Hindustani Classical music suffered a huge loss with the sad demise of legendary musicologist Pt. Lakshman Prasad Jaipurwale. Just by uttering his name a distinguished image of amalgamation of music, theatre and peripheral art forms, stand in front of our eyes.
I’d listened to him only once but his rendering of Purva Kalyan (Indian Raga/ Scale or melody) gave a huge vision of his great grandeur, which is a balanced mixture of poem / lyrics, swar i.e. musical notes and tempo creating equilibrium of musical performance. His style of presenting a composition / raga ensured that it will not disturb or dilute the atmosphere of the musical notes and giving utmost importance on the clear and gentle pronunciation of the words or lyrics of Asthyai and Antara (two sections of one musical piece in Hindustani classical music) which go hand in hand with the raga. Thus, creating a oneness
Pt. Lakshman Prasad Jaipurwale was born on 15 th January 1915 at Dhrangdhra, Gujarat in Raj-Bhatt family. His father Baldev Prasad was a court musician in Indore Gharana. He was raised by his paternal uncle after his parent passed away when he was just 8 years old. With the basic and primary and lessons received from his father in music he joined Shree Krishna Theatres along with his uncle in Kanpur. His ability of imitating and reproducing the bandish (performing musical piece in Hindustani music) by just listening once from someone made him very famous in the Theatre company. Due to this virtue of him presenting the piece in very efficient, his roles of Farahad and Majnu from the plays of Shirin - Farahd and Laila - Majnu were being presented in a very magnificent from gaining him popularity and fame. He made huge money with his acting skills in theatres and also took over the charge and ownership of one whole new Theatre company. While he was celebrating the peaks of his starlight he married the daughter of court musician and dancer of Jaipur gharana, Pt.Badri Prasad. But as it is rightly said, a piece of jigsaw puzzle will only fit at its right place, likewise despite of possessing everything what one artist is wants in his life, he found himself devoid of something and eventually realized his true thirst for music and became disciple of Gattu Gopal, who in turn was disciple of Ladli Maharaj (Kunwarshyamji) of Haridas Goswami (Gusai) tradition of music.
Haridas tradition has two branches, one following the tutelage of Gusai Pannalalji, Ladli Maharaj which dates back around 400-540 years naming Goswami tradition and the second which was derived from Miya Tansen known as Seniya tradition. Under the tutelage of Guru Guttu Gopalji he learned forms of music like dhrupad, dhamar, khayal and dhabru (branch of dhrupad which follows a medium tempo known as Madhya laya). Due to strict and disciplined training under his guru’s guidance, just at the age of 27-28 he was acknowledged and counted amongst the great and renowned musicians of that time. A focus and emphasize on the content of the musical piece along with the proper amalgamation of the musical notes hitting the proper blue note in accordance with the lyrics at the right time he developed his own distinct style of presentation.
He was appointed as the musical supervisor at Delhi Radio Station but could not continue the same as the administrative environment was not conducive for his musical endurance. Hence, paternal uncle of his wife and renowned Bollywood musician guided him to Mumbai but soon uncle died within a period of 8-9 months after their arrival in Mumbai. One fine evening while he was taking a walk on the streets of Mumbai while having the paan, he heard of some musical notes falling on his eyes, soon he found the place and managed to get in wherein Chaturbhuj Rathod, Pt . Rajarambuva Shukla , Pt. Murlimanhohar Shukla, Pt. Dashrath Pujari, Ramakant Mhapsekar and many such performers where performing and showcasing their talents. When he introduced himself to the audience and the other spectators present at the “Maifal”( traditional style of Indian musical performance) he was asked to showcase his talent. He decided to present a Ghazal (form of light music) but it brought a event of discouragement amongst the audience and other artist but when he tuned his tanpura(Indian drone instrument) at Madhyam, soon the experienced group realised that the performer is not an amateur but a well trained and ready artist. Pt.Murlimanohar Shukla and Pt. Rajaram Shukla soon accepted Panditji as their Guru. Pt.Rajarambuava Shukla was disciple of well trained and experienced musician Pt. Omkarnath Thakur. This one incidence of two established musicians who had already learnt under a great tutelage and dedicating themselves as the disciples of one musician by listening him only once, displays the great halo of Pt. Lakshman Prasad.
Panditji was conferred with the title of “Gunigandharva” in Jalanadhar music conference, long before his performance in Mumbai. He was invited there as amateur and developing artist and for this reason he had to spend a whole night before the performance in a horse stable. But the very next afternoon he presented the Shudh Sarang(an afternoon melody) in the conference and the whole “Maifal” celebrated in great awe. It showcased his musical repertoire and his ability of singing a phrase using the notes and melody which brings the utmost underlying emotion of the lyrics or poetical stanzas and the culmination of the swar-laya around the Taal flowing down through a gentle stream of emotions. His performance was marked by the halo of his unique style and was appreciated to such an extent that it lead to cancellations of the scheduled programs of that evening and the whole night was solely dedicated to his grandeur. He was honoured with the title of “Gunigandharva” by the senior members of the Hariwallabh Mahotsava.
Pt Lakshman Prasad was undoubtedly a distinguished musician with a unique style of singing which glorified the lyrical content with the suitable swar-laya combination. There is one more incidence from a musical conference which took place in north Indian region. At this conference a challenge was put forth for the connoisseur of the Hindustani classical music which included dames like Ustad Bade Gulam Ali khan, Ustad Amir Khansahab, Dilipchandra Bedi and many more. The challenge was to present the conceptual base of Raag Megh and present the same. One who does it in the best possible way will be conferred with a gold medal and finally two names came forward for the presentation, Pt Lakshman Prasadji and Dilipchandra Bediji. Soon after his name was chosen Panditji went to his place, did some homework and composed a Bandish in Hindu tradition in Raag Megh.
To throw some light on this particular raga, Raag Megh is rendered in a way similar to Sarang ang (musical piece) to be more precise it is very closely related to Madhyamand Sarang and has two distinct ways of rendering it primarily as Hindu or original tradition which resemble or uses Sarang ang (not using Gandhar) and second way is diluted form which uses Komal Gandhar in a typical Aandolam (a typical voice modulation way used in Indian classical music). On the second day of conference he presented a comparative study of both the techniques of rendering Raag Megh and finally proved that the original and traditional Hindu way of rendering it which does not include Gandhar is the most correct and conducive method most suitable for the realization of the atmosphere developed by Megh. Thus, proving true, the idea or concept of Swami Vivekanand of dilution of our rich musical culture by the middle eastern i.e. Muslim (Sufi) and Persian influence on Dhrupad. Hence, Pt Lakshman Prasad was bestowed with the gold medal declaring him the winner.
Pt. Lakshman Prasad was a multi-faceted personality. His repertoire included great poet/lyricist along with musical splendour. His compositions were full of Bhakti-Rasa. One while listening to his compositions will get completely immersed into the ocean of Devotion. The connoisseur gets overwhelmed with the great urge and longing to meet the divinity through his music.
He had a great privilege to have a company of great saints and sadhus of that time. Their advice and influence over his personality and music was seen through his performance and compositions. He had learnt and realized from many gurus but there is one among those gurus who had played a major role in shaping his music and creating a halo around his performance also whose blessings helped him throughout his tenure in Mumbai was Baba Bhagwandas of Matunga . Baba himself was a lover of music and dance and other art forms. His ashram used to be always full with artists , musicians and dancers. Baba’s favourite was Pt Lakshman Prasad and he had kept a place reserved for Panditji, for him to serve the music on every Sunday in the evening from 6-9pm. For almost tenure of 8 years he was fortunate to have Baba as his Sadhguru.
He had a unique style of presenting a raga which included all the small sections and modulations of voice like, Taans, Saragam, Meend, Aalap, etc. Without disturbing the original form of the raga he used to glorify it with his Laykaari (modulation and singing along with the rhythm) was his masterkey. Laya or rhythm used to be the underlying current guiding his whole performance. Talking about his par excellence, his disciples find themselves very much privileged to learn under this great stalwart. But at the same time they express a grief about the absence of such multi-dimensional musical approach in today’s music.
Panditji composed the Bandishes which were in accordance to a particular raga, for e.g. if we consider Raag Bhairav the lyrics and words of the compositions are chosen such that it enhances the raga and helps to create or visualize the image of Bhairav. The same goes with any of other raga which expresses love, happiness, disparity, devotion etc. This quality of him can be easily seen in his disciples, Pt. Murli Manohar Shukla, Pt. Rajaram Shukla, Pt Govindprasad, and many more. He himself had composed more than 1000 bandishes.
Panditji had a par-excellence on various form of classical and semi-classical forms such as Tarana, Hori, Tappa, Bhajan, Thumri, Chaturang, Ghazal etc. Though he was not a dancer he had a hereditary tradition of dance through his father. Hence he had decent knowledge of dance as well and command over Tabla and hence rhythmical elaboration of a raga was the most important aspect of his Gayaki.
His disciple family included his son, Pt. Govind Prasad, Pt. Murli Manohar Shukla, Pt. Rajaram Shukla, famous music director Kamlakar Bhagvat, Padmakar Kulkarni, Vasantrao Kadnekar, Gopinath Walke, Malti Pandey, Sunanda Jog, Kamal Barot, and many more. Disciples who repeatedly rendered his Bandishes were, Shobha Gurtu, Sarla Bhide, Laxmi Shankar, Manik Verma, Sudha Malhotra and many more.