Friday, July 28, 2006

Marwa - wah!

Here are some small extract from one of my books on Raaga Marwa, a deep and grave Raaga. Marwa is related to Sohini.

You can listen to some examples of Raaga Marwa here. Warning - its a very very grand Raaga. Contemplative to the extreme. You may no longer see the value of living.

Baksh Gullo

Munir Khan

Nikhil Banerjee

Bhajan Sopori

Rais Khan


Father was obviously a deeply spiritual person; he saw divine plans in the infinite permutations of the notes. A true student to the end, each new discovery enthralled him and he gasped aloud like a child, even in public, when a phrase manifested itself in his mind. What must it be like, I remember thinking enviously, to be so thoroughly soaked in music, and yet find contentment in keeping it private?

In the evenings, Father and I used to stroll down to a lake about a mile away from our house. It was my special treat. Whether or not he was able to tear himself away from the obsession that ruled his life, I had him all to myself. One day it would be silence as he thought of this or the other Raaga, another day a discussion of my friends and what I had learned at school. The long walk to the lake, the half an hour or so sitting at our favourite spot feeding a few ducks and then the return just after sunset – these vignettes remained vivid in my mind as I grew. The association of his Tanpura was so strong that when he lifted me in his arms to begin the walk, I thought the sounds actually originated from him. His arms and chest seemed to vibrate with the Tanpura’s notes. In my innocence, I used to think that the Tanpura was echoing Father!

I cannot ever forget those walks. Secure in my father’s arms when very young and then walking with my hand in his as I grew, it was an experience intrinsic to my own existence. It helped me to understand him very early on. And it helped me to love that most complex and satisfying Raaga, Marwa.

Father would hum Marwa very seldom. He held it in awe and felt he should hum it only when it came to him on its own; he did not think he could evoke it himself, or that he had any right. “Such majesty!” he would say, “Much more than I can safely handle. And certainly not for a little girl like you!”

One such magical evening, when I was still small enough to be held easily by my father, we walked down the small path to our lake. Father was silent. The Tanpura within him sounded different. I pressed my ear to his chest. The Pancham had vanished, replaced by Nishad. Even the Shadaj seemed reluctant to express itself. Even I, a mere child, could detect that something was different. The canvas of the Raaga was being laid. In the sky, birds were returning to their nests after a long day. In the trees that we passed, they chirped loudly, preparing to roost.


Deep and grand, mysterious and grave. With rules few can understand and fewer act on. Do you seek peace and tranquillity in the evening? Do you seek shelter from the heat of Life? Do you crave an existence without turbulence? Do you find wisdom in a rock, waiting patiently for aeons for a reason for its being? Then I, Marwa, command you to sing me."
Marwa! The evening’s signature, bidding goodbye to light while preparing for the night. How bold, how indifferent! Teevra Madhyam seems to be the source of energy, hinting at secrets and solutions. See how the water in the lake seems to be less fluid as it moves imperceptibly towards this man sitting by the edge. The trees above are almost frozen and the birds on the boughs are silenced by these notes, though the wind blows powerfully, responding to the disturbing challenge of me, Marwa. Each note within me radiates boldness, power, gravity and understanding. They challenge the mind that seeks self-control. The notes merge with each other without haste, savouring each other.

Meditate. Be still. Let your mind cease to think.

Let your mind cease.

The Swans, thus far in attendance, lowered their slender necks in homage, turned and slid away silently into the water. It was almost night, and so my father got up, held my hand and we started our walk back home, in silence.

Behind me, it seemed that the still waters of the lake still hummed Marwa.


Shreemoyee said...

Very nicely written. I chanced on your blog through a friend of mine. I am a reluctant student of Indian classical music, reluctant because I still haven't found the passion for it that I see in your writings and with many others I interact with. Hopefully that will stand rectified with time.

V Murthy said...

Thanks Shreemoyee. Do visit more often.