The Chants of India is a pretty delightful potpourri of bhajans and aratis. Of the eight items featured in this CD launched by Times Music, at least two have become popular ringtones. While the meditative quality of Kumar Gandharva bhajans is missing the divine collection still manages to invoke images of ascetics arrayed in saffron ambulating and dispensing wisdom near the ghats next to Ganges in Varanasi and Allahabad. The quick breathless taans articulated in Raga Bhopali by Shankar Mahadevan are like mini jet streams, tiny elixirs to the ear. What could so easily have been a boring arati is rendered lively thanks to Mahadevan’s strong vocals. Only at one spot do they crack during a difficult ascent, a malady that could have been easily papered over by technology. A pity, the music house failed to take note of it.
The second bhajan in the sylphlike Raga Yaman happens to be equally beguiling. Hariharan’s rich timbre resounds like a temple bell in the otherwise weather beaten Sri Krishna Govind Hare Murare. Raga Yaman’s romantic temperament is infused most intelligently in this devotional piece. Pretty ingenious if you ask me.
My favorite, though, is the Gayatri Mantra sung in chorus. Invoking divinity it sounds absolutely enchanting early in the morning coupled with yoga and tea.
The fourth number strikes a sore note in this otherwise celestial collection thanks to Anup Jalota’s rather inane arati, Jay Radha Raman Hari Bol… Shriman Narayan by Hariharan sounds just only a shade, sorry, tone better.
Many a discerning listener might just like to skip straight to Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra by Shankar Mahadevan directly after the Gayatri mantra.
The perfect vocals and articulation by Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan are what make this CD a listening pleasure.