Jagannatha Svami Nayanapathagami Bhavatu Me

Jagannatha, Lord of the universe, in His Form in the great 10th century temple at Puri, Orissa, India

The cover of a cassette of Bhajans sung by Prof. Basavi Mukerji. A Bhajan is a song praising the greatness of the Almighty or speaking of some philosophi or eternal truth or exhorting the listner to follow the path of virtue or describing an event from mythology. The object of a Bhajan is to arouse the devout sentiment latent in us.

Bhajans may be "classical" or "light". The "light" variety is such as is heard in Indian movies or performed by "specialist" Bhajan singers who have not necessarily had a grounding in art music. While Basavi can sing both types of Bhajan to perfection, on the concert stage she often concludes the proceedings with a classical Bjahan, where she improvises appropriate and highly artistic episodes.

Members of the audience have been known to be emotionally completely overcome by Basavi's ecstatic Bhajans. One listner summed it up succinctly: speaking after one of Basavi's concerts, ended with a Bhajan, she said, of the concert, "It was as if my soul has just had a soothing, refreshing and cleansing bath. I feel utterly purified and at peace with myself and the world..."

Bhajans may be "Sagun" or "Nirgun. "Sagun" means "with attribute" and a Sagun Bhajan speaks of a God with attributes like name, form and character. "Nirgun" means "without attribute" and a Nirgun Bhajan alludes to a nameless, formless and characterless Almighty.

In this cassette, Basavi has sung six Bhajans, five of which are Nirgun, the lyrics being by Kabirdas, the great saint of medieval India. The single Sagun Bhajan is by Meerabai, a princess of medieval Rajasthan (a western Indian province) who forsook worldly treasures and pleasures in search of higher truths. Except for one Kabir Bhajan, all melodies are Basavi's own compositions.