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City-based musician takes Dhrupad back in time

Another demonstration is to be held in January at a vedic conference in Bhubaneswar.

The researcher says his work establishes claims that Indian classical music has roots in the Sama Veda. (Source:Express photo) The researcher says his work establishes claims that Indian classical music has roots in the Sama Veda. (Source: Express photo)

A music researcher claims to have thrown light on a link between Sama Veda and Dhrupad music taking the genesis of this form of music back to the ancient times. Suvratadev Sharmana Vandyopadhyay, who has been working on it for a year, demonstrated his findings at Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Chair, University of Pune, followed by a demonstration for city-based American Institute of Indian Studies.

The Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Chair will publish the paper in a journal, to be launched  later this year. Talking about his research, he says, “Although theoretically, links were shown, deeper practical aspects were not exposed to peer audiences. As this requires Vedic chanting and music, the project is unique and was never attempted for either scholarly or artistic purposes.”

Another demonstration is to be held in January at a vedic conference in Bhubaneswar.

Vandyopadhyay had initial training in music and khayal from his mother Meera Roy and learnt Dhrupad from Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar.

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He is training under Pandit Uday Bhawalkar.

“Post my PhD in 2008 in Indian classical music, I realised that Sama Veda, the genetic father of Gandharva gaana, is in danger of extinction. I learnt Sama Gaana from Pune-based V Ramachandran, who learnt from his father in Kumbakonam tradition of Kauthuma branch of Sama Veda. It was natural for me to put in efforts to ensure that Sama Veda got a shot in the arm,” he says.

Apart from taking the help of reference materials Sama Veda texts and his own knowledge of Indian classical music, Vandyopadhyay interacted with Sanskrit masters like Vedamoorty Vasudev Shastri Paranjape (Mysore), Vamshi Krishna Ghanapathi, Manjunath Shrotri (Mysore), Jeetendra Das Shrouty (Sama Vedacharya Shankaracharya Muth, Dwarka, musicologist Prof N Ramanathan and Ramamurty Shrouty of Shankar Advait Research Centre Sharadapeeth, Shringeri.

Besides, he says, recordings obtained from government-run Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan, Ujjain and private collections of Sama Gaana recordings, were reference materials.


How is his research beneficial to music enthusiasts? Vandyopadhyay says, “The research reinforces statements by musicians that Indian classical music has come from Sama Veda. The complex structure of Sama Gana was perhaps an inspiration for Tagore when he formulated his own music. Musicians will better understand the concepts of chhanda, which is a word often used loosely today.

Researchers can now say that the missing link between Dhrupad (Prabandha form of music) came from Chhanda (Sama Gaana). This gives Dhrupad a shot in the arm as far as putting its antiquity to at least 300 BC and not to Akbar’s court as advocated by some musicians in Pakistan and some Western countries.”

Professor Vikas Kashalkar, who heads the Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Chair, UoP, says, “Performing artistes may not find any relevance in this kind of research work, I’m sure those who are researching music might find some important clues and interesting facts related to ancient music.”

First published on: 09-08-2014 at 03:11 IST
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