In this issue of Caesurae, Vol 5:2, the Ekhphrases section presents two Feature Essays by Soutik Chakraborty and Benoy Pradhan. Soutik Chakraborty’s essay is an interesting piece of research on the Scroll Paintings spanning the silk route which attempts to connect the travelling cultures of human imagination mingling and intermingling the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of hell or naraka. Benoy Pradhan’s Essay is based on his field survey of Nepali folk songs, tracing how history and reformulations of culture are rendered through them. The section also contains the music of Shri Anjan Chattopadhyay, the art of Arghya Dipta Kar and pakhawaj rhythms of Nishaant Singh.
Anjan Chattopadhyay is a sitarist, whose lyricism has a spiritual appeal of its own. Shri Chattopadhyay is a music guru, a yogi, a performer and his immense knowledge in the philosophy of music and spirituality is well known to those who have benefitted from knowing him as a friend, philosopher, guru and guide. Here is a link to his playing of Raga Kedar:
An excerpt from his ruminations on music is as follows:
“We figure out the existence of a human being through our senses. For understanding a raga, we need to use our mind, intellect, feelings, and knowledge about the raga along with an inner gaze. A man’s body is composed of seven tissue systems, viz: blood, fluids, flesh, fat, bones, marrow and sperms. Similarly, the body of a raga is composed of seven notes, viz: sa re ga ma pa dha ni. In human relationships there are people who are dear to us, people who are just acquaintances and there are those whom we dislike. Ragas too have notes which are most important or “badi” and notes which are totally discarded. Just as some people are simple and there are those who are twisted there are ragas which have a smooth movement and those which follow a twisted pathway. Say for example the cases of yaman and goursarang. Such is the divine play of variations everywhere.
When our heart is calm, intellect becomes pure, mind is still, and senses are lulled. The ragas and raginis otherwise existing as mere abstractions, then take form in our mind’s eye as images of pure delight or intellectual beauty. These musical forms offer us solace, and like a soul friend they become dearest of the dear and nearest of the near to us. Only a bit of sincere love, a bit of intensity in our yearning is required to get such a response!”
The Caesurae Conference 2023 included the art exhibition of Dr. Arghya Dipta Kar, who is a painter, scholar and teacher. From Caesurae we have made a video presentation of some of his paintings. Arghya’s paintings use Tantric iconography meshed with his imagination and his spiritual light as a tantric practitioner.
Nishaant Singh is an internationally acclaimed Pakhawaj player from Kalimpong India. He received the prestigious Nehru- Fulbright Professional and Excellence Fellowship- Flex Award to study under the guidance of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. These videos are part of his Fulbright trip in the United States, In the first two, he is collaborating with a brilliant American Multi-Instrumentalist Daniel Berkman, who plays African Kora in San Francisco. This is the first time ever where two traditional instruments like Pakhawaj and African kora are in collaboration in history till date. This is also meditative in essence, where two cultural traditions musically fuse so beautifully. The entire musical fusion is in two parts as follows:
In the video below Nishaant is accompanying Joan Allokette and Premsheela in one of their Dhrupad riyaz sessions.