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Bhatkhande’s Contribution To Music

Bhatkhande’s Contribution To Music
Item Code: NAC773
Author: Sobhana Nayar
Publisher: Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd
Edition: 1989
ISBN: 9788171543236
Pages: 377
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.7 Inch X 5.8 Inch
From the Jacket

One man of destiny to whom the highest credit goes for rescuing Indian classical music from decadence decline and extinction is Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. At a great personal sacrifice and suffering and inspired by only one aim Bhatkhande throughout his life undertook the Herculean task of reviving Indian classical music.

In the last few decades of the nineteenth century Bhatkhande found that the Indian classical music although it had a glorious history had reached the bottom of degeneration and was looked down upon as unworthy superfluous and vulgar a subject fit for loafers and vagabonds.

Bhakhande radically altered the scene and put music once again on its high pedestal.

Sobhana Nayar has attempted in this book an objective evaluation of Bhatkhande’s work in reviving Indian classical music.

Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande was a unique personality endowed with scholarship creativity poetic sensibilities capacity for patience and hard work and devotion for the Indian musical tradition and above all humility. Bhatkhande began his work with collection of hundreds of compositions from different gharanas analyzed them and formulated the theory of Indian music underlying these compositions. He also formulated an easy and expressive notation system for Hindustani music and introduced a new method of collective education in music and wrote textbooks and gave music the form and shape of an academic subject.

Pandit Bhatkhande’s contributions to Indian music is so great that anyone interested in Indian classical music must read this book.

About the Author

Late Dr. (Mrs.) Sobhana Nayar had her early education in North Bengal (now in Bangladesh)she did English honors from Calcutta University (1942); Sangeet Visharad from Marris College Lucknow (1947); M.A. (vocal Music) from Punjab University (1971) and Ph.D. (Music) form the University of Delhi (1984).

Dr. Nayar had a long music career as a performer musicologist and teacher. She had her training from such eminent Ustads as Mushtaq Hussein Khan (Rampur Gharana) and Sarfaraz Hussein Khan (son of Ustad Nissar Hussein Khan of Sahaswan Gharana) and Siddheshwari Devi (Thumri). She was also guided by Ustad Alauddin Khan of Maihar and kumar Birendra Kishore Roychowdhury of Gauripur.

The author used to regularly broadcast from the all India radio for early 30 years during her lifetime and after teaching in a number of institutions she eventually joined the all India Radio as a music producer. A principal investigator in a major project for studying the changes in Hindustani Classical music under the UGC Scheme for assisting research in Social Sciences and Humanities she also showed interest in the allied arts painting dancing etc. she received much acclaim for her two exhibitions. Art from Scrap in the late seventies from art critics as well as the general public.

The late Dr. Nayar wrote widely on musicians and music and was proficient in both Bengali and English writings. Her book on Bhatkhande received much accolades.


The contribution of Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande to the renaissance and reinstallation of Hindustani Music is revolutionizing and epoch making.

Towards the closing decades of the nineteenth century the Hindustani musical scene had touched a veritable low from the social cultural and educational points of view. The social status and prestige of the musician had gone down. Learning and appreciation of music was taboo and prohibited as an undesirable activity among the middle classes of the cultured intelligentsia. The rich heritage of music had become scattered and fragmented among the narrow circles of the Gharana votaries and had become their guarded secret. The hiatus between the theory and practice had widened. There was total lack of material on music pertaining to its theory and history on the one hand and its performance and practice on the other. Without a body of systematized and extensive knowledge properly recorded no art or discipline can claim a high artistic and academic status nor can its pursuit in a tangible scholastic patterns be possible.

However this chaotic condition proved to be darkness before the dawn. The latter half of the nineteenth century was a period of an all around awakening and resurgence in the history of India. An awareness of India’s multidimensional national heritage was growing. Not only in the political and social fields but also in the scientific spiritual and cultural spheres including music great thinkers and dynamic personalities started making their appearance. The field of music was illumined by the indomitable two-some of Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

The extraordinary genius of. Bhatkhande, combined with rare qualities like profound scholarship and discursive brilliance, incisive and extensive vision, tactful and persuasive handling of persons including musicians, was totally harnessed in the service of music. This was a dedicated soul wedded to music. The vast literature on music created by Bhatkhande runs into seven to eight thousand pages. The valued complex includes a sound and systematized grammar and theory of the present day 1-findustani music, hundreds of traditional compositions embodying the raga forms, a detailed analysis thereof imparting an historical perspective and deliberations and guidelines for investigation and research, indeed, it forms a solid bed-rock, a nucleus open-ended, looking ahead, and leading into the future.

Bhatkhande died in the year 1936 at the age of seventy six, leaving a rich legacy for the art and science of music to flourish upon. Today, music is an honorable pursuit patronized and encouraged both as a creative art as well as a discipline for academic studies and research in the highest seats of learning like the Universities.

We are, as it were, in an age of musical explosion. It is desirable and worth-white at this stage, fifty years after his death, to explore into the inspiring life of Bhatkhande who made this explosion possible; to make a critical study of his work and contribution and place these in the perspective obtaining today.

This precisely is the subject of the present work entitled Bhatkhande ‘s Contribution to Musk: A Historical Perspective by Sobhana Nayar. Based on her doctoral thesis the work encompasses all the relevant aspects of Bhatkhande’s life and work. For instance, the socio-cultural environment in which he was born and grew up, the impacts and influences which went into his mental make-up and the formulation of his comprehensive, multidimensional plans for the revival of music have been discussed with a close understand. ing. Being a research project, the extensive material collected by itself is of value. A critical analysis and evaluation of Bhatkhande’s writings and compositions has been carried out with competence and artistic insight. There is a probe into the newly arisen problems and a pointer to the future possibilities.

Dr. Sobhana Nayar’s life long pursuit of music as a performing art and her continued study of its theory have stood her in good stead in writing this book. Bhatkhande’s contribution to music: a historical perspective by Dr. Sobhana Nayar is a welcome addition to the growing literature in English on Indian music. I do hope that the work will be of simulative interest and value to students teachers and scholars of Indian music at the higher levels of learning whether at home or abroad.


Through my training in music in one of the institutions established by Bhatkhande I came in contact with his modern method of music education as well as the music literature written by him. I also came across many musicians and students belonging to the same and allied institutions. I found most of them after completing their course plunging into the battle of life. I also found that they regarded Bhatkhade as a myth or a legend. On the other hand the traditional ustads the torch bearers of the famous gharanas with whom also I came in contact many of them regarded Bhatkhande as an upstart and a pretender to the knowledge of music. It was my impression that none of these categories had the least comprehensions of the total magnitude of the work from the historical social and cultural perspective. Therefore I was curious to learn more about the man who received such wide acclaim on the one hand and such contemptuous criticism on the other. After studying his work thoroughly, I felt amazed at its vastness and thoroughness its logic and objectivity its imagination and creativity I was curious to learn more about the man who received such wide acclaim on the one hand and such contemptuous criticism on the other. After studying his work thoroughly I felt amazed at its vastness and thoroughness its logic and objectivity its imagination and creativity I was much impressed by his poetic genius touched by his enormous suffering and sacrifice for the great cause he espoused and overwhelmed by the rare traits of his character his humility and humor his intelligence and scholarship and above all his ability to take praise and blame in a spirit of complete detachment I was amazed at the vastness and multidimensional character of Bhatkhande’s monumental achievements which shows what a single individual can do given the necessary competence imagination dedication and inspiration.

I felt provoked to delve deeper and understand more thoroughly such an outstanding personality evaluate his outstanding contribution and also to get a balanced critical view of this highly controversial figure. It felt that it was necessary to consolidate serialize and analyze his contribution in the field of music and define the Herculean task he performed to resuscitate revive and systematize a noble art which had reached the lowest depth of degradation at that time. In this exploration I was further encouraged at that time. In this exploration I was further encouraged and inspired by my guide. Dr. Sumati Mutakar the dean of the faculty of music University of Delhi.


Foreword vii
Acknowledgement x
Introduction xi
Part One
The Parameters
1The Age of Bhatkhande 3
2The State of Contemporary Music 29
3Bhatkahnde’s special mental make up43
Part Two
His Contribution
4The Framework and the Perspective 61
5Collecting the scattered Treasure75
6Providing the Theoretical framework 95
7Training in Music: His Methodology 167
8As a Composer 196
9Music Conference as a tool and strategy 271
10Forming a Notation System 284
11Overcoming Social Taboos 297
Part Three
The Parting Milieu
12His Contemporaries 309
13Conclusion 329
Bibliography 345
Glossary 349
Index 353

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