The evening of Nov 20th at Sawai Smarak in Pune was a treat of knowledge , high quality classical musical entertainment and also an enlightenment for connoisseurs of classical music. Those present in the auditorium for this concert / Lec-Dem by Pandit Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha realized how fortunate their stars were to be in attendance for this enchanting evening !
It is extremely difficult for a mortal like me to describe this evening of enlightenment in few words or even in “words”. The experience of bliss one feels after one sees the brightness of knowledge through the power of “Sthir swar” of Dhrupadiyas is the crux of Dhrupad, I was fortunate to be showered by that blissful moment. I am resisting the analogy but these words of Sant Dnyaneshwar “दीपकी दीपक मावळल्या ज्योती ,घरभरी वाती शून्य झाल्या” ( The brighness of the light of this knowledge has out-shined everything in this world ) , help in describing the experience that Panditji Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha delivered through their Lec-Dem.
In summary , Panditjis highlighted the following in the Dhrupad-Khyaal Sanvaad in short span of three hours :
1) The tradition of Dhrupad including its evolution and the evolution of Khyaal gayaki through “Qawwal Bacchon ka Gharana” and further development of Khyaal Gayaki that occurred through various gharanas , ustads and tradition
2) Its emphasis on power of a sur (shruti) to describe the whole raag
3) The power of a “Sthir Swar”
4) The meditative , self realizing power of drupad vocal music through its madhyalay as against the faster tempo and gamaks/aakars of Khyaal that bring worldly “Bhaavs” of Khyaal gayaki through the words of bandish.
5) The most important aspect of Dhrupad vocal where a raag is “defined” by the throw of a particular swar as against the Vaadi-Sanvadi , Chalans , phrases etc in typical Khyaal gayaki that is taught in music schools and gharanas. Explained through the example of raag Yaman.
To explain further and demonstrate these concepts , examples were taken with raag Bihag , where the emphasis of tivra Madhyam was demonstrated to beautify the raag. The difference between Sarang and Megh with only the way a swar is “thrown” was demonstrated beautifully.
Madhmad Sarang and Vrundavani Sarang were a treat to ears with bandish of Miyan Tansen in Khyaal by Shrinivas and Viraj Joshi and in Dhrupad by Panditjis. The emphasis of komal Dhaivat and ati komal Gandhaar of Darbari that define the raag in its fullness against the same set of swars of Jaunpuri and Adanaa, was a treat to connoisseurs.
Pandit Ramakantji demonstrated why a equi-tempered scale of a keyboard can never be used as an accompaniment for Dhrupad but a string instrument like Sarangi ( ably played by Ut Farooque Latif Khan ) could , after being tuned to the scale. The final raag was Shuddha Bhairavi as against Mishra Bhairavi of Khyaal where the contemplative and submissive feel of Shuddha Bhairavi clearly contrasted with the playfulness of Mishra Bhairavi.
The program was very well coordinated by Srinivas Joshi who handled the Khyaal “paksh” of the program, supported ably by young Viraj Joshi demonstrating Kirana Khyaal Gayaki taalim through raag Bihag , Natya Sangit , traditional bandishes in Sarang , Darbari and Mishra Bhairavi.
The concept of this Dhrupad- Khyaal sanvaad , in itself was unique and of high academic value to the students of Classical music , connoisseurs of classical music and also to any inquisitive music aficionado.
I feel indebted to the Dhrupad Sansthan , Panditji Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha ji for the graceful but free sharing of their knowledge , their demonstration of intricacies of music , swar – taal concepts and their lively and humble conversation there after. Special thanks to Srinivas Joshi for handling the “Khyaal” paksh , keeping the “sanvaad” lively with probing but intelligent questions to the Dhrupad masters.
The program will remain in memory for ever , as it has opened the sea of knowledge of “Swar” to commoners like myself.
Sometimes few hours of interaction with Masters gives us the insights and knowledge that many years of learning may not. The genius of these Masters (Pandits) of Dhrupad unfolded many strings of information and knowledge gathered for years and made sense to me , realizing the “Power of a Sthir Swar” , opening the gates to sea of knowledge ! This was my biggest take away from this golden evening by Panditji Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha at Sawai Smarak Auditorium, Pune.