Heritage of Gusai Kunwarshyam Gharana


Dr. Shyamrang Shukla

      When one singer dedicates himself completely into the devotion and when such a true dedication and devotion gets accompanied by ‘swara’, leads to the birth of saintly man like Haridas. This expression of devotion is the founding stone of the tradition of Gusai Gharana. And this great ideology was descended into this tradition by swami Haridas.

      The compositions of the Lalji Maharaj (Kunwar Shyamji), the doyen of the Gharana inculcated the very ideology of Swamiji. The idea to dedicate oneself to the beloved Shyam with the friendly affection and spread the shades of emotions was absorbed by Kunwarshyamji from his guru Haridas.

      ‘Ras-Shiromani’ Swami Haridas passed away at the age of 95. Later to his death the haridas tradition, got its principles imbibed in Radhavallabh community and Vallabhkul community. Kunwarshyamji belonged to the Radhavallabh tradition. He was a great devotee of Lord Shyam and never presented his music outside the Radha-Krishna temple. When all other major Gharanas where in the race of establishing their fame Kunwarshyamji was spreading expression of love and affection for Shri Krishna. This tells us that Kunwarshyam Gharana flourished and became popular in temples and not through royal-courts. Thus, in this tradition one can find more emphasis on devotional aspects rather than love. One can clearly understand the personality of Haridasji from the compositions of this Gharana in different ragas along with the corresponding emotional shad attached to it. Though, Haridasji spent most of his time amidst saints and sadhus, his heritage was properly preserved and descended by Goswami Lalji Maharaj and his disciple where they only practiced the compositions of radhavallabh and haridas tradition.

      Kunwarshyamji was a great composer because of his true dedication to Shyam, he could write and sing with great ease. One can find many such examples of true devotes who had completely dedicated their lives in devotion of their deities like –Meerabai ,she was indeed a great poetess and singer as well. Similarly, Surdas and Tyagrajan were great composers and singers. Kunwarshyamji was a dhrupad vocalist and later he also involved himself into the khayal singing but people gave him the label or title of thumri artist. He was recognised everywhere as a thumri voacalist because of the literature involved in his compositions was filled with great love and affection towards Shyam and hence resembled to thumris but he had no problems with this labelling, His followers who were learning khayal used to recite his compositions like khayal whereas thumri performers used to sing it like thumris.

      There is a very famous story of Emperor Akbar along with Tansen visting the Vrindavan in the year 1630 and reciting raga “Malhar”. To counter-argument this Swami Haridasji sang ‘malhar’ in pure Dhrupad form and the bandish was “Aisi rutu sada sarvada jo bolat moran”. He established the environment of monsoon on a sunny day, with mere dhrupad aalap clouds gathered covering the sunny sky, peacocks started dancing and it started raining. From the above incidence it was clear that Malhar was his signature raga and undoubtedly malhar was also the favourite raga of Kunwarshyamji. He composed maximum compositions in Malhar raga. One can find the resemblance between two by listening to their compositions which describes the peacock dancing, koyal singing, lighting and thundering of clouds , green blanket spread everywhere etc.

      The thought of preserving his gayaki or the continuity of the tradition never bothered Kunwarshyamji, for he was always deep into his meditation of ‘NaadBhrahma’. He died in the year 1910. Gattugopal was along with Kunwarshyamji till his last breathe serving him. Kunwarshyamji taught him music till his last moment and soon his mastery over his learning made him famous among the connoisseurs. Pt. Mohan Mishra, disciple of GattuGopal had settled in the Allahabad. He had more than 50 dhrupad compositions composed by Kunwarshaymji treasured with him. Pt. Chandrashekar Pant and Pt. Bhismadev Vadi also belonged to this tradition. The most famous and successful vocalist of this Gharana was Pt. LaxmanPrasad Jaipurwale. He had initial trainings in music from his father, Pt. BaldevPrasad and lately by GattuGopal ji. After the death of Gattugopal he continued to learn music from Laliprasad and later from his father-in- law Pt. BadriPrasadji, he learnt Tappa gayaki of semi- classical form. Jaipurwale also had learnt from Pt. Madhoprasad and ramanand who was an accompanied artist of Pt. V D Paluskar. Jaipurwale fondly known as Gunigandharva had also learnt from Ust. Bairamkhan of Jaipur Gharana. Thus in a nutshell, he had taken good things from various gharanas and increased his own repertoire to a great extent.

      Gunigandharva also presented his music in temples and ashrams and was blessed with dedicated tutors who were able to absorb the essence of the gayaki and spread it across the country. More prominent and fore-most disciples of gunigandharva were, Pt.Rajaram also known as ‘Jyotirang’, Pt. MurliManohar Shukla ‘Manhar’, Pt. Govindprasad Jaipurwale and Dr. V. A. Shenoy. Pt Rajaram Shukla had composed hundreds of compositions and also had a huge disciple group. Pt. Murli Manohar Shukla, Pt Kalika Maharaj, Pt. Triveni Prasad Tripathi, Pt. Digambar Tivatne, renowned film music director, Vishwanath More and his son Dr. Shyamrang Shukla, were the fore-most amongst his disciples.

      In this tradition each and every artist was a great composer but Pt. Murli Manohar Shukla was the prominent artist and a well trained teacher. His musical collection ‘Manhar Sangeet Rachna’ is published in 3 different sections. Even he had a great disciple family which includes names like, Shri. Tanuja Dhareshwar, renowned playback singer Shri. Mahendra Kapur along with his son Rohan Kapur was given special guidance. The list continues with the names of Shri. Shailendra Bharti, Shrimati. Shanta Benegal, Shrimati Pournima Bhatt, Shri. Shekhar Shinde, Shri. Prabhakar Savant, Shrimati. Samidha Yardi, Shrimati. Meena Kulkarni, Shrimati. Usha Patwardhan, Shri. Datta Jadhav, Lt. Shrimati Damyanti Pratap, Dr. D.D. Sajidarjun Karmajyoti, Shrimati Jessica Mahadevan, Shrimati Hemalata Nadkarni, Shrimati Shobha Agarwal, Shri. Narendra Kotambikar, Shri. Manmohan Saigal, Kumari Kalyani Hammadi, Shrimati Rupali Dalal, Kumari Sanjukta Wagh and many more.

      Gunigandharva Pt. Lakshman Prasad Jaipurwale had two sons. His elder son Pt. Govind Prasad passed away at very early age which leads to a great loss for Gusai Gharana but his younger son Pt. Bhavdeep Jaipurwale shouldered the responsibilities of the Gharana. He is a well trained Tabla player, an established vocalist as well as a graceful dancer and a well renowned artist.