Monday, October 12, 2009

Dhrupad and Haveli Sangeet

Dhrupad and Khayal are the two forms of classical singing that exist today in North India. Dhrupad, the older form, enjoyed wide popularity till the 17th or early 18th century, after which it gradually declined with the emergence of Khayal, a more entertaining style. The nature of Dhrupad music is spiritual, seeking not to entertain, but to induce feelings of peace and spirituality in the listener. The word Dhrupad is derived from Dhruva, the steadfast evening star that moves through the galaxy, and Pada meaning poetry. It is a form of devotional music that traces its origin to the ancient text of Samveda. Though a highly developed classical art with elaborate aesthetics, it is also primarily a form of worship, in which offerings are made to the divine through sound or Nada.

Although Dhrupad originated in the chanting of Vedic hymns and Mantras, it gradually evolved into an independent classical form of music. Dhrupad was initially sung only in the temples, the singer facing the Lord. From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated classical form of music. One significant characteristic of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining purity of the Raga. The language of Dhrupad changed from Sanskrit to Brij Bhasha some time between the 12th and the 16th century. Until India's independence, Dhrupad had mainly thrived under the patronage of Mughal and Rajput kings and its complex rendering became intended for royal audiences. The compositions became more secular. Some were written in praise of the emperors, others elaborated on music itself. However the pristine nature of Dhrupad survived and even today, we hear this majestic form of music performed like it was more than 500 years ago in the royal courts of the emperors and kings of India.

Moinuddin & Aminuddin Dagar - Dhrupad in Bageshri :  Download

Gundecha Brothers - Dhrupad in Asavari :  Download

The decline of Dhrupad during the last two centuries coincides with a shift in Indian classical music, when it was accepted that music must primarily entertain, with many of its practitioners switching over to the new form, the Khayal, which progressively increased in popularity and attracted greater patronage. Dhrupad however remained the favoured style in a few imperial courts, mainly in Rajasthan and Bihar, where some Dhrupad Gharanas continued till the late 1940’s, when these states were assimilated into the Indian republic. But the sophistication of the musical concepts underlying Dhrupad, and its objective of creating a 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. This has made Dhrupad singing, finally a more viable profession for its few remaining practitioners.

Bidur Mallik - Dhrupad in Bhairav :  Download

Siyaram Tiwari - Dhrupad in Darbari :  Download

Dhrupad is performed in two parts - Alap and Bandish. In Alap, the singer uses syllables taken from Sanskrit Mantra which add texture to the notes. The Raga is slowly and methodically developed in a meditative mode. The speed of Alap increases with the use of an accelerating rhythmic pulse that builds to a point, where the melodic patterns literally dance in space. The Bandish is a short poem accompanied by the Pakhawaj (a double-headed horizontal drum). The poem is sung using melodic and rhythmic improvisations. The intricate patterns and improvisations woven by the Pakhawaj player and the singer create a dialogue often playing against or complimenting one another.

Haveli Sangeet is temple music practiced by the Vaishnavites of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. Nathdwara is the main seat of the Vaishnava devotional cult which created a rich historical tradition of temple-based music. 'Haveli' here is referred to a palace that the deity chooses to live in. In comparison to Dhrupad, Haveli Sangeet, as it is known in Rajasthan and Gujarat, claimed superior resilience as it was believed that Lord Krishna himself was the very audience for its performances. In this music practice, the very essence of the song revolves around Krishna Bhakti and is sung in the form of Kirtans, Bhajans and Bhava Nritya. Known to incorporate a fusion of classical and folk music, the dominant style of singing is still Dhrupad and Dhamar. The temples of Radha Vallabh at Vrindaban, Krishna at Nandgaon, Shri Radha Rani at Barsana, and Sri Nathji at Nathdwara are all known to reverberate with Haveli Sangeet.

Pandit Jasraj - Haveli Sangeet - Gokul Mein Bajat :  Download

Rattan Mohan Sharma - Haveli Sangeet - Jago Krishna :  Download

Haveli Sangeet is almost extinct. It is known to be more vulnerable than classical Dhrupad, mainly due to the audience's lack of understanding it. While an 'art music' audience can recognize Dhrupad as well as Haveli Sangeet as more sophisticated musical genres, the ordinary listener would merely consider Haveli Sangeet to be devotional songs like Bhajans.


Keshav Kulkarni said...

Thanks for article on Drupad and Haweli Sangeet. Now adays, khayal singing is also considered too arty, and the number of youths who want to continue in khayal rendition are decreasing. I dont know what will be the fate of Indian classical music in next 100 years!

indianraga said...

You can never say. Thanks to the internet and easier access to classical music, its all coming to a full circle. In my opinion classical music is on the revival path.

Jay Padia said...

Thanks for the article. Having listened to the renditions at Haveli (pushtimarg temples) since I was young, I have always loved it and seek to hear more of it. I could find some recordings from Pt. Jasraj and Rattan Mohan Sharma on Raaga and Rhapsody. I don't understand the complexities of music at all and no raaga or sur... but can distinguish in the way I like different form of classical singing.

Nagabhushan said...

rightly you said that thanks to internet thru which easier access to classical music people are getting interested in listening to classical music.
indianraga has done a wonderful work in this direction.
when you will be updating your bhandar & how we will be informed
Dr. K.H.Nagabhushan

indianraga said...

You may subscribe to this blog. Its free and you will get the updates by email.

abhay said...

The article is very good. Is it possible to get some more bhajans in Haveli sangeet for down loading.


Amit Akkad said...

Thanks for the article. Both, Dhrupad and Haveli Sangeet are divine. I am a student of music and love all kinds of music. But, Haveli Sangeet holds a special place in my heart. I am also very optimistic that the younger generation is very inquisitive and will embrace and evolve our music futher.

Bharat Gadhavi said...

I am a Classical RAGA loving Soul and this blog is helping me a lot. Also I do sing for lord Swamoinarayan and Lord Krishna. I do write Bhajans and Classical Songs. May be some time in future I will send few to this Blog and if they like can be published and may be can be sung by profound Singers through your Blog. Thanks, Bharat Gadhavi from Gaborone - BOTSWANA - Africa. e-mail:

Jaya Swaminathan said...

Beautiful article, very informative. I was looking for some haveli sangeet compositions when i came across your blog.excellent information. Thank you :)

jsp said...

dhrupad is defined by abul fazl as a song comprising 4 rhyming lines each of indefinite metrical length.
dhruva pad is simply a refrain. in plain hindi-tek.
one has nothing to do with the other.
abul fazl goes on to add that it speaks of love and its wonderful effects upon the heart. and that dhadhi women sing it.
there is no mention of the dhrupad in sangit ratnakar for example.there is no evidence that it existed before the 15th century.
also there is no record of singing in sanskrit. in north india, at any rate.people probably sang in the various prakrits and later apabhramshas.
the largest collection of dhrupad compositions available is the sangit sahasras, compiled in the time of the emperor shah jahan but containing rather older compositions. the book is readily available at the sangeet natak akademi sales counter in delhi for example.
it is instructive to see that out of the 1004 or so dhrupad compositions in it, almost none are devotional in theme. this probably came about at a later date. most compositions sung these days,that is if they are sung in full, are of much later vintage.trouble is apart from the 'sahasras' compostions nobody has tried to analyse the later ones for language style and dates.
the whole business of 'devotional dhrupad'is a ploy by incompetent musicians to find a market for themselves.
haveli sangit is another matter. i suppose the folks who listen are there expressly for performing devotion and are not that particular about the technical quality of the music.but someone on a concert platform cannot hide behind that cover.

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