How many ways can you say this song is great? How many times can you say this shabd is so beautiful? How many words can describe how powerful the composition is or how profound the peace that remains when the song is done? How many emotions can a heart withstand, struggling with the challenge of taking the song off the page, enjoying in amazement when it comes, singing, seeing, knowing, clarity and heart breaking realization, feeling the limitations of time and space. Turning the pages day after day, I’m not tired of it. Entering the last few months of this year-long project I am absolutely not feeling a sense of completion, but remain in awe of the bounties, it is only a beginning.
I pray my friends and family will love and appreciate the depth of meditation, the inner knowledge, the beauty to be seen, the wisdom shown, the perspective offered by these beautiful shabds. Although my voice does not do these songs justice, there is a space these songs invoke, obviously composed from depth and breadth of vision, outwardly expansive, inwardly penetrating. This book and these amazing old songs are an amazing gift from Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh. Who could have remembered them otherwise?
I’m reminded of my initial attempt in the 70’s to learn shabds from a book someone gave me. It would take days and weeks to work the notes off the page. Of course I didn’t sing these songs well, What did I know about rāg and tāl? But there was something that captivated me and something that even an ignorant person like me, sitting with a harmonium, could pull out of a song on a page.
It’s very different now, after having been taught. Learning required sitting with a teacher to unlearn old habits of mind and voice, train the ear to hear, acquire the tools and build the skills to discover a song and sing it. And the journey has just begun.
Moving into raga sarang this week was like moving into familiar territory. Singing a shabd that has been taught and learned is a totally different experience, when the words and melody are known and subtleties have been shown. Singing a song is different from learning a song. Playing the instruments, the voice relaxes, the mind rests, the song sings.