Our series on representation of birds in Hindustani music continues with the eighth episode touching upon the garuda, a name used to refer to the mythical mount of Vishnu, the Creator of the Universe. Described variously in English as eagle, vulture and kite, the garuda in its mythical form is also linked to Krishna, an avatar or incarnation of Vishnu. In this case, the garuda occupies a position on Krishna’s flag, which is called the garuda dhwaja. The garuda also finds a presence in Buddhist and Jain mythology.
Seldom is this bird found in more popular Hindustani vocal compositions, but there is one that mentions the garuda dhwaja. This is a vilambit or slow khayal in praise of Krishna in the raag Vibhaas, a raag prescribed for the morning. The track features maestro Jitendra Abhisheki singing this composition in the 12-matra Ektaal. He follows this with a drut or fast khayal in Ektaal.
A pada written by the saint-poet Surdas and sung by Bhagvatiprasad Gandharva in the Haveli Sangeet tradition followed in the Vaishnav temples of northern India. The strong influence of the dhrupad-dhamar forms on the Haveli Sangeet tradition is clearly noticeable in this presentation. The pada is composed in Vrindavan Sarang, a raag prescribed for the afternoon, and is set to the ten-matra Jhaptaal played on the pakhawaj. This composition describes the garuda as a mount for Krishna.
The same pada is featured from 22.40 minutes to 28.34 minutes on the next track. Sung by vocalist and composer Atul Desai, the pada is composed here in Desi Todi, a raag prescribed for the morning, and is set to Jhaptaal.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.