Ai Sabz Gumbad Waale, Manzoor Dua Karna,
Jab Waqt-e-Naza Aaye Aaqa, Deedar Ata Karna
Main Qabr Andheri Mein, Ghabrayunga Jab Tanha;
Imdad Meri Karney Aa Jaana Meray Aaqa....
Millions and millions would have experienced an inexplicable spiritual contentment and the oneness with the supreme power in the recitation of this beautiful ‘Naat’ besides several others which filled the air and made it blissful all those days.
But for many this season, this Naat would have brought a unique experience. Gliding in the air, sonorous notes would have taken not just the devout Muslims to a state of spiritual bliss but others, who appreciate the praise of divine in all forms, also as usual.
However, while experiencing the divinity with closed eyes, the element of surprise was the performer as the eyes, when opened, would meet a Sikh youth reciting Naat, engaging one and all with feel and verve.
Majority would have enjoyed this heavenly experience imbuing amazing purity on social media while scrolling their Facebook posts or WhatsApp accounts.
The Naat performer is Harkrishan Singh, a young music teacher from Tral, presently posted in a Kendriya Vidyalaya Domana (Muthi) in Jammu.
It was actually heartening to see that the video of Harkrishan Singh reciting this Naat, which went viral this season, was uploaded by a young politician-Youtuber Chowdhary Imran Zaffar from Mendhar of Poonch district.
It was also amusing to note that District Development Council (Mankote) member Imran, himself a vivacious youth, was effusive in his praise for ‘anonymous Sikh youth’ (Harkrishan Singh), his sonority and ecstatic rendition spreading the essence of compassion and brotherhood.
Anonymous - because Imran, as he himself explains, while speaking to Greater Kashmir, has never met Harkrishan Singh and has no connect with him, whatsoever.
“It's not a new video. I uploaded it last year in December. I don't know his name. I know nothing about him. It was just randomly that I accessed his video. Someone had sent it to me. I have been listening to this Naat since my childhood yet have never felt so touched. I was simply spellbound with this Sikh youth’s rendition so I too tried to locate him. Someone in my comment box mentioned that he was from Kashmir yet could not tell anything beyond that. I found it enchanting because a Sikh youth was rendering Naat with so much devotion and feel. This came as a whiff of fresh breeze. I decided to upload it to spread this essence of compassion and brotherhood, which it emitted and I felt. In the present times scarred by hatred, we need this pious feel of harmony,” Imran shares.
Probably this was the dominating spirit which motivated All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina, who forwarded Imran’s post on Harkrishan Singh to Greater Kashmir with the hope to further spread these positive vibes.
“For me, Naat rendition has become integral to my music, which for me is a medium to spread love and compassion for humanity,” was the spontaneous reaction of Harkrishan Singh to the queries of Greater Kashmir, which traced him in Jammu, where he is presently posted.
“I'm very inspired by famous Qawwal Amjad Sabri Sahab who has sung this Naat (..Sabz Gumbad Waale). I found it very appealing and would hum it off and on. Amjad Sabri Sahab is very close to my Ustad Nadeem Salamat Khan Sahab, who is from Lahore. They had performed many concerts together. I formally went under the tutelage of Ustad Nadeem Sahab (performed Rasm-e-Shagirdi) in 2018 in Malaysia where I had gone to attend a concert. My 'Naat singing' is a kind of my expression of love and respect for my mentor also. I thoroughly enjoy it,” he explains.
But, how he was initiated into music and then Naat recitation, responding to this query, Harkrishan shares, “I was passionate about music since my childhood and in fact, I acquired this passion from my mother, listening to her reciting Shabd-Kirtan, popular film songs or folk melodies. For me it was a heartening experience that I sang an old Hindi film song “Jo Unki Tamanna Hai..” with my mother as a duet in 2022. I uploaded it and it too became viral. I made a foray in this world of social media for sharing my passion for music in 2019.”
Like many others, Harkrishan too used his passion for music to remain positive during the depressive period of COVID. He collaborated with his first music mentor (Ustad) Jasbir Singh Sahni and sang in Kashmiri, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, together during this period. This musical journey continued till Sahni's demise in 2022.
Harkrishan's journey in music started as a child-like pursuit and flowered into his passion as he grew.
“My father, my elder sister too supported in my endeavours. Now my wife, though from science background, is also a pillar of support. In my school Central Public Mission School Tral, I used to sing morning prayer and then would also entertain my teachers and friends with the songs of legendary Rafi Sahab, being his hard-core fan. Perfection in music would be lacking but I would not miss a beat even those days. I started singing Kashmiri ghazals when I was in Higher Secondary School. I would listen to famous singer Vijay Malla Sahab and his “Mea Mashoq Hawe Na Paan Ba Vandhass Jan Latiye” in particular was my favourite one. Similarly I was very impressed by renowned poet Janbaaz Kishtwari. I sang many of his songs. I bagged second prize in 'Sonzal' Youth festival of Kashmir University,” he fondly recalls some of the nuggets of past.
“As a great lover of music, APSCC chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina also supported me a lot in furthering my musical journey. I had performed in his daughter's marriage in Jammu, where I happened to meet many dignitaries. A word of appreciation from those, who have scaled heights in their chosen pursuits, is always motivating. That experience meeting the high and mighty and they all appreciating me was a cherished one,” Harkrishan mentions, while enlisting his 'pillars of support' outside family and besides his mentors.
He procured his Bachelor degree in Music from Institute of Music & Fine Arts (IMFA) affiliated to Kashmir University and did his Master's in Music (Vocal) from Fatehgarh. Before taking up his job as Music teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) one year ago, he performed in various events, including events at Gulmarg, as a professional singer along with his group (accompanists).
“Those, who would have watched my videos, would invite me to perform. However after joining KV, this is not possible regularly. Only at the weekends, during off-days, sometimes we go and perform. Here I must mention that the Principal of our school, being a music lover, is very supportive. With regard to Naat recitation and other Sufi compositions, I've also sung “Man Kunto Maula Ali...” I'm contemplating to professionally record some of them (Naat-e-Sharif). I've some of beautiful compositions of my Ustad Sahab with me,” Harkrishan shares.
Talking about his perfect diction, besides feel and verve in his singing, including Naat recitation, he avers that he delves deep into the lyrics.
“With my mentors' blessing, I ensure that the language's purity, both in essence and diction, is maintained. For this I get a great deal of appreciation from my listeners, including those from the neighbouring nation. For a reality check, one may visit “Harkrishan Singh Sanam” on Youtube and Facebook,” he says.
Reminiscing some endearing experiences associated with his music, Harkrishan maintained that his song in Khasha dialect of Banihal had become quite popular. “After my song "Dus Tus Digrus Bakhun Yur Yava Yava Na Yava..” became viral, it was tweeted by DC Ramban also. Obviously that was a cherished moment,” he says.
As a music teacher, Harkrishan has one grouse as well. “I'll talk about my home town Tral, which has many youth, who want to pursue their passion for music but there are no avenues. There are two Higher Secondary Schools and one college but music as a subject has not been introduced there. No post of music teacher is there thus the students, who want to study this as a subject, lack mentoring. Hope, the situation will take a turn for better soon,” he aspires.
Harkrishan maintains that his mission is to spread far and wide the 'feel of contentment and compassion' which he, himself, experiences through music.
Defining his persona, he quotes a couplet of his favourite poet Ayub Hafiz:
“Har Dum Jeena Padta Hai, Har Dum Marna Padta Hai;
Kuchh Na Karney Waalon Ka Bhi Kuchh To Karna Padta Hai...”
Drowned in his sonorous notes which imbue the air with the compassion for humanity transcending religious boundaries, one is forced to invoke legendary Urdu poet Jigar Muradabadi and his immortal couplet:
Unka Jo Farz Hai Woh Ahle-Siyasat Jaaney,
Mera Paigaam Mohabbat Hai Jahan Tak Pahunchay
Author is Bureau Chief Jammu, Greater Kashmir
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.