dataLayer = [{"title":"The most beautiful evocation of Raag Kaushi Kanada","author":"aryaputr","wordcount":"307","logged_in":"false","page_id":"1121","post_date":"2012-04-26 18:41:52"}]; >


The most beautiful evocation of Raag Kaushi Kanada

Posted on by in with 23 Comments

[Image: Vasant Rai playing the Sarod]

Vasant Rai playing the Sarod

This recording from a live concert in 1968 is the ‘stuff of legends’. It is by far the most soulful rendition of a particular Raag (Kaushi Kanada) that I know of, and I felt this ought to be shared.

Play the file (see download link on bottom left)

In Indian classical music, the Raag is not just a combination of notes, but amongst other things, a medium for a soul-ward journey that the musician embarks on according to his/her capacities. Even the best artists are perfectly inspired in public only a few times in their lives – such is the difficult nature of performing art.

This is the uniqueness of this recording in particular.

Vasant Rai was the last disciple of Allauddin Khan, a towering figure in North Indian classical music, guru to Ravi Shankar & father to Ali Akbar Khan & Annapurna Devi. Rai died at a young age, but left behind some of the most beautiful recordings of his self-expressions via the Sarod.

I’ve used this passage below as a means to improve my ability to listen and experience good music.

 “In the same way as one can share the emotions of another person by sympathy, spontaneously, by an affinity more or less deep, or else by an effort of concentration which ends in identification. It is this last process that one adopts when one listens to music with an intense and concentrated attention, to the point of checking all other noise in the head and obtaining a complete silence, into which fall, drop by drop, the notes of the music whose sound alone remains; and with the sound all the feelings, all the movements of emotion can be perceived, experienced, felt as if they were produced in ourselves

    –  Mirra Alfassa

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  • socialbridge

    Thank you for this beautiful, haunting music. I am writing from Ireland where we have our own distinctive instruments and music and there are some similarities but this has a wonderful uniqueness that just had me holding my breath. And, may I say how much I love your poetry section. Music and poetry have so much in common, don’t they, in terms of nurturing our deepest depths.

  • Axel

    Fanatistic! Would it be possible to upload the complete recording? Would be ver much appreciated. Thanks

    • Uday

      Hi Axel, I’m glad you liked it. For a true music lover – here goes :
      The entire album 🙂

      • kvashee

        This is a magical performance. Thank you for sharing – it brought tears to my eyes.

    • Andrew Rai

      Yes axel we have the complete master original recording! I will give it to uday and he will send it to you.

  • Roy Marie

    A Raga is a partially precomposed matrix
    of melodic contours, tight enough to remain recognizable and loose
    enough to provide substantial creative freedom. Each Raga justifies
    itself as performance material because it makes a distinctive emotional
    statement. It can be described as a psycho acoustic hypothesis which
    relates qualifying melodic patterns to the associated quality of
    emotional responses. At each rendition, a musician works on this
    hypothesis and deploys his creativity in an attempt to maximize the
    probability of communicating the associated emotional idea.

    are not “composed” by any particular musician. Their origins are mostly
    indeterminate. They evolve over a period of time from a variety of
    source melodies as plausible triggers for well-defined categories of
    emotional responses. It is estimated that the melodic grammar of about a
    1500 Ragas has been documented. The music-scape of each generation
    sees some Raga-s coming into circulation, and some going out of fashion.
    The core of commonly performed ragas remains around 200.

  • Siddhartha

    I believe this recording is actually by Bahadur Khan. The full version is here: . I have another copy of this recording, which is also (like yours) labeled Calcutta (Ali Akbar College), 1968, with Shankar Ghosh.

    • Uday

      Hi Siddhartha, thanks for your comment. I am no expert & you may well be right. I was given this recording of Kaushi Kanada by Aniruddh Rai, one of the two sons of Vasant Rai. I will check/confirm with him about it & reply soon as I know for sure either ways.

      • Siddhartha

        Thanks Uday, do let me know what Aniruddh says. Meanwhile I will try to conduct some further enquiries at my end. Googling reveals that Bihaan Music released a Kaushi Kanada by Bahadur Khan, accompanied by Shankar Ghosh, a few years ago: . I don’t have the CD and the website lacks details, but perhaps this can help settle the question.

      • Siddhartha

        Btw, there is a phenomenal 1.5 hr recording of Kaushi Kanada by Nikhil Banerjee in Paris where he plays the same drut gat. The composition is really lovely.

  • Andrew Rai

    Hi siddharth/uday. There has been a misunderstanding about this recording for many years. The fact is we have the master tape. What happened is that in the late 60s there may have been my dads and bahadur kakas recordings laying around at AACM. Old maxell 90 minute tapes and someone may have confused the players. Also my dad had a particular way of playing this raga and according to him he called it “kauskhi” If you listen to carefully the raga is distinctly NOT kaushi kannada. Listen to to the descending order, It mostly lacks the salient kannada feature but rather comes down straight rather then the kannada ang of GMRS DNP, but rather malkauns/bhairavi. Hence a lot of people even said this not kaushi kannada and he has taken extreme liberty or has played the raga incorrectly. So bihan music was grossly negligent in even investigating the veracity of what rag is played and who the actual musician is.

    • Andrew Rai

      The reason why we never pursued the matter was that so much time has passed and in the bigger sphere of things we just don’t have the time or energy to allot. My mother’s response when she heard the bihan recording several years ago was more or less “whatever” we know the truth.

      • Siddhartha

        Thanks for your input, Andrew. This is very intriguing. It is
        certainly a beautiful recording. Are you referring to Kaushi/Kaushiki?
        I’m told this raga is closely allied to Kaushi Kanada but presumably
        lacks some of the Kanada ang, being more like Malkauns. I’ve heard
        several recordings labelled Kaushiki including the famous one of Annapurna Devi, which admittedly also seems to deemphasize the gMRS pakad.

        • andrew rai

          Hi siddhartha yes that is the rag I am talking about. See there is ambiguity about this rag even among students of Ustad allauddin Khan. Dadu as we call him taught this rag to my father, annapurana devi (who in turn taught it to Nikhil Banerjee) and he taught this to ashish khan. However Ustad ali akbar khan always denied the existence of the rag and said kaushi kannada and “kaushiki” is basically the same rag. I asked Pandit Ravi Shankar and also had a similar answer. The differences are very subtle and only a keen listener who is looking for the kaushi kannada feeling will feel something is for a lack of a better term “different” The approach to kaushiki is also more sringar ras rather the more serious kaushi kannada approach, of course this differs from player to player. So to conclude the above recording is my father playing kaushiki. You can hear on many occasions he utilizing the sampurana malkauns avroha (which is a strict no no in kaushi kannada) But in the end it is a great recording and thats what counts. Now getting to Bihaan releasing it! When I found out I tried calling Bihaan, I live in Nyc and would stay up to call them so I could reach them, I was given the run around by them…the call in 2 hours or call after so and so day etc etc. I talked to a entertainment attorney and he told he in such a case just to even retain his services it I would have to pay 3000 dollars upfront just to get the ball rolling….then if it even went to indian courts he would have to hire someone to represent us there…..all together I would be looking at over 20 thousand dollars. I did the math. Bihaan barely sold 200 copies at 400 rupees each….it was not worth me pursuing it. I have put that matter way behind me and I can now listen to that recording without that thought renting space in my mind. 🙂

          • andrew rai

            Siddharth Not kaushi….Kaushi is a bit different. If you want to hear a excellent kaushi, listen to bahauddin Dagar play it on the veena! You can find it on youtube.

          • Anirban

            Dear Andrew, thanks for the clarification. I am a great fan of Pandit Rai’s playing and for several years have been trying to track down any bootleg recordings that may be available on the net. However other than an odd few recordings ( a Jhinjhoti uploaded by Sriram Siddarth on youtube and a wonderful bansuri rendition , also on youtube), I have completely failed. It is sad for me since there are only a handful of commercial recordings, all of that I own. Considering that Pandit Rai lived a sizeable period in NYC, I would have expected many such recordings to exist here and there and surface with time but alas, that has not been the case thus far ! I have been told that his family does have a substantial number of his recordings and they may be released at some point in time. Would you have any idea when ? I am no technical expert but his playing is so different (from others in his gharana ) and the sound of his notes are co crisp, yet so lyrical that I keep going back to the same limited number of recordings that I have again and again. I apologize, I am sure you have been prodded with this question by others as well.

            anirbn at gmail dot com

          • andrew rai

            Hi anirban, ill email you but in the meantime i have posted a desh of him above enjoy. 🙂

  • andrew rai

    Hey Anirban uday and siddharth here is a really nice Desh Alap of Pt Vasant Rai. Towards the end he plays these unusual meend taans.

    • Anirban

      Thanks so very much Andrew. This will keep me for a while. There is so much lyric in his playing that is completely incredible. Much much indebted for the kind share.

      • Anirban

        Andrew, would you by any chance, happen to have the rest of the Desh recording ?

  • Scott Huges

    This is definitely not bahadur khan saheb, the kaushi kannada/kaushki is Vasant Rai jee. I analyzed the playings of both. Bahadur khan has played the same raga, similar feeling but different intensity. I’m a Big fan of Vasantji’s

  • andrew rai

    here is my brother practicing Kaushiki taans at home. Listen to the clarity+ speed of the tans. A hallmark of my family.


  • Anirvan Choudhury

    Respected experts and connoisseurs from the field of music. Namaskar to you all. All of you must have heard most of the Legendary maestros of Maihar-Senia Gharana, Imdadkhani Gharana, The Bangash Gharana, playing Kaunsi Kanada.
    Now please listen to this beautiful rendition of Kaunsi Kanara in Sarod from one of the young, spirited and adorable exponents of The Senia-Shahjahanpur Gharana – Ms. Debasmita Bhattacharyya. She is the disciple of her father Pandit Debasish Bhattacharyya and Padma Bhusan Guru Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta. She is a Senior Grade Scholar of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, currently pursuing her PhD in Music.

    The small you tube clipping is a part of the re-recoded performance by Debasmita at Ravenna festival, where she performed in the Basilica di San Vitale in Italy organized by Darbar Festival in June 2017. In this clipping, she is accompanied on the Tabla by Gurdain Singh Rayatt – Disciple of Late Pandit Bikram Ghosh.
    Just listen to her and get intoxicated in the Divine and Majestic realm of Kaunsi Kanada

    Pure Bliss!!!
    Debasmita will be making her debut in the United Kingdom in the Autumn of 2017 with her performance at the main Darbar Festival in November 2017. The minimal details are given in the introduction part of this You Tube clipping. The complete details can be had from the Darbar. org website