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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: mursha@cco.caltech.edu (Murali Sharma)
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
Subject: KrishnaRao Shankar Pandit, a book review
Date: 16 Dec 1993 14:46:06 GMT
Organization: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Neela Bhagwat
Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1992

 

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