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The Martial Feats of Emperor Aurangzeb – Adana Dhrupad Composition

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Many Dhrupad compositions which still survive fragmentarily in the living repertoire of singers or in old recordings can be found in their entirety in old manuscripts, books and journals.

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Here is a composition in Sooltal in Raga Adana by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar from a concert in Delhi in the 1980’s. Pakhawaj player not known. The beginning is missing which is why he seems to start abruptly with the antara and comes back to sing the sthayi again. The composition curiously refers to the martial feats of fanatical Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who had banned music from his kingdom.

The composition obviously dates before 1668-69 when Aurangzeb imposed the ban. While this recording has only the first two parts of the composition, I found all the four parts in a manuscript of about 400 dhrupad compositions written by Sanatan Sil, a dhrupad singer who studied both instrumental and vocal dhrupad from several prominent musicians of the Seni, Vishnupur and Betiah traditions – like Birendrakishor Roychowdhury, Shibkumar Mitra and Bamacharan Sil – a student of the well known Dhrupad singer Danibabu of the Betiah tradition.

Satish Chandra Dutta aka Danibabu Dhrupad Singer Betiah Tradition (1877-1958)

Danibabu Dhrupad Singer Betiah Tradition (1877-1958)

Like many fine dhrupad singers in the last century, he never took it up as a profession despite reaching a high standard of excellence, but worked in a bank while keeping up a regular routine of  practice,  teaching and occasional performances. The notations in Sil’s manuscript are so clear and well written that it could be straightaway published as a book.

Dhrupad Singer and Rudra Veena Player Sanatan Sil

Sanatan Sil

Sil’s manuscript lists it as a Khandarbani composition which agrees well with what my teacher Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar told me about such fast paced compositions in the veer rasa or valourous sentiment. Sources which list Ragas or compositions on the basis of the Banis of Dhrupad are quite rare. Examples of such classification are the Sarod Rasa Chandrika of Nirendrakrishna Mitra 1938 as also the recordings of Bharatji Vyas in the SNA archives.

Notation of Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb - Sanatan Sil

Dhrupad on Aurangzeb

Nalin Behari Ghosh Dhrupad Singer and Bank Executive

Nalin Behari Ghosh Dhrupad Singer and Grindlays Bank Executive (1890? – 1960?)

Another dhrupad singer of the 1st half of the 20th century associated with the Vishnupur and Betiah traditions who never took it up as a profession was Nalinbehari Ghosh. Like Sanatan Sil he also worked in a bank. His manuscript of notations of dhrupads seems to have been more for his personal reference rather than publication. Here is his notation of a Dhamar composition in Kumari and a chowtal dhrupad in Kamod Nat. Nalin Behari Ghosh was an associate of Aghorbabu and Amarbabu two well known dhrupad singers of the 1st half of the 20th century.  A lot of valuable material of Dhrupad especially compositions has been preserved by singers like Sanatan Sil and Nalinbehari Ghosh who pursued it as a private passion while supporting themselves from other professions.  It was difficult in those times to make a living from Dhrupad. Even a well known singer like Danibabu had a job in the Railways. After independence survival as a professional Dhrupad singer became even more difficult with the disappearance of aristocratic patrons.

Radhika Prasad Goswami

Radhika Prasad Goswami

Till a few decades ago Bengal had many Dhrupad singers who were associated with the traditions of Vishnupur and Bettiah. Many of these singers published compositions in books and journals. The best known of them being the brothers Ramprasanna and Gopeshwar Bandopadhyaya who published the Sangeet Manjari and the Sangeet Chandrika. Another renowned Dhrupad singer of Bengal was Radhika Prasad Goswami whose obituary appears in the January 1925 issue of the journal Sangeet Vigyan Praveshika to which he often contributed.

Dhrupad Raga Hem Khem

Dhrupad Raga Hem Khem

Here is a Dhrupad composition notated by him in the uncommon Raga Hem Khem that appeared posthumously in  the July 1925 issue of the magazine. The  article accompanying his obituary also mentions that shortly before his death he was awarded the second prize in the All India Music Conference at Lucknow, the first prize being given to Allabande Khan.  It is even now possible to find in Bengal, old students of students of  singers like Danibabu, Radhika Prasad Goswami and Ramprasanna and Gopeshwar Bandopadhyaya, many of whom  never took up music as a profession but possess a wealth of knowledge and sometimes also old notes and manuscripts of their teachers.

Dhamar in Kumari from Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhamar in Kumari from Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Kamod Nat - Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Kamod Nat – Notes of Nalin Behari Ghosh

Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb Sanatan Sil

Dhrupad in Adana in Praise of Aurangzeb notes of Sanatan Sil

Several compositions whose first two parts exist in recordings by Aminuddin Dagar or his brothers can be found in their entirety with all the four parts in manuscripts or old books and journals.

Dhrupad of  Sujan Khan

Dhrupad of Sujan Khan

Here is an example from the notes of Sanatan Sil of a Dhrupad of Sujan Khan in Jhaptal in Raga Megh whose first two parts are often sung in the Dagar tradition in  Raga Surdasi Malhar in the same Tala and another in Raga Darbari Kanada in Tala Chautal from the  November 1925 issue of the Sangeet Vigyan Praveshika.

Dhrupad Darbari Kanada Shadaja Rishabha

Dhrupad Darbari Kanada Shadaja Rishabha

Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan

All articles on this blog © Ashish Sankrityayan. No part may be used except with written permission and explicit acknowledgement.

CDS AND DVDS OF DHRUPAD ON CDBABY

—  Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

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Dhrupad Composition in Adana – Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

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Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Here is a composition in Sooltal in Raga Adana by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar from a concert in Delhi in the 1980’s. Pakhawaj player not known. The beginning is missing which is why he seems to start abruptly with the antara and comes back to sing the sthayi again. The composition curiously refers to the martial feats of fanatical Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who had banned music from his kingdom.

CDS AND DVDS OF DHRUPAD ON CDBABY

—  Miya Ki Malhar Abhogi and LalitYaman and Malkauns

Recording from the personal archives of Ashish Sankrityayan