Pt. Bhavyanand Bhatt: Singing Solace

By Roop Narayan Dixit


Roop Narayan Dixit is a retired professor of English who became a Ganda-baddh disciple of Ustad Abid Hussain Khan in 1963

Said Milton of God's messengers, "they also serve, who stand and wait". Perhaps the poet did not realize how true was his statement when applied to Indian artistes. The glitter that media has showered on a lucky chosen few, makes people unconcerned about the patience and labour that Indian music demands. Even before the present commercialization of art, it was always considered mild form of inactivity merely a step away from toxic addiction. Art had survived not because of general consensus but in spite of the society. A few patrons helped some artistes, thus keeping alive hope for many. By and large indian music has survived because till date there have been frenzied men who chose to sacrifice all just to be with their music. It was not a moment of honour for these artistes but for their patrons whenver their art got recognized.

Indore has been a city with ability to excite artistes. Painters and musicians alike have lived in this city, practiced their art and often left the world without disturbing it -- except for passing on their zeal, their enthusiasm, their love for art to a chosen few. Abid Hussain Khan Saheb lived just such a life and passed on his mantle to a limited number of disciples. One who chose to deicate himself completely to this was Pt. Bhavyanand Bhatt of Dhar. He was intitiated into vocal music by his father, Pt. Giridhar Maharaj. Migrating to Indore much before the country gained independence, Bhavyanand lost no time to learn vocal music as one of Khan Saheb's disciples. Earlier he had also visited Dewas to learn the intricacies of classical music with Rajab Ali Khan (1895-1959)1

The Nawab of Jinjira also had a palace at Indore. Those were the times of peace and prosperity which aided to promotion of art and culture. On his sojourn to Indore the Nawab would call for Ustad Abid Hussain Khan and spend time listening to the maestro.The Ustad too began to like this city and decided to settle down although he could never think in the worldly terms of buying property or building a house. He made Indore his permanent residence by not thinking of any other place as his home. Bhattji, the truest of his disciples followed him for forty years from one house to other as Ustad Abid Hussain changed them from Dey Colony to "Rain Basera" in Manoramaganj and from Manoramaganj to Srinagar Colony where he breathed his last in 1978.

During this period of deicated learning Bhattji was given several rare gems of music in form of Dhrupad, Khayal and Tarana. The rendering of these musical compostions by Bhavyanand ji reminds one of the past glory of Indian classical music when a disciple was in total rapport with his Guru walking along with him just like Guru's shadow.

Bhattji like his mentor believes in rendering a Raga in its truset form. He begins with his alap in brief and then carries on the composition. Over the time the average audience has lost their conversance with music, patience and dedication to listen to good music for hours together. He often resists but more in order to retain their interest than succumb to their wishes, he presents the composition maintaining all its beauty and grace to proved joy in a short time.

Living and practising vocal music in penury is a hard task; many artistes have divorced their art for sake of livelihood. Bhavyanand ji is one of the rarer souls that can distinguish between the ephemeral and the eternal. Shunning all things worldly he has internalized the saintliness of his Guru along with the music. He is happy with the few students who come to learn with him. Loving them all like a father, he knows that they will all be snatched away before they get ripe by the ever-hungry world, and yet teaches them as if time does not exist. And indeed, such is his brilliance that one indeed loses track of time. He can sing Bhajans as skillfully and enticingly as he can sing a Dhrupad or Khayal. Even at the age of 75 he finds no trouble in singing and sings for hours at a stretch. Perhaps, he is one of the lucky few who can sing louder for each tatter in their mortal dress.

Although it is getting rarer, there still are some people who travel to Indore just to be with Bhavyanand ji and hear him sing.


[1] Eminent Artistes of Yester Years. Mehta, R.C. Baroda, 2007. p. 254

Articles of Interest

Abid Hussain Khan

Mama Saheb Muzumdar of Indore

Bhavrang: A Pastoral Poet

A Voice Painting Dawn

Time Theory of Raga-s

Nestling Among Honey-buds -- A short note on Dr .Lalmani Misra

Contemporary Problems for Indian Music

Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya

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