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Mouni Baba ( 3rd March came the news of the death of Mouni Baba, three days after the mahasamadhi of Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on the last day of February. Jayendra Saraswati, born in 1935, was 82 years when he took samadhi. In the case of Mouni Baba we never knew his age as no one knew it and it was guessed that he was ninety three years old when he took samadhi though some newspapers said that he was 108 years old then.


As the Lok Sabha elections are drawing closer, corridors of power are replete with political discourses. Against this backdrop, astrologers too are busy making predictions, according to their own calculations. Whatever the political pundits might calculate about the formation of the next government, all the astrologers have one common prediction that Narendra Modi’s stars are shining and still the strongest, and according to planetary position, Narendra Modi can once again become the Prime Minister of the country.

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Musical training?

It is commonly said and often repeated that K.L. Saigal was a totally untrained singer in the sense that he had no formal training in singing. He did not belong to any classical gharana of Hindustani music as he was not the disciple of any famous singer though Ustad Fayyaz Khan did tie a ganda round his wrist. K.L. Saigal the world knows of, was the son of a musical mother who sang devotional and folk songs, which in a Hindu household men folk accept as part of tradition.

How Saigal got initiated into music is what his first daughter Neena, explained in an interview. His elder brother Ramlal was a sickly child, suffering from tuberculosis, a very deadly disease those days. The family doctor suggested that to divert the attention of the sick boy, he should be allowed to learn music, which having fallen into disrepute in northern India, was a social taboo. Yet, the father decided to allow the boy to learn it. K.L. Saigal, then eight years old (Mercury-Venus period), sitting outside the room of his brother,listened raptly to all those lessons, practiced and learnt music. But K.L. Saigal's father wanted his son to succeed in life as others succeeded in those days either by getting a job in the government or in business for neither of which he was temperamentally fit.

The father son relation created stormy scenes in the house with his mother taking his side and encouraging his singing in the absence of her husband. Jupiter the fourth lord with Ketu is the spiritual mother in this case and in dwadashamsha, The fifth lord Moon with the fourth lord in the second and Venus aspecting the fourth house shows his musical mother encouraging him with his inborn musical talents.

In his sub teens and teens, he perhaps, he had a thin, high-pitched, feminine voice and a natural musical ability which earned him the role of Goddess Sita in annual Ram Leelas. His role and his singing was the star attraction of those festivals and he revelled in them as much as he enjoyed. Mercury mahadasha (in the navamsha of Mercury and excellent Shashtyamsha).

No helpful information is available to know how K.L. Saigal, the famous ghazal singer, picked up an impeccable style in which the correct pronunciation and enunciation of Urdu for a Hindu was so noticeable. It is not difficult to guess that as in many parts of northern India, it was Urdu which had been the court language for centuries during the Moghul period of Indian history that was learnt and known among the elitist classes and, not Hindi. It was more so in Punjab even for many decades after India's independence in1947.

Again, there is no definite information how did K.L. Saigal reproduce in his famous songs, finest nuances of classical music as only Ustads do and which brought him appreciation from so great a classical music singer as Ustad Fayyaz Khan. Some hints about it given by Smt Bina Chopra, the surviving daughter of K.L. Saigal explains it.

Years later, when K.L. Saigal had become a living legend of India and had also become prosperous after he shifted to Bombay, he had come in a large imported car to Delhi with his entire family. Here one day, he decided to visit Kanpur where he had spent his days, when working in Remington, and spent nights in the verandah of a singing girl who did not allow him to enter her chamber where she entertained her visitors. He was too young, she had said, and turned him out of the house but when she saw him sitting in the verandah night after night, she allowed him to join others in her singing sessions. Who was she and what did K.L. Saigal owe to her? Obviously, the exquisite style of rendering ghazal, dadra, thumri and other semi-classical ragas. Reaching Kanpur, Saigal went to the same place where people who recognized him were afraid of coming near him because he had now become a big and a famous man. Somehow after K.L. Saigal renewed the warmth of his old days with them, he went to the place where he had spent many nights hearing the singing girl. There was no trace of her. Still, a grateful and emotional K.L. Saigal sat down in the verandah below and sang whole night remembering those days when he seemed to have learnt so much from her.

In some profiles of his it has been said that at the age of twelve he got an opportunity to sing in Maharaja Pratap Singh's court and he sang a bhajan of Meera which impressed the maharaja. The maharaja is said to have predicted a bright future for the boy singer. It may have been in the period of Mercury, his tenth lord and the antardasha of Moon in his third house of musical talent. But soon after, in the antardashas of Mars and Rahu, something happened and he lost his voice. Mars the eighth lord with the lagna and the tenth lord in the eighth house seemed to have put an end to his ambition to take to the career of a singer. But it was followed by the antardasha of Jupiter in sarpa dreshkona, which is excellent for a spiritual turn in one's career. He was taken to a saint in Jammu who initiated him into some sadhana which he was asked to do for some years and not sing at all during that period.

In Mercury-Saturn he regained his voice which had now acquired a vigorous masculineresonance, with that vibrant tone which lovers of his singing associate with him. But it had a distinct nasal twang. It may have been in this period that he accepted successively jobs first in Remington and later in Northern Railways which took him to Moradabad where he attended musical functions and where Ustad Karim Khan of the Kirana gharana and his sarangi player attracted him. More important, during his Moradabad days seems to be an English woman, the wife of the English station master perhaps, who took a kindly interest in his musical career.

Ketu mahadasha

Perhaps, in whole of Ketu mahadasha he took up small jobs, having run away from his family to escape the wrath of his father. It is likely that he kept his mother informed of his


Venus mahadasha (began in August 1931)

The K.L. Saigal, we know is the Saigal of his Venus mahadasha which gave him all that he is remembered for. In the sixth house of illness, this Venus also finally, put an end to his glorious life of great musical fame. Piecing up information provided by Smt. Bina Chopra, some important man from Calcutta perhaps of the famous New Theatres was visiting Moradabad where the kind English lady, the wife of the English station master, introduced K.L. Saigal to him and asked him to perform before him. Impressed by him, the distinguished guest gave him his Calcutta address and asked him to meet him if and when he visited Calcutta. Who it was that entered in the life of Saigal at the end of 1931 or early 1932 and persuaded him to get his first recording of a song "Jhulna Jhulao by Hindustan Records in Calcutta in 1932 is not known. He was paid only Rs. 25/- for this song but when it became a hit, the company offered him Rs. 500/-which he refused to take. They paid him better for his subsequent recordings. After his death the company brought out a  gramophone record of Saigal's songs and very generously paid the money to his family.

He had, through this gramaphone record, announced his arrival into the field of light music. Choosing him for a career in the New Theatres must have become easy after that is a sound guess that can be hazarded.

In Venus-Venus period, Kundan Lal visited Calcutta but had lost the address given to him by the important guest he had met in Moradabad. Standing near a bus stand, he was humming some song and someone standing there spotted him at once. That someone was the important man he had met in Moradabad. He was employed on a monthly salary by B.N. Sircar who recruited him at New Theatres. Here he met three of the finest gentlemen ever in Indian film world, R.C. Bowral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran. The dominant figures in semi classical music in those days were Kamala Jharia, Akhtari Bai, young Siddheshwari Devi mostly women singers not deemed to be socially dignified. Amidst them, Saigal was perhaps a sole male singer with a reputation which was becoming formidable.

In the same Venus-Venus period his first film, Mohabbat ke Aansoo (1932) was made

The Gazhal King

The fickleness of public tastes or changed tastes, whatever me may call it, is a phenomenon we are familiar with. Yet, it was Saigal who was first known as the gazhal king of India during his time. The first ghazal he sang was Ghalib's "Nukta Chin hai game dil" in Yahudi ki ladki"(1933) The question asked then as even now was whether this new singer belonged to any gharana of music, which was a passport to fame and success. His instinctive knowledge of ragas and the resonant voice mesmerized his listeners. Unlike any other singer in later years, be it Mukesh, Durrani, Talat Mahmood and now Jagjit Singh these days, K.L. Saigal , a poet himself, created a fusion of the cadences of music with the spirit inherent in a poetic composition. Many Urdu poets like Zauk, Bedam, Arzu and Hasarat Jaipuri would not have been known to the non-Urdu world if Saigal had not chosen to sing their ghazals with the feeling and emotion as he alone could create. But it was Mirza Ghalib that was his favourite. For the non-Urdu lovers of his music, ghazal and many of those Urdu poet became household names. No wonder, the later generation disputed this and called Talat Mahmood the real and undisputed king of gazhals citing the silken softness of his voice in songs, like "Jalte hai jiske liye, Teri ankhon ke diye", under the music direction of S.D. Burman. Even when it comes to Ghalib's ghazal, Talat's Dile Nadan Tujhe hua kya hai" in the picture Mirza Ghalib starring Suraiyya and Bharat Bhushan, has always been shown as superior with a feeling rendition of the real spirit of Ghalib. These arguments are endless, comparisons are odious and often lead to acerbic and disagreeable debates among the fans of Saigal and Talat.

Such debates have always been interminable because in the field of arts there is no method of factually quantifying merit and achievements as say in sports. Judgments are subjective,individual and even communal, and regional.

In Venus-Sun came the film, Devdas, (1934) which made him a star noticed by the entire country. No film in India touched the hearts of millions and became an unforgettable saga ofIndian film industry for so many decades as Devdas (1935) which came in Venus-Moon period. The archetype of a luckless lover, with brooding looks, aimlessly wandering from place to place, with only an ever faithful servant, such as we used to have in feudal times, could not be replicated. Nageshwar Rao in south India and Dilip Kumar under the direction of Bimal Roy in Hindi films world, made attempts to capture that spirit in their versions of Devadas and failed. Saigal's Devadas continued to be an all time film of limpid pathos, haunting soulful songs, Balam aye baso more man mein, dukh ke din ab beetat nahi.

An immortal song of Kundanlal Saigal was Babul mora in the movie "Street Singer". Very few know that this lyric has a ring of historical nostalgia because it was composed by the last Nawab of Oudh, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who was taken prisoner and confined in Burma where he died. It is said that after hearing the gramophone record of this song of Saigal that the great Ustad Fayyaz Khan is said to have remarked that Saigal created a magical

effect in a three minute song what others took hours to do.

1935: The year 1935 must have been the most memorable of years in his life. Devadas had given him sky rocketing reputation. He was married in 1935, in Venus-Sun, he had his first daughter, Neena on 27 May 1937 in Venus-Moon. In 1935, Jupiter was in Vrischika aspecting his seventh house of marriage while in 1937 it was in Makar his fifth house of children. In 1935, Jupiter was in Tula aspecting his tenth lord Mercury and Saturn in Kumbha aspecting the tenth lord in the eighth house also. He went to Allahabad, as the classical music singer, G.N.Joshi has recounted, where famous Prayag Sangeet Sammelan was being held with the famous singers in the field of classical music being the star attractions. Piya bin nahee aavat chain one of the many songs he sang on demand mades the crowds ecstatic. Repeated demands were made but then Ustad Fayyaz Khan and other great classical singers were to sing. He turned towards his mother, that fond mother, who saw that wastrel of a son, as her husband thought, become a national celebrity. Mother, he is said to have remarked,"they think that I have become a singer"

It is well known that the popularity of Saigal was unparalleled. He had no rival. Soon Sagar Movietone launched Surendra who had a good voice and sang well. But then Saigal was Saigal. Later C.H. Atma was advertised as the successor of Saigal after the latter's death and his "Rouun mai sagar ke kinare" was very impressive. Yet Saigal remained the inimitable singer of a different class always, then when he sang and now when he is no more,


Strangely, the first child of Saigal who was born on 3 May 1937 said in an interview that her father started drinking on the day of her birth and did not give it up till his death. It was the Venus Moon period. It is said that Saigal never sang without drinking which he called Kaali Paanchi.

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