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Musical offering to the first among gods

Ganesh gets a slickly packaged modak

Times Music
Rs 55

Ganesh is the first among gods; you pray to him before you pray to others so that he may not come in the way of your efforts.

Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, the scholar who wrote incisively about ancient Indian philosophy and related it to the ideological battles of this century, says Ganesha could have been a tribal chief (gana + pati = lord of the hordes) who became so strong that he was elevated to godhood. Somewhat like Ceasar. Such was the power of life and death vested in him.

Ganesh is celebrated in song -- folk, film and classical -- all over India. But then, don't expect any non-mainstream interpretation of this intelligent warrior lord from this collection. In fact, it continues the tradition of Gayatri, the album that packaged and sold an ancient Vedic mantra to four lakh city homes.

Harish Bhimani's commentary of Ashok Roy's text might remind you of the voice in popular tele-serials like Mahabharat.

A chorus chants Ganesh mahamantra 108 times, while the Ashtottar shata naam (108 names of Ganesha) is sung solo by Sanjeev Abhayankar, the young disciple of Pandit Jasraj. Sanjeev has a pleasant voice, and if you remember, he won the national award for best playback singer last year for a number in Godmother.

Sanjeev also renders other tracks called Stuti, Prarthana and Arati. The music is by Kedar Pandit, who uses the shehnai and veena to create a classical background for the raga Yaman invocation. The prayers and eulogy are set in raga Bibas, with the shehnai filling in. The words are in Hindi, Sanskrit and Marathi. Ganesh here is no symbol of tribal power. Rather, he is Gokhale's Ganesh with an eye on pan-Indian consolidation.

This tape is a slickly packaged modak for India's popular mouse-riding god! No wonder he has been chosen, by a group of Indians in the US, as the mascot of the cyber world.

S Suchitra Lata

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