A living legend

Reviews: Exhibitions / Performances

Rashid visited a concert in New Delhi with Hariprasad Chaurasia at Shankar Lal Hall, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, on January 11, 2018, and also met him off-stage.

Hariprasad - Rashid

“Our next guest is a living legend,” said the gleaming, elegant announcer in her peacock sari – and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia seemed to materialise on the brightly lit stage. A thousand conversations in the audience fell silent – then a great wave of applause arose.

The theme of the raga is set by the flutist who plays with Hariprasad while the tanpura establishes a background drone. The beaming tabla player is silent for now.

At first, we don’t know where we are: there are intimations and faint clues as though, looking for water, we feel moisture underfoot and scent dampness in the air. Then, gradually, we get glimpses of young rivulets feeling their way amongst boulders and tufts of emerald grass. Now the voice of the master’s flute, the bansuri, gradually arises; at first small glinting flashes of light, the gurgle of a creek over gravel, the rush of a stream becoming a river. It begins to take over and the second flute becomes the changing yet constant banks of river that is boisterous, unruly, dangerous, full of eddies and whirlpools: or it is a great transparent plane of silk, gliding in its placid majesty.

As the river nears the ocean, the master himself appears to disappear. He plays like a child, like a blessed fool, like one possessed. His notes are breathy, quavering and detached or impossibly long and subtle. Meditation descends on the hall – or the hall itself dissolves along with a thousand listeners and there is only the infinite isness of sound.

Words are useless. Hariprasad has dedicated 65 years of his life to the highest expression of India’s finest music. What he calls forth from his piece of bamboo is ineffable, transcendent, brushed with the divine. Osho called Hariprasad the greatest flutist ever born and stated that he is very humble. “His flute… is like a breeze, a cool breeze, on a summer’s night. He is like the moon; the light is there but not hot, cool.” This night in Delhi, in January 2018, was a vivid realization of that total dedication and lack of self-pride.

Earlier we had visited him in the ‘green room’ before the performance, three of Osho’s sannyasins. He welcomed us with folded hands and a tender smile, his bansuri laid for a moment across his lap. He said, “I loved to come to the Poona Ashram. I loved to play there.”

“And I’ve loved your music since those days 30 years ago,” I said. “Do you remember Laxmi?”

“Oh yes, of course,” he replied his eyes brightening up. “Whatever happened to her?”

“She died of cancer in ’95, and this is the book of her extraordinary life,” I said, handing him a copy of The Only Life. I opened it to the dedication page and pointed to a drawing. “A man with a flute,” I said, and he laughed. “I hope you will play through till dawn.”

“Oh no, they all have to work tomorrow.” He loosely gestured towards the auditorium.

“Yes, but we don’t. You and I are pensioners!” I said and he laughed again and took my hand. For a long moment I bathed in the soft sweetness of his gaze and then the three of us, Ma Urvashi, Swami Vartan and I took our leave. It was like coming out of Darshan.

A taste of Hariprasad Chaurasia’s flute (Saptak Festival 2018):

Quote by Osho from
Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Ch 30

RashidRashid is a regular contributor – rashidmaxwell.com
He is the author of The Only Life: Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart
All articles by this author on Osho News

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