The melodious notes of a bhajan on Lord Shiva in raag Bhairagi Bhairav resonates in the air. The voice is rich, the atmosphere is meditative and I’m hooked. The Birla Mandir in the Benares Hindu University campus has excellent accoustics. It’s a cold wintry day and there is a sparse crowd at the temple. The music and serene ambience has me rooted and my feet automatically lead me to the singer seated in front of the idol in the open balcony on the first floor. I learn that the singer is a trained classical musician fron the Kirana Gharana (Bhimsen Joshi school). We start talking and he suddenly points to the microphone and invites me to sing. I sing Mahadeva Shiva Shambo in raga Revati, a composition of Tanjavur Shankara Iyer.
The first time I heard this song was during a concert of Carnatic vocalist D.K. Jayaraman in Chennai. I ended up in tears – the lyrics, the melody and more importantly the rendition made all the difference. Raga Revati is meditative in nature and the melody often associated with Vedic chanting.
Carnatic raga Revati is similar to Hindustani raag Bhairagi Bhairav. Here is a rendition of raag Bhairagi Bhairav by Pandit Jasraj.
The musical experience at Birla Mandir in the BHU campus on that foggy morning will stay in my mind as a priceless memory.