Pandit Hariprasad: ‘The flute is the symbol of the spiritual call’

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s performance was like manna for one’s ears.

Rafay Mahmood January 30, 2012


Touching your teacher’s feet to get his or her blessing is an age-old tradition in the world of classical music. A Shishe or Shagird (student) is expected to bow in veneration and devotion in front of his Guru or Ustad. However when the Ustads themselves, stand up to welcome another maestro, it confirms that demi god of music has arrived in our midst. Flute maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s concert on a Sunday evening was a similar sight; a performance that left the aficionados of classical music enchanted by the sound of his flute.

Chaurasia, surprisingly, does not come from a long lineage of flautists. His father was a famous wrestler who had aspirations of his son following in his footsteps. The younger Chaurasia, however, started studying classical vocal with Pandit Raja Ram of Benares since a very early age. Over a lifetime of performances, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia has earned several awards, including the National Award of the Sangeet Natak Academy and the Padma Vibhushan in 1992 and again in 2000. He has collaborated with several western musicians including John McLaughlin and Jan Gabarek

The maestro performed in Karachi at the celebration of the 63th Indian Republic day in Marriott Hotel. The evening was organised by the Pakistan High Commission of India, with the venue adorned with green, yellow and white-coloured flowers which represented the Indian flag.

After a brief introductory speech by the Indian High Commissioner about the Indo-Pak cultural exchange, Chaurasia made his way to the stage, along with Shri Samar Saha on tabla, Shri Bhawani Prasad Kathak on pakhawaj, Sushree Nayanashree Pushpanjali Chaurasia on tanpura and Shri Sunil Bhagwan Avachat on the second bansuri.

The performance kicked off with a soul stirring rendition of “Raag Maroo-Behag” in which the pakhawaj player impressed everyone with his authority over the dynamics of the instrument. Pakhawaj is an instrument that looks like a dhol but is played with a different technique.

Later on in the performance, tabla beats seeped into the melody and Saha’s fingers choreographed the mood of the evening. The tabla beats were powerful enough to support the flute and at the same time, were mellow enough to not override the sweetness of the instrument. The concert carried on for almost an hour and then the Pandit performed a special thumri on the demand of the audience; a perfect ending to an evening full of breathtaking music and awe-inspiring musicians.

What did they say?

Qawaal Fareed Ayaaz

I have no words to explain how enchanted I am. His name, Hari Prasad Chaurasia itself means the blessings of Hari (another name for the Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna). Only the blessed ones can get to the level of brilliance that Pandit Jee has achieved.

Sitar player Ustad Nafees Ahmed Khan

Some people in this world are indescribable and Pandit Jee is one of them. Classifying him in a particular genre or talking about his technique is pointless because he is a marvellous musician. From his music to the way he performs live, everything is art and I believe he has attained nirvana through music.

Music composer Arshad Mehmood

The magic is in the name. Chaurasia literally means the collective essence of four juices and his music has a beautiful combination of North, South, East and West.

Classical dancer Sheema Kermani

It was a mesmerising performance. More artists of such unprecedented calibre should come to perform here, so that we could learn from them. I also admired the other musicians total focus and coordination ustaad and their commitment to enhance his performance was absolutely admirable.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012.


Vikram | 12 years ago | Reply

@Ali Tanoli: One can feel peacful under different situations. Lot of people find peace when they meditate. I bet some Muslims and non-Muslims find peace by remembring God even though they may not agree about their Gods. Music can bring peace and joy to some people., but it makes talibans very angry Just watching nature can relax people. In the end it is the mind that brings the peace.

Atheist, India | 12 years ago | Reply

US is other side round the whole globe so I fear you will have difficulty. In that case you may consider buying CDs off ebay/Amazon.

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