The words ‘Jas’ and ‘Raj’ makes him the ‘King of Fame’ and Undoubtedly, Pt.Jasraj is one of the most iconic and world renowned figures of the Hindustani classical vocal music today. Sangeet Marthand Pt.Jasraj who is indeed a ‘Rasraj’ an enchanter, capable of evoking the “Bhakti Rasa” (Devotional Mood), through his renditions, that transcends the barriers of time and age. Be it ‘Mata Kalika’ or ‘ Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudevay ’his renditions soaks you in the divine mood taking you close to the almighty, that’s according to him is nothing but a blessing of Lord Krishna himself, who once came in his dream and said you must sing for me!
His ‘Darbari’ is as majestic as a King himself, that moves with its deep royal poise, taking you to the grandeur of the royal courts, from where the raga emerged, while his ‘Bihag’ makes you aware of the tender embellishments, that constitutes to the depiction of the Shringar Rasa (romantic mood), that portrays the very feel of the raga, while his ‘Adana’ makes you feel the power of ‘Shakti’ as he renders ‘Mata Kalika’ with a divine power, embellished with ‘Vakra’ high pitch Taans, that gives this sister raga of Darbari its very own unique form.
Born on 28 January 1930, in Pili Mandori, a village in the Hisar District of Haryana, this master craftsman of notes belongs to the Mewati Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music, and is the son of Pt. Motiram who was a classical singer. Young Jasraj was initiated into vocal music by his father, but was also trained in Tabla to accompany vocal performances of his brother Pt.Maniram, unfortunately life had its own turns for him and at the tender age of 4 Jasraj lost his father.
Success doesn’t come easy in the field of Hindustani classical music or for any field of art for that matter. Those were the times when Sarangi and Tabla players were considered as minor artists. By the time Jasraj reached the age of 14, he refused to take that treatment from his fellow musicians and vowed not to cut his hair, until he mastered the vocal art form to perfection.
Thus, at the age of 15 began his vocal training under Pt.Maniram, and later with the vocalist Jaywant Singh Waghela and Ustad Gulam Kadar Khan of Mewati Gharana. It was his first AIR Radio performance, where he sang Raga Kaunsi Kanada that is indeed a complex raga, after which he resolved to cut his hair, thus showcasing impeccable grit and determination at that very age!
Today at the age of 85, known for his precision, diction and deep timbre, the maestro has a vocal range that extends across three and a half octaves. Although following the Mewati Gharana repertoire, Panditji incorporated his traditional khayals with some delicate nuances of semi classical forms like ‘Thumri’ bringing flexibility in his khayals, thereby enhancing their aesthetic appeal. He did extensive research on the ancient temple music “Haveli Sangeet and “Kirtan” music and included many ‘Krishna’ compositions in his classical repertoire.
A virtuoso in himself Panditji is an excellent composer, which is evident from his novel innovation called the “Jasrangi Jugalbandi”, based on the ancient system of ‘Moorchhana’, between a male and a female vocalist, who simultaneously sing two different ragas at the same time, but in two different scales.
From popular ragas to a wide variety of rare ragas such as Abir Todi and Patdeepki that he performs with his dedicated students learning at his Gurukuls, where they gain deeper appreciation of the Gayaki of Mewati Gharana and other aspects of Hindustani music and tradition, helping them shape as future artists.
Panditji believes that classical Music belongs to everyone and has taken several initiatives in conducting lecture- demonstrations for the understanding of the commoners. Recipient of many awards, Panditji’s, greatest achievement is the adulation and love of his connoisseurs, which has inspired a whole new generation of Hindustani classical vocalists.
This piece was featured in our October 2017 issue: http://bit.ly/2zG0T80