Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Guruji-Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar

Guruji's House, 26/10/08

I often felt that the Universe is eager to be revealed of its secrets and always waits for a ‘dedicated’ through whom the wonders can be poured. May it be anything…music, yoga or painting, but when the entire soul is devoted enough to shock the supreme soul, the differences slowly melt and the passage of conscience dilutes to be ‘one’ and the state attained is ‘samadhi’.
"Ek sadhe, sab saadhe,
Sab saadhe, sab jaye… "
-As my Guru, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagarji often repeats.

And I am a lucky girl to have witnessed such a person, his aura, his be-ing, his way of life that is so filled with love, trance and blessings. I always felt an urge to run to get him water or medicine throughout the day, for after these small favours, he would lift up his hands heavy with blessings and when they come upon my bent head, I always felt that the enlightenment of my soul lies in these hands and each time they land they liberate my blocked energy that kept me held from God.

My whole day in his house passed emerged in music, the morning with riyaz, then the lessons begin…mixed with vigorous practice and his demonstrations, sometimes he went on to explain the depth and vastness of Indian Classical Music and philosophy... and the metaphors and parables and examples he used kept us almost swallowing every word he spoke. ‘Impossible is nothing, but possibility too is not easy’- this is often mentioned by guruji, not to discourage but to prepare his students with enough patience and will to toil and understand, for what they have chosen to dive in is not a mere puddle but an endless ocean which demands its divers to know all strokes to admire its every wave and splash.

Well, the property of love is never specific. A person in love with his beloved ends up being in love with the winds, clouds and moon too. And imagine a person who have loved music so much that he dedicated his entire life and breath to allow these waves through his soul and have become like a fountain that oozes with love every second.
The tone in which he speaks, the way in which he teaches, the gestures with which he corrects and the frown with which he scolds are all somehow so mingled with love.
Sometimes, in the evening when the gardener came and watered the plants outside and our lessons are still going on…when the water seeps into the dry soil to feed the plants and the wet smell of the soil filled the room, I saw my guruji close his eyes and fill his lungs with that smell and a smile of divine peace lightens up his face slowly.
And the stray cat that was deprived of love in its entire harsh world, with ugly feet, black patch and beaten back with sore, must also be wondering everyday what makes him so important to this man who raises his eyebrows, looking at him so lovingly and calls out…‘Kalooo…where have you been so long?’

‘Dhrupad is not just bandish, but the entire system’ says he, ‘…starting from how to pronounce each swar, how should it be presented, how much of softness should it bear and how much strength does it require, Dhrupad is the entire science of the voice-culture and impartation of musical knowledge taking care of every stage and step, even keeping in account how one should sit and what one should wear.’

All those people who with pride announces their religion and tingling a bell, or bowing five times think they have now mastered the God…meet this man. Here is a follower of Allah safeguarding the treasures to reach Bhagwan and is of course the best person to ask how much they differ and may his life and knowledge put us all in shame cheering at a blast in a Hindu space or chuckling to see a mosque ablaze.

Once while singing a bandish dedicated to Devi Durga he explained…‘This is not easy. One has to understand the entire personality of the god or goddess to present or dedicate the song. One has to allow that god to flow in so that the music as a medium can carve its way.’ Sometimes in the evening he would go on singing ceaselessly and his eyes seemed so lost and hazy, his palms held together in prayer and as water filled his eyes and rolled down I could feel his body lose touch from this world and his soul now one with that of the Universe. And I often told myself, ‘God, what have I done so good in my life that you brought me to this great man?’

Well, he sleeps very late, and once as I woke up at mid night and came out of my room to drink water, I had a glance at his way of praying. A dim, yellow light glowing at the corner of his room and guruji’s white hair and white clothes adding to that purity, almost spreading rays from his aura. He held his hands flat, joined them to touch his forehead and mumbled. In that golden light, his shadow fell huge on the wall, partly merging with the darkness of the room. His watery eyes shimmered in the dark.
Is he a Hindu or a Muslim? But I have surely seen God next to him. His open palms joined together in prayer and opened up again in devotion. His voice with equal devotion recites for Bramha and Allah. He is beyond the boundary of religion, beyond the taboos, beyond any separation that keeps humans divided.
He is a sage, music is his medium…

Different days experienced different moods in that house, sometimes devotion took over and all the disciples sat serious trying to measure the depth, sometimes maaji’s tea would set the air fluid and her motherliness softened it all. A joke, a taunt, a sip in the tea and a hearty laughter…a scolded student sad with his failure being consoled by maaji to restore his vigour. The evening slowly turned feminine with her participation.
Behind every man’s success is a woman. The word ‘behind’ has always prevented our eyes from noticing that great contribution.

And as love binds every soul in and around, starting from the students to the plants and ants and the stray black cat, music is not taught but made to have experienced of. And we, the students are at our attempt to get it right waiting when those hands heavy with blessings would empty them on us and a fraction of the depth he has penetrated would be transferred to enlighten us…may be not the privilege to bathe in that ocean yet, but God, give us the eye to perceive the depth through him, at least to reach a state to hear the ocean roar, to feel the force with which it hits the bank, to be emerged with pride of the heritage our ancestors have left for us. God, give us patience, give us respect, give us trust to surrender it all.


sutirth said...

Superb description Aparajita. I had the luck of listening to him once in a big room with 40-50 other people. He was ill that day and it was showing. But what captured my heart was the way he interacted with us (utter novices in HCM) and made us feel great as an audience. Although we never "understood" what he was singing, we "felt" it and also "experienced" the soul of the artist. That was a memorable occassion. Congratulations (such an inadequate word!) on being so close to such a soul. Although I have only been blessed with a fleeting glimpse of it, I shall still consider myself lucky for it.

rajeev said...


Bindhu Malini said...

Dear Aparajita, I am so happy for you. This article comes close to my own experience with my guruji. Its a true blessing. Cherish it.

Anonymous said...

...I would really not hesitate to call you 'Dear'..just after reading your 2nd post.....i dont know why but feel like stirred/shaken.....!Thanks for sharing this wonderful post..t.c.