Kesarbai was born in the village of Keri in Goa. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1953, and Padma Bhushan in 1969 (the third highest civilian award in India). But today her legacy seems to disappear in the dust. Voyager 1 and 2 are space probes launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, and August 20, 1977, respectively, to study the outer planets. The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records that were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. They are intended for any intelligent aliens, or for future humans, who may find them. The song ‘Jaat kahan ho akeli gori (Where are you going alone, fair lady?)’ was also included in the golden record. It was sung by Kesarbai.

Voyager space probe

Voyager space probe
Voyager space probe

On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause to become the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space and study the interstellar medium. Voyger 1 having operated for more than 39 years , the spacecraft still communicates with the Deep Space Network to receive routine commands and return data, as of June 2016. It is the farthest spacecraft from Earth.

The golden disc

The golden disc on voyager
The golden disc on voyager

The Voyager Golden Record contains 115 images plus a calibration image and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, the wind, and thunder, and animal sounds. The record additionally features musical selections from different cultures and eras. It has also spoken greetings to the aliens by prominent persons from all over the world in fifty-nine different languages.

President Carter, message on Voyager
President Carter, message on Voyager

Jaat kahan ho akeli gori (Where are you going alone, fair lady?)

Jaat kahan ho, song by Kesarbai
Jaat kahan ho, song by Kesarbai

It was the only song selected from India for the golden disc and sent in the voyager probes. It was sung by the legendary Kesarbai. Currently, the probe is going deeper in the interstellar space with a speed of 15km/s. Probably, someday an intelligent extraterrestrial life or future humans will grab it and enjoy the classical music.

Kesarbai legacy

Kesarbai Kerkar
Kesarbai Kerkar

She was admired by Rabindranath Tagore, Kings of Jaipur and Kashmir and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her time, but today her existence is largely forgotten. At the age of eight Kesarbai moved to Kolhapur, where she studied for eight months with Abdul Karim Khan. Upon her return to Goa, she studied with the vocalist Pt. Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze (1871–1945), during his visits to Lamgaon. At the age of 16, she moved to Mumbai with her mother and uncle. A local businessman Seth Vitthaldas Dwarkadas helped her study under with Barkat Ullah Khan, sitar player and court musician at Patiala State. However, when Khan, became court musician at Mysore State, she trained under Bhaskarbuwa Bakhale (1869-1922) and Pt. Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze for short periods. Eventually, she became the disciple of Ustad Alladiya Khan (1855–1946), the founder of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. As the legend goes, in her 18-hour daily riyaaz ritual, people used to stand outside the house and listen to her for hours when she used to sing. She was very popular when her career was on the peak but later she preferred to keep herself in seclusion.