Sunday, August 4, 2013


Normally the public assumes all musicians to be alike in nature, producing beautiful music like a nightingale on a bough. But then there are vital issues, the one which has been in the cross-hair for a few weeks now being as follows…how do the personalities of our Music Greats differ in this unique aspect…why do some develop gharanas and produce a host of eminent shishyas, and why are more eminent ones content with singing and departing leaving no archaeological evidence behind…? Are there strong personalities and couldn’t- care- less ones…? Are there khalifas amongst them…?

Naturally, in the lines that follow, we have occasionally proceeded by conjecture, drawing upon the first-hand knowledge of our Missus, which is not mean by any measure…handling our icons with due respect and deference…that’s our caveat…


Once upon a time nacheez used to be a teacher of OB, that is Organisational Behaviour. Of course once a teacher always a teacher, and the ghost refuses to desert this frame.

One of our favourite discourses used to be the subject of Human Values. There are various ways of approaching the subject, and scholars quote many many types of human values, such as Aesthetic or, Political or Economic, and set store by each of them in varying measure, in accordance their own personal values. Naturally there are no good or bad values, and one may carry any number of values in any measure he or she likes, he, he, he…

In the trainer avatar, we held forth on many topics, such as Motivation, Leadership, Conflict Resolution etc., mainly using some questionnaire type of ‘instruments’, or case studies, or classroom exercises, and learning could emerge with varying fervour, depending upon the classroom constitution, that day’s situation that is mahaul in Urdu, ‘situational matrix’ in present day management gobbledegook..

One very simple and extremely effective classroom game was about an assorted and imaginary bunch of historical personalities travelling on your ship, you being the Captain- confronted with the Titanic endgame (the gaggle could be: Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Dhirubhai Ambani, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Lata Mangeshkar). There was only one life boat, capable of accommodating only three persons, one of them of course being the pilot- you that is the Captain would naturally go down with the ship. You had to co-opt two personalities, and that choice would reveal your ‘inherent values’. For example a stock-market type would protect the chor from Chorwad…Dhirubhai….A discussion would then invariably ensue, and many interesting sidelights would emerge. For instances we would accurately predict from individual responses, who hangs around with who, from among the batch of trainees, or even who hated who… That shared values are the bedrock of lasting friendship was the lesson that impressed the girls (which includes boys).. most.

The Values thing left an indelible imprint on our mental make-up, and to this day forms one of our most important reference frames. And in it we may find a semblance of explanation to many conundrums concerning Indian Classical. Why some artistes went beyond the shores of the country, or why some created eminent disciples and other equally brilliant, did not….. In fact, any form of human endeavour is amenable to the Values touchstone…


According to the school of thought Chabiwala Bank then subscribed to, the prominent human values were Economic, Political (Power), Aesthetic, Theoretical (Scholastic) and Moral (Ethical or Religious). Other concepts we value, such as Love, Truth, Sociability, were supposedly subsumed under one or the other Major, namely Aesthetic, Moral or Political in that order…

In the context of our little game, the saviour of Lata Mangeshkar would be one with strong aesthetic values, of Ambani, one with prominent economic values, and…you know….


According to Dad, the three greatest Emperors of India, across the ages, were Samrat Ashok, Mughal-e-Azam Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It is to be noted here that they were all respecters of the religious beliefs of all sections, and regardless of whether they were themselves religious or agnostic, promoted tolerance. No one can rule the lands and hearts of the sub-continent, unless he or she be Secular, or pseudo-secular as the chaddivaadis call it.

Who'd you rate as the Emperor, the Chakrawarti of Hindustani Classical? The idea is not as silly as it sounds, really. It brings us back to the concept of Human Values….

What set us thinking was a remarkable comment by Samprasad Mujumdar on Youtube in response to a Kirwani by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, calling Ustad Ali Akbar the ‘Khalifa of Maihar Gharana’. He looked like one, but the rightful owner of that title could be only one- his father, Baba Allauddin Khan.

Baba was practically the first Maihar Ustad the public knows about, Maihar’s public face. The point is, if the gharana is of such a recent origin, what accounts for the stature or the incredible depth of the Maihar artistes, like Ravi Shankar, Pannalal Ghosh or Ali Akbar or Nikhil Banerjee, Sharan Rani...endless list, standing like Himalayan Peaks..?


Pandit Bhimsen…?...but he lacked Political Authority, Pta. Kishoritai commands awe, but not affection, Pta. Malinitai… does not exhibit the necessary arrogance, Pt. Jasraj….is too democratic, Pt. Ravi Shankar has to seek the permission of Baba...Classical ka Don kaun…?

The most poignant description of Baba’s character is found in “My Maestro as I Saw Him” by Pt. Nikhil Banerjee According to Nihkilda.

To my mind Baba Allauddin Khan Sahib was more of an institution than only a musician....

This link documents the struggle between Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan for ascendancy, and the aggressive role played by Baba in the struggle. We suppose a Gharana promoter has to be like that….to quote from bestseller ‘The Mafia Manager’:

 “A man without enemies is a man without qualities. Even Jesus Christ had many enemies.”

Just a joke हं  this mafia वगैरे …but in essence quite instructive…the apparatus of murder he used comprised really the lethal edge of the swara and the scalpel precision of the Raga! 

First and foremost, Baba played a very robust masculine instrument and belonged to the species Homo Bengalensis,  which species is credited with special Indian foresight and decides what India is not to do for the moment, and let us hasten to add, Ustadji was a  rare exception...a doer..

Thanks to Ustadji's leadership qualities, lots and lots of Indian Classical greats have academies world over, Sun never bothering to set over the real estate..even those who envy Pt. Ravi Shankar grudgingly admit the gharana's role in popularising Indian Classical overseas, done just out of their evangelism, ....not from a business angle...

The very fact that he trained top artistes playing different instruments shows up his general abilities...the training of Pt Ravi Shankar reflects the technical, scientific, rigour the Ustad observed in respect of the tala- and that is why Robida admired and held in awe Pt Khaprumama..

Ustadji's pedigree was just-what-you-ordered-for..
  • Runaway from home at 10 years of age,
  • Initiated into Western Classical bands at Lobo's of Auchit Podlom Tujea Mogat..
  • Learned Sarod from Senia artistes...
  • Set up or may be revived Maihar Gharana at the  feet of Sharada Mata of Maihar..
  • On Saraswati Puja day, performed before the Goddess from outside the sanctum sanctorum, declaring himself sportingly as a mlechcha... 
  • Man of passion: responsible for the huge gash on Ali Akbar Khan's forehead- caused by tabla hammer used as missile in fit of rage- Ali Akbar had ignored riyaz that fateful day...
  • Did not approach Shiv Sena when some Misguided Mulla issued a fatwa for boycotting his burial, with the result that the entire Maihar turned up, according him the status of Kabir…
So Nacheez, with the say-so of Missus constructed the following chart and the premises, observations and conclusions, some expected and others unexpected that emerze are given below…pardon the chhota muh badi baat..

V    a    l    u    e    s
Allauddin Khan

Ravi Shankar

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi

Pt. Kumar Gandharwa

Ustad Amir Khan

Pt. Dinanath Mangeshkar

Pta. Lata Mangeshkar

Pta. Padmaja PJoglekar

Dr Ashwini BDeshpande

Pt. Jasraj

Pta. Malini Rajurkar

Pta. Kishori Amonkar

Ustad Vilayat Khan

Ustad Zakir Hussain

Pt. Bhatkhande

Carl von Bailiff



EXPLANATION: Green for prominence of the value for the individual, Blue for the species under question- the Institution Makers. Not to be taken as a comment on Virtuosity…

PREMISES: In ascribing the values, particularly Economic Values (the most sensitive), to the individuals, we have relied upon the royalty fee, the outwardly showmanship, perceived reputation, and first hand acquaintance with the luminaries. There is a scope of a 0.0001% error, he, he, he…


Ø  Every artiste has Aesthetic values in full measure by definition.
Ø  The only four artistes with an identical value-set are Ustad Amir Khan, Pta. Malinitai, Dr. Bhide Deshpande and Missus (theoretical+ethico-religious+aesthetic)
Ø  The complete Human is only Pandit Jasraj.
Ø  The pure artiste is only one: Pandit Dinanath.
Ø  The predominant values as shown by the last row are Aesthetic, Theoretical, and surprise…Economic in that order…minimum numerically  being Ethico-religious…reinforcing the belief that ethos of their society are… ahem…liberal …


The common trait -unexpectedly- of the Institution Makers is Political (Power) though the reverse may not be necessarily true…

And the Don is Ustad Allauddin, care-free about Economic consequences, mindful of other Human Values,…त्यांचे वैभव आगळेच ….! He could do it without waiting for Money...!

And just check who’s closest to him in Value terms as perceived by IndrayaniKaathi…at Serial number 8…


Xmonito said...

Very interesting comparison.. How would Pt Shivkumar Sharma fare?

sanjiv bokil said...

Thanks Monito. Regarding Pt. Shivkumar, he's theoretical-he and Pt. Umadutt, his father, developed the techniques that make his recitals serious classical. He's also spiritual. Very nice interview at Not Political, given the role he concedes to Hairy Harry ( you can imagine who-is-who)