Saturday, September 3, 2011

Brahma Muhurtha

Long ago, Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar came home for dinner, during a Dhrupad music festival in Bangalore. The great master suffered the bumpy ride on our old bike from across the city, with my husband, who knows the Dagar family from his Bombay days.

Of all the things the wise old man spoke about, I remember him telling me that music ought to practised at 3 in the morning - the auspicious "brahma muhurtha" when your brain is able to take in learning with the most clarity, in the stillness outside and inside. He believed that, that is the most spiritual and peaceful of hours, and therefore perfect for the practise of music, especially Dhrupad.

And then much later, at the Punyathithi [death anniversary] of the sitar maestro Ustad Rahmat Khan at Dharwar, during the all-night performance of Hindustani classical music, we get to hear the Gundecha brothers sing Dhrupad at 3 in the morning. The sheer resonance of it within you, as sleep falls away like a burden you never needed. You close your eyes and awaken, to an experience which is beyond goose-pimples and any normal expression of amazement.

Finally when they finish at 6 AM, and the light dawns outside, you walk out into the streets where the newspaper boys and the milk vendors are the sole owners of the mist-filled hour. You are silent, you are not completely of this world. The petty worries and needs of mundane life fall off you, for you have sat by the roadside when the King has passed, and you have beheld his Face. (A remembered image from Tagore's 'Gitanjali'.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Then why is it that when you are distressed you wake up at 3 in the morning unable to sleep, your anguish at its most insufferable unbearable gut-wrenching peak, and in the dark living room with the pale moonlight coming in through the coconut tree fronds, you feel as if all your gods have abandoned you?

"......You do not know
The noxious smell untraceable in the drains,
Inaccesible to the plumbers,
that has its hour of the night;
you do not know
The unspoken voice of sorrow in the ancient bedroom
At three o'clock in the morning."

'The Family Reunion'
T.S. Eliot

Monday, September 25, 2006

1 comment:

Rukhiya said...

I've often been up all night, thanks to the hospital, the exams and my lot of 'petty' worries - and there is this point of time in the night when all that anxiety, fatigue, drowsiness; slowly building around your eyes and greasing your mind tired; suddenly depart. I've been lucky to go for a walk or just stand wordless, often times, during that hour, in the mellow darkness- it was perhaps, 3'o clock? not that I care. :)

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