Gharana

Gharana

The origin of Hindustani Classical music dates back to 2000 BC. The names of the Swars are listed in the Mahabharata, which was produced in the year 400 BC. “Dattilam” is a revered book on music which was produced in 400 AD and it lists the Raags that are sung even today. Throughout these years, the knowledge of music has been passed from one generation to the other through a bond between the Guru and the disciple, known as the “Guru-Shishya Parampara”. “Shishya” means the student or disciple and “Parampara” means tradition.

The Guru Shishya Parampara means that a student of music learns primarily by closely following the Guru. After a Guru accepts a person to be a Shishya, the Guru gives him the knowledge, with the expectation that the Shishya will continue to follow and enrich the tradition. The Shishya spends several years in training before being able to perform. Through such rigorous training the Guru leaves a fine imprint on the mind of the Shishya and the Shishya inherits the “Gayaki” of the Guru.

The word “Gharana” is derived from the Hindi word “Ghar” which means a “house”. The word “Gharana” means “family”.  In the context of Hindustani Classical Music, there are several notable families named after regions or urban centers where performers settled. The prominent Gharanas are: Gwalior, Kirana, Mewati, Jaipur-Atrauli, Agra, Dilli, Patiala, Bhendi Bazar and Rampur-Sahaswan.

Each Gharana has a unique style or ideology for teaching and nurturing the students as well as presentation. Each Gharana also has their own unique compositions in certain Raags. The same Raag may sound different if you hear it from vocalists of two different Gharanas because the way of approaching the Swar and establishing the Swar may be different from Gharana to Gharana. Also in some Gharanas, lyrics are not important but the Alap and Tans are more important. This variation of emphasis makes the landscape of Hindustani Classical Music quite diverse.

This author is a member of the Mewati Gharana. The Mewati Gharana was founded by Ustad Ghagge Nazir Khan who belonged to the Berla, which is located in the Mewat region, presently a part of Haryana state in India.

Ghagge Nazir Khan Saheb had two disciples, Pandit Natthulal and Pandit Chimanlal. Pandit Natthulal trained his nephew Pandit Motiram. Pandit Motiramji trained his son Pandit Maniram ji. Pandit Maniram ji trained Bade Guruji Pandit Jasraj ji, the current doyen of the Mewati Gharana. Guruji Pandita Tripti Mukherjee is an illustrious disciple of Pandit Jasraj ji and represents the sixth generation of Mewati Gharana. Our Mewati Gharana emphasizes singing the actual Swars in the presentation of a Raag while giving importance to the lyrics and the feelings behind the lyrics.