Songs of sameness and syncretism
What could be greater proof of the syncretic history of the Indian subcontinent than the eulogization of Lord Krishna by one of the greatest Sufi mystics of all times? Welcome to a talk by Madhumita Ray, which also will include demonstration and soundbites.
Madhumita Ray in concert.
The thirteenth-century Sufi poet and composer Amir Khusrau has made priceless contributions to Hindustani classical music. One of his lesser known contributions is his poetic praise of Lord Krishna, one of the most beloved deities in the Hindu pantheon.
Many of Khusrau's poems were commissioned by the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya. At the night of the auspicious Jamnashtmi festival, Nizamuddin Aulia happened to dream about Lord Krishna. In the dream he was greeted by Lord Krishna, and by the end of it, he promised Krishna that he would get his most talented disciple - Amir Khusrau - to compose an ode to him in the vernacular language.
One of the odes that Khusrau was to compose, envisions the Sufi saint playing Krishna's bansuri flute while the deity himself dances. In another song the poet imagines himself playing Holi (the colour festival) with Lord Krishna in the lanes of Vrindavan.
At a time when the religious pluralism of the subcontinent is under threat, it is vital to remember Khusrau. To what extent is performning his songs about to become a political act?
About the presenter:
Madhumita Ray is a Hindustani classical singer who has trained with a number of India's legendary classical maestros. She also masters the semi-classical thumri genre and occasionally experiments with other art forms (including jazz, baul and qawwali). She has performed at numerous prestigious venues in India and abroad.