The monographs in the Ragas of Hindustani Music section address the gamut of ragas and raga groups found in the contemporary praxis of North Indian Classical Music (aka Hindustani Music). Supporting the analysis are over 2000 audio clips, carefully culled to illuminate the structure of raga, its character and spirit. A significant portion of the audio material adduced remains commercially unavailable.
I wrote the first article of its kind on the ragas of Indian Classical Music – with embedded audio samples of actual performance as heuristic props – in March 1999 on the Usenet newsgroup rec.music.indian.classical. Audio streaming technology had just arrived at the desktop rendering it possible to supplement commentary with illustrative examples.
In early 2000, a couple of friends asked for an ‘under the hood’ understanding of the music and at their behest I began informally developing a series of essays on rec.music.indian.classical. Part of my motivation was the near-total absence of a rigorous treatment of the subject in English. Modern educated Indians have all but relinquished serious study of their own traditions thus ceding fertile pasture to third-rate Westerners (the number of first-rate Westerners investigating Indian traditions is negligible).
Soon thereafter, Anita Thakur, of the defunct South Asian Women’s Forum (SAWF) portal, volunteered to format the material and cast it up on her website. This enterprise continued through 2005 until the entire demesne of the ragas of Hindustani music had been surveyed. All through this journey I benefited from the encouragement and counsel of my guru Ramashreya Jha ‘Ramrang’ (1928-2009).
The Vijaya Parrikar Library, named after my mother, was realized in November 2003 with the goal of bringing to a wider audience old recordings that are zealously shielded, and sometimes pickled into oblivion, by self-important philistines. [Added: That was then. It is a different world now. Post-2013 there has been a stampede to upload private holdings to YouTube and other online platforms.]
The Indian sages of yore clearly understood that the pursuit of music paves the way to paramAnanda (Supreme Bliss). The profundity of music reveals itself through manan-chintan (reflection) and anubhava (wisdom born out of experience). Appreciation of the finer points of raga does not come by easy; it is purchased through considerable training and musical maturity. Be that as it may, there is a great deal on tap here for the earnest habitué. The cornucopia of audio material offered, mirabile dictu, brings the Beauty and Bliss of Indian Classical Music within reach of all sentient beings. On that pompous note,