (where Guruji sang the songs) got released, I was a mere school going, music-aspirant lass. I was so deeply influenced by Guruji and the storyline of the film that I was determined to learn from Guruji as and when the opportunity arises. Quite a few years later my long-cherished dream came true and I actually became the disciple of Guruji.
On umpteen times, after intense classes of two-three hours when I used to regret not getting a chance to be under his training since 1985, Guruji used to state that you had been my manas-shishya since 1985 only. Our music is of total submission to the almighty in the form of bhagwan or guru. When you reach that elevated state of mind, then the guru’s soul comes into you and you get to imbibe the teachings even without always being with the guru.
Bade Guruji, the utmost votary of touching and cajoling the swaras at their purest and perfect precisions used to get exhilarated when by his blessings, I could occasionally justify the swaras during the learning sessions. Guruji’s golden words for me several times were “no skill show, no gimmicks, just the perfect sur. That is the truest form of your music, Nabanita. This is the sole reason that connoisseurs have been accepting your music as non-identical and unique from the crowd. Keep exploring this avenue only.”
Gurujis’ amazingly authentic (nyaypurn) and the rooted enthralling musical journey will remain etched in the hearts of the rasikas forever. Guruji, the relentless researcher to discover the reflection of the soul through music, often opined that God, the greatest child is playing with the globe and we all are impersonating and/or enacting sundry roles. His guidance and emphasises were primarily on interpreting the poetry of bandishes in eternally sweet, elegant and lucid ways. The vivid manifestations of complete surrender to the ragas justify Gurujis’ pioneering proposition of treating ragas from their respective bhava (emotion); not as per classical theory. Many may not be aware of the fact that Bade Guruji penned and composed innumerable bandishes and credited those as his gurus’ creations.
The duo: one soul in two bodies
Bade Guruji with his supersonic brain, meditative yet adventurous and grounded, warm persona, laughing eyes and sublime music touched numerous lives to the core. Bade Guruji intermittently reminded us that our majestic music is a process of purification of the soul, enjoying the moments of pauses (viram) not just in music but while living life too.
The one and the same, the inextricable Jodi of Pts. Rajan-Sajan Misra was physically separated by the tragic loss of Bade Guruji, Pt. Rajan Misra. The paradigm of “one soul in two bodies” for our revered Bade and Chhote Guruji is a phenomenal confluence in the entire globe. Besides being formidable musicians with a wide repertoire, the famed “Ram Lakshman” relationship between the Gurujis is always witnessed with awe on and off stage.
Our beatific Bhagwan, Bade Guruji was never born, never died. Whilst paying teary tributes to our holy Bade Guruji, under the grand guidance of our Chhote Guruji and his merged soul with Bade Guruji, we, the disciples with renewed spirits aim to carry forward the benign legacy of Bade Guruji, Pt. Rajan Misra and Benaras gharana to eternity.
The most generous human being that our Chhote Guruji is, by his own admission, always complemented Bade Guruji’s thought process and adding values through an evocative echo, as well as a seamless articulation of a synchronised musical edifice. Bhagwan Ram descended upon the earth as incarnations a few times, but there was just one Lakshman. In today’s world, our Chhote Guruji, Pt. Sajan Misra Ji is the earnest embodiment of Lakshman.