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Divinity of Dhrupad

Divinity of Dhrupad
<g data-gr-id="56">Humra</g> <g data-gr-id="57">Quaraishi’s</g> first encounter with the Dagar Brothers’ live dhrupad happened in Qatar. The heady strains in classical singing, the divine rendering in the gentle voices of the duo were her first impetus to preserve on pages this retrieved tradition; the Dagar clan and its contribution to the dhrupad musical tradition of India. 

The <g data-gr-id="78">Dagars</g> are the “first family” of one of India’s oldest living musical tradition. Dhrupad was developed over the centuries by this family, and now their talented scion, Wasifuddin, is the major torchbearer of this unbroken lineage. Dhrupad is a vocal genre in Hindustani classical music. Its name comes from the words <g data-gr-id="79">dhruva</g> and pada (verse), where a part of the poem, that is, <g data-gr-id="80">dhruva</g> is used as a refrain. The term may denote both the verse form of the poetry and the style in which it is sung. It is one of the oldest and most powerful streams that contributes to Hindustani Classical Music. The greatly revered Raja Mansingh Tomar of fifteenth <g data-gr-id="82">centuary</g> Gwalior helped  in the development of the dhrupad. 

It may safely be assumed that dhrupad helped immensely in “bringing the often wary and lay Hindu believer closer to the lofty grandeur of north Indian Classical music, supported as it was to a large extent by Islamic rulers and their courts. It was practically an outreach programme of the aristocracy to build bridges with their mainly Hindu subjects, to whom it appealed quite significantly.”

Indian classical music is inseparably intertwined with religion, going as far back as the <g data-gr-id="67">sama</g>-<g data-gr-id="68">vedic</g> tradition. The Ramayana reflects this emphasis on music through raptures over Narada’s genius. The thirteenth century gives the early evidence of the Islamic presence, through <g data-gr-id="69">todis</g> like <g data-gr-id="70">Turushka</g> (Turkish). This marks the point where the Carnatic musical tradition begins to focus on the refinement of the Hindu devotional music in the Deccan, whilst the Hindustani classical music would seek to synthesise the indigenous with the Persian traditions like <g data-gr-id="71">Musiqi</g>-e-<g data-gr-id="72">assil</g>. It also assimilated several vibrant folk forms in the larger northern half of this vast sub-continent. 

<g data-gr-id="64">Dhrupad,</g> or <g data-gr-id="59">dhruv</g>-pada is the pillar of the Hindu faith that sang the <g data-gr-id="60">prabhandas</g> and Bhakti lyrics alongside the Sufis in their effort to reach out to the Almighty with sheer devotional music. This book explains how dhrupad is considered to be the purest of all Hindustani forms of classical music as well as the oldest.

Dhrupad songs usually begin with a long <g data-gr-id="61">alap</g> (the improvised section of a raga, forming a prologue to the formal expression) with the recitation of a particular Sanskrit mantra, leaving no doubt that they are primarily and secondarily devotional in content and theme. So here is a tradition with Sanskrit content upheld by a family of Muslim artists. But how are the <g data-gr-id="62">Dagars</g> the custodian of the richest and one of the oldest genres of Hindi religious music for centuries? 

The history behind this is traced with great detail. The two decades of 1950’s and 1960’s  contributed more to the popularisation of Indian classical music and dance than several preceding decades or even centuries put together. It was then that the seeds sown by stalwarts like Tagore, in the early part of the century, bore fruits. Some efforts to popularise classical culture included a ban on popular Hindi film songs altogether from Akashwani, so that classical culture could emerge from the narrow confines of temple dance parlours and reach the masses, and thus broaden their emotive association with their countrymen. 

The disciples of the <g data-gr-id="53">Dagars</g> include numerous foreigners (mostly Europeans and Americans), the senior most being Laurence <g data-gr-id="54">Bastit</g>, a French woman. 
The popularity of <g data-gr-id="85">Dagars</g> and dhrupad extend far beyond international borders, the thunderous ovation from the audience from across the globe  bear testimony to that.
Kavya Dubey

Kavya Dubey

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