Ras Gagan (Divine Nectar)

Scoring

SATB a cappella divisi, soprano solo

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Details

6:30
2010

Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir
J. Scott Ferguson, director

Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir
J. Scott Ferguson, director

Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir
J. Scott Ferguson, director

Program Notes

The great poet, Kabir (1440 -1518), was born in Varanasi (Benares) India of Muslim parents, but later became a disciple of the Hindu bkahti saint Ramananda.  He referred to himself as “a child of Allah and Ram,” and today his poetry is honored in Islamic, Hindu, and Sikh traditions.

 Ras Gagan (Divine Nectar) arises from meditative stillness.  The opening evokes  Kabir’s “music without instruments,”  sounding in a “gufa mein ajar jarai” (“a cave in which a waterfall of divine nectar flows.” )  In this sacred space, the lotus blooms without water, there is moonlight without the moon, and the soul (in the Vedantic Hindu metaphor of a swan) plays in the sacred waters where the thirsts of the ages are quenched.  In this non-dualistic place of meditation, “you will behold the Invisible Lord. You will attain immortality and never die.”

The landscape of the music attempts to reflect this tranquility as well as a sense of discovery.  In another of Kabir’s poems, he writes “in one moment of the search… you shall find me out. I can be found in a single moment of faith.” Those flashes of insight ­– the interjections of the soprano solo – are heard as the choral texture develops through layered statements of the opening text (creating a slow-moving “sacred waterfall”) through aleatoric writing (an arising of awareness) to a final clarity and union with the voice of the divine soul, the “hansaa.”  The soprano solo, now representing the enlightened soul, floats above the last murmured choral statement, “amar hoy kabahu na marai” (“You will attain immortality, never to die”) to close the piece.

Ras Gagan (Divine Nectar) was commissioned by the Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, J. Scott Ferguson, conductor and made possible by the Sylvia Monti Anderson Commissioned Choral Work Fund honoring Delta Omicron at Illinois Wesleyan University

Text / translation

Ras Gagan (Divine Nectar)

HINDI:        ras       gagan      gufa     me˜     ajar     dzharai,
ENGLISH:   nectar- heaven’s   cave     in        nectar-waterfall(flowing)
IPA:               ras         ga-gan          gu-fa me:˜ɛ    a-dʒar   dʒa-ra:ɪ

Divine nectar flows in the celestial cave.

binn        baadzha                 dzhankaar  uthe            dzhaha,
without    musical instument   sound        comes up    where
bɪn              ba-dʒa                           dʒan-kar     u-te                  dʒa-ha

There, the music plays without instruments.

samudzhi    pare       dzhab dhyaan      dharai
you  understand       when meditation  go into
sa-mu-dʒi    pa-re          dʒab   dyan        da-raɪ

You experience this in your meditation.

binaa taal dzhaha kamal phulaane
upon lake where  lotus   blooms
bɪ-na   tal    dʒa-ha   ka-mal pu-la-ne

There the lotus blooms without water.

tehi    chadhi    hansaa    keli kare
there  climb      the soul  plays(frolics)
te-hi     tʃa-di     han-sa        kel-i ka-re

And the swan* delights in frolicking there.   *swan= the soul

binaa      chandaa   udzhiyaari     barsai
without   moon       light             rainfall showering
bɪ-na        tʃan-da       u-dʒi-ja-ri      bar-sai

There is moonlight without the moon,

jaha   taha     hansaa            najar         parai
wherever        soul  (swan)     your vision falls
dʒa-ha ta-ha    han-sa                 na-dʒar    para:ɪ

And wherever you look you will see swans.

alakh   purush   jaako    dhyaan dharai
unseeable God  whom    meditation go into
alak      pʌ-ruʃ    dʒa-ko    djan       da-ra:ɪ

As you behold the Invisible Lord in meditation.

jugan     jugan     ki     trishaa   bujhaati
age after age       of    thirst      extinguished
dʒu-gan dʒu-gan   ki      tri-ʃa        bu-dʒa-ti

The thirst of age after age is quenched,

kahai     kabir   suno   bhaai      saadho
says      Kabir   listen  brothers  saado -people who take devotion
kʌ-ha:ɪ   ka-bir   su-no  bʌ-ha:ɪ   sa-do

Kabir says, “Listen, my dear brothers,

amar   hoy   kabahu   na  marai
eternal become          never die.
a-mar   hɔ:i   ka-ba-hu  na  ma-ra:ɪ

You will attain immortality, never to die.”

Translation

Ras Gagan (Divine Nectar)

Divine nectar flows in the celestial cave.
There, the music plays without instruments.
You experience this in your meditation.
There the lotus blooms without water.
And the swan delights in frolicking there.
There is moonlight without the moon,
And wherever you look you will see swans.
At the tenth door there is clapping of hands,
As you behold the Invisible Lord in meditation.
The thirst of age after age is quenched,
Kabir says, “Listen, my dear brothers,
You will attain immortality, never to die.”

 IPA transciption

ras gagan gufa me:˜ɛ adʒar dʒara:ɪ
bɪn badʒa dʒan-kar u-te dʒa-ha
samudʒi pa-re dʒan da-raɪ
bɪna tal dʒaha kamal pulane
tehi tʃadi hansa keli kare
bɪna tʃanda udʒijari barsai
dʒaha taha hansa nadʒar para:ɪ
alak paruʃ dʒako djan dara:ɪ
dʒugan dʒugan ki triʃa budʒati
kʌha:ɪ kabir suno bʌha:ɪ sado
amar hɔ:i kabahu na ma-ra:ɪ

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