Indian Classical Music


Dagar BrothersDagar Brothers and Dhrupad

The word 'Dhrupad' is derived from 'Dhruva' meaning fixed and 'pada' meaning words or song. 'Dhruvapada' therefore is a song in which the words are well set to a definite pattern.

Dhrupad, the oldest surving form of Indian Classical Music is essentially devotional in essence.In fact, prior to the reign of Akbar it was performed almost exclusively in temples. By the 13th century A.D., Dhrupad as a form of music was well developed. The 'Sanskrit - Ratnakar' of Sarangadeva (12th century A.D) contains a detailed description of five major styles or geetis, of Shastriya Sangeet - 'Shuddha', 'Bhinna', 'Ghodi', 'Sadharani' and 'Vesura'. Of these the only one surviving in its original form today is the 'Sadharani geeti' which is the Dhrupad sung by the Dagars. Dhrupad reached its pinnacle of glory during Akbar's reign when stalwarts like Swami Haridas, Baba Gopal Das, Tansen and Baiju Bawra performed it.

There were four major schools of Dhrupad - 'Dagar Vani', 'Khander Vani', 'Navahar Vani', and the 'Gourhar Vani'. The Dagar Vani which is the leading school today has survived changing musical patterns and presents this art form in all its originality. A Dhrupad performance - Vocal or instrumental begins with 'Alaap' - a very systematic development of the raga without drum accompaniment. This 'Alaap' is quite distinct from other musical traditions. It is based on the premordial syllable 'Om'. The syllables used by the vocalist (e.g. Rina - ranna-Teta-Ranana etc) which are heard in instrumental music also, are derived from the names of various gods and represent Sanskrit mantras, a typical mantra being - "Om Ananta, Hari Om Ananta Tarana, Tarana Tum Narayana Narayana." After that a composition set to talas like Choutal, Dhamar or Suatal is sung the accompaniment of the 'Pakhawaj'.

The Dagars were originally Pandey Brahmins. In the 18th century, Baba Gopal Das Pandey was ostracized by his community for accepting a 'paan' given to him by the then Emperor of Delhi - Muhammad Shah Rangile, for his brilliant rendition of Dhrupad. Baba then moved to Delhi, embraced Islam and was rechristened Baba Imam Khan Dagar. The legacy of the Dagars starts here. Baba had two sons - Haider Khan and Behram Khan. The credit for preserving and passing down the pure form of the 'Sadharani - geeti' or Dagar-Vani' goes to Baba Behram Khan. He taught his art to his nephews and his sons - Sa' adat Khan and Akbar Khan. Following his demise in 1877, Sa' adat Khan was appointed chief musician of the Udaipur court. Sa'adat Khan's grandson. Riazuddin Khan, gifted poet and composer was the premier court musician of Jaipur. Riazuddin Khan's uncle Allabande Khan was also a skilled Veena player. Allabande Khan had four sons. Nasiruddin Khan, an exceptional vocalist and court musician of Indore and four sons who took to Dhrupad - Nasir Moinuddin, Nasir Aminuddin, Nasir Zahiruddin, and Nasir Faiyazuddin. Two of Ziauddin Khan's sons - Zia Mhiuddin and Zia Fariduddin also took to Dhrupad. Zia Fariuddin Dagar, a phenomenal vocalist is the director of the 'Dhrupad Kendra' at Bhopal. The only instrumentalist in this 19th generation of musicians was the late Ustad Z.M. Dagar who used to run an Ashram at Panvel. Nasir Aminuddin Dagar was a lecturer of Dhrupad at the Rabindra - Bharati university at Calcutta. Sayeeduddin Dagar, cousin of Zia Fariduddin Dagar teaches at the Pune branch of the Dhrupad society. And thus the legacy of the Dagars continues. The Dagar family's contribution spans over 19 generations.

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