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Author: Pandit Jasraj
Publisher: Music Today
ISBN/UPC (if available): VCD A 04270
Though I had lost my father when I was very young. I was fortunate enough to be raised by my elder brother and guru, Mahamahopadhyaya Maniramji who comprised my entire world in those formative years. Then, as I began to spread my wings as a solo vocalist, many well known singers of those times influenced me, there was Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. I remember an encounter with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. I remember an encounter with Bade Ghulam Ali Khansahab when I had visited him in hospital recovering from a paralytic stroke. As I sat at his feet, he suddenly said to me in a great burst of affection, Jasraj. Come join me as my disciple. I will teach you all I know just as with my son Munnawar. For a moment I was speechless with gratification at his offer, after all he was my idol. But I recovered enough to gently tell him. Ustadji, as much as I feel honored, I cannot accept your kind offer. When he asked me why, I finally blurted out. It is my dream to see my father come in my singing. I was expecting a sense of pique but to my surprise the great man promptly burst into tears. I am truly proud of you, Jasraj, he said t me emotionally. Main dua karta hoon ki Allah tumhe kaamyabi dein.
Several years later, one day I found myself performing in a little town in a shabby little godown that passed off as the venue. Among the rather nondescript motley crowd that seemed least interested in my singing I spotted an old man, rather shabbily dressed sitting around most irreverently. His behaviour annoyed me and almost as a reflex action. I closed my eyes and carried on willing myself not to look into his direction. As I faltered at one point missing a matra. I immediately gathered myself and made up for it, coming back to the sam with such aplomb, that I could not help heaving a secret sigh of relief and satisfaction. Just as I did that , I heard a lone voice in the audience praising my feat with a deep wah. Immediately I opened my eyes and looked around for that solitary listener who had echoed my thoughts and communed with me so perfectly. It was this same shabby old man. Thereafter he went off in the interval leaving me quite distraught for my eyes were constantly searching for him in the audience. Towards the end he reappeared magically and from then on. It seemed to me that I was singing only for his ears. As my concert came to a close, the old man stood up, came to me and placed his hands heavily on my head.
Wah, aaj tumne tumhare pitaji ki yaad dilaadi, he said before vanishing into the crowd. I cannot describe the emotions that ran through me at that moment as his words rang out in my ears again and again. After all, I had no memories of my father at all, leave alone a recollection of his voice for those days we did no have discs and cassettes recorded for posterity. How then could I have achieved this? Could it be the blessing of Bade Ghulam Ali Khanshab, or the will of Providence, I wondered.
As I look back fifty years later, I find it difficult to believe that I have been around for fifty years. For there were and there are, several of them singing much better than me. If you ask me about my singing. I still don’t know how I evolved into a musician, an artiste. I don’t really remember and I don’t want to dig in But one thing is for sure: it is all the grace of the Almighty.
Pandit Jasraj Remembers his father
Pandit Jasraj’s love towards music because of Begum Akhtar
A Tabla Prodigy
Guru Shishya Parampara
Coming a full circle
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