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Chaturpandit Bhatkhande

Towards the end of the last century, Hindustani music had run into "doldrums". Music had become the monopoly of a  small  coterie of illiterate professionals who jealously guarded their art. Living luxuriously under lavish  courtly   patronage,  these  narrow minded  custodians of music took care not to create rivals out of their own pupils. Gradually, these professionals acquired   disrepute,  and  the Muse whom they served fell from her high pedestal into the depths of public  apathy  and  alien  contempt.  The   so
called  "intellectuals" began to look down with "moral horror" on this noble art. No other country in the world had placed music so contemptuously   low,  and  "nowhere were the natural instincts of the young, for music and rhythm  so  completely  repressed,  censored,  and   banned,  as  they happened to be in the country that Vishnu Narain was born to serve". An utterly selfless  and  dedicated  music-devotee   was needed to create order out of chaos, to restore harmony into disharmony, and to salvage and re-install the fallen  image  of the Muse once again on a lofty pedestal, for us to worship today.

Born on the auspicious Gokulashtami day of  1860,  Vishnu  Narain Bhatkhande  was  destined  to play a most significant role in the renaissance of Hindustani classical music. In the words of a cultured  royal   patron  of music who was a contemporary and a great admirer of Panditji, "When Bhatkhande resolved to  translate  his love  for Hindustani Music into a continued, unwearied day-to-day programme of service, he had to   confront  social,  intellectual, and  finally,  professional prejudices. These took shape as positive obstacles, definite active resistance. He had   to  face  all this  very  early in life, even as a student seeking no more than information and enlightenment, and later on, as a crusader in the
cause of classical music".

A  lesser  man,  or  a man inspired by a lesser passion for music would have fled from the field defeated and crushed by  the  endless   obstacles  in his path. But Bhatkhande's was really a dedicated life, inspired by a single, undivided aim. In the words  of the late D.P. Mukerji:- "If the renaissance of classical music in the North is due to one man than to any  other,   it  was  due  to Bhatkhande."

Born into a cultured, though not well-to-do, Maharashtrian family in Balukeshwar, Bombay, Gajanan (as he was called in  his  childhood)  was  gifted with rare musical talent, intense love for the art, a remarkably shrewd brain, indefatigable powers of industry, an  impressive  personality,  and  most winning manners. Equipped with so many great qualities, it is no  wonder  that  he   finally succeeded in the gigantic tasks of reawakening "the sense of history and pride among people who had slept over this vital  aspect of Indian culture", of reconciling the theory and practice of music, and of collecting and  putting   at  the  disposal  of  music lovers,  thousands  of   traditional compositions hitherto closely
locked up by the professionals.

Bhatkhande's life and work fall into four clear stages: The first stage consisted of his own preparation period, his muscial training, and his important association with Gayan Uttejak  Mandal  of Bombay. His earliest musical education was imparted to him by his pious mother who could beautifully sing passages from  the  works of great saints and devotees. He had inherited a sweet voice from his mother, and a keen musical ear from his father who could play on  the  Qanoon.  He learnt the flute, Sitar and vocal music from some very eminent gurus like Jairajgir, Raojibua   Belbagkar,  Ali Husain Khan, Vilayat Hussain Khan and others. Along with his academic studies, he devoted nearly 15 years to the study of all the available   ancient  music-treatises in Sanskrit, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu, German, Greek and English with the help of scholars  and interpreters. After taking his B.A. and LL. B.  degrees,
Vishnu Narain joined the Karachi High Court  and  became  a  very successful lawyer. But his highly successful legal career was only a brief interlude in the life of this Sangeet-Bhakta  who  was destined  for  work of a nobler kind. With the death of his young wife and only daughter, he decided to give up   Law  and  dedicate his  entire life to the cause of Music. He had earned just enough to keep his body and soul together; and that was  all  that   this devotee needed for the simple life of ceaseless service for music that he had chalked out for himself.

The next stage in Bbatkhande's life was  a  period  of  extensive touring for the purpose of deep musical research, study, and discussions with the ustads and pandits all  over  the  country.  He toured  the entire length and breadth of the country from Kashmir to Rameshwaram, and from Surat and Broach to Calcutta  and  Puri. He  visited  all  the  important   music  libraries,  avidly going through ancient Granthas, and meeting every living  authority  on music  then.  His  bulky   private  diary running into hundreds of pages gives us glimpses into the pattern  of  frugal  living  and high  thinking  that he had set for himself. For instance, it was one of his self imposed rules that he would devote every  day  of
his tour entirely for study in music libraries, and never waste a single day for amusements like sight  seeing  or  social  engagements.  By his infinite patience, presuasive ways, and utter sincerity of purpose, Bhatkhande was gradually able  to  break  down the  opposition  and suspicion of some of the great ustads of the day. Those who scorned him for "looting the   great  treasures  of Ustads,"  stayed to become his associates, teachers, and friends. Among the many who helped him immensely were  great   Ustads  like Mohammad  Ali  Khan, Asgar Ali Khan and Ahmed Ali Khan of Jaipur; they gave him more than 300 precious compositions of the Manarang Gharana.

Then  followed a period of prolific publications. After pondering deeply over the voluminous materials he had collected during  his exhaustive study-cum-research tours, Panditji sifted the valuable materials and set about the magnanimous work  of   publishing  all this  laboriously collected material in a large number of volumes in Sanskrit, Marathi, Hindi and English such as: Abhinavaragamanjari,   Abhinavatalamanjari,  Lakshya  Sangeetam,  the  Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati, the Kramik series in 6 volumes, the Swara-malika  and Geet Malika series, Grantha sangeetam, Bhavi Sangeetam, A Short Hiytorical Survey of Music, Philosophy of Music, and so on. Thus  be has unstintingly spread out before the music loving public his entire musical wealth. As he himself wrote:- "My sole object  has been to place before my educated, music-loving brothers and sisters, the present condition of the Art". The fact that  he
published  all  his works under his pen-names "'Vishnu Sharma" or "Chaturpandit" shows his utter indifference to fame. Besides hundreds    of   traditional   Dhrupads,  Dhamars,   Khayals,  Sadras,
Taraanas, Chaturangs, Thumris, etc. that he  has  published  with notations in his Kramik series, he has also composed and included in this series, scores of his own   compositions,  mostly  Khayals
and  Lakshangeets  (nearly 250 or so) under his pseudonym "Chatura". He  also  published  several  ancient  music-granthas  whose manuscripts he had salvaged during his country-wide tours.

Although  Bhatkhande  shunned  fame, it came to him unsought. His fame spread. The cultured rulers of various states  like  Baroda, Gwalior, Rampur, Dharampur, Akbarpur etc. became his staunch sup-
porters and admirers. They sent students to study  music  at  his feet. Under his inspiration, and direction, music colleges sprang up in various places like Baroda, Gwalior, Lucknow, Bombay,  Nag-
pur and so on.  Besides these institutions which Panditji used to visit and guide till the end of his life, there were several others  which  uniformly   followed his system of teaching, syllabus, textbooks and notations. There are critics galore who "pooh pooh" at  the  idea of learning music in music colleges. But if you ask these critics how else interest in classical music can   be  awakened widely, they have no alternative constructive suggestions to offer. It is not possible for every music-student or music- lover
to  go and stay with a guru for years and years trying to squeeze out some "ilm" out of him by propitiating him  with  services.  A well-known  music connoisseur who is no more with us today, wrote
: "Bhatkhande has done perhaps most for the reawakening of interest in Indian music and its proper development through its organisation in educational institutions throughout Northern India. In the  provinces  where he started music colleges, his efforts have borne a rich harvest by training up batches of accomplished music teachers  who   have  spread far and wide the gospel of this great and noble heritage of our country".

Rightly  called  the  "Father  of  Music    Conferences",   Pandit Bhatkhande  was  the   life and soul of five consecutive All India Music Conferences held in  Baroda,   Delhi,  Lucknow  (twice)  and Varanasi. These conferences were not merely entertaining but were highly educative as well, since they provided a common   platform for musicians and musicologists from all over the North and South to listen to one another, to discuss, and come to an agreement on disputed  aspects   of music. These conferences achieved a lot for Hindustani classical music and paved the way for  the  Chaturpandit's  favourite  dream. "The mighty mansion of music," he wrote, "should become accessible to all - rich and poor, high  and  low, girls  and  boys - irrespective of age, and social status." TodayAll India Music Conferences are the order of the day not only  in big cities, but in smaller towns as well.

Bhatkhande's ceaseless efforts for music continued till he became helplessly bedridden in 1933 with a tragic  attack  of  paralysis and  thigh  fracture. It is a strange coincidence that this great "Sangeeta- Bbakta" who came into this world on the auspicious  day of Lord Krishna's birth, shook off his mortal coils on an equally auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi day (1936). The wealth that he earned in   his life-time of service to music is the eternal gratitude of music-lovers. Year after  year,  during  Ganesh  Chaturthi  week, lovers  of   Hindustani  music get together in numerous places all over Maharashtra and North India to pay grateful homage  to  this unforgettable  architect and great law giver of modern Hindustani

From: Great Masters of Hindustani Music by Smt. Susheela Mishra
From: parrikar@ferrari.Colorado.EDU (Rajan P. Parrikar)
Subject: Great Masters 28: Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, the Chaturpandit
Date: 8 Jul 1998 07:17:43 GMT

The late Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande  had   numerous  critics around 1921-22. After I had succeeded in learning the elements of music I had frequent meetings with professional singers. On  some occasions  there  were  mehfils  in  which  both Muslim and Hindu singers were going to take part. I was yet to develop a real  insight into music but owing to my deep interest in the art I would be all ears when professional singers were engaged  in  conversation  or  controversial   discussions.  I distinctly remember that prac- tising musicians of the type I am describing had very  little respect for Pandit Bhatkhande. Their principal contention was that Pan- ditji was a lawyer and knew nothing  about  music.   Despite  this,  they argued, "He has now started teaching musicians like us the rules and regulations of music. Who cares for what he says?"

Since  I had, by then, heard only such hostile criticism concerning Panditji, I too was prejudiced against him.  Around  1924,  I saw  at  a   friend's  house  a copy of Panditji's book Hindustani Sangeet Pad- dhati, Part 1, and out of curiosity started  reading it at random.  I found the author talking about microtones, ragastructure, tone- sentences relating to ragas etc., all   of  which were  concepts  I  had not come across. I was anxious to read the book from beginning to end.  So I borrowed it and  read  it   from cover  to  cover at one stretch.  Panditji discussed Indian ragas with an objectivity and thorough- ness very much like  a  Western scientist  writing on a serious subject.  I had not seen anything like it before. I became aware of my own imperfect  knowledge  of music and I had also an desire to meet the author of that book.

Finally, one day taking courage in both hands, I called on him at his place at Walkeshwar. I had seen him only once before - seated on  a  bench  at  Chowpatty   sands. I entered his room with great
trepidation, stood before him and folded my hands in greeting. On seeing me, he put his hearing aid into one ear and asked, "Who are you and what has brought you here?" I said,  "I  am  a  music teacher."  "Where did you learn music?" he asked. I told Panditji that I was a pupil of Pandit Vishnu Digambar  Paluskar,  and  had recently  read  his  book, and wanted to obtain information about some ragas. On hearing the name Vishnu Digambar, he   made  a  wry face  and said, "I am a lawyer by profession - neither a musician nor a music teacher. What information can I give  you   concerning ragas!"  I replied, "You have written such beautiful books giving vast information about ragas. How can you say  that  you  do   not know music?"

He  told  me that music was his hobby and that he had studied the science of music. He said, "Whatever information I could  collect has  been   placed before the public in book form. You should read
these books and see if the information you are seeking is  there. It  is time for my bath now so I cannot spend more time with you. Come some other time."

I was sorely disappointed by his answer and could not see why  he gave  me   the  cold  shoulder.  Some  fellow  disciples later explained that the relations between Panditji and our  own  guruji, Pandit   Vishnu  Digambar,  were  not good. Bhatkhande's books revealed to me an entirely new way  of  looking  at  ragas  and  he aroused   a deep thirst for knowledge in me. Apparently, my discipleship of Vishnu Digambar was going to be an obstacle to my  desire.  I  spent  a couple of months in this state of mind. Then I thought of a subterfuge.

One day, around 6 or 6.30 p.m., I saw Panditji seated by  himself on a bench at Chowpatty. On my greeting him he asked me to sit by his side. After some small talk I said to him, "Panditji, I  have
read Part III of your book on music system carefully. A couple of days ago I heard a recital by Khansaheb so and so. He belongs  to a  very famous gharana. He sang Puriya Dhanashri for over an hour most beautifully. But his treatment was quite different from what you have described in your book. I am afraid the information given in your book is not correct."

My audacity had the desired effect. He looked somewhat sharply at  me  and started talking, "You are very young and without much experience. Have you any idea of the momentous struggle I had  to make before finalizing the nature of each of these ragas? I shall  tell you." During the subsequent hour and a half he   told  me  in detail from how many different musicians he had heard the various ragas belonging to that particular division, from how  many  different   gharanas  he  had  collected the cheejs from these ragas, with which music experts he had held discussions on the structure of  each  raga and which different cities he had to visit for the purpose. After he had had his say I quietly observed,  "Panditji,
this  is the information I was seeking when I called on you three months ago; but I had to go empty-handed  -  you  showed  me  the door.  But today it was all different. You gave me so much infor-
mation about these evening ragas, told me so much about the  different gharanas and explained the entire method of your researches, so beautifully - I am most grateful. I always  had  considerable  respect  for your scholarship but your exposition today has convinced me that you are a great man  par   excellence."  What  I said seemed to please him.

He  then  gave me a piece of advice. He said, "Try to avoid going to recitals of mediocre people. That will misguide you. There are not  many  people   left  who  have  received proper training from first-rate gurus." I modestly intervened to say, "What I told you about  Puriya   Dhanashri a while ago was a made-up story. When we met three months ago, I came away empty-handed. But today when  I said  that  what you had written was wrong, you felt insulted and angry and in that excited state you happened to tell me   so  many things  that  not  only did I get what I was seeking but I learnt precisely how any one who wants to do research  in  music   should proceed."  He  said,  "Yes, it was a clever plot to get your way.
But clearly you are also a music lover. Do come and see me  whenever you can."

For  nearly  two years after this incident we did not meet.  Panditji was busy setting up the Marris College of Music at Lucknow. He  had  also to make frequent trips to Gwalior, Baroda and other
places as an examiner.

Having come to know that  Panditji  had  returned  to  Bombay,   I called  at  his  residence one morning around 9 a.m. Panditji was reading something in his room. By now I knew that the way to  get Panditji  to   talk about anything was to irritate him by praising someone he did not rate high. Accordingly, I lavishly praised two Maharashtrian  singers  who had recently come into the limelight. I asked Panditji what he thought of them. Panditji said,   "Unless you move out of Bombay and listen to first-rate musicians in other cities you will not know what good  music  is.  Which  dhrupad singers   have  you  heard?"  I  said,  "There are no good dhrupad singers in Bombay. I have not heard any  expert  singer  in   this field.   But in any case, what has dhrupad singing got to do with khayal singing?"

That did irritate him. He said, "Unless  you  know  the   dhrupaddhamar  in  each  raga you cannot understand the twists and turns and the rules of that raga. Has your guru taught you any dhrupad- dhamars?"   I  replied  that Panditji (Vishnu Digambar) being frequently on tour, those of us who had joined the school  recently, had  to  learn music from other teachers. None of us were greatly interested in the dhrupad-dhamar style but   we  had  perforce  to learn fifty dhrupad-dhamars." Thereupon Panditji asked me to sing a dhrupad, which I did. After I had finished, he levelled a   barrage of questions at me.

My  method  of rendering a dhrupad did not seem to be to his liking. He said, "This is not the  way  to  sing  dhrupad.  You  are reciting  it  monotonously like a poem. I fail to see any 'kanas' in the raga you have chosen. Without  these  you  cannot  sing  a dhrupad.   Now I shall show you what true dhrupad singing is like. Listen." And he began to sing a dhrupad. Until that  time  I  had only  heard  adverse   criticism  of Panditji from every direction that he could not sing. But that day, at his house, without  even
the  bare minimum of accompaniment of the tanpura and pakhavaj he gave a beautiful demonstration of dhrupad singing. Panditji had a very loud voice without much natural sweetness. But the method of
singing was very good. He obviously knew every word of the composition  and   every  important  'kana' without which you cannot do justice to any Hindustani raga. Consequently, a true image of the raga stood before you when he sang. Every glide and procession of short-rapid passages was clearly and powerfully presented. I   was reminded  of  our own guruji (Pandit Vishnu Digambar) who used to sing dhrupad-dhamar if he chanced upon a good mridanga player. It also  helped me to understand why our guruji had included so many dhrupad-dhamars in our curriculum.

After Pandit Bhatkhande had finished his dhrupad he began to  explain  the   finer points of music to me. Before taking up any new point he would sarcastically ask me, "Has any one told you this?" He  explained to me the importance of kanas (i.e. the grace notes touched briefly by way of  embellishment)  in   every  raga,  then asked  me,  "Do you know the meaning of the dhrupad you sang just now?"  To my 'no', he promptly went on to recite the entire dhrupad  and  explain  to me the meaning of every word in it. He also pointed out where I had used wrong words. He not only found fault with  my   pronunciation of Hindi words but candidly expressed the view that he had not come across any Maharashtrian singer who had the  ability  to employ the attractive intonation of the original text. He advised me to take up the study of Hindi   seriously  and told  me  not to sing any cheej unless I knew the precise meaning of every word in it. He took out his files and showed me the   incorrect  forms  in  which he had found cheejs and what stupendous struggles he had to wage for  restoring  them  to  their  correct forms.  He  explained  the methodology one had to use in removing impurities from old compositions, what precautions  to  take  and the order in which must proceed.

Panditji said, "The first step is to record the cheej as you find it, then show it to some scholar who has made a special study  of Braj-bhasha.  If the meaning is clear, well and good. In case the meaning is not clear keep it as it is in a safe place without any alteration  whatsoever. A cheej with a respectable and long pedigree is generally known to several musicians. When you have  collected  a  number of different versions from several expert musicians you can wade through the different readings and  unerringly
arrive  at  the original and correct version. We, in Maharashtra, do not have an accurate knowledge of Hindi. Muslim  singers  have no  Sanskrit   background.  So  they usually get words (which have originated in that language) wrong. Generally speaking, the words of  the  sthayi (first part of the bandish) are correct but there are numerous ver- sions of the antara (second part)." He  used  a sarcastic  tone  through- out since he wanted me to know the precise depth of my ignorance.  But I did not mind  it  a   bit.  His knowledge  was  truly encyclopaedic.  By the time he had finished his discourse, it was noon. So he got up to  get  ready  for   his bath.

His whole approach seemed so novel to me at the time that I began to feel a complete ignoramus despite the years I had spent in the study  of  music. Later when I visited other centers of music and
heard the musicians Panditji had specially recommended, I made it a  point  to   listen  to them carefully. And invariably, they all made a deep impression on me.

I must have met Panditji another half a dozen times  in,  what  I might   call, his abrasive period. He continued to be a most valuable mine of information but every bit I received was prefaced by the  usual  "I  do  not suppose anyone has cared to tell you that etc."  But thereafter, a favourable development changed  the  nature  of  our  relationship.   One Prabhakar Bijur, who was at St. Xaviers College with me, having come to know about my interest in classical  music  said  to  me, "I know a very intimate friend of Panditji's, Shankarrao Karnad. Mr. Karnad is related to me and in fact  he  is our landlord. I shall introduce you to him." Accordingly, Bijur introduced me as a budding  musicologist  to  Karnad who  was duly impressed with the interest I was taking in classical music. In due course, Karnad put in a good word about  me  to Panditji. As a result of this recommendation Panditji became much more friendly.

I think the year was 1928. I happened to pay a visit to  Panditji and found him in a happy mood. He had just received a letter from a well-known Bengali scholar. He gave it to me to read. The writer showered praise on Panditji for his work in the field of music and said that no one, since the  time  of  Sharangadev's  Sangeet Ratnakar,  had  done so much work or written so many books on music. Panditji said, "Do you see how my  work  is  appreciated  in other   parts  of India? But in my own homeland, in Maharashtra, I hardly count." I replied, "You probably do not  mix  enough  with Marathi   speaking  people. That may be the reason why Maharashtra has not realized your worth." Thereupon he said, "I was  deliberately  misunderstood.   I  acted with good inten- tions every time but instead of trying to understand the motive behind my actions, the  Maharashtrians  were  the  first to criticize me. No one can beat Maharashtrians when it comes  to  indulging   in  battles  of words  on  the  scantiest  of   information. They can only see the faults in anything, never any good. And   having  pounced  on  the
faults  they  wax so eloquent that, gradually, others too are unable to spot anything good in the work concerned. That is  why  I prefer  to  do whatever my competence permits, unaided. I am sure that you are genuinely  interested   in  doing  research  in  this field.  There  are   many  things  still to be done. I have made a list.  But every kind of research needs a certain methodology. If you are interested in my methods you might like to see this diary in which I have given details of the travels undertaken for musi-
cal research. Read it." And he gave me a notebook of two or three hundred foolscap pages.

The notebook contained details of his travels in south India on a day-to-day  basis.   On  the front page Panditji recorded a set of rules for self-guiclance out of which I recall three:

1. Since I am undertaking this travel purely for research I must not waste time visiting old buildings and      places of historical interest.

2. No time is to be wasted in offering or receiving hospitality and on dinner parties.

3. If the names and addresses of talented musicians or learned musicologists are received from             someone I shall visit the persons regardless of the distances involved and discuss musical matters with     them and collect information.

The  next  three  or four pages contained lists of books Panditji collected on South Indian music, the ideas  and  questions  which occurred  to him after he had gone through the books, an enumeration of points which he failed to understand and questions  which troubled  him; followed by a description of persons he met in all the places he had visited - that was the  rough  order.   Whenever Panditji  visited  an outstanding scholar he would record the entire dialogue that had taken place between them. Consequently the diary was also a repository of several exceedingly charming character sketches.

The diary provided a clue to how Panditji came to write his  Sanskrit book "Lakshya Sangeet." During his visit to Hyderabad state he met a famous Sanskrit Pandit and musicologist  -  Appa  Tulsi. After  an  exchange   of preliminaries Pandit Bhatkhande asked the Hyderabad scholar, "Today's music is a far cry from what  is  described  in  ancient  books.   My question is whether there is any current  standard  work  which   reflects  the  contemporary  raga forms?" By way of reply Pandit Tulsi recited a few Sanskrit verses which very ably enumerated the rules governing   some  selected ragas. Pandit Bhatkhande was surprised that in his extended studies of Sanskrit books he never came across the verses he had just heard. Naturally he begged Appa Tulsi for a loan of the book from  which the latter had quoted. Appa Tulsi refused to part with  the book.  After a lapse of several days, when the two Pandits became close friends, Appa Tulsi confessed that what he had recited  did   not  come from any ancient book - they were verses he himself had composed. Pandit Bhatkhande's note  of  that  day  in  his  diary records his conclusion - "The contemporary raga forms do not conform to what is described in ancient books on  music.  People  do not  accept   anything  unless it can be backed by Sanskrit quota-
tions. The raga forms I have decided on being  the  correct  ones have been taken from musicians of the highest reputation. But the only way the public can be persuaded to accept them  as  standard forms  is by producing a Sanskrit book which gives the new rules. If I produce such a Sanskrit book it will serve a   dual  purpose. People  would  be pleased to find that there is substantial (i.e. Sanskrit) backing for the rules and it will also achieve my   central objective in understanding all this work which is to provide
a framework of rules for the existing raga forms and  systematize the  whole   thing." Pandit Bhatkhande's book "Lakshya Sangeet" is the result of his foregoing thoughts.

I often wondered why my own guru Pandit Vishnu Digambar and  Pandit Bhatkhande showed no inclination to work together on a co-operative basis in the field of music.   Around  1928,  when  Pandit
Vishnu  Digambar happened to be in Bombay, I raised this question with him. His reply was as follows:

"I came to Bombay in 1908. Pandit Bhatkhande was in  Bombay  then and   invariably  attended my recitals and I think he liked my music. I got to know him socially later and we  met  two  or  three times.  Around   1913 or 1914 he said to me, 'You run a big, well attended music school. You know how deeply  I  am  interested  in this field. I have travelled all over India, met and heard numerous musicians in an effort to find out precisely what is pure  in which should govern all the ragas. So why do we not do this?  You do   the practical job of teaching music and I shall give talks on the science of music.' Pandit Bhatkhande also prepared  a  scheme for  providing   musical  instruction through books and lectures."
From Pandit Vishnu Digambar's subsequent remarks I  got  the  impression that the two Pandits had serious differences of opinion in regard to the implementation of Bhatkhande's scheme.

All the same, within a year of my conversation with Pandit Vishnu Digambar,  I   got  an opportunity. to bring the two great men together. It happened this way. On January 6, 1929 my school  (i.e. Deodhar's  School  of  Indian   Music) was to celebrate its annual function in the main hall of Wilson College. Pandit Vishnu Digambar  was in Bombay then and he readily agreed to attend the function when I told him about it. I told him that I had also invited Pandit   Bhatkhande  to  attend  the function and he had agreed. I said, "I fervently wish that you and Pandit Bhatkhande sit  close together  and   give  us all the great pleasure of seeing two such eminent personages in the field of music close  to  each  other." My guruji said, "As you wish. Pandit Bhatkhande has performed the magnificent task of providing a scientific framework to music.  I greatly  value  his  pioneering effort and I have the deepest respect for the man." Pandit Vishnu Digambar turned up  a   comfortable  ten minutes before the ceremony was to commence at the Wilson College Hall. I showed him to his seat on the dais.  In  that very instant I saw Pandit Bhatkhande entering the hall. I immediately rushed towards him to welcome him but before I could reach the entrance he had already taken a seat at the rear of the hall. I respectfully requested him to move to his proper  seat  on  the stage   but all I succeeded in doing was that he moved a couple of rows forward. Sir Chunilal Mehta, Barrister M.R. Jaykar  and  Sir C.P.   Ramaswamy Aiyyar were also among the invitees. Seeing Pandit Bhatkhande,  they  all   went  up  to  him  and,  despite  his protests, succeeded in escorting him up to the stage and made him two  Pandits  to   the accompaniment of a tremendous applause from the audience. These two top figures in the  field  of  music  sat next  to  each  other   for over an hour and a half and I also saw them amiably engaged in conversation. The members of the audience too sensed the unique nature of the occasion and there was a general air of delight and gratification amongst  them. In 1930, I happened to be boarding a bus which would take me from
the Fort to Opera House when I found Pandit Bhatkhande doing  the same.  We took adjoining seats. Seeing the conductor approach our seats Panditji said, "Deodhar, you   pay  your  own  fare  and  so
shall. No one is to spend for the other's journey."  After an exchange of pleasantries, Panditji began to talk About  my  guruji.  He  said,   "Your guruji is one of the most outstanding figures in the field of music. Music needs him and would need him  for  many more  years. But it is rumoured that your guru has taken up religion in a big way these days - that he has become an ardent devotee  of  Rama.  I understand that at Allahabad, in mid-winter, he stands for hours in waist-deep water at the confluence  of  Ganga and  Yamuna  repeating  the name of Rama. At his age this is most unwise, he will not be able to stand it; it will ruin his health. You  and  his other disciples should immediately write to him and persuade him to give it up." Panditji's concern and  advice  left no  doubt  in my mind that he had considerable admiration for our guruji's achievements. Around the same time (i.e.  in 1930  or thereabout),  there  was  an  English  Collector called Clement at Ahmedabad who used to preside over the Ahmedabad Philharmonic   Society. The society was to organize a music conference at Ahmedabad in order, among other things, to pass  a  resolution to  adopt  the   Western  staff nota- tion in Indian music. Pandit Bhatkhande had hardly the backing of any powerful organization(s) behind  him  but he was completely against letting anyone implant staff notation into our music by force. During that bus   journey, Panditji casually told me about the meddlesome Clement Saab's nefarious plans and expressed the hope that I, and other  disciples of  Pandit   Vishnu Digambar, would write to our guru and draw his
attention to the development. "A highly  placed  British  officer with   all  the power of the British Raj behind him can do practically anything he wants," Panditji said.  "The only person in our country who is capable of foiling Clement's aims is Pandit Vishnu Digambar!" he added. As a matter of fact, I had already  received intimation  of this business from Pandit Narayanrao Khare. Pandit Khare simultaneously wrote to Pandit Vishnu Digambar  about  what was   happening.  The  latter  promptly instructed Khare to put up large placards all over Ahmedabad announcing that  Pandit  Vishnu Digambar  and   his  students  were to visit Ahmedabad shortly and hold a series of concets there. Pandit Vishnu Digambar's expectation  was  that  the announcement would suffice to bury Clement's plans.  And that is exactly what happened.  As  soon  as  Clement heard  about  Panditji's plans he cancelled the music conference. Pandit Bhatkhande was visibly relieved to hear all these  details from me.

Around  1932 or 1933 I found Panditji seated on a Chowpatty bench one evening with another person. The stranger was apparently trying  to  persuade  Panditji   to write on Indian Music in English. Panditji firmly ruled this out. He said, "Do  the  British  write their scientific books in Marathi so that Marathi speaking people might understand them? Those who are sufficiently  interested   in our  music should learn Marathi and read what I have written." At this the stranger pleaded that Panditji should at  any  write  in Hindi or Urdu.   Panditji glanced at me and said, "Firstly, Hindus have virtually lost this art - it is entirely  in  Muslim  hands. Although  at one time it was a purely Hindu inheritance, no Hindu can aspire to acquire it unless he is prepared to demean  himself before his Muslim masters and to do everything he is asked to do. All that remains with us today is the science.  I have written my books  in   Marathi  in the hope that the science at least remains with us, if not the art. Hindus, at any rate, should be  able  to
quote  what  is  written to the Muslim performers - the one thing that will hold them in check. Hindus will be honoured at least as Pandits, if not as great performing artists!  I have so far written only one book in English. In fact it was not meant  to  be  a book  at all - it was an essay written on the existing literature
on music for the music conference in Baroda."  Panditji looked at me  and added, "Remember what I just told you.  Whatever you want to say on music - say it in your mothertongue as  far  as  possible."

Pandit  Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande was extremely studious. He visited most of the libraries in India and read every book on  music they  had to offer. He studied Urdu and Persian literature on music with the assistance of munshis  specially   employed  for  the purpose. He reprinted and published a number of rare books on music. He arrannged for many singers of long  standing  and   erudition,  from  different gharanas, to visit Bombay in order to collect cheejs. If any great Muslim singer seemed unwilling to  part
with the music of his gharana he was not above agreeing to become his shagird in order to acquire the store of  learning.  Temperamentally,  he was somewhat shy but at the same time outspoken. He was somewhat of a lone wolf; he did not believe in spending money on  others  and  neither did he let others spend money on him. He had few friends - one always saw virtually the same  small  group of  people   around him.  Shankarrao Karnad of Bandra seemed to be an especially favoured and trusted friend.

Panditji and Karnad used to meet often and discuss anything  Panditji  had recently written or any recent additions to Panditji's stock of cheejs. He seemed to value karnad's judgement.  Whenever
Panditji came across a particularly rare cheej he invariable made three copies of it: one for himself, another for his closest disciple  Principal Ratanjankar and the third for Shankarrao Karnad. Not only was he averse to pushing himself forward, he was   almost allergic to publicity. he never craved for riches. People used to say that the late Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad of Baroda had  great regard for Panditji and had given subtantial financial assistance to Panditji for his researches in music.   Pandit Bhatkhande  was deeply  religious. After his daily bath and prayers he used to do a set number of repetitions of rudra. He was meticulously regular in   his  habits  and,  as a rule, avoided late nights. he enjoyed good health virtually till the end.

In 1935, Pandit Bhatkhande fell ill and was confined to  bed  for almost  a year. He would seem to recover a little at times - only to fall deeper in the throes of the disease, once again.  The end finally  came on the morning of September 19, 1936.  According to the Hindu calendar it was Ganesh Chaturthi, the first day of   the Ganapati  festival.  Bhalchandra Sukhtankar promptly conveyed the news to Vamanrao Deshpande and me though  a  messenger.  We  both went   over  to Panditji's residence to Walkeshwar. It was decided that Vamanrao should remain at Panditji's residence to attend  to the  visitors  who   would  come to offer condolences. I engaged a taxi to go round to the place of every musician  friend,  singers and instrument players, to convey the sad news.

My  first  halt  was near Chowpatty Bandstand where Khansaheb Alladiya Khan used to live. After informing  Khansaheb  about  what had  happened   I  contacted various other singers in the city and
then returned to Walkeshwar. There were  not  more  than  half  a dozen  people  assembled  there,  including the Thakur of Dharampur, Prabhat Devji, Dr. Bhajekar, Barrister Jaykar, Dr.  Gharpure and a few others. With the exception of two or three music teachers in Municipal Schools no other musicians turned up there.  The funeral  procession  started  at  10 a.m. The bier was carried by persons who had already assembled to Walkeshwar crematorium where Panditji's body was consigned to fire.

Pandit  Bhatkhande  formulated  the scientific laws of music. The entire world of music owes a permanent debt of gratitude to  Panditji for his unique contribution.

From: "Pillars of Hindustani Music" by B.R. Deodhar
Translated by Ram Deshmukh
Bombay Popular Prakashan (1993)

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande
by  B.R. Deodhar
Posted on RMIC by Rajan Parrikar as part of the Great Masters series

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