Bhojpuri music’s poster girl Kalpana Patowary is one of the few singers to have earned mass acceptance after Papon Angarag Manta & Zubeen Garg in Assam.
The Assam-born, Bhojpuri singer returns with her best yet - her Magnum Opus musical documented album “The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” – Brajavali Hymns (Times Music) in the 3rd edition of the Sankaradeva Movement in NCPA Mumbai this May 2014 organized by Trend MMS amidst the presence of music maestros Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, Pritam, Lalit Pandit, Anup Jalota, Gulzar Saab, Imtiaz Ali, Hariharan, Shantanu Moitra, Resul Pookutty Zubeen Garg, Kalpana Lazmi,Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussain.
“The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” is about the reformer, wandering philosopher, saint and poet Mahapurush Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Mahapurush Srimanta Madhavdeva from Assam.
This album is in collaboration for the first time to make some original sounds with Trilok Gurtu (Germany) - master of Indian percussion and Western drumming who plays a unique hybrid East-West drum set up @Guru Rewben Mashangva - Father of Naga folk blues @PAPON Angarag Mahanta and Zubeen Garg.
Says Kalpana, "The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” is a genre that is melancholic in nature and the notes and progressions let me express myself dramatically. I am really happy we could showcase the works (Naam Ghosha and Kirtan Ghosha) of Mahapurush Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Mahapurush Srimanta Madhavdeva from Assam. I think it is a big deal. I don’t think (Naam Ghosha and Kirtan Ghosha) has been presented in this way to the world before. I believe it means a lot to hold on to your roots and present this beauty to the world. It is a matter of pride and satisfaction. This album would encourage young people who love their land and culture.
The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut is one of my best and the most notable musical collaboration not only with various respectable artists but also with a variety of primitive instruments being used in this album.
From the traditional - ancient and extinct instrument Kalia to Sarinda to the Sundari to Doba to Djembe to Kahon to the Tabla, Shehnai, percussion, electronic hand sonic, drums, beads, electric piano, Acoustic Guitar, Nakara to Nagara to Bortal to Flute, this album is a cocktail mix of different sounds,” she shared.
I kept the folk vibe of traditional Ghosha original and added a more somber touch and I tried to keep the original and earnest vocal performance of the Barpeta style from my Mother.
The idea behind “The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” is as Kalpana refers…from where do I belong geographically, my mother tongue, my motherland….ASSAM owes me and as an artiste I have to pay back HER labour pain dues. SHE brought me up, infused traditional values, matures me up to face the outside world with dignity….the journey from Sorbhog, Barpeta to mayanagri Mumbai and then as the BHOJPURI QUEEN to rule the hearts of the heartland of India-Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.“The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” is an Anjali (offering) from Kalpana to Assam.
Now I had to choose from where to start…there were so much of elements. Various dimensions in my singing genre, from rural folk to raunchy commercial category, from Indian classical to western jazzy blues, I explored every kind in 26 different languages. In one word I would describe my music as free, with no restriction to any cultural boundaries or genres.
My father Bipin Patowary as my Guru, taught me our folk traditions and my mother Joymati Patowary infused into me our rich spiritual singing legacies. I opted my mother as the origin of everything I believe is the mother. My mother used and still sings THE SACRED HYMNS - THE KIRTANA GHOSHA AND THE NAAM GHOSHA…in Brajavali language-the scriptural language of Assam.In fifteenth century India,when the entire country was in a midst of a great social quandary, when Tantricism in its naked form accompanied by animal sacrifices and other vices got the upper hand,when casteism was dominant and a bulk of the population was treated as outcast and untouchables, when the all-pervading God was locked inside the temple,at that critical moment of religious crisis, many Saints arose in different parts of the country.
Ramananda, Ravidas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabir, Tulsidas, Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, Annamacharya,Bhadrachala Ramadas, Tyagaraja were some of them who started a reforming movement. The Bhakti movement, a Hindu religious movement of the medieval period that promoted the belief that salvation was attainable by everyone.
In the easternmost part of the country this reforming movement was initiated by an Assamese polymath: a saint-scholar, poet, playwright, social-religious reformer and a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam, Srimanta Sankardeva . His Bhakti derived inspiration from Bhagavata-purana and the practice of its teaching blossomed in the north eastern region of India through his literary works.The media of both music and drama were powerfully employed to win over the people to the teachings of the Bhagavata and, through its numerous narratives, love and devotion for the One Supreme God were instilled in the hearts of the people. His magnum opus is The Kirtana-Ghosha, a bhakti kavya per excellence, a work so popular that even today it is found in nearly every household in Assam. It contains narrative verses glorifying Krishna , not considered to be an incarnation of God but as the primary cause of all incarnations. If Sri Sankardeva’s the Kirtana-Ghosa is held in high esteem and respect as the main scripture by the Vaisnavites of Assam then The Naam Ghosa, composed by his principal disciple Srimanta Madhavdeva also holds a very unique place in the devotional literature of Assam. Madhavdeva , a genius poet, an erudite scholar, a musician of excellence, a litterateur of highly creative faculty and one of the initiators of Bhakti movement was asked by Sankaradeva to write a work that would be sweet as the plum but hard as the seed within it. This is the most perfect description of the Nāam Ghosā which is such excellent poetry and at the same time such nice exposition of the philosophy of Vaisnavism as preached by Sankaradeva. It is the magnanimous achievement of Mahapurush Madhavdeva’s life where he dealt with the most prudential philosophy of Vedas and Vedanta’s.
The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut is an album that everyone with a love for gentle Assam should listen to. There’s an appealing timelessness to these songs that demonstrates Kalpana’s willingness to stay true to her musical approach regardless of current musical fads. Kalpana surely feels honoured to produce and be a part of such a humongous & prestigious project, surely giving it back to where she came from!