Monday, June 13, 2011

The Romantic Raaga, Maru Bihag!

While writing about music, I’m very scared because I know I am not at all qualified or educated enough to comment on music, but my sheer love for Hindustani music drags me to write about it again and again. Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande’s classification of ragas has been the base for all the musicians learning Hindustani Vocals. I don’t intend to classify the raagas on the basis of emotion. Though, guni people can attempt to classify raagas on the basis of the emotions they intend to render. In an interview, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was telling about one of his concert experiences. It was a morning concert and he started singing Miyan Ki Todi in front of a large audience. The environment was perfect for a rendition. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan & Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan started by filling in the Kharaj and as soon as they forwarded to their Rikhab, something soulful happened and there were tears in their eyes. Ustad Allah Rakha and Pandit Ram Narayan who were accompanying them on Tabla and Sarangi respectively, couldn’t also stop their eyes to shed tears. The affect that a note has, if rendered perfectly, is immense. Just like Puriya Dhanashree represents hope and longing, as pointed out by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, during a rendition. So, here I am writing about the most romantic Raaga of all. It’s just a personal thought. It might also change with time. But I can’t find a Raaga more romantic than Raaga Maru Bihag!

Rasiya Ho Na Jaa, the most famous bandish in this raaga shows how a girl is pleading to her beloved not to go to some other place and leave her pining. The continuous improvisations consisting the phrases such as sa ma ga Ma pa Ma pa, and sa ga Ma pa Ma pa, leave the heart beating twice it’s normal rate. In most of the bandishes, the Sam finds it place on the Madhya Saptaks’ pa or Pancham swar or on the Kharaj swar itself. The expression in it’s improvisational phrases, taans, is of a romantic mood, lover’s pining, requesting the beloved not to leave, or praising one for her/his eternal beauty. If classified, it might fall into the category of Shringaar Rasa. I’ve had the fortune of listening to a lot of recordings in Maru Bihag, a very few also in concerts. Though, the structure of the Raaga is the same for all, but the improvisational phrases vary from artist to artist, so much so as they vary in other Raagas.

Although, all the types of Bihag have a romantic touch to them, but what differentiates Maru Bihag from all of the other versions is the use of Khada/Shuddh Madhham and Teevra Maddham. Teevra Maddham is extensively used in this Raaga, which separates its personality from Shuddh Bihag. Patterns such as ni sa ma ( shuddh ), are of extreme beauty when used at proper places. The artistry of rendering a Maru Bihag is quite a lot about how to handle the Shuddh Madhham. For the extensive use of that swar won’t add to the beauty at all, neither will it’s use less frequently. Just at the right times, at proper places, it should be read. 

Here’s a bandish rendered by Pandit Channulal Mishra which says,
More Balama Ajahun Na Aaye / Mohe Un Bin Kachhu Na Suhaaye
Tarpat Hun Mohe Kal Naahin Aawat / Naina Jal Barsaaye
What beautiful lyrics to add to the beauty of the framework of notes provided by Maru Bihag. My beloved hasn’t arrived as of yet, and without him I can’t seem to like anything. I’m pining and time seems to have stopped, my eyes are shedding tears. Such beautiful words and when rendered using Maru Bihag, it’s magic. Rendering this in some other Raaga might not create that aura of pining at all. Another raaga, another laya, another taala may convey a very different emotion, despite the lyrics staying the same. 

Another beautiful bandish in Vilambit Ek Taal is,
Bairan Ratiyaan Hamaar Bhayi / Mitawa Kaise Aaun Tore Paas
Ek To Jaag Rahi Saas Nanadiya Re / Jhoole Chanda Aakas

Another one following this bandish in the same recording is,
Ratiyaan Keeni Bhor Batiyaan Bana Ke / Mohe Manawan Aaye Kumar Kishor
Rain Kati Mukh Chhab Nirakhat / Laagi Preet Ki Dor

These two bandishes have been rendered by Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, whose renditions are so flawless and transcendental that you forget about everything around that transpires. One more bandish that has been rendered by a lot of vocalists is,
Tarapat Rain Dina / Piya Bin Mora Jiyara Tarase
Piya Tore Darasan Bina / Nainan Mein Jal Barse 
I am pining to meet you all day and all night long. Without your sight all this time, I’ve been shedding tears. 

Another bandish by Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan that goes More Ghar Aaye Meet Piharawa / Chun Chun Laawun Phoolan Harawa. This Maru Bihag has an amazing touch to it. 

Another bandish rendered by Pandit Rajan & Sajan Mishra goes like this,
Piharawa Raat Ke Alasaaye / Sajariya Nahin Aaye
Kaahu Kalawari Madh Sau Chhakaaye / Sautan Kaahu Bin Maane
My beloved has been lazy since last night. Not romanticizing with me. Which second lady got you drunk last night, as you cannot think of me, but think of her.

Another of their bandish,
Saghan Ban Bole Ri Koyaliya / Basant Ritu Aayi Sahelariya
Papiha Pukaar Laage Jiya Hunkaar / Piharawa Naahi Aaye Hamre
The Koyal is singing in the forest, the season of spring has come. Papiha is also singing it’s tunes, there are emotions are shaken as my beloved hasn’t arrived as of yet.

And last but not the least, a bandish rendered by Pandit Jasraj,
Mann Bhaawan Aayo Ri Sajaniya / Janak Rahi Mori Paayaliya
Preet Piya Ki Laagi Jiya Mein / Jhanak Rahi Mori Paayaliya

In every rendering that you are going to listen to, you would find immense pleasure, only after understanding the scale and movement patterns. The laya and taal are of utmost importance in the rendition of a Raaga. The bandishes in Maru Bihag are usually bound in Madhyala Teen Taal, Vilambit Ek Taal, but there are no such boundations to compose bandishes in set layas and taals.

Right now, I’m listening to Mallika-E-Mausiqui Roshan Ara Begum’s rendition of Maru Bihag
Balama Na Jaa Bidesawa / Tore Balihaari Waari Jaaun
Palachhin Mose Raar Karat Hai / Binati Karat Hun More Piharawa

"The Romantic Raaga : Maru Bihag" by Kovid Rathee for HarmoNYom (May 2011)


  1. The beauty of Maru Bihag is really well described in very few words by quoting master piece bandishas. A tribute to Hindustani classical music.

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  3. This is also a very apt example:

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