BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Darshan Shah
Atlanta, GA: Rhythm Asia and Georgy Bhaala, Editor-in-Chief of Tathaastu magazine presented a historic spiritual experience of its kind in Atlanta-a jugalbandi between noted spiritual healer and astrologer Sri Chamunda Swamiji and renowned legendary Bhajan and Ghazal singer Anup Jalota. The event was presented with support and coordination by Global Mall owner and philanthropist Shiv Aggarwal, IACA Vice President Reena Gupta and Mustafa Ajmeri at Ashiana Banquet Hall in Global Mall, Norcross, Georgia, on Saturday March 23. It was graced by the presence of dignitaries of Atlanta community including Gandhi Foundation of USA(GFUSA) Chairman Subash Razdan, eminent hotelier, banker and philanthropist Nitin Shah, President of Sonal Furniture Stores in Global Mall and Macon, Shyam Gargand Ved Bhatia of TV Asia’s Atlanta Bureau.
In his brief remarks, Razdan recalled that when he was President of India American Cultural Association (IACA) in 1987, he had the honor and privilege to organize Jalota’s first concert in Atlanta at the Civic Center. It was so successful that IACA was able to pay off its mortgage loan from the concert’s surplus funds. IACA is a vibrant organization today, he said. “Anup Jalota needs no introduction. He is not only a Bhajan and Ghazal Samrat but also a global cultural ambassador. He was bestowed with Padma Shri Award in 2012. He was born in Nainital,Uttarakhand to Purushottam Das Jalota, a renowned exponent of bhajan and hails from the Sham Chowrasi Gharana of Punjab. He was educated in Lucknow. Jalota started his musical career as a chorus singer in All India Radio. Some of his popular bhajans include: Aisi Lagi Lagan, Main Nahi Makhan Khayo, Rang De Chunariya,etc.’
Introducing Sri Chamunda Swamiji Razdan said that in addition to his spiritual talks on Zee TV and Starplus TV, he offers personalized, empowering services at the Chamunda Swami Ji Healing Center in Hicksville, New York. He is described by many as a teacher who does not ask specifically about the challenges people are experiencing, but rather perceives unhappiness and offers assistance in finding a healing way through. Rather than offering miracles, he stresses the daily processes of focusing on positive thoughts through meditation and sustaining body wellness through Ayurvedic principles. One aspect of well-being in which the swami has interest and experience involves the effective management of stress. He emphasizes that while stress may at times seem outsized and uncontrollable, it can be alleviated through identifying root causes. He recommends noting stress in a diary each time it occurs and in the process becoming aware of the repeat stressors that are causing life imbalance. He notes that controlling stress involves taking charge of such elements as environment, schedule, emotions, thoughts, and ways of dealing with outside pressure.
Shyam Garg said that he felt proud and privileged to celebrate music, mantra and meditation through the Divine Journey event and to welcome two great Gurus to Global Mall and to Sonal Furniture. He recalled that when Tathaastu was launched in Mumbai, he happened to be in Delhi but was unable to attend the ceremony due to bad weather and so he now felt happy to welcome both Chamunda Swami and Anup Jalota to Atlanta. Anup Jalota is Bhajan and Ghazal Samrat whereas Chamunda Swamiji is Maa Bhagwati Samrat. The audience again gave a big applause as Jalota took a seat on the stage.
Jalota introduced and recognized members of his troupe-long-time friend and accompanist on tabla Ramesh Kumar, Bobby Rozario (guitar); Rakesh Bandopadya (octopad); and Amjad Kava(supporting tabla-player). He began with one of his most popular bhajan Aisi lagi lagan and immediately captivated the audience.
He paid a glowing tribute to the prominent Indian ghazal singer,late Jagjit Singh, ”Many singers will come and go but none like him” he said. And he sang, Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho. He had an immediate rapport with the audience. (At times he sang one line and invited the audience to sing the second, sometimes a few words etc.) He followed with ‘Hothon se choo lo tum’ .He brought the house down with the rousing song ‘ laal meri pat’ The audience clapped loudly, whistled and sang in unison. He continued the tempo with his bhajan ‘Tere Man Mein Ram Tan Mein Ram’. The audience was totally immersed into this blissful bhajan. He sang the same lines in different ragas raising and lowering his pitch which wowed the listeners . He quipped occasionally and was in a totally relaxed and jovial mood-even singing ‘Why this kolaveri’.
Occasionally he interweaved lines of different songs without affecting the flow. He sang ‘Sherawali maa’ as Chamunda Swami came on stage. Garg garlanded both Anup Jalota and Chamunda Swami. Chamunda Swami who spoke in Hindi lauded Jalota who is one of his close friends saying that the latter is blessed by Goddess Saraswati. Music is the best way to attain bliss. He advised the audience to give up negative thoughts like jealousy and focus on positive thoughts and give unconditional love to family members and people who count on you. You can reach God only through love. He urged them to follow the path of truth and honesty and live a contented life. Astrology is a useful science which can guide us but believe in yourself and with good deeds you can change your fate. Stressful living causes physical and mental problems so form a habit of a daily brief meditation(about half an hour) can help to reduce stress and tension and attain inner peace and balance in life. Swamiji gave beej Mantra to be recited several times during the day to help concentrate on and strengthen will power through Ajna Chakra(most powerful of seven chakras) and focus on one’s chosen God or Goddess during meditation, or when offering prayers. He also gave another mantra to be recited before going to bed and demonstrated pankh mudra (gently placing both palms to cover the closed eyes and focusing on Ajna chakra). After his illuminating discourse he fielded a few questions from the audience and touched upon ‘Kundalini’.
The audience listened in pin drop silence to Jalota’s soulful rendering of Baat niklegi to phir door talk jayegi’ and Ishq Jab Ek Taraf Ho To Saza Deta Hai .The next one was a romantic ghazal’ Chand Angdaiyan Le Raha Hai’ with quips and amusing one-liners. More favorites from his repertoire-’Rang de chunariya’, ‘chaudvin ka chand’ and heart tugging ‘yeh daulat bhi le lo. He also displayed his consummate singing prowess in these songs. All joined in singing uplifting bhajans ‘Makhan Brij mein ek churave…jag mein sunder hai do naam,chahe Krishna kaho ya Ram’ and famous poet Kabir’s Chadariya Jhini Re Jhini. The songs were followed with two rapturous jugalbandis between Jalota and guitarist Rozario and between Jalota and tabla maestro Ramesh Kumar, which elicited repeated applause. Once again all joined in singing concluding ‘Govind jai jaiGopal jai jai’.
Jalota informed the audience that in two months’ time, he will be releasing two new albums-‘Destiny ‘with songs by Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz and Jalota and ‘We love you Jagjit’with 9 songs sung by Shaan, Sukhwinder, Jalota, etc. Bhagawad Gita through Hindi songs will also be released.
In his Vote of Thanks, Atlanta’s leading cultural shows promoter Mustafa Ajmeri thanked Sri Chamunda Swami and Anup Jalota and troupe for coming to Atlanta and presenting the unique treat to the community. He thanked Georgy Bhaala without whom the event could not have been presented in Atlanta. He also thanked sponsors Shiv Aggarwal (who was in India) and his wife Anushi Aggarwal, AAHOA’s past Chairman and hotelier C.K.Patel, Managing Partner of New York Life’s Atlanta Office Puneet Seth, Nitin Shah, Shyam Garg and Ved Bhatia. He further thanked Vice President, IACA,Rina Gupta who worked tirelessly in all smooth arrangements for the event, Salim Panjwani for the sound system, Anwar Ajmeri, Mahendra Ganatra, Ashiana Restaurant, Sushma Patel of Fifth Season(complimentary stage setup and décor),media sponsors India ribune, NRI Pulse ,Jan Darpan, India in Atlanta, Atlantadunia, Desi-Express and Wownow, Anjali Chhabria of TV Asia, Rohit Patel, Ashok Goyal, Upendra Bhatt, Darshan Shah (photography) and Radio Asia. He said complimentary copies of Tathaastu magazine were available in the hall and requested those interested to subscribe directly to the Tathaastu publication.
A truly memorable and spiritually elevating evening!