Ever since man became fully sentient and started educating himself little by little, he couldn’t help but wonder what lies beyond our known sky. Fast forward through all these thousands of years and into the present, when space exploration is about to become mundane. Still, most of us, and especially those a bit older, can vividly remember a time when exploring outer space used to be a thrilling fantasy finally fulfilled.
From this set of events that set the tone for the future (which today is the present) of space exploration, we have the Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 missions. And beyond their scientific and astronomical scope, the Voyager missions did something else as well: they brought the Earth’s music into space. And not just any music, but rich, culturally potent music that is full of meaning and might mean something to someone if they happen to hear it.
This brings us to the Indian song featured on disc inside the Voyager-2. The Voyager-2 was launched into space on August 20, 1977, which means that we are on the cusp of its fortieth anniversary. And on the gold-plated copper disc it carries, one can find a variety of world music. One of the most touching is the classical Hindustani composition “Jaat Kahan Ho” as rendered by Surshri Kesarbai Kerkar.
This song, like all the others on the two discs carried by the two Voyagers, was specifically chosen by a special committee chaired by Carl Sagan himself. And “Jaat Kahan Ho” is undoubtedly one of their best choices, because it not only flows perfectly in sync with the rest of the melodies on the Voyager-2’s disc, but it also has lyrics that convey a very special and appropriate meaning: “We are citizens of Earth. We are greeting you.”