Raga – Conserving  Musical Heritage of India

By Dr. Suwarna Wad




Seminar on Conservation of Indian Musical Heritage held on Jan 31st and 1st February at Mata Jijabai Govt Girls PG College at Indore paved the way for a contemporary approach to practice and study of music. During the inauguration ceremony itself, mood for honest and intense examination of steps necessary for raising awareness as well as ensuring conservation of Raga-s – the millenniums old musical heritage – was set. Speakers in the simple yet elegant ceremony included the guest of ceremony, Dr. Narendra Dhakad, Additional Director, Higher Education, stalwart musician brothers, Pt. Arun and Dr. Vikas Kashalkar, heritage evangelist, Dr. Rajiv Trivedi, principal Dr. Usha Krishnan and Prof. Suman Dandekar who started the music department in college sixty years back.

Pandit Arun Kashalkar has mesmerized audiences with his scintillating performances for more than 3 decades. He was initiated into the field of music by his father, the renowned musicologist and teacher Pt. N. D. Kashalkar and he later received training from Pt. Rajabhau Kogje and Pt. Ram Marathe. Then stalwart vocalist and violinist of Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra gharanas, Pt. Gajananrao Joshi guided Arun Kashalkar for several years. Briefly he spoke about Raga-s embodying the science or discipline of artistic musical expression. Raga-s, in turn depend on certain self-evident principles, such as Shadja-Pancham Bhav (Perfect interval ~ Pythagorean cycle of the Fifth) and consonance of ninth-thirteenth Shruti. As after stabilization of Shadja, Jaati-Gan turned to Prabandh, the principle of Raga consolidated into Ten Lakshana-s.

Dr. Usha Krishnan highlighted the impact and role of technology in music practice. Technology allows multiplicity at all levels. With increase in number of listeners and the variety of music they are able to access, the area for innovation and experimentation available to composers and artistes too expands several folds. Highlighting this, Dr. Ragini Trivedi stated that modern changes have begun to impact traditional practice of classical music. Element of “intangible” finds its best expression in music. Most invisible, music is the fundamental art-form that manifests the conscious mind.

An accomplished vocalist Dr. Vikas N. Kashalkar hails from a family with music tradition. Like elder brother, Dr. Kashalkar too was initially trained by father, Pt. N. D. Kashalkar. Further, he received his advanced training in music from Pandit Gajananrao Joshi. Dr. Kashalkar’s singing reflects all the brilliant facets of systematic training. His melodious voice and intricacies of ‘Tanas’ give immense joy to the listeners. He highlighted the contribution of modern teaching tools that traditional as well as institutional teachers employ, in carrying forward the Indian musical tradition.

Safe-guarding, conservation and preservation are all abstract ideas expressed through concrete line of action. Once we understand how to safe-guard the element of intangibility in music, we might have a lead on how to safe-guard its expression in other practices. The essence of intangibility rests on the attitude or mind-set. While obedience was an intrinsic given, it was the time spent by Guru with Shishya that transferred this from elder’s mind to younger without any loss. It is the intangibility involved in this passage of right attitude, that music exhibits its primacy as vehicle of the intangible. Not only the content, but the form needs equal attention for the art to survive. It is possible only when the individual ego is surrendered to art itself; its practice is not a pathway to personal glory but sublimation of self. These were some of the issues taken up by the keynote speaker, Dr. Trivedi.

The two-day seminar was special, also in its manner of organization. Transparent from the moment of announcement, it interested over ninety scholars who expressed their desire for participation by submitting abstracts. The selected papers were resent to match requisite format so that they could be displayed online. Writers sending in their contributions in Hindi were required to use UTF-8 fonts for flawless display. Finally over sixty full papers were submitted. Fifty two scholars in seven sessions, highlighted various issues concerning aspects of music, dance, theatre and conservation practices. It was a pan-India event with students and scholars travelling from diverse places.

Display of books authored by professors of the institution and visiting scholars was arranged. This excited the interest of students, visitors and scholars alike. Another area of interest was the presentation of electronic musical instruments.
Apart from online abstracts, the souvenir released during the inaugural ceremony contained abstracts in categorical arrangement besides writings of interest.

A complete overview of the organization process, and pictures of the event is available on http://madhukali.org/blog/seminar-raga-conservation/



Back to Articles