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Musical Journey of Dishonor & Misfortune to the Sarod Maestro of Baranagar
Son of the ‘First Bengali Sarod Player’.
Voice-over: Jayanta Baksi
Only a few people may not acquire peace & prosperity in their life devoid of enormous talent. Nevertheless, spontaneously & with full of aptitude, they had exhausted their entire life in favor of the growth & development of our so called cultural heritage without any expectation from the society [read from Government, Politicians, Corporate Houses & of course from us] & preserving through their sincere & hard effort for the next generation. Not only that, they may compare with ‘dinosaur’ as most probably they are one of the last linking of our proud (!) legacy. Sarod Maestro – Sri.Sunit Bhose is one of them.
Subsequent to obtaining information from Sri.Ajit Sen [Octogenarian Eminent historian, writer & authority of Baranagar’s olden times; I am proud to call Sri.Sen as my ‘mastermosai’ (Mentor)] concerning dishonoring & misfortune of the deprived artist, we have arranged for a congregation with the octogenarian amazing performer. In that congregation session, spanned more than 3 hours, penniless Sarod Maestro Sri. Bhose expressed about his pathetic life as well as his last weapon of his vigor & proud….. Sarod. However, we had not forgotten to converse about his famous family backgrounds too.
It was a sunny day of late morning. We had reached in time infront of the artist’s residence for congregation & interviewing but, with utter shock firstly we had observed that to enter artist’s room, we will have to cross a slippery narrow passage which was completely chock-full with all dirty & filthy elements. It was an absolute shock for both of Mastermoshai as well as me. After entering, robotically we had started discussing about the ambience of his dwelling place [most probably the last rented dwelling (?) place of the renowned artist], which was really distressing.
We had acknowledged that for the last few years unmarred artist at the age of 82 & without any assistance of any close relatives is living his last breath at 60, Satchashi Para Road, Kolkata: 700002, under the jurisdiction of Cossipore area, ward no – 1 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, in a rented unhygienic, tiny, gloomy, polluted room and obviously devoid of all essential amenities to survive a peaceful living. He is bound to share one common latrine, open bathroom & a narrow slippery passage as main entrance, with other co-occupier.
Earlier it was intimated by ‘mastermosai’ to me that Late.Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose, father of our octogenarian artist, Sri. Sunit Bhose was one of the renowned sarod authorities of that era too. Not only that, Late.Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose [1882 –17.09.1953 A.D.] was the ‘first Bengali sarod player’ and the father of Sri.Sunit Bhose. May we be eligible for cherishing about it?
Whatsoever, Bose family domicile from the district of Hooghly to ‘Potoldanga’ of north-central Calcutta in late 18th Century. This family was well reputed for their Banking Industry alongwith the British Government. British business associates were unable to pronounce “Basu” or “Bose”. Their accent was “Bhose” instead of “Bose” and from that period of time, the entire family members exercising ‘Bhose’ as a replacement of ‘Bose’.
Late.Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose started his musical journey of his life, at the age of 12. I may utter of a few reputed names as the teacher / trainer of Late.Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose; i.e. from Pandit.Asadullah Khan, famous as “Kaukav” Khan (1852–1919), Karamatullah Khan (1848–1933) Court Musician of Nepal, Hafiz Ali, Aamir Khan, Radhika Prosad Goswami, Mohim Chandra Chattopadhyay etc. Apart from Sarod, Pandit Bhose was one of the expert as well as authority of ‘Bina’, ‘Harmonium’, ‘Pakhoyaz’, ‘Tabla’, ‘Violin’, ‘Vocal Classical’ & ‘Dhrupad’.
Sunit babu reminds us a few names of his fater, Late. Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose’s student as Shyam Ganguly [Sarodia], Pulin Paul [Sitarist], Sailen Das, Amal Ghosh, Violin player Arati Laha Roy , Kamal Dey, Shyamsundar Dey, Ashok Ghosh, Rabi Ghosh & offcourse he himself. etc.
- At the age of 71 yrs, Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose stopped his materialistic journey & last few years he spends at 34, Boral Para Lane, Baranagar, Kolkata:- 700036. On & after the sad demise of his father as well as the ‘first Bengali sarod player’, Sunit babu continues his existence at the same address.
A beautiful narration was moreover draw closer into the portrait of that striking sunup from our so called congregation, which was ultimately turned into cordial discussion phase of 3 people. It’s a well known fact that Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose performed in the All Bengal Music Conference which was first planned to organize at 47 Pathuriaghata Street of North Calcutta by Sri.Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh for Hindustani classical music designed for the public of Calcutta. The great ustads and pandits carry out their outstanding performance in that conference. The conference, said to be the best ever in this country, thus began the process of democratization of Indian classical music in this city.
- The All Bengal Music Conference was initiated by Sri.Bhupendra Krishna along with some associates such as Natore’s Maharaja Jogindranath Roy etc. Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh’s ancestor Ramlochun Ghosh had bought a house including music room at 46 Pathuriaghata Street in October 18, 1782. The plot on which Ramlochun’s house stands formerly belonged to Charles Hamilton and according to the title suit of the Privy Council, it was proved that Charles Hamilton was the Zamindar of that time.
- It was also documented in the ancient paper book of the Privy Council that how the plot was handed over from Hamilton to Greedhur Dutt; from Greedhur Dutt to Rasmonee Dosse [Eternally Living Legend as Rani Rasmoni, Founder of famous Dakshineswar Kali Mandir]. Amongst the first inhabitants of Sutanuti [Sutanuti was one of the three villages that formed the nucleus of Calcutta] Sri.Gobind Bysack appeared to be the owner from Rani Rasmoni and Bysack vended it to Bulloram Dutt, and lastly it was procured by Sri.Ramlochun Ghosh. Ramlochun also procured an adjoining plot from Nurrohurry Dutt.
In the later phase, the grandson of Ramlochan Ghosh, Khelat Chandra Ghosh (1829-1878) shifted out of the nearly 300 year’s old family house at 46 Pathuriaghata Street & constructed a luxurious house at 47 Pathuriaghata Street in 1850–1855 A.D. Pathuriaghata area was one of the strongest monopolies of aristocrat Bengalis of that time.
Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh used to invite many eminent musicians to his Pathuriaghat home, like Radhikaprasad Goswami, Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose etc. Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose had performed in the Calcutta University’s “Senate Hall” in the inaugural conference of All Bengal Music Conference in the year of 1934, which was inaugurated by Rabindranath Tagore. A few years ago, All Bengal Music Conference, celebrated its 75th anniversary with a series of concerts at the residence of Khelat Ghosh; however it was closed in the year of 1953.
Shri.Bhose memorized, “250 years old house of 46,Pathuriaghata Street is full of memories of Hindustani Classical Music as well as the All Bengal Music Conference, which is quietly considered as the ‘Mother of all music conference’; even if you give attention may listen of those soundless melody starts into the two picture galleries of the house.
Adjacent of this building is the colonnaded abode of the family members of Sri.Khelat Ghosh. On the 1st floor above the ‘Thakurdalan’, 2 no’s of large halls [one of them was a billiard room] are developed & turned into galleries. The portraits of leading musicians either born in late 19th or early 20th century are hanged on the ramparts of these two halls / galleries & those legendary musicians were extremely contented to perform only for the audiences of the Calcutta as the audiences of Calcutta were famed for their musical sense of knowledge & appreciation & none were as good as of them.
Devotees of music may remember that Ramlochan Ghosh, who was ‘diwan’ of Governor General Warren Hastings, had firmly established this family. His successor Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh was an immense enthusiast of melody. In the Twenties, Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh’s resident musician was the celebrated Radhikaprasad Goswami. Celebrity Radhikaprasad, young A. Kanan lived in Masjid Bari Street,Calcutta abode of Bhupendrababu. In the later phase, Radhikababu’s nephew, the notable Jnanendra Prasad Goswami resided in Ghosh’s Pathuriaghata home. The room is still acknowledged as “Genubabu’s room in the memory of Jnanendra Prasad Goswami, he who enfolded the outlook of courtesans.
Amazingly, Mastermosai portrayed the golden history of music in the canvas of olden times from his remembrance, “Did you be familiar with the information that famous Sachin Dev Burman [01.10.1906 – 31.10.1975] attended the All India Music Conference in the year of 1934, as per the invitation of Allahabad University, where he presented his Bengali ‘Thumri’, in presence of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Abdul Karim Khan of Kirana Gharana. Later, in the same year, he was invited to the innagural program of All Bengal Music Conference, Kolkata, which was inaugurated by Rabindranath Tagore & here again he sang his Bengali ‘thumri’ and was awarded a Gold Medal.”
Mastermosai continuing portraying “Not only that, the saintly and learned man Ustad Allaud- din Khan [1862-1972] of Maihar Gharana of Central India, famous disciple of Wazir Khan & guru of Pandit Ravi Shankar was also performed in the same conference which was held in December, 1934. Even, Ravi Shankar saw him for the first time at that conference.
- Allaud- din Khan learned with one of the most famous Bengali singers of the day, Nulo Gopal.
- Nulo Gopal helped Allaud- din Khan to get a job as a Tabla player in Girish Ghosh’s Star Theater to earn some money.
- Allaud- din Khan also participated in the frequent orchestral parties held by a prominent composer of that time, Habu Dutta, who was the brother of the famed Swami Vivekananda.
- Habu Dutta learned both Western as well as Eastern music and maintained an orchestra for which he composed in raga and tala framework; he used all the Western instruments as well as a few Indian ones.
- Allaud- din Khan was inspired by Habu Dutta & in the later phase such stimulation assists him to organize his own famous ‘Maihar’ Band.”
I was remembering that Ramlochan Ghosh was an eminent personality of that time. He had constructed a ‘Bathing Ghat’ at Alambazar in Baranagar area in the year of 1219 [Bangabda], currently which is one of the most famous Ghats for different socio-ritual performances including bathing, immersion of various idols like Durga, Kali etc. In the vicinity, it is prominent nick named in Bengali as ‘Lochon Ghosher Ghat’ of Baranagar.
Governor General Warren Hastings was the proprietor of a giant ‘Kuthi’ [large building structure] which was positioned just south of Kali Krishna Tagore Road, Baranagar. Due to decaying, that aged structure was destroyed in the year of 1890-91AD. Ramlochan Ghosh was able to acquire Governor General Warren Hastings’s vast property of Baranagar, as he was the business associate cum ‘diwan’ of Hastings. Somehow, he was able to procure that giant ‘Kuthi’ too.
Ramlochan Ghosh spends lots of resources & converted the vacant land of that ‘Kuthi’ into a sprawling & marvelously sketched garden. In that vacant land area he had constructed 12 no’s of ‘Dadosh Shiv Mandir’ [Temple of Shiva’s] with striking style & structural design alongside ofHooghlyRiver. In between these 12 Mandirs, he was able to put up an attractive wide and concreted Ghat.
At that time beside of the Ghat he had mentioned about the information relating to the construction of the Ghat on the marble platter, which was erected on the Ghat as follows (presently abolished):
In later phase, ‘Kuli Line’ [labour quarter] was constructed in this garden area, specially for ‘Baranagar Jute Mill’; nevertheless this 12 mandirs [presently mostly are moderately ruined] & Ghat is surviving somehow.
Most probably, mastermosai had guessed my psyche, thoughts & modus operandi; he has started in his delicate style & technique “Ramshankar Ghosh came from the village of ‘Karatia’, district of Hooghly. He was the father of Ramlochun Ghosh. Ramshankar died early in the year of 1775 AD, leaving behind a minor son. He left a house in Pathuriaghat & one lakh rupee hard cash of that day; however that cannot be located any longer.
After the death of Ramshankar, Ramshankar’s mother took the adolescent son to Varanasi & afterward she returned back with Ramlochan and settled in Baranagar. Ramlochun had three sons. Ramlochun Ghosh died in the year of 1820AD, which was published in ‘Samachar Darpan’ patrika on 19th February 1820.”
Mastermosai added with a feather touch on the pastel of the dialogue “Most of the legendary vocalists and instrumentalists like Omkarnath Thakur, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Faiyaz Khan, Hafiz Ali Khan etc. from all over the undivided India used to arrive & settled in Pathuriaghata Street of north Kolkata, then Calcutta. Bhupenbabu [Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh] had started of collecting their photographs from those times.
Manmatha Ghosh too sustained the practice consistently with devotion & determination like his father, Bhupenbabu. However many of the portraits have collapsed with age and so called overlook, approximately a hundred have survived – 35 in no’s of collections are stored in the billiard room and 56 packed in a minor hall. Approximately, 10 in no’s have been touched up & reframed recently, most probably in 2002-2003”.
Shri.Bhose added in the midst of Mastermosai with proud legacy – “In fact, the majority of those portraits are actually hand-tinted photographs to look like images. These paintings are significant not only as they are the only resemblances obtainable of those forgotten artists, but also these are the excellent examples of early 20th century hand-painted photographs”
Shri.Bhose continued his magical tale of that era with feeble tonal voice & asked him to hand-over a paper cutting from his possessions; he continued “Prior to Kesto Bhattacharya and others, Durganath Bhattacharya was the first person, he who had started to create these portraits with great proficiency.”
Out of snooping, I have asked about the photograph of legendary artiste – ‘Tansen’! He acted in response “not the photographs, but the portrait of famous ‘Tansen’ was copied from the Jaipur museum edition. The second effort was approved by the maharaja.”
Mastermosai changed the steering of our discussions; he wonderfully created an everlasting relationship in accordance with music & motion picture, “Omkarnath Thakur first came to this house in 1938 with a moustache. Renowned filmmaker Sri.Pramathesh Barua required casting him as ‘Sant Kabir’ & as a result Omkarnath Thakur turned into clean-shaved personality, though the film never occurred”
Shri.Bhose sustained his conversation & memorized with louder voice with full of energy now “You may find a large group photograph of 24 court musicians are dressed with ornamented head covering, greatly embroidered shawls and rows of assorted medals exhibited on their chest was brought from the Nepal Durbar. Hirabai, Gangubai and Gauhar Jan – renowned trio female performers are shorn of precious ornaments. These pictures had been exhibited in Park Circus in 1950-51. Due to imperfect illumination & height from the floor presently, it is really hard to decode the names of those musicians though all the portraits bear nameplates.”
Mastermosai endorsed the matter with dazzling stare and added further “According to the veteran writer / journalist Sri.Kanai Lal Basu, Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh was influenced to organize the ‘All Bengal Music Conference’ in 1934 in Calcutta by The Allahabad Music Conference, which was held in 1932-33 by Dakshinaranjan Bhattacharjee. Bhupendrababu was supported and encouraged by royalty, music lovers, film-music directors Sri.Raichand Baral, Damodardas Khannah (Lalababu) etc., who later broke away and started the All India Music Conference.
Manmatha Ghosh [1908 – 1983] was the first president of ‘Suresh Sangeet Samsad’ which was happened in the year of 1968 by Sri.Kanai Lal Basu to stretch the significance of national integration through music. Don’t forget, at the time of 1934 or earlier, Indian classical music was then a budding art form and only baijis (courtesans) sang & perform publicly. Despite of his wife’s protest, only to honor & to host talent, Manmathababu was the first person to invite a legendary musician, Irabai Bardekar, at the inner wing of his residence. Manmathababu had arranged a grand concert of Indian Melodic Instruments to commemorate the ‘Independence of Bangladesh’ in the year of 1972. Asoke Kumar Sarkar, Editor of Ananda Bazar Patrika had influenced Timirbaran to carry out the orchestra.”
Yes, Mastermosai is providing absolutely correct information which is assisting me to memorize that Dhurpat exponent Lal Chand Boral’s youngest son Rai Chand Boral (19 October 1903–25 November 1981) was born at Calcutta in 1903 A.D and since initiation in 1927, Rai Chand was associated with the Indian Broadcasting Co. and to support the theatre stage with live music at the time of Silent era Rai Chand joined ‘New Theatres Ltd.’ in the later part of 1931.
Rai Chand had directed music of 150 films is acknowledged for introducing play-back singing in 1935 (Bhagyachakra was first film with playback songs), Playback singers team were Pahari Saniyal, Kanan Devi and Talat Mehmood (as Tapan Kumar). Dhananjay Bhattacharyia, Ila Gosh, Radha Rani, Suprova Sarkar were the other playback singers of New Theatres.
- Dena Paona is credited as the first Bengali talkie. It was released in the same year as Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie. Dena Paona, the ‘Family Film’ was released on 24th December 1931 at Chitra (now Mitra) Cinema Hall of Cornwallis Street (now Bidhan Sarani of North Kolkata). It was directed by Sri. Premankur Atarthi, Casting: Durgadas Bandyopadhyay, Amar Mullik, Jahar Gangopadhyay, Bhanu Bandyopadhyay (Sr.), Bhumen Ray, Kusumkumari, Nibhanani Debi, Umasashi, Sishubala, Anupama Debi, Abhabati.
- In the Bengali film ‘Udayer Pathey’ directed by Sri.Bimal Roy, Rai Chand Boral directed & arranged music Orchestra to introduced ‘JanaGanaMana’ at the the first time in any Film & it was happened prior to any official endorsement for ‘JanaGanaMana’ [Check the subsequent list for detail information].
Even the musical composition of Sri.Raichand in the film “Vidayapati” [here we have mentioned it as ‘Bidyapati’ released in the year of 1937] are considered to be the all time best in Indian Cinema. He was honoured with name, fame & assorted commendation, viz. National Award for ‘Sagar Sangam in 1958, Sangeet Natak Akedemi Award in 1978, Dada Sahib Phalke Award in 1978 at the age of 75.
Mastermoshai notified that Asoke Kumar Sarkar, Editor of Ananda Bazar Patrika had influenced Timirbaran to carry out the Melodic Instrumental Orchestra to celebrate the ‘Independence of Bangladesh’ in the year of 1972. Why?
Well, it is an prehistoric golden times by the mass but not the class community since Timirbaran (Timir Baran Bhatacharya – 1904-1987) was an extraordinary sarodiya, a composer par excellence and often portray as the ‘Father of Indian Orchestra’ and initially learned Sarod playing from Radhikaparsad Goswami and finally continued as a pupil of Ustad Allauddin Khan (who also taught internationally renowned Ravi Shankar). He had an uncontested reputation of dance music of his time, visited Europe and USA with Uday Shankar’s Dance Troupe in 1930.
Timirbaran composed music for “Devdas” from The New Theatres in 1935. Apart from Hindi he also directed music of this Bengali Feature Film: Bijoya 1935, Uttarayan 1941, Bondita 1945, Bicahrak 1959, Thana Theke Aschhi 1965, Diba Ratrik Kabya 1970 and Dak Diye Jai 1978, conducted music for Tagore’s non-violence poetry in 1947 from All India Radio.
When I have addressed those information, Mastermosai again demonstrate another sheet of paper in which Rai Chand’s entire works was describe in a classy prototype approximating subsequent: (I am mentioning only about Bengali Filmography).
- It was known to me that those splendid performances were conducted with regular interval at Star Theatres, Minerva Theatres, Sri, Roxy etc. auditorium. Those who were unable to obtain / purchase permissions / tickets would be seated throughout the nighttime on the pavements or boulevards, outside of these theatre halls to listen attentively to their beloved musicians.
I shared the topic with confidence that Hemanta Mukherjee and Suchitra Mitra presented Rabindra Sangeet in the final session, which was held at Rangmahal theatre in 1953. Sri. Bhose confirmed my information.
“Even of morning time, vehicles were stopped progressing as Bade Ghulam Ali khan of ‘Patiala Gharana’ sang till 7.00. (Born: 1902 – 25 April 1968)” – Mastermosai added.
When I remembered the name of Sarodia Late Dhiren Bhose whose photograph was too displayed in that renowned address, Mastermosai with my utter surprise showed a few tinted papers where the name list of all musicians were printed in detail. I had copied those papers.
The picture of the subsequent artist was displayed in Billiard Room:
- 1. Bama Charan Banerjee, 2.Bhimsen Joshi, 3. D.V. Paluskar, 4. Dhiren Bhose (sarod), 5. Gangubai (young) now in her 92-93s plus of age, 6. Gauhar Jan, 7. Girija Shankar Chakravorty, 8. Gopeswar Banerjee, 9. Gouripur raja Jitendra Kumar Acharya Choudhury, 10. Haren Seal, 11. Hirabai, 12. Jnada P. Mukherjee (wears a pagdi in this picture & he was an excellent hunter), 13. Jnanendra Prasad Goswami, 14. Kanai Dhendi (pakhawaj), 15. Kesarbai, 16. Kumar Gandharv, 17. Lalit Mohan Mukherjee (son of Mohim Mukherjee), 18. Mohim Mukherjee, 19. Narayan Rao Vyas, 20. Nasiruddin Khan Dagar, 21. Omkarnath Thakur (with mustache), 22. Pasupati Misra, 23. Patron and singer Raja Sir Sourendra Mohan Tagore, 24. Patwardhan, 25. Radhika Prasad Goswami (uncle of Jnanendra Prasad Goswami), 26. RamKrishna Misra, 27. Ram Sevak Misra.
I was able to found the names of so called ‘A group photograph of 24 court musicians’, which was obtained from the Nepal Durbar from those pieces & following names were printed, as it should be: [In sitting arrangement] –
- 1. Alaiya Khan, 2. Enayet Hussain Khan of Rampur (khayal), 3. Gulam Hossain Khan (dhrupad), 4.Nazir Khan of Jodhpur (khayal), 5. Rahamat Khan of Gwalior (khayal), 6. Sadiq Ali Khan (Ustad of Taj Khan), 7. Taj Khan (dhrupad) & [In standing display] 1. Abed Ali Khan (khayal), 2. Ahmad Khan, 3. Amir Seni (sitar and dhrupad) of Jaipur, 4. Bunkor Bhatt, 5. Feida Hussain Khan (sarod), 6. Haider Khan (khayal), 7.Jagadwip Missir Nasoia, 8. Kalandar Bux Nasoia (pakhawaj), 9. Mehedi Hussain Khan, 10. Mohammad Hussain Khan (beenkar), 11. Murad Ali Khan, 12. Nasir Khan (pakhawaj), 13. Pathakji (jaltarang), 14. Ram Sevak Missir, 15. Sado Khan (jaltarang), 16. Wahid Hussain Khan, 17. Zakir Hussain Khan.
It was also mentioned in those papers that in the 2nd room, the subsequent portraits of leading musicians of olden times hanged with adequate care:
- 1. Abdul Karim Khan, 2. Ahmad Jan (Tharakua), 3. Akbar Hossain Khan, 4. Alladiya Khan, 5. Anokhelal Missir, 6. Badal Khan, 7. Bade Ghulam Ali, 8. Baiju Baora, 9. Bhairo Maharaj, 10. Bhaskar Rao Bua, 11. Bhatkhande, 12. Enayet Khan, 13. Faiyaz Khan, 14. Hafiz Ali Khan, 15. Kabir, 16. Kakuv Khan, 17. Kalka Din Maharaj, 18. Kanthey Maharaj, 19. Keramatullah Khan, 20. Khalifa Abed Hossain, 21. Khalifa Abid Hossein, 22. Luxmi Prasad Misra, 23. Mauluve Ram, 24. Muhammad Ali, 25. Nana Saheb Pasey, 26. Nathu Khan, 27. Niyamatullah Khan, 28. Radhika Mohan Moitra, 29. Rahamat Khan, 30. Rajab Ali Khan, 31. Ratan Jhankar, 32. Shambhu Maharaj, 33. Sur Das, 34. Tansen, 35. Tulsi Das, 36. Tyagraj, 37. Ustad Ali Bux, 38. Ustad Bande Ali Khan, 39.Ustad Imdad Khan, 40. Ustad Moijuddin Khan, 41. Ustad Moula Box, 42. Ustad Muzaffar Khan, 43. Ustad Nathu Khan, 44. Zakiruddin Khan. In a different position, these photographs were exhibited: 1. Amir Khan, 2. Gopal Banerjee (Nulo), 3. Lachchu Maharaj, 4. Ram Chatterjee, 5. Sawai Gandharva, 6. Uzir Khan, 7. Vishnu Digambar.
In due course, I was able to accumulate 102 names of renowned musicians with the spontaneous assistance of Sri.Bhose & off course – Mastermosai. It’s a really astonishing issue that devoid of a musician, Mastermosai had arranged to gather such vital statistics & protecting it with adequate care & worship. It appears to me that he had accumulated these crucial documents & preserving these items for the future generation.
A photo from the first music conference after India’s independence
Music Masters in 1948
|Front Row:||1.?, 2. Nissar Hussain Khan (vocal), 3. Ahmedjan Thirakwa (tabla), 4. Hafiz Ali Khan (sarod), 5. Mustaq Hussain Khan (vocal), 6. Omkar Nath Thakur (vocal), 7. Rajendra Prasad (first President of India), 8. Kesarbai Kerkar (vocal), 9. Allaudin Khan (sarod), 10. Kante Maharaj (tabla), 11. Govind Rao Bharanpurkar (pakhawaj), 12. Krishna Rao Shankar Pandit (vocal), 13. Manohar Joshi (vocal).|
|Second Row:||1. Gulam Mustafa Khan (vocal), 2. Altaf Hussain Khan (tanpura), 3. ?, 4. Karamat Hussain Khan (tabla), 5. Radhika Maitra (sarod), 6. Ilyas Khan (sitar), 7. Bismillah Khan (shenai), 8. Kishan Maharaj (tabla), 9. Ataf Hussain Khan (vocal), 10. Ravi Shankar (sitar), 11. Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), 12. Vilayat Khan (sitar), 13. Narayan Rao Viyas (vocal), 14. Vinayak Rao Patwardhan (vocal), 15. D.V. Paluskar (vocal).|
|Third Row:||1. ?, 2 ?, 3. ?, 4. ?, – 5. Bismillah Khan Party, 6. B.R. Deodhar (vocal), 7. Gyan Prakash Ghosh (tabla), 8. Rajyadaksh (vocal), 9. ? 10.?, 11. Nimkar Bua.|
|Fourth Row:||1. ?, 2. Vinaya Chandra, 3. ?, 4. ?, 5. ?, 6. ?|
Just amazing to glimpse of such genius Indian classical music talents in one frame.
Read the above catalogue with care, depicted in the picture.
However, it was in our back of the mind that we will have to gather a quantity as well as quality of fundamental & significant data’s from Sri.Bhose, specially which is related with ‘sarod’. It was known to me that sarod is a stringed musical instrument, used mainly in Indian classical music. Along with Sitar, it is one of the most well accepted and prominent instrument in Hindustani (northern Indian) classical music. The sarod is well–known for its weighty, deep, introspective sound (contrast with the sweetness, overtone-rich texture of the “sitar) with ‘sympathetic strings’ that provides it a resonant, reverberant quality. It is a ‘fretless’ instrument & able to produce the continuous slides between notes known as ‘meend’ (glissandi), which are very important to Indian music.
I had asked Sri.Bhose to enlighten about the origin of the instrument. Astonishingly, instead of Sri.Bhose Mastermosai answered with an intrinsic manner “The sarod is believed by some to have descended from the ‘Afghan rubab’, a comparable instrument originating in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name ‘Sarod’ roughly translates to ‘beautiful sound’ or ‘melody’ in ‘Persian’ (which is one of the many languages spoken in Afghanistan). Even, the sarod has been referred to as a ‘bass rebab’  its pitch range is only slightly lower than that of the ‘rubab’.
- ‘Lalmani Misra’ opines in his ‘Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya’ that the sarod is an amalgamation of the ancient “chitra veena”, the “medieval rebab” and “modern sursingar” [i.e. Chitra Veena + Medieval Rebab + Modern Sursinger = SAROD]. There is also a speculation that the oud may be the origin of the sarod.”
Really, it was an amazing moment to enrich my knowledge. But after a short while, I felt that continiously we are entering into the deep discussions phase. If truth to be shared, it was a nice and outstanding experience.
Sri.Bhose penetrated into the discussions “Alike Sarod, Rabab too a very ancient instrument found primarily in Afghanistan. However, inIndiait is restricted mainly to northwestIndia. Famous & mystic poets ‘Kabir’ and ‘Krishnadasa’ have mentioned about rabab. It is a bowed stringed instrument of 53cm length made of either walnut or cedar soundbox that looks like an elongated half pear joined together along its length. Similar to sarod, in rabab, the lower part is covered with goat skin & has a peg box. Two sheep gut strings that are attached at the bottom of the instrument and pass over a 4 to 5 cm reed bridge.
The upper part covered with a thin sheet of hammered cooper, decorated with three small rosettes. The bow is very curved and made of horse hair. Rabab is either played accompanies singing, specially with long epic poem or as a solo vibrant instrument. To play rabab, musician sits cross legged, placed the instrument on the right knee across the body with the peg box resting against his left shoulder. The thumb placed underneath the strands & uses pressure to control the tension of the bow. The specialty of the sound produces by Rabab is said resemble that of the human voice.”
Subsequent to taking a recess, Sri.Bhose on track once more “Veena is also a stringed instrument consists of a bulky body, emptying out of a block of wood. The stem of Veena is also made of timber. The bridge is placed on the flat top of the body of the instrument and the neck attached to the stem is generally carved into weird figure similar to the head of the dragon.
“Veena has 07 strings, out of 07, 04 are main strings that pass over the frets and are attached to the pegs of the neck. The other 03 strings are used as side strings for rhythmic accompaniment. All of these strings pass over an arched bridge made of brass, which lie flat over the top of the body and are secured to the core bridge. A gourd which is smaller than the rounded part of the body is fixed underneath the neck. Twenty one metallic frets are fixed on the stem by means of a resinous substance. Of them four are main strings that pass over the frets and are attached to the pegs of the neck. The other strings are used as side strings for rhythmic accompaniment. These strings pass over an arched bridge made of brass. They lie flat over the top of the body and are secured to the main bridge.” Sri.Bhose was continuing his known track.
“To play, musicians have to be seated cross-legged upon the floor and holding the Veena in front. The small gourd on the left touch the left thigh, the left arm passing round the stem so that the fingers rest easily upon the frets. The main body of the instrument is positioned on the ground, to some extent supported by the right thigh.
Out of different varieties of Veena, Rudra Veena, Vichitra Veena, Saraswati Veena, Mahanataka Veena etc. are most prominent. Saraswati Veena is known as the queen of Veena’s. Haven’t you observed the idol of ‘Saraswati’?” Sri.Bhose finished his dissertation with the query.
Due to lingerene, I had inturruped him & requested him to intimate us about Sarod’s invention into India & its developmental phase. Sri.Bhose further started “Among the many contested and conflicting histories of the Sarod, there is one that attributes its invention to the ancestors of the present-day Sarod maestro ‘Amjad Ali Khan’.
Amjad Ali Khan’s ancestor ‘Mohammad Hashmi Khan Bangash’, a musician and horse trader, came to India with the ‘Afghan rabab’ in the mid-1700s and became a court musician to the ‘Maharajah of Rewa’ (presently in Madhya Pradesh). It was his descendants—notably his grandson ‘Ghulam Ali Khan Bangash’ who became a court musician in ‘Gwalior’ — who gradually pepo the rabab into the sarod as we know today.. A compariable theory credits descendants of ‘Madar Khan’ (1701–1748) – ‘Niyamatullah Khan’ in particular—with the same innovation circa 1820.
It is possible that ‘Ghulam Ali Khan’ and ‘Niyamatullah Khan’ came to the similar design propositions either independently or in unacknowledged collaboration. The sarod in its present recognizable form dates back to c.1820, when it started gaining recognition as a serious instrument in ‘Shahjahanpur’, ‘Rewa’, ‘Lucknow’ and ‘Gwalior’.
In the 20th century, the sarod received some finishing touches from ‘Allauddin Khan’, the performer-pedagogue from ‘Maihar’ gharana, well known as ‘Ravi Shankar’ and ‘Ali Akbar Khan’s guru.” [Sri.Bhose had remembered a few names from where in future we may gather detailed information, which may be traced in the concluding area of this citations based on congregation meeting].
Sri.Bhose displayed some pictures of sarod part wise, which are exhibited as it was: First the upper portion of Sarod, next the middle portion & last one was the lower portion.
Out of genuine inquisitiveness, I had asked to state something about uniqueness of designing of ‘sarod’. “The design of the instrument depends on the “gharana” (school) of playing. The word ‘gharana’ comes from the Hindi word ‘ghar’, which means ‘family’ or ‘house’. It typically refers to the place where the musical ideology originated.
In Hindustani music, a ‘gharānā’ is a system of social organization linking musicians or dancers by lineage and / or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style. A gharana also indicates a comprehensive musicological ideology. This ideology sometimes changes substantially from one gharana to another. It directly affects the thinking, teaching, performance and appreciation of music”, Sri.Bhose replied.
But I wanted to be acquainted with about the type / categories of sarod & in respond he was again on track to describe, which is indicating in a nutshell “Basically, the conventional sarod is an 17 to 19- stringed ‘lute-like instrument’ — 4 to 5 ‘main strings’ used for playing the melody, 1 or 2 ‘drone strings’, 2 ‘chikari strings’ and 9 to 11 ‘sympathetic strings’.
The design of this early model is generally credited to ‘Niyamatullah Khan’ of the ‘Lucknow Gharana’ as well as ‘Ghulam Ali Khan’ of the ‘Gwalior-Bangash Gharana’. Among the contemporary sarod players, this basic design is kept intact by two streams of sarod playing. ‘Amjad Ali Khan’ and his disciples play this model, as do the followers of ‘Radhika Mohan Maitra’. Both ‘Amjad Ali Khan’ and ‘Buddhadev Dasgupta’ have introduced minor changes to their respective instruments which have become the design templates for their followers.” I have observed that Mastermosai is sketching a sarod with accurate leveling with a mere fountain pen
Subsequent to rest for a while Sri.Bhose once more starts to notify us about the subject in detail “Both musicians use sarods made of ‘teak wood’, with the playing face covered with ‘goat skin’. ‘Buddhadev Dasgupta’ prefers a polished ‘stainless steel fingerboard’ for the ease of maintenance while ‘Amjad Ali Khan’ uses the conventional ‘chrome or nickel-plated cast steel fingerboard’.
Visually, the two variants are similar, with 6 ‘pegs’ in the main pegbox, 2 rounded ‘chikari pegs’ and 11 (Amjad) to 15 (Buddhadev) ‘sympathetic strings’. The descendants of ‘Niyamatullah Khan’ (namely ‘Ghulfam Khan’ and ‘Irfan Khan’) also play similar instruments. The followers of ‘Radhika Mohan Moitra’ still carry the second resonator on their sarods. ‘Amjad Ali khan’ and his followers have rejected the resonator altogether. They tune their instruments to B, which is the traditional setting.”
He continued “Two of the earliest sarodes are still in concert circulation. These are the sarodes built for ‘Niyamatullah Khan’ (c. 1840) and for ‘Murad Ali Khan’ (c. 1860). Both have seen extensive use for over five generations, and are in perfect playing condition. As a result of the resurgence of these two early prototypes, the theories that proclaim the 20th-century variants to represent the zenith of sarod design face a serious and credible challenge.
The ‘Murad Ali sarod’, in particular, has acoustic sustain and projection that surpasses those of modern variants by a considerable margin. On this sarod, it is possible to sustain ‘meends’ of up to ten whole tones on one string, with just one downward stroke.”
In the mean time Mastermosai completed the entire diagram with complete leveling. Sri.Bhose assists him in favor of minor fine-tuning.
Again we had entered into our prime discussions; Sri.Bhose sustained “Another type is that designed by ‘Allauddin Khan’ and his brother ‘Ayet Ali Khan’. This instrument, referred by ‘David Trasoff’ [Trasoff, 2000] as the 1934 ‘Maihar’ prototype, is longer and larger in contrast to conventional instrument, though the fingerboard is identical to the traditional sarod described priorly.
This instrument has 25 strings in all. These include 4 ‘main strings’, 4 ‘jod strings’ [tuned to Ni or Dha, R/r, G/g and Sa respectively], 2 ‘chikari strings’ [tuned to Sa of the upper octave] and 15 ‘tarab strings’. The main strings are tuned to Ma [“fa”], Sa [“do”], lower Pa [“so”] and lower Sa, giving the instrument a range of 3 ‘octaves’. The ‘Maihar sarod’ lends itself extremely well to the presentation of ‘alap’ with the 4 ‘jod Strings’ providing a backdrop that helps usher in the ambience of the ‘raga’.
This variant is, however, not conducive to the performance of clean right-hand picking on individual strings. They tune to C.” He added “Sarod strings are made either of ‘steel’ or ‘phosphor bronze’. Most contemporary sarod players use ‘Roslau’, ‘Schaff’ or Precision brand music wire. The strings are plucked with a triangular ‘plectrum’ (java) made of polished ‘coconut shell’, ebony, DelrinTM or other materials such as bone.”
Gradually due to our conversation, I felt that it would be quite difficult for any new comer like me, to grasp the entire topic quickly. Hence, to change the row, I solicited Sri.Bhose to describe briefly about ‘playing’ of the instrument. In reply, he was on track again “The lack of ‘frets’ and the ‘tension’ of the strings make the sarod a very demanding instrument to play, as the strings must be pressed hard against the fingerboard. There are two approaches to stopping the strings of the sarod. One involves using the tip of one’s fingernails to stop the strings; certain strength and stiffness of the fingernails is a prerequisite for accuracy of pitch. The other uses a combination of the nail and the fingertip to stop the strings against the fingerboard. The technique which uses the fingernails produces a ‘ringing tone’, while the fingertip technique produces a ‘flatter tone’. One must add, in the same breath, that Maestro ‘Ali Akbar Khan’ and ‘Vasant Rai’ were capable of producing a bright, ringing tone even with their calluses, as years of exacting practice had hardened them enormously.
Left hand fingering technique of the sarod is not as well-defined as it should have been in order for sarod players across the board to understand each other. Fingering techniques and how they are taught depend largely on the personal preferences of musicians and are not even distinguishable on the basis of school affiliation. ‘Radhika Mohan Moitra’, for example, used the ‘index’, ‘middle’ and ‘ring finger’ of his left hand to stop the string, just like followers of ‘Allauddin Khan’ do. Moitra, however, made much more extensive use of the third fingernail for ‘slides’ and ‘hammers’. ‘Amjad Ali Khan’, while a member of approximately the same stylistic school as ‘Radhika Mohan Moitra’, prefers to use just the index and middle fingers of his left hand. Amjad Ali is, however, pictured circa 1960 playing with all three fingers. One can speculate, perhaps, that Amjad Ali’s switch to a two-finger technique is a result of the enormous influence ‘Sitarist Vilayat Khan’ has had on him.”
It was more than 3 hours of our discussions; the physical condition of the old artist is not quite good enough. To conclude our today’s conversation should be closed without any further delay. Hence, just out of curiosity, I had requested Sri.Bhose to memorize a few names of some great Sarodia, if feasible. Yet again with marvelous surprise, I had observed that Mastermosai was too waiting with a piece of paper, in which the detail list of Sarodia was printed & it seems that priorly he had guessed about my inquest. Again, I had captured the scope to copy the entire list from Mastermosai, which is marked below:
Key Figures in the Early Development of the Sarod 
A. Abdullah Khan (1849–1928) Court Musician of Darbhanga andDacca,2.Aadullah Khan “Kaukav” (1852–1919), 3. Fida Hussain Khan (1855–1927) Court Musician of Rampur, 4.Ghulam Ali Bangash (c. 1790-1858) Court Musician of Gwalior, 5.Karamatullah Khan (1848–1933) Court Musician of Nepal, 6.Mohammad Amir Khan (1873–1934) Court Musician of Darbhanga and Rajshahi, 7.Murad Ali Khan (c. 1825-1905) Court Musician of Gwalior and Darbhanga, 8.Niyamatullah Khan (1809–1911) Court Musician of Bundi, Alwar and finally Lucknow, 9.Shafayat Ali Khan (1838–1915).
B. 20th Century Greats: Past and Present: 1.Aashish Khan [b.1939 – ], 2.Ali Akbar Khan [1922 –2009 ], 3.Allaudin Khan [1880 –1972 ], 4.Amjad Ali Khan [b.1945 – ], 5.Buddhadev Das Gupta [b. 1933 – ], 6.Hafiz Ali Khan [1888 –1972 ], 7.Sharan Rani Backliwal[1929 – 2008], 8.Radhika Mohan Moitra[1917 –1981], 9.Rajeev Taranath [Not Known], 10.Vasant Rai [1942 –1985 ], 11.Zarine Sharma [b.1946 – ].
C. Present Young performers: 1.Amaan Ali Khan [b. 1977], 2.Amit Goswami [b. 1971], 3.Anupam Shobhakar [b. 1979], 4.Arnab Chakrabarty [ Not Known], 5.Ayaan Ali Khan [b. 1979], 6.Brij Narayan [b. 1952], 7.Kalyan Mukherjee, 8.Pradeep Barot [ Not Known], 9.Rajeev Taranath [b. 1932], 10.Tejendra Majumdar [b. 1961], 11.Vikash Maharaj [b. 1957]
Out of this musical journey of congregation, it came into the light that Pandit Dhirendra Nath Bhose’s own son, Octogenerian Sarodia Sri. Sunit Bhose is too carrying the rich cultural heritage of his father as well as Bengal & international cross cultural swap of heritage of diversified flavor. Alike father, Sri.Sunit Bhose was also acquainted with musical instruments other than Sarod, like ‘Esraj’, ‘Guitar’, ‘Bin’, ‘Surbahar’ etc.
Sri.Sunit Bhose was the student of Victoria School situated at Kuthi Ghat, Baranagar. At his very early age, he was on the track of music & trained under the strict supervision of his Pandit father. His contemporary & classmate was Shyam Ganguly [Sarodia], Pulin Paul [Sitarist], Violin player Arati Laha Roy etc. Sri.Bhose performed in Radio, Television in conjunction with in various locations, such as Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture -GoalPark, Dover Lane Music Conference, Entally, Patna, ShyamPark, All India Music Conference etc. In All India Music Conference, Sri. Bose stood 2nd & Pandit.Nikhil Bandhopadhyay stood 1st. He has bagged enormous Gold & Silver medal, Certificates & acclaimed for commendable achievement for musical sense & performance.
Suddenly, we came into the realistic world; observed instead of 3 hours, we have taken more time of Sri. Bhose. It is the time to take some rest of the old artist. We came to know that presently at the age of 82 years, Sri.Bose is obtaining Governmental Assistance (!) of Rs.1500/- for 03 months, i.e. Rs.500/- as old age pension.
- Octogenerian Sarodia Sri. Sunit Bhose is living a most horrible life in comparison to furious beast. His wretched condition improves some times due to charitable & monetary assistance from a few well wishers.
- It is not his misfortune, rater it is our own bad luck & dishonors that instead of respect and admiration, we are showing disregard in all respect to the octogenarian performer, Sri.Sunit Bhose.
- Can’t society be blamed for such inhuman attitude? Can’t any organization or government spread their hands to save such needy & talented old person’s? Can’t such person’s are not eligible for support in all respect, specially in their old ages? That spectacular day was ended with these questions. May we obtain the answers in the life time of the artist?
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