Brothers and Dhrupad
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
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.