Many a times, we Indians say that we have not preserved our culture or arts and classical traditions or music, dances, rituals, etc and youth of today’s India is responsible for it.
Well this is just another Indian statement to cover our own faults. To reach the truth you might have to look into our history.
Here ill talk all about what I have learnt in my music and my music education from my gurus and also by meeting many different ustads and pundits of different music families or gharanas.
I started music from home. As I was interested in spirituality and reading religious books and texts, hence I was very much into deep study and love with music. Apart from that I belong to a musical family and all of us love music and have good collection. My mother is a “sangeet bhaskar” music teacher and I got lots of inspiration from her.
Mainly I started learning from jaipurs kathak classical music family in jalandhar, then pandit jeetu kathak in delhi and ustad devender singh in jalandhar from Punjab bodal gharana.
Since my music education period, I use to see and feel the way there is contrast in the words of different music directors, different gurus and many different singers. Somebody would say this is the right way and somebody would say that is right. However, my mind says that, there can be many diseases but health have only one type. In the same way there can be numerous ways but basic truth and basic rules are the same. We can’t just completely condemn a point of view. That is why singers singing and instrumentalists playing and improvisation is called “iraadee” in our music language.
I’ve seen Funny people as music directors and artists who rarely would have knowledge but misdirect new age artists with their false ways of music which is wrong teaching and a black spot on our Indian wisdom.
In my musical journey I met many different ustads of jaipur gharana of kathak dancers and tumri, dadra, khayal and folk singers. Among them, ive seen such ustads with the most elite musical wisdom and hidden musical teachings. I have got great lessons from my gurus but I am forced to think, why this wisdom is not transferred to further generations or any disciples.
In ancient Indian history, classical music and its training was like divine spiritual training. It used to be based on Vedas, mantras, chants, breathing, yog. Hence, music was called naad yog. It was such a wisdom which use to be given to the students in sacred teacher student relation “guru shihsya parampara”. Ancient Indian classical music was singing praises of 5 elements of nature, the supreme force, devotion, singing praises of saints and kings of that time. Hence, it use to be kind of yog.
However, slowly there was time when its real meaning was lost and it became more like big classical ustads eager to sing in the courts of kings of that time and its very spirituality started getting lost in money or big titles given by kings.
Old Indian pundits of music who were actually ecstatic or sages use to train music as form of devotion but later the pundits lost their duties and their sense of musical responsibility got lost in kings courts and big stages. “guru shishya parampara” got lost. I have seen pundits and ustads who would just keep their students to do their household work. The students would spend their precious time with gurus not actually learning anything but just serving them as servants.
Then, I have seen and compared the western classical musicians and composers and their training style. They, treat it professionally. There may not be “guru shishya parampara” like Indians but when they train the students, they give thorough trainings and not just spiritual jargon or big talks. They train the students and they don’t waste their time. Result is they produce elite quality artists.
India has seen lots of invaders coming and giving their culture to India. Hence, our culture is a melting point of many worlds.
First India use be called as “jambudveep”, then Aryans invaded India and India became “Aryavrat”. Prior to that it was called “bharat” too with name of one king of raghuvansh called “raja Bharat”. During the rule of old kings, the music was totally related to devotion and divine wisdom of Vedas. Classical composers use to sing the praises of gods and nature forces and their saints and gurus.
Most primitive compositions were-
3 Bhramh padi
10 natya geet & sangeet
11 padtaal style
12 Drupad & dhamaar style
13 Folk Music
14 Raag mala
“ramayan” and mahabharat” are also great work of tulsidas ji and rishi valmiki ji. Classical composers use to sing these compositions in different ragas.
After a long time mughals invaded India starting from babur. After the arrival of mughals many additions and changes were done in Indian classical music. Poetry was changed, qawali singing and sufi singing was brought by sufi mystics. The family of khwaja’s and the family of gaus paak, bulle shah, warish shah etc. many sufi saints gave lots of compositions and a different way of singing and dancing.
There were many muslim ustads who learnt Indian classical music and many Arabic or Persian styles and ragas or composition styles were mixed and added in Indian ragas and Indian classical. However, during the mughal times music flourished a lot. Lots of disciples learnt from ustads and many different gharanas or families were formed and gharana culture basically in northern India is created by mughal or muslim ustads.
During meetings and learning sessions from my gurus and many different gurus, I have found that Indian music have succeeded generations after generations by mere listening to ustads and following their styles of singing and playing. Even those who were not students, they use to listen, sing and follow their ustads or any favorite artists or classical pundits or ustads.
Also, I have learnt that in older times in india music, martial arts, devotion, technical skill, or good posts were only available to the higher cast people. The lower casts or the less privileged created either their own new art or music forms or just listened and followed the arts and music and practiced on their own.
This ridiculous tradition of pundits and old india was broken by invaders and especially during mughal rule. There can be many reasons of true music of India not getting promoted but the main reason is that, our blood is dark and seditious. We, the Indians have never been truthful to our own countries.
Like in old times Brahmins only use to teach all music , martial arts , yoga, bhakti etc. to high class students not the tribal’s or schedule casts of that time. This thinking of India never left the brains of ustads or especially pundits of Indian music too. Muslim ustads still have taught many students and given teaching of music but pundits never use to give their music to any one and rather use to treat their students like servants, who just use to do their household work for long time and then if the classical pandit or trainer use to feel like, he use to train that student.
I met pandit jeetu kathak ji of jaipur gharana and found him immensely talented & wise during those times I was studying and researching on the history of Indian classical music. He told me to talk to his guru “pandit chote lal ji” of jaipur gharana tradition, a devotional classical and folk singer.
“Chote lal ji” a very saintly man and great master in music. He told me how the materialistic and sex crazy kings use to keep only those pundits or ustads as their court singer, who use to give their female students to the kings for their amusements, so that the kings can keep those girls in harem to keep many women for sex, music, dance and amusements.
A detailed talk with “Krishn Kant ratawa” who started a group in Rajasthan dedicated to jaipur gharana’s “baba bihari lal kathak” an immensely wise and master singer. After talk with me I found out that, such great artists and singers and instrument players are there in Rajasthan. They do shows but don’t get enough money. Neither Indian government not local government promote them. Even “baba bihari kathak” was such a great artist that pandit jasraj, bollywood music directors appreciate him but this great artist and gem died in depression and waiting for the actual name and fame he deserved.
I had a talk to my Punjab bodal gharana guru “ustad davinder singh ji” who is the student of ustad fateh ali khan saab of Pakistan. They confirmed that they themselves have found that muslim ustads have still taught a lots of students but Indian pundits or gurus have never taught their music to any other cast person or even a deserving candidate of so called lower cast.
Likewise, you can see for yourself. Any classical or music student you ask especially in classical field “whom have you learnt from ?”, you will mostly get names of muslim ustads.
I won’t say this with happiness and I am not being judgmental but I am writing only what ive seen in music field myself and ive seen other students struggling for the same. Our Indian blood have always been mean to our own countrymen and have never promoted or taught their true arts to the new generations.
I’ve myself seen many new learned young classical , sufi, light music students learnt from different sources like- books, their peers who are musicians, music teachers, academy, or different classical ustads etc.
I’ve seen many young artists who truly want to learn the true Indian classical and traditional way but the “gurus of today” don’t teach or give their wisdom to anyone & are not more than thieves and I will call those people anti-country. They treat students like servants just to do their household work.
This is the only reason that Indian classical music is popular more in abroad not in India because the institutes in abroad actually give the right teaching and right way of Indian classical music but here in India it’s still looting and plundering going on. New age students want to learn but rotten attitudes of gurus discourage students of classical in India.
Those elders who don’t encourage the youth but discourage are the true culprits. The masters who don’t teach are robbers.
I as an artist love Indian music but I know why it was not flourished. My words for new artists would be make your own ways. Listen and follow from heart, make notes. Find true gurus and don’t just trust one person meet many musicians and good artists and learn from them. Don’t ever stick to one person as we still can’t trust Indian blood.
Practice and Reaaz would make you the true singer or musician you want.
Amandeep Singh #SwarAdi
Singer composer arranger