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Ajab Tera Qanun Dekha

Introduction by Eesha Sardesai

Through the centuries in India, the great poets have expressed their love for God in the form of qavvali. Qavvalis are devotional songs that originated in the Sufi tradition. They are sung in the Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi, or Farsi language—or in a mixture of these languages—and they are, without a doubt, some of the most captivating and intoxicating expressions of love to have ever existed.

A qavvali is at once poignant and joyful. There is such tenderness in the notes, such plaintive yearning, the kind that tugs at your heartstrings. At the same time, the music conveys a sense of expansion, of freedom, of never-ending unfoldment. In qavvali, there is total abandon.

The gatherings in which qavvalis are traditionally performed are called mehfil-e-sama. Mehfil means “gathering” and sama refers to a Sufi practice of gathering specifically to sing religious music or songs.

I have heard, from those who have participated in these qavvali concerts, that there’s nothing quite like them. As the singer’s voice swirls through the atmosphere, as the beat of the drum synchronizes with one’s own heartbeat, the energy of love, of devotion, practically billows through the room. Often, people dance. The experience of God is immediate and palpable.

Gurumayi loves singing and hearing qavvalis, since they convey deep, deep, deep love for God, for one’s Beloved. This qavvali, Ajab Tera Qanun Dekha, has been selected by Gurumayi, and it is from her music library.

We do not know the name of this qavvali’s author. Yet in the words they have given us, in the song they wrote so many ages ago, we do feel a connection to them, and we can share in their love for God.

As this qavvali is so beautiful in its original language—which is a mix of Hindi and Urdu—Gurumayi thought that everyone would love to hear it sung. At Gurumayi’s request, one of the SYDA Foundation staff members, Viju Kulkarni (or “Viju tai,” as she is known), has composed a new melody for this qavvali in the Patdeep raga.

Gurumayi asked Viju tai how she came up with the raga Patdeep for this composition. Viju tai said that when she received the request, she closed her eyes and prayed to the qavvali, asking it to tell her what raga it wished to be sung in.

Then Viju tai begin to sing, and sing, and sing. As she sang, she found out what raga it was: Patdeep. This is a raga that evokes love and longing—the longing that comes of separation from the Beloved, and from the ardent wish to bridge this separation. Viju tai shared that this is a raga she has loved since she was a young child; she has fond memories of listening avidly to songs in this raga.

“The unique melody of this raga is very dear to me,” Viju tai says. “It captures my heart. It makes me happy every time I hear it or sing it.”