Pandit V. G. Jog
Pandit Vishnu Govind Jog, whose name is almost synonymous with the violin genre in Hindustani Classical Music, is a performer with the unique distinction of having occupied the top rungs of the Classical Musicians' hierarchy with three consecutive generations of performers. His career as a highly active and successful performer has spanned almost five decades. Born in Bombay in 1922, he received his early training from S.C. Athavale and the late Ganpat Rao Purohit. Subsequently, he had his training from Vishweswar Shastry, the renowned musician and musicologist Dr. S.N. Ratanjarkar, and for a short time from the celebrated Ustad Allauddin Khan.
Groomed in the Gwalior, Agra and Bakhle styles, Pandit Jog's virtuosity, mastery of ragas and an uncanny realisation of space and time in the construction and knowledge of rhythm are his hallmarks. At a very young age, he rubbed shoulders with all time greats at the Bhatkhande College of Music, Lucknow, in the thirties - the first great attempt at institutionalising traditional music instruction.
An unassuming person of infinite charm, he is also regarded as an incomparable accompanist. His duets with Ustad Bismillah Khan have met with spectacular successes in India and abroad. He is gifted with the remarkable ability to sense the pulse and mood of his audiences, and has toured extensively both in India and abroad, significantly in East Africa, Nepal, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, France, USA and West Germany. In 1985, he performed to great acclaim under the auspices of the Festival of India in the USA.
Pandit Jog was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1982.
Presently, apart from innumerable other honorary positions, he serves on the Committee of Experts at the Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta.
( my own remarks.....ramblings - don't mind)
Panditji has been living in Calcutta for the past 22 years, in a simple house near Vivekanand Park. I believe he moved to Calcutta while with All India Radio. He has been affiliated with the Sangeet Research Academy ever since it came up in Tollygunge. He lives with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandson. His son, Gopal, is also a violinist.
When not touring, a typical day starts with Panditji taking a brisk walk around Vivekanand Park and then reading the Telegraph while sipping some Chai in his apartment on the fourth floor of the building. By 8 am, students start arriving and park in the tiny music room on the first floor. Soon the sounds of violins becomes quite pronounced and can be heard all along the street. The little ration shop in the garage on the ground floor also opens and a loud racket commences. Dogs bark pointlessly and a group of boys start a noisy game of cricket. Nothing can distract his students who come from as far away as Patna, Bhilai, Rourkela, Siliguri, Midnapore and Jamshedpur. You'll usually find a student from abroad too - Australia, the US, Netherlands, France, Japan...
Panditji arrives. The students rise and rush to touch his feet. Without further ado, he attends to each one of them and gives them a lot of time, correcting what they have practised lately and writing new exercises and compositions. Sometimes his son takes over and helps the beginners but Panditji always writes in the book. By 11.30, several students have come in, practised and left, with constant interruptions from visitors and incessant phone calls.
The music room itself is quite something. Its narrow with a sofa along one side. On the walls are photographs, momentoes and paintings. As you enter, you would see, on the right, a great oil painting of Panditji taken in his younger days. The painter has captured beautifully the radiance of this master which most people notice when they meet him. Moving along, in the center, above the sofa, are some photos of Panditji with Ahmad Jaan Thirakwa and Ravi Shankar. Panditji told me it was taken on the occasion of a live interview of Ahmad Jaan on AIR with himself and Ravi Shankar the interviewers. There's a yellowing autographed photo of Yehudi Menuhin (they have never met) which Panditji points to his students when he wishes to impress on them the correct bowing and fingering technique. There's another photo of Panditji with Laxmi Shankar and some others. More plaques with accolades are hung along the wall. On the far side is a beautiful plaque presented to Panditji on the occasion of his 60th birthday. At that corner is also an ancient violin case which has a marigold garland respectfully placed on it. I wonder what significance it has for him. Next to it is a tanpura.
Moving along the left wall, is Panditji's Padma Bhushan, presented to him in 1983. Its really quite moving to look at it and then glance back at his painting on the opposite end of the room.
Next is some shelf space built into the wall, where he keeps two tablas and other miscellaneous stuff.
After that a large framed photograph of Panditji being presented the Padma Bhushan by President Zail Singh.
Finally, a framed certificate dated sometime in 1944 from Bhatkande College certifying Panditji's contribution to Indian Classical Music. Its yellowing.
Back to Panditji's routine. At 11.30 or 12.00, he leaves for lunch and a long nap. Sometimes students linger and practise. At 2 or 2.30 the next session begins with more students coming in. It usually not as long as Panditji sometimes likes to go to SRA for an hour or so and check things out. By 4.30 or 5, another stream of visitors and well-wishers and complete strangers starts arriving. Now and then someone arrives with a request that Panditji play at some tiny town on the occasion of such-and-such. Its often quite delicate saying no, since you can sense it means a lot for them to have someone like Panditji come to their town and perform.
The evenings are for socializing, with Panditji always making a trip to see some old friend or an ailing student or attend some performance. He might visit Gyan Prakash Ghosh or Aminuddin Dagar who lives close by (I went with Panditji once, thats another story), or attend a performance by a young artiste who came to invite him personally and for whom Panditji's presence would mean a lot, or look up a student in poor health. Sometimes, of course, Panditji has his own performances, so his student brigade collects, all dressed up in Kurta Pyjamas. Someone hails a taxi, another tenderly carries Panditji's violin, yet another escorts him down from the fourth floor. The ride is always interesting with Panditji commenting on the horrible pollution and overpopulation of Calcutta, stopping to point out a building where Vilayat Khan stayed or where Ravi Shankar gave a performance or discussing some concert years ago.
On getting back by 9 or 9.30, its already pitch dark in the road. All the bulbs have been stolen so the street lights are out. Once someone stole a violin from the music room. Turned out to be the local thugs who made Gopal (Panditji's son) first pay 500 buck. The climb is quite a torture plus you never know if you're going to dash into someone coming down. His family is watching TV, perhaps a rerun of an old Jugalbandhi of Panditji himself with Bismillah Khan, but more likely one of the TV series that are quite popular and addicting. Panditji must know about the latest cricket score, of course. He's crazy about cricket. To him, it was a great day when he met Sunil Gavaskar. He was really disappointed when Gavaskar couldn't attend his concert that evening. Another thing he loves is flying kites!
He scolds his grandson Chaitanya for doing something or the other. He has big plans for him, but first he must study and do well.
He retires into his room and if he feels talkative, he calls his student and chats. He bemoans the commecialization of music (with examples), goes down memory lane. In his room is a great group photograph at some Music conference in Gwalior years ago. Panditji is in a nice Sherwani. Hafiz Ali Khan, Haddoo and Hassoo Khan and other great Ustads and Pandits are all there. There's a nice photo of his with Mallikarjun Mansur. Sometimes Panditji will have a little something to drink and talk and talk with his students hanging on to every word, quite enthralled by his stories and intensely aware of how much history they are touching through this most human of the masters.
Subject: BRIEF biography of Pandit V.G.Jog
Organization: NEC America, Inc. Irving, Texas
Date: Fri, 7 May 1993 20:05:00 GMT
Here's a brief biograpgy (semi-official, I think) of Pandit V. G. Jog.
My own comments follow at the end....
1525 Walnut Hill Lane Irving TX 75038
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