In the serendipitous year of 2018, my world was forever altered when I stumbled upon the enchanting music of Estas Tonne in the depths of YouTube. What initially seemed ordinary soon revealed itself as a tapestry of extraordinary emotions woven by a solitary maestro, armed with nothing but his guitar. His music bore the stamp of passion, an inner fortitude, and a nostalgia that, rather than plunging into melancholy, danced with poignant memories. It was as if he sought something profound through his music, an ardent quest for answers, with emotions flowing not from him but through him. Onstage, he entered a trance, conjuring a delightful restlessness in the hearts of those who listened, inspiring a passionate and conscious embrace of each moment, a life steeped in gratitude for the divine Here and Now.
My days soon revolved around his videos, perpetually on loop. Gradually, an epiphany emerged – there was more to his music than met the ear. Struggling to articulate it, I found myself describing it as “a river of life,” an invisible force that surged forth with each strum. From the stage, it radiated, a potent epicenter, traversing the space and enveloping those nearby in profound meditation, as if collectively transported to another realm.
My thoughts meandered to the realm of qawwali and the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He, too, would ignite the stage with his love for the divine, conjuring waves of sound and ishq (love), punctuated by the graceful sway of his head and hands. The stage buzzed with activity, yet the audience wore tranquil expressions, lost in muraqabah (Sufi meditation), their eyes wide open, glowing as if in prayer. It was the same phenomenon, that invisible force transcending from the performer to the audience. Was the qawwal’s performance technically flawless? Perhaps not, but it mattered not; the result eclipsed the process, and the result was nothing short of sublime.
Then, a captivating detail caught my eye: an incense stick gracing Estas’s guitar’s neck. It burned with grace, its tendrils of smoke mirroring the grace in his movements. In every performance, this incense played a role, inseparable from the music, each enhancing the other.
An insatiable curiosity stirred within me – what was the incense that accompanied Estas’s performances? For some inexplicable reason, my thoughts turned to Myrrh and Amber, fragrances that held a special place in my heart, often kindling them during my creative endeavors. Amber bolstered concentration, while Myrrh exuded mystical depths with its ethereal resonance. However, it appeared my guess was wide of the mark.
Estas had chosen an incense that perfectly complemented his artistry, crafting an ambiance where his creative spirit soared unencumbered. His choice? Sandalwood and Rose. What a splendid selection, accentuating the elegance of his music and the artistic essence of his being. While Amber and Myrrh were earthy and grounding, Estas had opted for scents that provided structure (sandalwood) without the weight of resin, and the ethereal lightness of rose, an ethereal companion for his inner flights of fancy.
It became evident that his choice of incense was a mere reflection of his character – a blend of strength, gentleness, and kindness, seamlessly interwoven. “There is no conflict if you embrace life as it is and do not fight with it,” Estas often professed. These words, golden truths, evoked memories of Sufi mystics who navigated the bustling world while keeping their hearts attuned to prayer: “Dil ba eru dast ba kor” – “Heart with God, hands in work.”
I hold the fervent wish that one day, you will have the chance to witness Estas’s enrapturing performance in your own city. If such an opportunity arises, immerse yourself in this once-in-a-lifetime manifestation of life’s essence on stage. It will transform you, cleanse your heart, and leave you with a newfound lightness that lingers for countless days, a testament to the enduring power of love and art.