The traditions of Hindu India give encouragement to those who need to drop out of ‘normal’ society and follow an inner path. Unlike contemporary Western society (and perhaps westernizing urban India, too) people are respected, even elevated, for taking long pilgrimages to holy sites, retreating to the forests to meditate or simply taking leave of earthly responsibilities in pursuit of brahman.
So well regarded and admired does Omkarnath Thakur become that he is asked to sing the nationalist hymn Vande Mataram on the occasion of India’s Independence. This was not simply recognition of his status as an artist but also of his active participation in the movement to rid India of the British. He was an elected member of the Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee as well as President of his local branch.
In the latter years of his life he set up and was Dean of the Music Faculty at Benaras Hindu University, one of India’s premier universities. The city of Shiva has claimed him as one of its own ever since and it is where he died of a stroke in 1967 at the age of 70.
For an outstanding article on Pandit Omkarnath Thakur which covers all aspects of his musicianship, I recommend you click on this link.
Tonight’s selection is a recording made in the late 1950’s during his time in Benaras (Varanasi) and was was one of many recordings in private collections and only committed to CD in the past decade or so.
01. Raga Puriya (Sapne Me Aye) in Teental
02. Drut Gat in Teental
03. Bhajan (Jogi Ek Bair Bol) pt 1
04. Bhajan (Jogi Ek Bair Bol) pt 2