Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Life is Short, Hum its Tune

Says Bhai Nirmal Singh, who sings mesmerising kirtans, music connects souls and brings them closer to God; this is what the priestly singer Bhai Nirmal Singh Khalsa believes in. In Hyderabad for the spiritual music festival Ruhaniyat, Nirmal Singh talks about his love for Almighty, charm of Hyderabad and his connection to Pakistan through his mother. The Hazoor Ragi (resident singer) at the Golden Temple, is a man of many facets which he connects like dots to his spiritual calling. 

"I like the ambience of the city. It stays with you and makes you feel calm," he says. "I got into a cab where the driver was playing a south Indian piece and wanted to change it. I asked him to let it be. The music was mesmerising. Music does not know any borders, any languages it just binds you," says Nirmal Singh who made his mark with his voice he lent to Shabad Kirtan, where the words of Guru Granth Sahib take precedence over music but lead to a mystical experience. 

The lesser known side of Nirmal Singh is his attachment to ghazals where he considers the Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali as his guru. "I used to listen to his ghazals religiously. But I never dreamt that I would even meet him. But there I was face to face with him in England. He listened to me and agreed to teach me music. That's how I became his disciple," he says jubilantly. 

Crossing borders has become regular part of his life. "Lahore is just 20 km from Amritsar. It's a different feeling when I step into Ghulam Ali's house. I have become a family member," says Nirmal Singh, whose 85-year-old mother can recite the Quran as she has her roots in the present-day Pakistan. 

Music is the thread that binds all in today's fast moving world, says the singer who has travelled to Pakistan, US, Canada and a host of other countries taking his mystical singing experience with him. "The way Indian music touches the soul, no other music can. Music was born in Hindustan. These songs are for worshipping the Lord. The music flows in forests, rivers and wind without acknowledging any borders, any language. It connects you to the Almighty and is the nectar for your soul.There can be no alternative for this kind of music," says Nirmal Singh who can make people forget themselves with just the sound of a stringed instrument and his mellifluous and soothing voice. 

He has been travelling and performing for Ruhaniyat for the past 10 years. He first checks out the audience and then begins performing. "It's important to understand who's going to listen to you and how you can connect to them. This is what ruhaniyat is all about. It's Sufism that teaches you to love another human being with all your heart and this pure love takes you closer to ruhaniyat. Music envelopes you, gives you inner relief and seeps into your soul. This is what I've experienced in my 65 years," says Nirmal Singh who is also a Padma Shri winner. "Life is very short. Hum its tune while you are still alive," he signs off.

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