Sweeter Than Tansen

Akbar [also known as Akbar the Great of the Mughal Empire, (1542-1605)] was happy whenever Tansen, his court musician, sang. Tansen was the greatest musician of his days. When he sang the râga 'Meghamala', clouds thickened in the sky; when he sang the râga 'Varuna', showers of rain fell. When he sang the 'Nâgasvara', snakes gathered. Akbar was very proud that he had in his durbar (court), a musician of such eminence.

But one day, while Akbar was engaged in prayer, he heard the distant music of Haridâsa, a wandering minstrel, a beggar singing to the tune of a single-stringed instrument he held in his hand, Akbar was thrilled, enchanted, deeply moved. He asked Tansen, why that song appealed to him more than all the songs Tansen sang in the durbar. Tansen replied: "Lord! I sing, looking at your face to see any sign of appreciation, in the hope that you will give me a few gems or some acres of land. He sings looking at the face of God, with no greed for material wealth or ambition for earthly goods. That is the difference".