Saturday, June 3, 2017

Kesarbai Kerkar: Jaa't Kahan Ho?

Kesarbai Kerkar (केसरबाई केरकर, 1892 -1977) was a classical vocalist,  the most prominent disciple of Alladiya Khan (1855–1946), the founder of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. She was one of the most noted Indian classical 'khayal' singers of the 20th century.  This thumri of her's in Raga Bhairavi, Taal Deepchandi, is part of the golden disk aboard the Voyager I & II spacecraft that carries a record of humanity's achievements and aspirations into interstellar space.

जा'त कहाँ हो अकेली गोरी, जाने न पैय्यों
केसर रंग के माठ भये होय, होरी खेलत कान्हा रे

Jaat kahan ho, akeli gori, jaane na paiyyon
Where do you go alone, girl, do your feet not know?

Kesar rang ke maath bhaye hoy, Hori khelat Kanha re
The fields are colored saffron, Krishna plays Holi (there I go.)

The sense is that of a companion or elder asking the young lady where she ventures by herself. She answers: Krishna (Kanha) is calling, playing Holi (Hori) in the fields, they are (i.e. my world is) become the color of renunciation.

Quo Vadis? We could ask that of any Voyager.