Thursday, November 17, 2011

Musings-World of Babas

Sri Sathya Sai Baba left for his heavenly abode a few months back leaving behind a vast fortune and equally vast chaos. Some astrologers (jyotishis) and some Tantriks also call themselves Baba. Likewise, Baba Ramdev was in news recently taking up government against corruption and his attempted antics on Ramlila ground, though his main forte is Yoga.

This ‘Baba’ is an interesting word. The moment ‘Baba’ is attached to one’s name, one’s stature increases. Try removing ‘Baba’ from Ramdev or for that matter from Sathya Sai and see the result. Both remain common entity.

Interestingly, the word ‘Baba’ has different meaning in different languages or more than one meaning in the same language in different contexts. Let us take Hindi first. Here ‘Baba’ is used for one devoted to God, like sadhu baba or Sathya Sai Baba etc. ‘Baba’ is also used for one who has renounced the world or worldly pleasures.

In Gujarati, ‘Baba’ means a small boy. Whatever a boy’s name be if you don’t know it, you can safely call him ‘Baba’. In fact, yours truly too was called ‘Baba’ till he was married. In Urdu, ‘Baba’ is related to Tantriks & Fakirs and the like. Baba Farid and Jumman Baba Tantrik are good examples. In the case of Bengali, ‘Baba’ means father.

Interestingly and uniquely, all these different meanings of ‘Baba’ justify in the case of Baba Ramdev. He is a Yoga guru, wears saffron, gives spiritual discourses and has massive following. But the most pronounced meaning in his case is ‘Baba’, a small boy. A child is mostly stubborn. When a boy (Baba) wants something, he wants something, period. He doesn’t want to understand that thing’s utility, affordability, availability etc. We, on our part, try to explain all these to the child and also offer alternative things. When nothing works we spank him and that always works, well mostly.

Same is the case of Baba Ramdev. Except for his “abolition of corruption”, rest of his demands are not feasible. For example, Ramdev wants nothing short of death sentence for the corrupt or total abolition of high denomination currency notes. In a country where a killer of several lives don’t get death sentence and even if he gets, is not hanged for years, how can a mere corrupt ( small crime relatively) be hanged. Our administration went out of its way to reason with him, cajole him but to no avail. The last resort is spanking and that will definitely work. I personally guarantee.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jagjit Singh-Winner all the way

True to his name Jagjit (winner of the world), Jagjit Singh captured the world by his inimitable voice. When he entered into Ghazal Gayaki (singing), Ghazal was a serious business and that too for a limited few. Jagjit Singh entered and shook this world upside down.

Jagjit singh is one of my two top favorite Ghazal singers, the other being Ghulam Ali. No doubt, there are other capable and worthy singers and I like them too but these two are my favorites. Jagjit had that deep, gloomy voice that instantly stirred your soul whereas Ghulam Ali is a master of variations few others can claim.

Personally I was not into Gazals when young. I didn’t know and didn’t like anything beyond film songs. During sixties and early seventies my favorite composers were Madan Mohan and O.P. Nayyar who along with lyricists like Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and others created magic, at least for me. Come late seventies and the first Ghazal of Jagjit I heard was “baat nikalegi to fir door talak jayegi” and there was turmoil inside me. I heard this number again and again and instantly was into Ghazals. Then came his “pyar jo tumne kiya mujse to kya paogi”, “tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya”, “ye daulat bhi lelo ye shohrat bhi lelo,” just to name a few. He captured the Ghazal world like a storm.

I distinctly remember when “ye daulat bhi lelo” came, I was posted in the North and enjoying the life there. This number instantly transported me back to my childhood in Calcutta. True to the emotions in the song, I remembered my childhood days in Bhowanipore where water logging was frequent and we did make paper boats and let them loose in water. Indeed broken toys were our wealth to be guarded with care. Along with depth and gloom there was something in his voice that moved me and I longed to visit Calcutta and particularly Bhowanipore where I was born and brought up and to meet those childhood friends with whom I played and quarreled. I did just that at the first available opportunity. I saw my old school, my old house (now occupied by others), the streets and by lanes where I played, with new eyesight. Alas almost all friends were scattered.

Jagjit Singh not only sung, he sculptured, crafted the songs during those sixties and seventies. Within a very short span I was deep into Ghazals and forgot all about film songs. That was Jagjit Singh for you.

There are, as I mentioned earlier, other great singers. But you can find similar voices or near identical voices of these singers. I doubt if we can find one anywhere near Jagjit’s for quite a time.

Jagjit Singh was the one and only one.