Songs sung by Vasantrao Deshpande were a staple at my uncle’s place. Mainly Natya Sangeet. So I was fairly well acquainted with him. however I discovered Vasantrao by a strange quirk of fate much later. Read on
Must be either 2011–12; when my daughter could still be held on my hip. We were on our way to Goa with a friend and his family. Decided to stop over at Kolhapur. Itinerary was a quick stop at the ashram of his Guruji, then Ambabai temple and dinner at Opal.Next day, onwards to Goa.
Stop 1 done, we found ourselves outside the Ambabai temple. They don’t allow bags to be taken into the temple. So Janaki volunteered to wait outside. In we go, Avanti on my hip. It was after many years that I had visited the place.
As we waited in line, the kid peed. I rushed out; Janaki and I quickly washed her down, changed her clothes. Given my rather wet state, I decided to stay out — Janaki took Avanti back in. Remembered the old timer saying “the lord must want you in her/his house”. There is a small area just outside the temple where stalls are put up. I found one selling CDs. Browsing through found one which contained quite a few old favourites, so picked it up.
That CD contained an interview of Vasantrao where he explains the evolution of natyasangeet. The various sections, the importance of each of them, the influence of various musical raagas, the importance of lyrics; everything is so cerebrally examined and so beautifully explained. A true masterclass by someone so deeply immersed in his craft. And he explains it in such a simple manner. Again possible only because he understand the subject so intimately. I have heard that interview many times now and there is always something new to discover.
I wonder what would have happened if I did complete the darshan that day. Guess some things are just meant to be.
Sometimes one finds the divine outside a temple.
p.s. Link to the interview — https://youtu.be/3yoTLfzNODY