I have just come home after an uplifting satsang hosted by Neerja and Kumarmangalam Birla on the grounds of their magnificent mansion. It was a warm and still night, with the heady fragrance of rajnigandha thick in the humid air.... and yet, the moment I heard Vikram Hazra's version of 'Achchutam Keshavam..." I was transported. I forgot the heat... the traffic..... my persistent headache.That is the magic of music ... it can heal and soothe. And tonight I needed solace.... a gentle touch.... a reminder of my own vulnerability. Hazra is a senior instructor at The Art of Living Foundation. He is a self taught musician with no formal training. Perhaps that is best. He performs all over the world with his talented band, plays the flute beautifully.... and the guitar, too. But it is when he sings those well loved bhajans , and gives them a contemporary spin, that you experience divinity. The satsang ends with basic deep breathing exercises...... you shut your eyes and allow your mind to experience silence in the real sense of the word. A stillness settles into that over worked brain... and you find yourself floating.... your body - weightless, and your entire being suddenly at peace... one with the cosmos. Such a pity the spell has to be broken.... but at least you have been a small part of it... and for that alone you are grateful.
Hazra exudes good humour and cheer. An ex-Sony guy, he's married to a lovely young tv actress called Tina. I suspect he sings to her and for her! Which man wouldn't?? He jokes about his career switcheroo, saying lightly that he lives from bhajan to bhojan and loves it that way. His repertoire is eclectic with influences that range from Japan, Africa and Canada. He effortlessly combines all these marvelous sounds and weaves them into sanskrit shlokas... Surdas... Pali couplets. It has a mesmerising effect on listeners... as was evident that night. Oh well... I have reluctantly come back to earth. But who knows... I may wake up singing 'Achhutam Keshavam...' tomorrow morning.