Harmony’s hymns strike a chord
By Meera Bhardwaj | Published: 03rd June 2017 10:00 PM |
When Husainsab Kanakagiri performs at festivals or concerts, he usually holds his audience spellbound with his knowledge and hold over the Dasa Sahitya—literature of bhakti movement composed by devotees in the honour of Lord Vishnu and his avatars. And that’s what happened when he was rendering Dasavanis and other devotional songs to a packed audience of more than 1,000 at Karnataka Secretariat Club in Bengaluru on May 25.
In a concert stretching for two-and-a-half hours, he sang different musical compositions ranging from Purandaradasa to Kanakadasa. Beginning the concert with a famous composition of Badarayana Vittala Dasaru, in Rag Yaman and set to Jhaptal, Husainsab went on to sing 8-9 popular kritis and melodies of various saint-poets from the Dasa Sahitya tradition.
His flawless rendition and explanation of each and every song, in fact, led to the audience, comprising government officials and employees, demanding him to sing the popular Kannada bhajans.
For this Bengaluru-based Hindustani classical vocalist, promoting this tradition has been a continuing commitment. The humble follower of Dasa Sahitya believes that god is everywhere and is reflected in our souls.
Hailing from the historical place of Kanakagiri in Koppal district of Karnataka, he started learning music at a young age. “I was inspired by my mother Honnur Bi who was a talented singer and used to sing folk music,” says the 63-year-old, who is running an agro-marketing company after retiring from the sales department of a private agro-pesticide firm. “It was due to the environment in my village that I developed love for Dasa tradition. I used to spend all my time in Hindu Brahmin households and I imbibed their culture. I was not treated differently even though I was a Muslim. I did my namaz regularly and did my rozas. The whole village that had only 12-15 households lived like one family. Later, this love turned into a passion with support from various mutts of Karnataka.”
Under the guidance of spiritual guru Krishnadas, Husainsab performed in many cities all over the country. He believes that one should communicate in a language that reaches the common man.
The singer, who runs a music school in Chamrajpet, the literary hub of Bengaluru, and has 20 students under his tutelage supported by two teachers who are disciples of Pandit Puttaraj Gawai, says, “When one looks at compositions of Purandaradasa, these are so meaningful and evocative and full of social messages. A bhajan like Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma is not just about invoking Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity but also invokes her blessings in a meaningful manner.”
Husainsab is equally at home in singing Vachanas of Basavanna, the 12th century philosopher-poet of Karnataka. “I am trying to do my bit for this world by singing Vachanas and Dasa Sahitya. I usually begin with a Ganesh stuti followed by Dasavanis set in different ragas,” says Husainsab, who practices for three hours daily.
He has also sung in the biennial Paryaya event of the ‘Ashta Mutts’ of Udupi in Karnataka and is a regular at the Mantralaya Mutt. When it comes to Mantralaya, he turns emotional and says, “Both Swamiji and the mutt have stood by me in times of emergency.”
Turning to social service, Kanakagiri now wants to do his bit for the society and has built a community hall in Raichur.
On June 6, Husainsab will give a discourse of one hour on Dasa Sahitya followed by his rendition to mark inauguration of a centre propagating this tradition, in Mangaluru.