Gajananbuwa: a Vocalist

Buwa had an unending thirst to learn music, understand music, master music, widen his knowledge of music, and get a deep insight in music. The obvious way to quench his thirst was to expose himself to the Gayaki of various established musicians of his time and then to learn and master the Gayaki of different Gharanas (Schools). Mastering the Gayaki (singing method and style) of a given Gharana naturally involved mastering new Ragas and new compositions (bandishes). However a question arises as to what was the source of Buwa’s thirst for being a lifelong learner of music? What motivated him? The source of such hunger to learn may have lied in his sheer sense of wonder and excitement about the beauty and the depth of the vast Universe of Music. After learning and mastering Gwalior Gharana Gayaki from his father Pandit Antubuwa a young, ambitious and upcoming Buwa came in contact with other musical traditions. Being aware of his own strength in terms of his sharp intellect, excellent memory, quick grasp of the musical material presented, fertile imagination and also the limitation of the quality of his poor voice he seems to have chosen the Gurus and the Gharanas that matched his musical background and his strength and limitations. Thus he started his musical journey as a child learning from his father the great Pandit Antubuwa. His further musical growth came about when he became a disciple of Pandit Vazebuwa. It was Vazebuwa’s complex Gwailor Gayaki that attracted Gajananbuwa to Vazebuwa. This was followed by his progress to the beautifully structured, logically precise and tightly woven complex Gayaki of Jaipur Gharana under the tutelage of his Guru Ustad Bhurji Khansaheb. And finally in his late forties to enrich his Gayaki further he became a disciple of Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khansaheb to master the rhythm based ‘Nom Tom’ Gayaki of Agra Gharana. A remarkable and unique journey indeed! He almost invariably sang Khyal in his performances. He presented a given Raga in a well defined framework of a given Gharana. His remarkable talent was such that in singing a Jaipur Gharana Raga say there would be no trace whatsoever of the Gayaki of another Gharana. He did sometimes start with ‘Nom Tom’ of Agra Gharana and would continue singing a Khyal in Gwailor Gharana Tradition. But the two parts of his performance would be distinct, and the movement or flow from Nom Tom to Aalapi would be smooth and natural. There would never be any mixture of Aalapi or Tana Patterns or phrases of the Gayaki of two or more Gharanas. An extraordinary feat! Gajananbuwa's mastery over and his depth of knowledge of the three Gharanas- Gwailor, Jaipur and Agra - was well known among the general music lovers and was respected by musicians. But such was his unique position in the world of Hindustani Classical Music that the ITC Sangeet Research Academy specially invited him to perform, demonstrate and explain the Gayaki of the three Gharanas for the benefit of the staff and students at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy. We are delighted to have this recording of the above performance of Gajananbuwa at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata. Please click here to listen to the recordings from Archives section. We believe that listening to Buwa's performance more than once will be both instructive and rewarding to music lovers, students and indeed musicians. For information about the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, check the following web link: One of the key lessons Buwa learnt from his Guru Vazebuwa was how to unravel or unfold a given Raga (राग कसा सोडवायचा). The result of mastering this lesson from Vazebuwa was that in Gajananbuwa’s performances a listener would often experience both the clarity and simplification of complex patterns of Tanas. The so called conceptual or intellectual Gayaki of Jaipur Gharana sounded less complex in Buwa’s presentation. His voice as a result of a continuous and rigorous daily Riyaz of many hours had acquired extraordinary weight (vajan) and perfect tunefulness (Surelpana). His tremendous and legendary hard work to Improve the quality of his voice is well documented . Even in his late 60s Buwa's riyaz continued. Here his sons Bacchubhai and Narayan are accompanying him. One is reminded of a wonderful quote by Nietzsche the great German Philosopher: "I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible..." Far from perishing Gajananbuwa overwhelmingly succeeded in acquiring his weighty, tuneful (सुरेल) and sonorous voice. A broken earthen pot transformed into a golden jar! (झाला सुवर्ण कलश मोडक्या माठाचा) The great Hirabai Badodekar once after attending Buwa’s concert in Pune in an annual Ganapati Festival generously complimented Buwa by saying "Buwa, you are so exceedingly perfect in your tunefulness". It seems that underlying Buwa’s musical journey there was a search for 'ORDER'. Music can be defined as "ordered sound in time". Buwa’s love for Laya (Rhythm), his complete mastery of Talas and rhythm, his restlessness to learn the Jaipur Gayaki - that is the very incarnation of the concept of order in a musical form - after he heard Surshree Kesarbai and his eventual success in mastering the Jaipur Gayaki are all examples of his instinctive and natural love for ‘ORDER’. Some mathematicians define Mathematics as the science of order. We may describe Music as an Art of order. If Gajananbuwa had chosen to be a Mathematician it is more than likely that he would have made some significant contribution to Mathematics. But the world of Hindustani Art Music is fortunate that he became a singer. For otherwise the Indian Classical Music would have lost one of the finest vocalist of recent times who only lived for MUSIC - to learn, to teach and to perform Music! For an excellent technical and lucid exposition of Buwa’s Gayaki, please check out Dr Ashok Da Ranade’s beautifully written essay in his book: "Some Hindustani Musicians. They Lit The Way". Dr. Ashok Ranade a well known Musicologist and scholar was a disciple of Buwa. The above book is published by Promilla & Co in association with Bibliophile South Asia. - Dattaji and Bacchubhai