Friday, April 13, 2007


It has been almost five years since I moved to Bangalore.

The early memories of the past sometimes make a lasting impact. The memories of Hansadhwani fall in that category for me. My association with this melodious raagaa is as old as my association with Hindustani classical music itself.

And the first house in which I stayed after coming to Bangalore is the bridging link between the first two paragraphs above. There was a temple of Venkateswara right in front of our house. Early morning's quiet atmosphere would be punctuated by occasional ringing of bells in the temple on most of the days. And on more holy days, there would be music played inside the temple's premises. That music, in its pure Carnatic form, is still fresh in my mind. Perhaps, that mesmerizing raagaa, Hansadhwani was the most favourite raagaa of the Almighty Himself, and therefore would be played on numerous occasions. (Although, technically, Hansadhwani is a night-time raagaa, one may enjoy it in the calm and cool mornings too!).

It's no wonder that my description of the raagaa should borrow an analogy from the temple! The raagaa's rendition often makes me imagine a lonely lamp that's burning inside the temple, somewhere in front of the holy idol. Inside the main hall, the rich silence and the dim light emitted by the tiny flame are playful in their behaviour. From a small open window somewhere, breeze finds it way inside, making the flam sway. The shadows are swaying to the flame's tune, so to say. When I listen to Hansadhwani, I get lost in a train of such thoughts. Maybe it's all in the imagination, or maybe it's true. Co-incidentally, the wordings of the bandish in this raagaa usually are wrote in worship of the Gods.

With only five swaraas, S-R-G-P-N-S, it may sound a 'simple' raagaa. Mind you, it's not. Technically also, the notes S-R-G-P-N-S are placed at some distance from each other on the harmonium keys, making it difficult to play! R and P are the two 'key' notes, or waadi and samwaadi for the raagaa.

Ganapat vighna-har, is perhaps the most famous of the bandish. Listen to it in Her Majesty Kishori Amonkar's voice. If you want to listen to Hansadhwani in Carnatic style, I recommend Vathapi Ganapatim bhaje, by Yesudas. A tarana by Ust. Amir Khan Saheb is magnificent. The patriotic 'jayostute shri mahanmangale..' by V D Savarkar is set to Hansadhwani.

If your mood is not good, or if you are agitated for no reason at all, try Hansadhwani. Within fifteen minutes it should bring about its magic and you should find the peace of mind again! No wonder, when I listen to this raagaa I tend to see the tiny flame inside that large hall in which the God's idol resides.

Try it. In my opinion, you'd agree.

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