A novice’s romance with Raga Durga

October 21, 2012

Remembering Durga, Sangeet Mahakumbh at Patna and Pandit Kumar Gandharva

DurgaThere are great romantic lovers like Dev Anand renowned for their ways with women.  And there are illiterate, bumbling ones no less endearing like Raj Kapoor with Padmini in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai – so has been my romance with Raga Durga for over 35 years.

Like anyone with an ear for music who grew up in the 1960s and 70s, I was glued to the radio if I was not doing anything else. My life was programmed around Vividh Bharati, Radio Ceylon, AIR Urdu Service, and by my early twenties I was thoroughly steeped in the music of the 30s through 60s – both film songs and non-film ghazals, geets, bhajans (which were collectively known as ‘private’ songs). I also knew that there was a shastriya sangeet, meant for those who learnt the shastras – the kind who did sa re ga ma pa dha ni sa on the tanpura, sitar or the harmonium in the mornings, to some amusement if not irritation of the neighbours.

Then my life changed in my early twenties when a friend gifted me an LP of Bismillah Khan-VG Jog jugalbandi, of which the anchor piece was Raga Durga. Obviously I knew nothing about Raga Durga, nor probably had I heard its name. But this piece mesmerised me, and its tune gripped me in a way that for many days no other song would come to my mind. My mind had become this LP in which Raga Durga played endlessly. Then I started looking for and collecting more and more Durga’s and going to concerts.

Sangeet mahakumbh at Patna in Durga Puja

Blessed were those who lived in Patna during 1950s through 80s because that was the place on the earth where every Durga Puja on Saptami and Ashtami nights, all the Gandharvas, Apsaras and Devas descended. There were all-night concerts of classical music and dance at multiple locations where thousands would congregate and enjoy the delight in the open air. There were four major Puja Samitis – Patna Junction, Gandhi Maidan, Langartoli and Govind Mitra Road – which would get the biggest names. There was no state involvement, it was completely financed, sponsored and organised by private initiative – businessmen and people with old money, erstwhile zamindars and princely states.

You imagine a sangeet mahakumbh – after finishing dinner, the whole of Patna and nearby places, lakhs of people would hit the streets. Walking was the only mode possible, because all the roads and streets would be clogged with people going from one venue to the other. After you have done Sanyukta Panigrahi at Patna Jn, you may walk down to Gandhi Maidan where you might catch Birju Maharaj, then at Langartoli you might get Pt Jasraj and then to Govind Mitra Road to get some Bhimsen Joshi or Kishori Amonkar. And so it would go on for the next night. Ustad Vilayat Khan at one venue, then MS Gopalakrishnan at the next and you could still be in time for Bismillah Khan and VG Jog at Gandhi Maidan, whom the audience would not let go and it would be about 10 in the morning when they would end with Bhairavi.

Every top artiste in the country had a fixed calendar for Durga Puja – the whole country knew Patna was their destination. Their time would typically start after mid-night. They would be preceded by ‘light’ music – even that would be of the class of Anup Jalota, Bhupendra-Mitali, Rajendra Mehta-Neena Mehta etc.

Alas, this great Patna tradition died a gradual death in the 90’s due to a combination of factors – changing demographics and taste, payment disputes between artistes and the organisers, and law and order situation. But I was there at its zenith. Thus started my delving into the world of classical music. I developed deep fascination for several other Ragas. Bhimpalasi came next in my pecking order, followed by about a dozen which became my great favourites – Desh, Desi, Sur Malhar, Madmat Sarang, Naiki Kanhra, Nat Bihag, Bhairavi, Kafi, Jaunpuri, Maand, Adana, Bageshree, Pahadi, Jaijaiwanti, Jhinjhoti, Yaman etc. To be sure, there were also some which held no appeal to me such as Pooriya, Todi and Shree.

Learning music from Guruji

I did not know why I liked some Ragas intensely and some not at all. My ignorance always rankled me. I was told that if you learnt classical music you would enjoy it even more. That opportunity came when my daughters were about 8-10 years old. We engaged a Guruji who came every weekend to teach them. I would try to make a mental note of his lessons – sa sa dha pa ga re sa re ga/ ga re ga pa dha pa for Raga Bhopali and so on. Soon I realised my heart was not in this Eklavya-style of learning. I would much rather spend my time listening to music. At the end of the session Guruji would very kindly stay on at my request for some time. I would bring out my favourite LPs and cassettes with great excitement to enjoy the music in the company of the master. There were pieces that would deeply move me, but I found Guruji shaking his head with disapproval. Either सम अपने स्थान से खिसका हुआ था (The fundamental note was not at its right place) or komal gandhar had got mixed with shudh gandhar or Desh had crept into Tilak Kamod. Nothing escaped Guruji’s discerning ears. I was mightily impressed, but I concluded learning music was beyond me. I have since remained as illiterate as ever, but that has not dimmed my love for classical music, and romance for Raga Durga in particular.

I have not given up my dream of learning music, but I have postponed it for afterlife. For those interested in some introduction to Durga, here is a very good one.

Some heavenly Durgas

Meanwhile here are some Durgas, which have fascinated me over the years. I have so many of them in my playlist, it is difficult to leave some – one unique thing about Durga is no matter who is the artiste, the very first few notes transport you to a deeply blissful world.

Bismilaah Khan and VG Jog jugalbandi: Love at first sight

This is the one which started my romance with Durga when I was very young, and as Spencer Tracy reminisced in his long monologue in the climax of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner Tonight about his passion for Katharine Hepburn when they were young, ‘I know exactly how I feel about her…old yes, burnt out certainly, but I can tell you the memories are still there, clear, intact, indestructible and they will be there if I live to be 110’.


Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

I am not the only one whom Durga has enchanted this way. I remember Adnan Sami mentioning in a TV reality show that when he first heard Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s Raga Durga, it was an experience he could not describe; the effect was so deeply moving, his whole concept of music changed. This was exactly how I felt when I first heard Durga. Thanks to Music Today his Durga has acquired an iconic status. Here is a shorter version he is presenting live at a DD National’s music show.

Amjad Ali Khan live_Raga Durga

Adnan Sami and Zakir Hussain

Adnan Sami is a maestro on the keyboard. Playing a classical raga on keyboard has its limitations. But Durga impressed him so much, the first time he teams up with Zakir Hussain on stage at a concert sponsored by Pearl Continental Hotel in Karachi, he chooses this Raga to play.

Adnan Sami, Zakir Hussain live at Karachi_Raga Durga

Hari Prasad Chaurasia

There is something very special about Durga and its appeal is pervasive. I came across Durga at the unlikeliest place a few months ago when I happened to visit Chandigarh. I stayed near Sukhna lake. I took morning walk around the bank of the lake, and lo and behold I hear Durga on flute wafting through the piped music system from the shrubs at the promenade! God bless the Chandigarh Administration. Here is Durga on the flute by Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia, which I believe was the one playing at Sukhna lake.

Raga Durga at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh

Pt Bhimsen Joshi

Instrumental music cannot match up to the human voice. A very famous traditional bandish in Durga Tu raskhan re/ Chatur sughara balamwa is a favourite with singers from different gharanas. But the most celebrated and definitive is this gem from Pt Bhimsen Joshi – Tu raskhan re in slow tempo followed by Chatur sughara balamwa in fast tempo.

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi_Raga Durga vilambit_Tu raskhan ho
Pt Bhimsen Joshi_Raga Durga drut_Chatur sugharaa balamwaa

Pt Rajan Mishra-Sajan Mishra

Durga is the most befitting Raga for stuti of Goddess Durga. I have used Ghulam Mustafa Khan’s Jai Durge durgati pariharini earlier in my article on the Forgotten Composer, Pardesi. Perhaps the best known Durga stuti in Durga is Jai jai jai Durge Mata by Mishra brothers of Benaras, again thanks to Music Today. This piece is remarkable for their very relaxed elaboration of each note of Durga.

Pt Rajan & Sajan Mshra_Raga Durga vilambit_Jai jai Durge Mata
Pt Rajan & Sajan Mishra_Raga Durga drut_Jai jai Durge Mata

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan

How do the music lovers across the border in Pakistan respond to Raga Durga?  Great music transcends borders and cultures.  In this live TV performance Ustad Fateh Khan starts with these opening remarks – Isko bahut pasand kiya gaya hai. To aaj mood hai is raga ka, ki aap logon ko Durga sunaya jaye. The anchor endorses Ji Bismillah. Then the first few notes of Durga on the sarangi are followed by Sakhi mori rum jhum. The effect is magical, and the next 18 minutes you see the Ustad, accompanists and the audience bound together in an ethereal experience.

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan live_Raga Durga_Sakhi mori rum jhum

Pt Omkarnath Thakur

What happens if you compress 18 minutes of Sakhi mori rum jhum in 3 minutes? The reproduction technology of 1940-50s required that artistes had to limit their composition in a 78 rpm disc of 3 minutes. Many doyens of classical music baulked at the idea, but some great artistes decided to adapt. It is this format which contains some of our most precious musical legacy. A master like Pt Omkarnath Thakur can mesmerise you in 3 minutes of Sakhi mori rum jhum as if he gave a full scale khayal.  (Note: See comment #17. Shri Kiran Begari points out that it was sung by Pt Narayanrao Vyas.  I tend to agree with him.  It seems the uploader has wrongly attributed it to Pt Omkarnath Thakur.)

Pt Omkarnth Thakur_Sakhi mori rum jhum

Ashwini Bhide Deshpande

A tarana is a delightful fast tempo garnishing that is usually sung at the end of the khayal. It is also not uncommon for some artistes to sing it as a stand alone piece. This tarana by Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, one of the leading artistes of today, is delightful as well as profound, appropriate to Raga Durga.

Ashiwin Bhide Deshpande_Tarana Raga Durga

My encounters with Raga Durga (?) in Chennai

I happened to stay in Chennai for about a month for official work a few years ago. This coincided with their season of musical festival, which is still a living tradition there – concerts at multiple locations, albeit a bonsai version of Patna of the 1980’s I saw. In my evening rounds of various venues I would come across something which would draw me like a magnet – this was an unmistakable Durga effect. My local escort was not musically inclined, which I found a little surprising, because I thought every Tamilian was a musician. But he was able to arrange my courtesy visits to the greats like MS Gopalakrishnan whom I had heard in Patna – he was equally proficient in playing the violin in Carnatic and Hindustani styles. That was my discovery of Shudh Saveri, equivalent of Durga. Next you have this beautiful lady illustrating the two Ragas in the two systems, followed by Shudh Saveri recital in three parts by the doyen of Carnatic music GN Balasubramanyam – slow, medium and fast tempo. You can listen to each part independently in any order, but if you have time, I suggest proceed in sequence.

Rajani Gayatri explains Shudh Saveri and Durga

Shudh Saveri_Durga

GN Balasubramanyam_Shudh Saveri

GNB_Raga Shudh Saveri_Part 1
GNB_Raga Shudh Saveri_Part 2
GNB_Raga Shudh Saveri_Part 3

My ultimate Raga Durga experience: Kumar Gangdharva live

Sometime in the early 1990s, I had the singular good fortune of listening to Kumar Gandharva live with a small invited audience. I willed with all the shiddat, ‘Pray, please Kumarji, please sing Raga Durga. Amazingly my silent prayers reached him because he announced in his divine voice, मैं आपको सांझ समय का राग संजारी सुनाऊंगा, राग संजारी. उसके पश्चात थोड़ा समय में मैं आपको राग दुर्गा (!!!) सुनाऊंगा. और ये दो राग होने के बाद एक मीरा का भजन, एक गोरखनाथ का भजन और एक कबीर का भजन, इतना मैं आज आपको सुनाऊंगा (I would present before you an evening Raga Sanjaari first, Raga Sanjaari. After this, I would present Raga Durga for a short while. After these two Ragas, a Meera bhajan, a Gorakhnath bhajan and a Kabir bhajan. This is what I plan to present before you today). It would be at least 15 years later when Shahrukh Khan would take avatar in Om Shanti Om to recount my experience thus, Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho to poori qayanaat use tumse milaane ki koshish mein lag jati hai (If you desire something with all the intensity, the whole universe sets about to get it for you). I managed to get a copy of that recording by means which may not be entirely honourable. Love makes you blind. Kumarji passed away in about a year’s time after that, so this might be one of his last public performances. After about two decades I am redeeming myself by putting out my priceless possession in public domain. There was some loss of quality towards the end when I decided to digitise the tape, but Kumarji’s voice has enough timbre to give you a sense of the heavenly impact this had on the audience.

Pt Kumar Gandharva live_Raga Durga_Part 1
Pt Kumar Gandharva live_Raga Durga_Part2

My pilgrimage to Gandharva Bhoomi

In my job, getting entangled in the web of our legal system is a common occupational hazard. My experiences range from hilarious to horrifying. But the most bizarre was this summons I got from the Judicial Magistrate, First Class of Dewas to appear before him on such and such date at 10 AM failing which he would be compelled to issue a non-bailable warrant against me because I had failed to respond to his earlier notices (which I can swear I had never received). Someone has said law is an ass, and you do not argue with an ass. Except that Dewas was the place where Kumar Gandharva had spent most of his life, it was as good as Timbuktu to me and I could not see any earthly reason why I should get that summons from the magistrate. Anyway, after a good deal of research on how to reach here, I set upon my train journey with some trepidation, accompanied by my wife who was bound by her vow at the time of saat phere to stand by me through good times and bad times. I took it as divine will, hoping that I might just get a chance to pay my homage to Kumarji’s place and meet his family members.

The court matter turned out to be surprisingly benign. Firstly, I was not an accused but a witness (which fact was not clear from the summons). My job was to ‘prove’ my signature on an official document which ‘A’ was citing as evidence in his suit against ‘B’. After the customary Main jo kahunga sach kahunga aur sach ke siwa kuchh nahin kahunga and Main apni marzi se bina kisi ke dabaav mein bayaan de rahaa hun, I ‘proved’ my signature. I always thought that this provision of the Indian Evidence Act was quite absurd; the court could very well ask the concerned office to confirm the authenticity of a document. But I did not crib this time, because my next stop was Pandit Kumar Gandharva’s house, Bhanukul, to pay my homage to him. Vasundhara Komkaliji received me and my wife with great kindness. I mentioned to her the live concert when Kumarji sang Durga in which she also lent her voice. (As a matter of fact she often provided vocal support in his singing, which always enhanced the beauty of his presentation). Their daughter Kalapini Komkaliji happened to be away on a concert. Here is a photograph of our visit there.

Kumar gandharva_Bhanukul

Today is  Maha Saptami of Navratra, when the idol of Goddess Durga is installed with sacred rituals, which brings her divine presence in the image. This night about 30 years ago I would join a sea of humanity, going from one sangeet mahakumbh to the other, hoping to meet my favourite Durga. I met some other beauties, many of whom I liked immensely, but Raga Durga remained my principal consort. Wishing everyone a Happy Durga Puja and blessings of the Goddess for all.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Subodh Agrawal October 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

I think AK that not learning classical music formally has permitted you to enjoy Durga and other ragas in their natural purity. Knowing something about them often distracts from pure enjoyment when you start noticing an uncharacteristic note or movement. On the other hand there the enjoyment gets coloured by the self-congratulatory pleasure of being able to ‘appreciate’ the nuances of the raga. I don’t think you are missing anything by not learning music formally.

There is something about live concerts. I recall one by Kumar in Kanpur when I was a student there. My friends and I got standing room only in the balcony – farthest from the stage. Kumar was singing some unknown raga and frankly we pretended to enjoy it more than we actually did. But the mood changed completely when he followed it up with his nirgun bhajan ‘sunta hai gyani’. For about five minutes one glimpsed the divine – and this comes from a confirmed atheist! It took me several years to locate an LP with this bhajan but that LP, and the youtube recordings of today have never been able to recreate the magic of that evening. In fact this bhajan doesn’t sound very good in recording.

I had seen a TV program of Adnan Sami, who is another person not trained in classical music who got completely bowled over by Raga Durga. Here is a recording by him: http://youtu.be/yqEfBpnjLMU

A favourite of mine in Durga, which I recall sharing with you once on Youtube, is this recitation of Chapter 9 of Bhagvadgeeta by Lata:

Only the first few minutes are in Durga, then it moves to Yaman and other ragas. I haven’t heard it till the end to catalogue all of them. Maybe the portion following Yaman will help you get over your aversion of Puriya Dhanashri.

Thanks for this beautiful post. The musical links are great and your personal reminiscences make them even more special. The SoY family would also love seeing you in person – nice that you chose to lift the veil of anonymity.

2 ASHOK M VAISHNAV October 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

A great way to celebrate Durgaashtami.

L P records of Raga Durga by Bismilla Khan / V G Jog and the one by Amjad Ali Khan were also part of my early collections. Yes, unconsciously, all of us have been ingrained in the spirit of Durga, by listening to Stotras in Puja and Yaganas being performed.

Here are some links on the divine side of Durga:

नवरात्र पर विशेष- दुर्गा के नौ रूप पं. केवल आनंद जोशी Sunday October 14, 2012 http://blogs.navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/aasthaaurchintan/entry/%E0%A4%A6-%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%97-%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%AA-%E0%A4%8F%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%B8-%E0%A4%A5

अथ सप्तश्लोकी दुर्गा – http://thedivinesoul.blogspot.in/2008/04/blog-post_9487.html

श्री दुर्गा चालीसा http://thedivinesoul.blogspot.in/2008/04/blog-post_06.html and http://youtu.be/bwPdADAHWtE

Sahajyoa.org has presented Raga Durga as Raag for Heart – http://youtu.be/XQtwrdg3SvQ

I am quite sure that other more knowledgeable readers will have far more to add to this excellent treatise of Raag Durga.

3 Ashok Vaishnav October 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

AKji has made this Durgaashtami very special for all of us – if this post was not a crown in itself, we have an icing on the cake by his ‘personal’appearnce in this post!

The LP records of Bismillah Kahan and V G Jog and that of Amjad Ali Khan were also part omy early collection. Such was the affinity to Raag Durga, deeply embroiled by listening to musicla renderings of Durga Stutis at various Pujas performed during variious occassions of Ygnas those days.

That gives me an opportunity to present the divine side of Durga:

नवरात्र पर विशेष- दुर्गा के नौ रूप पं. केवल आनंद जोशी Sunday October 14, 2012 http://blogs.navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/aasthaaurchintan/entry/%E0%A4%A6-%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%97-%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%AA-%E0%A4%8F%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%B8-%E0%A4%A5

अथ सप्तश्लोकी दुर्गा – http://thedivinesoul.blogspot.in/2008/04/blog-post_9487.html

श्री दुर्गा चालीसा http://thedivinesoul.blogspot.in/2008/04/blog-post_06.html and http://youtu.be/bwPdADAHWtE

Sahajyoa.org has presented Raga Durga as Reag for Heart – http://youtu.be/XQtwrdg3SvQ

An then, this composition in Durga raga,set to Adi tala is a musical offering to the Mahaswamigal or the Paramacharya of Kanchi Sri Sankara mutt by Dr.Vellore A.R.Srinivasan – http://youtu.be/lZ86SM5F4bo

A quick journey on Google /Youtube search has given a few more clips on Raag Durga:





GANGUBAI HANGAL – This 78 rpm disc was recorded in 1935, two years before Gangubai started learning from Sawai Gandharva, http://youtu.be/f7brr830fHo and Chota Khayal recorded by All India Radio – http://youtu.be/nLZ3xFdFZk0

An extract from a performance by Girija Devi, taken from the archives of the Asian Music Circuit. – http://youtu.be/vHIaa1oi03w

Ustad Bismillah Khan – http://youtu.be/4gvgVQX22q8

Ustad Harvinder Singh http://youtu.be/MaBuXF9NX5Y

Saatvik Sequencers’ is a conceptual music project by Nikhel Kumar Mahajan and Hari Singh. – http://youtu.be/Zftsgn0Bh2c

Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and Nazakat Ali Khan – http://youtu.be/wuxQlg3JT18

4 AK October 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Ashok Vaishnavji,
You have as usual added so much more to our Raga Durga delight. The articles on the Divine Durga were a bonus, though it was quite disconcerting to find in one of the articles some comments in a very obscene and poor language. I am surprised why the site manager did not exercise his right to moderate. Internet is a very lax medium, but on Durga one thought people would show some sense, and what was the ‘provocation’? Simply that one of the commenters said that instead of idols we should worship the niraakar form of the divine. How does this call for vilest abuses?

I am digressing. But coming back to Durga, some of the ones you have mentioned I am familiar with. Ghulam Mustafa Khan’s Jai Durge durgati pariharini is my great favourite. I have used it in an earlier post. In this post also I have referred to it and given its link.

Bismillah Khan’s piece is superb. But I was looking for precisely his jugalbandi with VG Jog, which was my love at first sight. But now when you mentioned it, I heard it again carefully. In its own right also it deserves a place:

Bismillah Khan plays Raga Durga

I can believe Sahajyoga using Raga Durga for heart condition, it is so soothing and uplifting:

The one by Dr Vellore AR Srinivasan is in Raga Durga? My simple test is it should do to me what Raga Durga does. On that criteria it fails. We would need the expert Subodh to confirm.

The compositions by Zahida Parveen, Adithi Ravi, Imrat Khan, Ustad Harvinder Singh, and Salamat and Nazakat Ali are what we expect from Raga Durga – simply superb:

Zahida Parveen sings Raga Durga

Adithi Ravi plays Raga Durga on the keyboard

Ustad Imrat Khan plays Raga Durga on the sitar

Ustad Harvinder Singh plays Raga Durga on the sitar

Raga Durga by Ustad Salamat Ali, Nazakat Ali

The Satvik Sequencers’ experiment I did not fully understand. I will have to go back to them. Girija Devi’s Raga Durga showed this was not her forte, this left something wanting. Gangubai Hangal is obviously another class. I have heard her full Tu raskhan ho/ Chatur sughara, which is no less than her illustrious Kirana colleague Bhimsen Joshi’s – she made her cracked voice after a throat ailment into her identity and her trademark strength. This must be there on YouTube. But the 3 minute piece you have linked is equally delightful:

As an aside, it is intereting how some bandishes acquire an identity with a particular Raga and great popularity across gharanas, time and space. We have seen Sakhi mori rum jhum by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan in Pakistan and Pt Omkarnath Thakur. If you search on YouTube, it seems everyone has sung it.

5 Pankaj Sharan October 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Interesting story telling! And a good collection of clips.

Rag Durga seems to be a favorite of Amjad Ali Khan, and he plays it often. Doordarshan has made a DVD of his Rag Durga presentation.

Regarding equivalence of Shudh Saveri and Durga, I am not so certain. The notes may be the same, but I feel (from the given example) that the rishabh of Saveri is a little flat. May be Carnatic music uses 3-shruti rishabh as against our 4-shruti. And, of course, the movement is certainly different.

Thanks for the lovely post.

6 Subodh Agrawal October 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I have finally found a recording of ‘Chandrika hi janu’ by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan on Youtube. This one is labeled as Devgandhar. Devgandhar in Hindustani sangit is formed by use of shudh ga in Asavari/Jaunpuri. There is the Carnatic raga Devagandhari which is somewhat like Durga with occasional use of ga. To me this recording sounds like regular Durga. I listened hard for use of ga in the bandish, but couldn’t clearly locate it. Maybe it just touched in passing during the quicker movements. The piece has the mood of Durga and I would suggest we enjoy it as such:

7 Subodh Agrawal October 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Well, finally I have noticed the use of ga in ‘chandrika’ towards the later part of the recording in the bol taaans. But still it does not take away from what I said in the previous comment. This recording has the mood of Durga all through.

8 AK October 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Thanks Pankaj for stopping by and your kind words. SoY benefits a great deal from learned persons like you and Subodh.

9 AK October 22, 2012 at 12:07 am

I can’t thank you enough for Abdul Karim Khan’s piece. I was searching it in Durga. To me it is a perfect Durga. I can clearly hear in the drut part ‘Chandra kiran ab bhaye na‘, which now makes the mood absolutely clear – the nayika in virah finds the moon rays not soothing, but painful, and what better than the pathos in Abdul Karim Khan’s voice to convey this.

10 Rajiv C. October 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Hello —

Nice to see GNB, and other Carnatic tradition musicians along with the Hindustani counterpart. Learning requires exposure to all systems of music and listening to “good” artistes.

Here is another Kumar Gandharva rendition of Durga:


11 AK October 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

It is not working, but thanks for stopping by.

12 AK October 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Later I was able to hear it. Durga and by Pt. Kumar Gandharva has to be out of this world! Thanks again.

13 Rajiv October 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Glad you were able to hear it. I just came by to check that the link I pasted here was correct and functional.

I am happy you enjoyed it as well.

14 n.venkataraman October 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Intense passion and inherent romantic inclination, brings out the best out of a seeker. Your latest endeavour endorses this view. The article on your tryst with Raag Durga three decades ago, followed by a long romantic journey in pursuit of your dream and your close encounters with Durga of different genre and the ultimate experience of meeting your ‘principal consort’ in a private concert of Pandit Kumar Gandharv ji ( after a silent and fervent prayer), made a wonderful reading. And the episode on your pilgrimage to the “Punya Gandharva Bhoomi’ was also interesting.

Listening to the accompanying links provided by you and the add-ons by Ashok Vaishnav ji was listener’s delight, especially the three minutes renditions of Pt.Omkatnath Thakur & Smt. Gangubai Hangal, the two part rendition by Pt. Kumar Gandharv, Utd. Bismilah khan’s jugalbandhi with Pt. V G Jog and his solo. I listened to Harvinder Singh for the first time and was quite impressed by his performance.

I have always associated Raag Durga with the valleys and mountains. The early morning misty sky reflected on a clear blue lake, the distant hillocks with the yellow mustard fields spread wide across the valley on the foreground. One could visualize this scene especially when this Raag is played on the flute or Santoor. But Utd Salamat Ali and Utd Nazakat Ali could bring out this effect in the earlier part of their vocal rendition.

I am providing the link to a performance in Raag Durga on the flute by young S Akash when he was 10years old. He is having his ‘Talim’ under the guidance of Pt.Ronu Mazaumdar. Akash, who is 15 years now, is the cousin of another flautist Shasank Subramaniyam. Shashank too gave his first public performance at the age of six. It is heartening to know that the legacy of this tradition, passed on to us by the great maestros of yore, is in competent hands.

Needless to say that Raag Durga is also my favourite and I could recollect with delight my first excursion to classical music, where Durga gave me company. It was a wonderful experience.

I will present a few of my favourite pieces in Raag Durga:
You will find two beautiful renderings of Raag Durga by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan; a solo and a JugalBandhi with Pt. Ravi Shankar in the following links.



A Dhrupad Composition by Gundecha brothers


A song from the film ‘Geet gaya Patharon ne’ sung by Kishori Amonkar.

Moving next to Suddha Saveri, The rendition by the maestro GNB was great. The salient features of this Thyagaraja Swamigal’s composition are Gambhira prakriti, straight notes, plenty of sangathis and not much of gamakams. Here are two more links to Raag Suddha Saveri.
The first one by Dr.Balamuralikrishna, rendering Thyagaraja swamigal’s composition ‘Kalaharana’.

The second one is by Mahathi rendering Periya Swami Thorar’s composition ‘Taye Tripura Sundari’.

The Raag Suddha Savewri has been used in the Tamil/Telugu film Missy Amma, the Hindi version of this film being Miss Mary.
The Tamil version:‘Brindavanmum nandakumaranum’, S: A M Raja & P Susheela , MD: Rajeswar Rao

The Hindi Version: ‘Brindavan ki Krishna kanhaiya’, S: Md.Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar, MD: Hemant Kumar


15 AK October 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

As expected, you have given us so many gems for savouring over time. Thank a lot.

Surprisingly, Kishori Amonkar’s song in Geet Gaya Patharon Ne never struck me as a great song. Subodh is also with me on on this. My most favourite film song in Raga Durga is Chanda re mori patiya le ja, a duet by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Banjarin. But superior to this, in fact my ultimate in a related genre ‘sugam sangeet’, is Pankaj Mullick’s Ye raatein ye mausam ye hansna hansaanaa.

Brindavan ka Krishna Kanhaiya I absolutely love, both the Hindi and Tamil versions.

There is something mesmerising in Durga. Several of my musically inclined friends, who were not particularly aware of Durga or did not give much attention to it, became equally fascinated when I mentioned this Raga to them and made them listen to a few compositions. In some cases Durga has become their most favourite Raga displacing their earlier top favourite. I cosider myself lucky that I met this beauty when I was very young, fell for it on the first sight, and had a long romance and some absolutely unbelievable encounters ending with my pilgrimage to Gandharva Bhumi.

16 n.venkataraman October 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Thank you AK ji.
Both the songs were good. The song by Pankaj Mullick, which was new to me, was wonderful.

17 Kiran Begari November 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Dear Shri AKji,

Sakhi Mori Rum Jhum is not sung by Pt. Omkarnath Thakur as you have mentioned. It is actually sung by Pt. Narayanrao Vyas, gurubandhu of Pt. Omkarnathji.

By the way, I have not come across any Durga rendition by Pt. Omkarnathji yet.


18 AK November 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

It does sound like Pt Narayanrao Vyas. Thanks for the correction. YouTube must have wrongly attributed it to Pt Omkarnath Thakur.

I would love to hear Pt Omkarnath Thakur’s Durga. Until I wrote this piece, I had not come across Pt Kumar Gandharva’s Durga either (except the one I was priveleged to her live. Now I am aware of some more, thanks to the internet). It would be equally fantastic to discover Pt Omkarnath Thakur’s Durga.

19 Rajesh Kumar December 18, 2012 at 2:09 am


It was great reading. I don’t know much about Ragas but I could relate to a number of things mentioned in the write up.


20 mumbaikar8 January 25, 2013 at 7:38 am

@ AK ,

I want to ditto what Rajesh Kumar said.
My problem is that, at work when I have down time I can do the reading but cannot listen to or watch videos.
I am thinking of converting the videos to mp3 and listen to them while driving, but I do not know how long that will take.

21 Naresh P. Mankad February 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Raga Durga is best rendered by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan; his rendering has melody and simplicity of a song. Durga is most appropriate for devotional songs as we all have observed.

But isn’t this lovely duet of Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur from film Naag Devta (excellent composition by S. N. Tripathi) also in this most appealing raga?

Taaron ki thandhi chhaiyan

22 AK February 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm

The experts have to confirm this. How about this one?

Badra ki chhaon taley by Mukesh and Suraiya from Lekh (1949), lyrics Raghupat Roy, music Krishna Dayal

23 Naresh P. Mankad February 23, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Yes, Badra ki chhanv tale too is Durga. We can find many more songs based on or having shades of raaga Durga: Sundar naari pritam pyari, Chanda re mori patiyan leja (Banjarin), Raat ka sama jhume chandrama (Ziddi). Ye vaada karo chand ke samne too? When a song does not adher strictly to the constitution of a raaga, it is somewhat confusing to identify it.

24 Raj Sharma February 27, 2013 at 10:38 am

This is a territory I have little knowledge and the blog too vast to explore whether it is already included,but if it is Raag Durga and AK too keen about it I feel this rendition be of interest :
marajan sajan mishra jai durgay

25 Raj Sharma February 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

Sikh Gurbani has a divine association with classical music.It is commonly known that its every worse is embedded in music. I am fond of this song though I don’t understand it :
Prof. Surinder Singh ~ Raag Dhanasri ~ Gopal Tera Aarta

26 AK February 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Rajan Sajan Mishra’s Durga is here. You are right, Gurubani is divine, and it is set in very sweet ragas.

27 Naresh P. Mankad March 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I forgot to mention Naushad’s famous composition for Udan Khatola: O door ke musafir, hum ko bhi saath le le.

28 Shirish Nagarkar March 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I think, the list is not complete without adding Raag Durga by the great Vidushi Malini Rajurkar (Kahun Kase Man Ki Vida) and by Ganpati Bhat (Roop Joban)… Both are excellent and really top class…

29 n.venkataraman April 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Shirish Nagarkarji,
I listened to Vidushi Malini Rajurkar’s rendition of Raag Durga. It was good. Thank you.
But could not locate any Audio/video clipping of Pandit Ganapati Bhatt Hasanagi’s Durga. If you can provide the link, I would definitely listen to it.

30 Shirish Nagarkar October 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Shri VenkatramanJee,

Hope you liked Raga Durga by the great MaliniJee. The more you listen, the more you will fall in love with it. I was lucky enough to attend her concert here in Pune last Saturday. Great performance at the age of 73. Unimaginable !!! She responded to my personal request and sang “Lalawa Joban” Bhairavi Tappa at the end of the concert.
I do not have link for Ganapati Bhat’s “Roop Joban”.
I will try to upload the same.

31 N Venkataraman October 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

Shirish Nagarkar Ji,
Malini Rajurkar is indeed a great singer. I once again listened to her rendition of Raag Durga.
I listened to Ganapati Bhatt rendition of Raag Durga, which was uploaded on 17th July 2013, but not the ‘Roop Joban’ bandish. Here is the link.

Here is a short but beautiful rendition of ‘Roop Joban’ by Jaddan Bai

Hope Maliniji will be performing at the Sawai Gandharv – Bhimsen Joshi Sangeet Sammelan in December this year. I will be there at Pune from 11th to 15th December.

32 N Venkataraman October 11, 2013 at 9:22 am

Sorry. I missed to post the link.
Roop Joban, Raag Durga by Jaddabai

33 AK July 30, 2015 at 10:50 am

Ashwin Bhandarkar informs me Vasundharaji is no more. Too sad to hear it. I liked her voice immensely. I had the privilege of hearing her live, singing with Kumar Gandharva. I and my wife were enormously lucky to meet her at her home in Dewas. RIP Vasundharaji.

34 Ashwin Bhandarkar July 31, 2015 at 12:09 am
35 N.Venkataraman July 31, 2015 at 11:43 am

My respects and tributes to Vasundhara Komkali.
Thanks Ashwin ji for the Hindu link.

36 HARI SHANKER PRASAD August 6, 2015 at 12:04 am

I am not compu-tech savvy n have never joined any blog earlier ,but reading such a nice music blog has prompted me to respond.

I think you should also have admiration for KEASRBAI KERKAR in this series, who by her many rendition of Raag DURGA popularized this raag in the last century and recieved ‘ SurShri ‘ award from the hands of Guru Ravindranath at Calcutta way back in 1938.

Even the less known film music directors like PARDESI and RAMLAL HEERA PANNA have composed film songs with raag Durga in 60’s

37 ravi October 11, 2015 at 9:49 am

Durga is an amazing raga – and i too am like u – i tried to learn but didn’t stick onto it…
like some in ur readers, i also give a shout out to Malini Rajurkar’s Durga – she is unfortunately not as well known but she is truly one of the best ever!

38 Kamlesh Kapur January 19, 2016 at 10:35 am

Pyar kiya to darnakiya Mughale- Azam film
Wikipedia says, it is Durga, to me it does not sound like Durga.
Can any one please identify the raga?

39 AK January 20, 2016 at 7:17 am

Kamlesh Kapur,
I was wating for some knowledgeable person to respond to your query. As a novice who has heard some Durga, I can safely say Jab pyar kiya to darna kya is not Durga. I believe it is Darbari.

40 Vishwas Shirgaonkar April 10, 2016 at 5:35 am

“Chandrika hi zanu …” Is set to raag Aarabhi. It is just like Durga but with additional G in the descending movements. Some singers also use the N is the descent. Aarabhi uses P as the tonal centre unlike Durga that uses M.

This is a very old post and I stumbled upon it by chance. Hope someone stumbled upon my response in the future sometime!

41 AK April 10, 2016 at 5:51 am

Vishwas Shirgaonkar,
Welcome to SoY. The comment shows in real time, therefore, it will not go unnoticed. Thanks a lot for this information.

42 Durga November 5, 2016 at 7:06 am

Thank you for the beautiful blog. it’s a treasure cove .
As someone said, yes, it is incomplete without Malini Rajurker’s Durga , with which I fell in love with the raga when I heard it first time . I started liking my name so much from then on, thanking my parents 🙂

I have even attended Pune festival in 2013 just for Vidushi Smt.Malini Rajurkar’s live concert.

I was also looking for the mention of famous Ehi Murare by Lakshmi Shankar ji in your post.
here is the link .

Here is one more beautiful rendition in Raga Durga by Malladi Brothers .
this is a kriti written in sanskrit by Narayana Teertha . It is called Tarangam.

Thanks again for the beautiful post.


43 AK November 5, 2016 at 8:59 am

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your generous words. I am especially thankful for Malladi brothers’ Durga. A befitting addition to Rajan-Sajan Mishras’ Jai jai Durge Mata. Now we have Durga (stuti) in Durga added by Durga.

44 Durga November 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Thank you 🙂

Here is Malini ji’s Durga

the more you listen, the more you want to..


45 Ashwin Bhandarkar February 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

A serendipitous find – G.N.Joshi rendering a composition in Raga Durga for the film ‘Sant Tulsidas’. G.N.Joshi, as we all know, was the man we have to be grateful to for recording all the masters when he was at HMV. He is also credited with being the father of the Marathi bhavgeet genre.

‘Preeti mein man aaj birahta’


46 Siddineni Bhava Narayana April 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm

i have found you by chance.
Still it was not easy to find out who you are.
In my enthusiasm sans minimal grounding , i have been fascinated by Shuddha saveri and , Durga , as you prefer to call.
Especially by the way it has been used by Saluri Rajeswara Rao in A M Raja,s voice .
And by the shehani of Bismilla Khan.
And leately i have been introduced to Kumar Gandharva,s rendition of the Raga.
I appreciate you for your diligence in paying homage to a really creative soul.

I salute you for your discerning attitude toward art , and your acute sense of appreciation.
I cannot but mention your sense of propriety in keeping a low profile.
Yours appreciatingly,

Siddineni Bhava Narayana

Hyderabad-500 018.

47 AK April 5, 2017 at 12:23 am

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

48 Siddineni Bhava Narayana April 5, 2017 at 3:47 am

. Not that i had not known this film number. But your adjuncture with this classcal raga opened my eyes to the depth in the voice of the singer in monouvering the curves , especially at higher eleavations.It so happened that you opened my ears to the nuanced supple glides in the sublime tone of Kishori Amonkar, the legend breathed her last.

May we pray for the departed soul.
Let me pay my respectful homage to the memory of this individualistic artiste , that is Kishori Amonkar , and to her sensitive voice.

Siddineni Bhava Narayana

Hyderabad-500 018.

49 AK April 5, 2017 at 6:05 am

The film song did nothing to enhance her stature. But she has achieved immortal status for her Bhoop, Yaman, Nand, Bageshree and Jaunpuri. I join in paying my homage.

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