January 17, 2014

Heritage Gwalior - Classical Music - The Legacy of Tansen

As a result of the continued patronage to Classical Music, right from the times of Raja Dongarendra Singh, mid 15th Century, Gwalior had been a land of accomplished Maestros of Indian Classical Music. During the time of Dongarendra Singh classical Indian music was sung in Sanskrit, although it was restricted to only those who had Sanskrit education, which were very few. Dongarendra Singh recognized it as a limitation and in his lifetime translated or created many "Vishnupad"s in Hindi and put into various classical Ragas, which were then understood and enjoyed by all. These Vishnupads were beautiful songs in praise of Lord Vishnu and His Avatars, mostly Krishna. 

Later his descendant, Raja Man Singh uplifted this tradition even more when he encouraged Shringar(of beauty and romance) Rasa(emotional response) in the Ragas. This new revival of Indian classical music was also getting immense appreciation in Delhi court and else where. During this time great Maestro Haridas was teaching the most prominent music composer, singer of Hindustani music ever - Tansen, and his contemporaries. At the time when Sufi and other Persian styles were center stage and Ghazals, Qawwalis, Khayal were more popular in courts, the Hindustani school of music that was developing in Gwalior, contributed to by numerous accomplished and regarded maestros, became one of the earliest Gharanas of Hindustani Music. Man Singh even wrote an analytical and encyclopeadic book on Hindustani Classical Music - Man Kautuhal. Its is documented that out of the 15 most regarded music artists in the court of Akbar, 9 came from Gwalior, from Man Singh's patronage, including the Great Master Tansen. Man Singh is also credited for the revival of Raga Dhruva Pad, or Dhrupad. Although the Dhrupad can be traced back to Vedas, but Man Singh brought it mainstream and even created and published a lot Padas himself.

Although the royal patronage ended soon after the end of Tomars in Gwalior, the region still continued to have the lineage, and since music was deeply ingrained in the culture, Gwalior for a very long time continued to bring about great musicians. 

The latest in this tradition is Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the most illustrious Sarod player, who belongs to Gwalior, where his ancestral home now houses a unique museum of classical instruments used by current past Maestros. The museum is called "Sarod Ghar".

The ancestors of Amzad Ali Khan and the renowned Bangash family migrated from Afghanistan a few centuries back. The grand father of amzad Ali's great grand father, Mohammad Hashmi Khan Bangash, came from Afghanistan and settled in Rewa, around 400 kms from Gwalior. A horse trader by profession, he developed a deep interest in music. His dexterity on the folksy Rabab coupled with his interest in the Indian classical tradition led him to encourage his son Ghulam Bandegi Khan Bangash, to modify the Rabab into an instrument which could fuse the two traditions. This he did by introducing a metal fingerboard and strings to the rabab. His Son, Ghulam Ali Bangash, perfected the instrument and polished the practice of playing ragas on the Sarod as it was named, meaning 'melody' in Persian.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan represents the sixth generation in this great tradition. His sons, Amaan and Ayaan, also accomplished sarod players in their own rights, are the seventh generation. The first instruments exhibited in Sarod Ghar were the instruments belonging to his forefathers. The rabab of Ghulam Bandagi Khan Bangash, the Sarods of Nanne Khan, Asghar Ali Khan and Haafiz Ali Khan are part of this collection.Subsequently, musicians and well-wishers from all over the country have come forward to contribute the instruments belonging to a number of great Masters and gurus of the past. The Collection now includes the Tanpura of Krishnarao Shankar Pandit, Violin of Allauddin Khan, the Tabla of Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa, Kanthe Maharaj and Kader Bux.

1 comment:

  1. Hi..Very nice blog post. Overflowing with culture and tradition, Gwalior is a much sought-after destination in Central India. When it comes to accommodation, check out various Gwalior hotels guaranteeing a comfortable stay.


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