In a society of feelings, one cannot quite categorize the feeling of love – are we victims or patients of love? History tells tales of love’s pain and pleasure and even though all of us have experienced this feeling, we cannot quite understand it. Perhaps this is precisely where the feeling is felt, felt beyond understanding and outside the grasp of definition. For long I have struggled with this feeling, unsure of how to understand it and make sense of it for all of its nonsensical tendencies. Until I unexpectedly absorbed the voice of the Indian musician Kailash Kher and realized how the feeling of love in and of itself is an understanding. I still do grapple with love and wonder about its ways. However, the music of Kailash has gifted me a lens which I would like to share. There is a lesson in this musician’s works that has allowed me to come out of a particular state of mind, a state in which I only saw worth in that which I thoroughly understood. And I find it necessary to share this lesson for I believe that it will not only help us come to terms with love, but will also add a new dimension in our reception of music.
As a medium, music does not matter solely because of the message. The medium of music alone can lead to a message which very few know how to tell. I am sharing Kailash with you because I know that many of you may not understand the message directly – the lyrics are in non-western languages. However, it is the medium of music – melody and voice – which brilliantly delivers and leads to messages that many of us feel and are yet to understand , in this case the message of love.
South Asia has a rich musical heritage and musicians have created productive diversity through a single passion. Kailash studied a number of these genres and his works voice the impact of a thorough education. He has achieved fame through many genres but when I heard his voice speak the lyrics and thoughts of famous South Asian mystics, I felt a work that set him in an atmosphere apart. Initially his voice floated into me when he when he lent it to the lyrics of “Allah Keh Bandey” ( Being of God ) and then his album “Khailsa” presented a lesson in love which I so desperately needed. The mystics of South Asia have performed musicals drawing attention to various human experiences and musicians such as the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan have carried on this performance to grand effect. Kailash’s work in Khailsa may not be on par with many before him, but his work certainly brings a message that asks us to realize that music and love is about much more than understanding. It is about feeling, feeling which is about living. So if you do pick up his works, you may or may not comprehend the lyrics and that is irrelevant for it is in the melody that you will find the message.
For a start, I testify to my ignorance and admit that I myself have no clue of the meaning of his album’s name. But it is not about the denotation of the language but about what it connotes. Music is not produced by lyrics alone. In fact it is the accompanying melody in which meaning can be found to mean and mean differently for different beings. His works engage in a conversation with our hearts, mostly in Hindi and sometimes in other South Asian l languages. Since I do speak a few of these languages, I have been able to understand the lyrics of songs such as “ Teri Deewani” ( Your Devotee ) and “Kaisay Meh Kahoon” ( How do I say ). But then I heard the work in “Nai Harwa”, a work in language that I do not know and much to my surprise the sweetness of the voice spoke to my heart, creating a feeling of understanding. The lyrics meant little to me and it was the voice which spoke to me. For some strange reason I felt the voice and was made to feel the unique feeling of love and the understanding of the heart. I cannot quite put a language to this feeling and you really need to hear it in order to feel and understand it. The medium holds such a powerful message and it truly teaches a lesson in how we come to appreciate music. Music is about taking down walls and creating connectivity amongst those who feel. The lessons and feelings that follow are points of understanding that the world urgently needs. For those of you who are human and hence have felt love in some way, it would be a revolution in your life to take a sip of the Khailsa message. They say that the language of the heart is one and universal : Khailash explains why so. This feeling ultimately prodded me into thinking deeper and I then decided to come back to the lyrics which I understood. I came to an understanding that I could never have conceived.
In “Teri Deewani” and “Kaisay Meh Kahoon” he explains and draws the person in love as a person who has taken flight from the body. The physical barriers are no more and the real human inside us finds its destined match. He sings to kick away the transient life for the never ending love and the songs are separate classes on the same lesson-two different songs with two connective messages. The songs explain how love is beyond the love that the physical body knows of. Height, weight, colour nor caste define whom we love and in the video of “Teri Deewani” the “oddest” couples are shown to be in love, fighting all odds to be with their beloved. For people in love, the song explains how two people in love have not fallen but stand in the world to pursue their love and greater goals. Two lovers cannot live without each other and whatever the reason this love is not to be comprehended by any other than them both. Lovers live for one another and in this intense love, the song says, “…lovers happily walk the plank.” The song continues with many messages and coupled with the song “Kaisay Meh Kahoon” Kailash explains how the world has in many ways abused love and must understand the true meaning of love and its connection with feeling, humanity’s one binding property. A person in love cannot be understood by a set of eyes but instead what the song says, is that the real love is the matching of two people who have found their real selves.. We are people trapped in a cover of sand and love can let us free, and though Kailash himself seems to speak of love between opposite sexes, it is obvious that we finally have a South Asian soul speak of love beyond the skin.
I agree that he may well be making love into an exotic which it is not. But then he has used melody and music as a message in a superb style and he deserves our attention.I leave the rest to your choice. The message of love is nothing new but the delivery of it makes all the difference here. This is music for all ears.
Author: Ali Abbas