Om Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu - Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu - Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu - Om Shantih Shantih Shantih Om




Dhruvatara - the evening star, the star that never trembles, and Pada - poetry, merge to give name to this music, Dhrupad.

Dhrupad, the name does what it should, it makes luminous the nature of that which is named. "When I close my eyes and begin to sing, there is only darkness... slowly, light comes, then the beginnings of colour." [Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar]

This is a music which depends very little on virtuosity. Here, whatever becomes music is what has been contemplated upon. The musician is alone with nothing but the vastness of the self as anchor, the very musicality lying in the contemplation. There is little here that can impress, that has a narrative, events or arrival.

What there is instead is a movement, born out of the musical search that takes the self from wherever it is standing to a new, unknown place.


coverpicture from a dhrupad cd by Uday BhawalkarDhrupad is the oldest existing form of Indian classical music. Its origin is linked to the recitation of Sama veda, the sacred Sanskrit text. Dhrupad probably evolved from the earlier chanting of Om, the sacred syllable which is claimed to be the source of all creation. Later, the rhythmic chanting of the Vedic scriptures evolved into singing of Chhanda and Prabandha.

One significant characteristic of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining purity of the ragas and the swaras. According to some accounts, Dhrupad was sung in temples, the singer facing the divinity.

From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated, classical form of music. The language of Dhrupad changed from Sanskrit to Brijbhasha sometime between the 12th and the 16th century.

About six centuries ago, Dhrupad came to be patronized by the royal courts and its complex rendering became highly sophisticated for royal audiences. The compositions became more secular. Some were written in praise of the emperors ; others were elaboration on the music itself.

However, the pristine nature of Dhrupad survived. 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.

The nature of Dhrupad is spiritual- its purpose is aradhana (worship).
Seeking not to entertain,
but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener.


Dhrupad music has three major parts: Alaap, Jor-Jhala and Composition.
Alaap is sung with words that have been derived from the shloka "Hari Om Narayana Taan Tarana Tum" with which the artist develops the raga, note-by-note with the accompaniment of the tanpura. The emphasis is on developing each note with purity and clarity. Alaap entails the search for the most perfect pitch of every note. So it takes you into a world where only sound patterns remain. The Alaap unfolds in four parts - sthai, antara, abhog and sanchari.
In the Jor, the raga develops with a steady beat which is non-cyclical. It again unfolds the personality of the raga through the sthai, antara, abhog and sanchari. The artist concludes the Alaap after exploring the Jhala through the same process but at a faster pace.
After this, Dhrupad compositions are sung to the accompaniment of the pakhawaj. The compositions are usually set in Chau taal (12 beats cycle), Sul taal (10 beats cycle), Tivra taal (7 beats cycle) or Dhamar (14 beats cycle). The meaning of the text in the composition is very important.

The Dagar Family
Marianne Svasek at the Dagar Gurukul

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