Kashmiri Pandits and Music
by Onkar Aima[Onkar
Aima, himself an active innovator in performing arts, whose
contribution to Kashmiri Drama and Music is remarkable, has put on focus
Kashmiri Pandits' contribution to the Kashmiri Music and has traced the
deep roots of Kashmiri Music to 'Samveda' and to the historical records
of Kalhan's Rajtarangini. Aima is from the Film Industry and is presently
a governing body member of the Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Bombay - Editor.]
It is the need
of the time to remind ourselves that Kashmir has a very rich cultural heritage
and Kashmiri Pandits have contributed a lot in sustaining it, reviving
it and developing it. Kashmir has been a grand arena of arts. There have
been poets, dancers, writers, dramatists and musicians, who have attained
glory in the literary and art world.
In music world,
Kashmiri Pandits, from time to time, have contributed a lot to bring music
of Kashmir to a more advanced and organised state. Their achievements have
been remarkable and to talk about these achievements of past, gives a sense
of pride and pleasure - rejuvenates the spirit.
has the distinction and fascinating pattern of its ragas. There is hardly
any solo music, it being chiefly sung in chorus. Kashmiri music as we hear
it today, is the result of curious mixture of many an influence, under
different eras. Yet "Kashmiri WANWUN" (Wanwun hur), which appears to be
an adaptation of 'ALAP' - 'Vedic chants of Samveda - has not been altered
in the least. Likewise "CHHAKRI" seems to have ancient origin. As per Kalhan's
Rajtarangini, it can be traced down to 12th Century A.D.
Kashmir, like other arts, music thrived under the patronage of kings. In Kalhana' s Rajtarangini - chronicle of kings of Kashmir - the first reference
is about King Jalanka. He was a great lover of music. He maintained musicians.
Mamma, blind musician, was employed to play music at the time of tantric
worship. Next references to music are found in the time of King Lalitaditya.
Alberuni mentions that great musical festival was held on second of Chet
to celebrate the victory of King Lalitaditya over the Tibetans.
supplies several clues to the development of music of Kashmir. In fact
no student of music and dance can ignore the commentaries on Bharata's "Natya Shastra and original works of
Udbhatt, Lollapata and Sankuka. Large
number of young musicians have been benefited from the guidance of Bharata.
of Kashmir' by P.N.K. Bamzai, we read that King Kalasa, created taste for
light Kashmiri music. His son Harsa, maintained large establishment of
musicians and was himself a singer. He taught music to his courtier "Kanaka"
- uncle of Kalhana, the historian. Bhimanayoka was a great musician of
during this time were mostly flute, drum, lute, conch and cymbals. There
is also mention of hudukka - sort of bagpipe. It is also mentioned in History
of Kashmir by Bamzai that Bhiksacara, who occupied the throne for few months,
indulged in playing music on earthen pots and on brass vessels.
Kashmir 1339 to 1819 A.D. - Muslim era - Zain-ul-abidin, Sultan Shah and
Hassan Shah were great lovers of music. According to Srivara, author of
Zaina Rajatarangini, musical festivals used to be held in Kashmir. It is
during this time that Raja of Gwalior sent all standard books on Indian
music, which influenced Kashmiri music. Srivara was also a reputed musician
and rose to be the head of music department in King Hassan Shah's reign
and did lot of service to Kashmiri music. King Hassan Shah also introduced
Rabab - Persian musical instrument - to Kashmiri music. Even during this
Muslim era, there were eminent and talented musicians like Sooni Bhat,
Shridhar Bhat, Ajodya Bhat and Kshakara who developed Kashmiri music. It
is because of their efforts that Kashmiri music shows stray resemblance
to Indian and Persian music.
It was after
the downfall of Chak dynasty that the music of Kashmir reeeived a setback.
Kashmir after this started loosing art and cultural heritage. But music
was kept alive by the genius and interest of individuals. It withstood
storm, tyranny and barbarity.
her own way, kept the music of Kashmir alive. It is said that Zutshi of
Safa Kadal used to have regular musical "Mahfils" in his house. He, it
is said, sold his large lengthwise-house by Taks (lengthwise) to continue
with his musical "Mahfils" to keep the music of Kashmir alive.
past the names of musicians which come to mind and which I can recollect
starts with Ved Lal Vakil, a great lover of music, who helped sustaining
Kashmiri music. Amongst others, he taught and trained his two daughters
and a son. His two daughters, Rageshwari and Jaijayvanti have made their
own mark in the field of music. In early forties, a group of musicians,
headed by Prem Nath Chatu, included Sarvanand, R.K. Channa, Wanchu and
Mohanlal Aima. They toured villages and sang in towns and would have long
musical sittings. Prem Nath Chatu later joined Radio Kashmir.
of Shamboo Nath Sopori and late Mohanlal Aima to music of Kashmir is quite
enormous. The former ran a very successful academy. He taught and produced
noted musicians. The latter revolutionized the Kashmiri folk music and
gave it a fantastic texture and world appeal. His LP - Kashmiri rhythms
and melodies - are still available abroad. He gave music to Pamposh - a
short film about Kashmir and first Kashmiri film - MAINZIRAAT-which won
President's Silver medal. Pandit Jagan Nath Sheopuri also holds a special
place in present day musicians. He is doing a lot of service to Kashmiri
music. He is doing special work on Sofiana music. 30 Bolas of Sofiana music
have been transferred to notation and a book "Sofiana Kalam Kay Sargam"
has been written under his guidence. One cannot overlook the contribution
of Sat Lal Saytari, Ramkishen Chakkri, and Gopinath Bhat (Bacha), in their
own style. In later age, Gopinath would only sing the Sufi poets.
Radio Kashmir, lot of musicians came into the forefront. Nirmala Chutu
was one amongst them, who sang for "Mainziraat". Onkar Raina along with
well qualified musician Usha Bhagati are doing service to Kashmiri music.
Amongst the latest musicians Bhajan Sopori holds a respectable position.
He is a noted composer and is giving new dimensions to Kashmiri music.
Along with him Kakaji Safaya, who was running an Academy in Srinagar till
he was there, and Krishen Langoo are doing a lot to develop the music of
Kashmir. All the three have taught a large number of persons. Bhajan Sopori
and Krishen Langoo are recent trend setters of Kashmiri music and have
successfully composed music for many T.V. Serials.
Kashmiri Pandits are in a helpless state, living under torn and tattered
tents, in rickety camps, in shabby rooms and in vacated stables, mostly
in and around Jammu, in Delhi and in other parts of the country, the recent
lot of musicians are still active and their spirits have not darnpened.
Rajendra Kachru, Arti Tikku, Kailash Mehra, Rita Koul, Neerja Pandit and
Prerna Jailkhani are doing notable work and are keeping the music of Kashmir
alive. Yet there are many more. It is difficult to keep track of all new
musicians yet one cannot forget the names of Basanti Raina, Kiran Koul,
Asha Koul, Lovely Chandra, Sunaina Koul, Dhananjay Koul, Neena Kapoor,
Mamta Raina, Amarnath, Sushma Kala, Neena Sapru, Veena Koul Jalali, Shuhul
Koul and others. Wherever they are, they are sustaining and serving the
music of Kashmir in one form or the other. While they are serving music,
they, in turn are being served by music. Music gives them strength and
will to face the recent calamity, in calm. These dedicated musicians are
giving meaning to life. Through music they are keeping the spirits of Biradari
and spirits of those who had to run away from their land, high. They are
imparting strength to them to put determined rebuff to the life and to
the present circumstances in a heroic manner.
BHARATA - the author of 'Natya Shastra' - the aim of music is to express
feeling and thought. The present lot of musicians express the feelings
and thoughts of hometorn people in an innovative fashion, where words might
differ, the pattern may not be the same, the composition might vary but
the sound-the meaning-the design is the same-Live for Maej KASHEER and
burning urge to go back to their homes with dignity and grace. They provide
food for our spirit - elevate us - transport us to the world of tomorrow
as the great
poet Nadim has said:
Chham aash pagahuch
That is Music
- food for spirit - transport to a beautiful world.
(I hope for
When the world
will be beautiful).