Dhrupad legend Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar passes away, and with that the musical tradition of Dhrupad loses a shining star.
A brief history of Dhrupad: Why is it special?
Research shows Dhrupad originated during the Sama Veda age and has similarities to “mantra”. The grammar for this form of music is derived from the ancient “Natyashastra.” One of the oldest and original forms of Indian Music, Dhrupad compositions were sung during worship and meditation. Traditionally Dhrupad is for one’s self, for the upliftment of one’s soul and for Aradhana (worship).Dhrupad music is spiritual. The objective of Dhrupad is not to entertain but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener.
However, with the evolution of Musical tastes, Dhrupad is largely a lost art form. People have embraced the modern forms like Khayals, Qawwalis, Ghazals, those which are more entertaining rather than spiritual. One factor could be the complexity of the Dhrupad style of music that relies on basic sounds and tones instead of words and stories. The compositions are seemingly meaningless and a-lyrical. This style of music brings out the infinite possibilities of playing with the spectrum of notes created by over tones. Its abstract and formless nature has lost luster in its birthland India.
Save one Family: Dagars
The history of the Dagar lineage dates back to 15th century. The earliest documented musician from this lineage is Behram Khan (1753-1878). He was the royal singer in the courts of Jaipur. His sons and grandsons have become prominent Dhrupad musicians, and they are the only known family in India to keep the tradition alive. With declining popularity, they have found it financially challenging to maintain the art form, but they have continued the struggle to keep the tradition alive.
Were there no other families? From one of the interviews of Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, we found a lot of practicing musician families who were largely Muslims had to relocate to Pakistan during partition. The art lost its way as popular versions like Sufi, Qawwali and Ghazals took over.
The abstract nature of the music found a connoisseur in the West. And these musicians found a way to sustain by performing for the western audience.
Ashish Sankrityayan, a Dhrupad Expert and Researcher states, “The sophistication of the musical concepts underlying dhrupad, and its objective of creating music that uplifts, but does not necessarily entertain, and that embodies the essence of Indian spiritual thought has found for it a growing acceptance and admiration in the West. “
Musical Journey of Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar
Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar was the grandson of the most Dhrupad legends, Zakiruddin and Allabande Khan Dagar. Ustaadji belongs to the 19th generation of the famous Dagar family or Dagar Gharana. He is the youngest of the famous seven “Dagar Bandhus” and has dedicated his life to keep this ancient tradition alive.
Born in Alwar, Rajasthan on 29th April 1939, he started his musical journey at a tender age of six. His first guru was his father, Ustad Hussainuddin Khan Dagar. After the death of his father in 1963, he trained with his uncle, Late Padmabhushan Ustad Rahimuddin Khan Dagar. Later he studied under his brothers. In his humility, he considered himself a student of Dhrupad.Originally from Rajasthan, he resided in Pune. He has performed worldwide, from the World Festival of Sacred Music in New York to Dhrupad Samaroh in Jaipur, India. With his demise, Dhrupad loses a shining star.
Recently there is a renewed interest in this traditional music form, and some young stars like Uday Bhawalkar are keeping the hope alive.
We pray Ustad Ji’s soul rest in peace. We hope his heritage and legacy is continued by the rising artists of India.
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