Krishnarao Shankar Pandit, A Doyen of Khayal
Although one might at first sight take this slim (75 page)
volume to be a "my guru was taught the swaras by Naradamuni when he was still
in his mother's womb" tome written by a shastriya bobby-
soxer, it is actually an extremely interesting analytical essay on KRSP, his gayaki, and his times. The author is a disciple of Sharathchandra Arolkar ( a student of KRSP and his uncle Eknath Pandit). The book is somewhat limited, mainly by the size and a publishing deadline. There is also apparently a longer biography of KRSP written by a Malini Chari.
The oldest Khayal gharana, Gwalior, owes its origins to Haddu, Hassu & Nathan Khans in the last century (see my earlier post on Killer Taans). The last direct descendent, Rehmat Khan, died in the 20s. Vishnupant Pandit, hired at Gwalior's royal court to teach Sanskrit to Haddu (amongst others) was so enamoured of their music that he had his four sons Shankar, Eknath, Gopal & Ganpat learn music from them, even inviting Nissar Hussain Khan, Nathan Khan's son, to stay at his home when royal patronage lapsed. (In the last century, it was a big deal for a Pandit family to house a Muslim, in these enlightened days of course it is oh so common). Thus did Gwalior Khayal pass into the Pandit family, KRSP being Shankar Pandit's son.
The first person who realized that a snake, being cold blooded, when vertically held would lose consciousness & stiffen, thus enabling a `throw a stick and make a snake' miracle, perhaps
epitomizes the `Knowledge is power, keep it secret' school of thought (apart from having beaten Newton and his apple). Antipodally, we have the `Knowledge is Glory, publish & then perish' school that thrives on classification, open discourse, theoretical analyses and sometimes, self-perpetuating scholarship.
Music, being a source of livelihood, (and as I have earlier pointed out, Martial arts, that ensured you needed a livelihood), lent themselves readily to the former mode. Apparently as the example of Inayat Khan, who wasn't taught by Haddu in spite of being his son-in-law, illustrates, one was more possessive about one's music than about one's daughter. It was in such a mileau that KRSP learnt his gayaki. In this century, Bhatkhande introduced the latter mode, classifying and analyzing ragas, collecting bandishes (from amongst others, Eknath Pandit), and attempting to institutionalize the system of instruction. Idealogically opposed, circumstances made these two doyens
personally opposed also; Bht. apparently claimed his schools could produce `21 such pandits' after attending a concert by KRSP, while the latter disdained the `certificate-oriented' system at Bhatkhande's school. Interestingly, V.D. Paluskar, whose activities and ideas paralleled Bht.'s, also had some personal enmity with Bht. The book, unusually, does not gloss over such understand them in their context.
Some interesting features stand out. KRSP apparently believed in developing the bandish rather than the raga. I used to believe that in the spectrum from `song' to `scale', a `raga' was a point in between, but it seems perhaps it is more a smeared out range. Another interesting attempt is to graph the notes of the three saptaks for one avartan of a performance by the three major performers of the era: KRSP, Faiyaz Khan and Kesarbhai Kerkar. The ragas chosen for the three plots are unfortunately different; else this would have been extremely interesting. Still, one must commend the author for taking such an analytical approach. It is rather interesting to ruminate on the fact that as recently as in
KRSP's times, the vadi-samvadi classification was not universally welcomed.
The most interesting section is perhaps the list of noncommercial `live' recordings held by two collectors (whose addresses are supplied. I expect they have had their fill of `Thank you in advance' notes by now). Out of about 75 performances, only 8 are available commercially! Clearly, it is very important that some systematic attempt is made to archive such rare music in a publicly accessible forum.
A definitive biography of KRSP and his music remains to be written, but this book is an interesting start.
Murali (or is it Murli? Raga or raag? Taala or Taal? Accept or Except?)
From: email@example.com (Murali Sharma)
Subject: KrishnaRao Shankar Pandit, a book review
Date: 16 Dec 1993 14:46:06 GMT
Organization: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1992
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