‘AROHI’ AND ‘AVIRATHA’ jointly organized an in-house Sarod Recital by Debasmita Bhattacharya of Kolkata on

30 August 2015 evening.                      11902336_998509043503677_7253413322843619526_n

Before exploring on the concert and the artistes, I would rather opine on the rich legacy and lineage of Guru-Shishya Parampara without which one ought not expect such matured performances from youngsters who are going places.


“Guru Shishya Parampara” or the Teacher – Pupil relationship is an important part of India’s teaching tradition. In ancient India most of the knowledge was passed on from the teacher to his pupil through oral tradition, this oral tradition of passing knowledge is known as the “Guru Shishya Parampara”. Indian classical music is still largely dependent on this tradition. In the “Guru Shishya Parampara” the student lives with his guru or teacher. The student learns different aspects of the music mostly through observing his guru and by following his oral instructions. Although due to emergence of institutionalized training, Indian classical music is being taught on the basis of a particular syllabus now in many parts of the world, but still “Guru Shishya Parampara” is the preferred method. As we know every tradition has its pros and cons and so does this tradition. The “Guru Shishya Parampara” is a very ancient teaching method and thus, in the course of its development it has evolved some unique techniques to accommodate different needs of both teacher and the student. The first thing that happens during this traditional teaching process is the formation of a unique mental bond between the teacher and the student. This deep bonding is absolutely essential when someone is learning an art like music.In this teaching tradition the student gets the sole attention of the teacher. Even if there are many students studying under one teacher it is possible to impart training to each and every student separately. There is no particular time or format to a class. A lesson may be learnt by just observing a concert or performance of the teacher. The time of imparting a lesson is at the discretion of the guru, methodically helps to maintain traditional aspect of Indian classical music. A guru who belongs to a particular Gharana (or school of music) will pass on the traits of respective  gharana to his shishya or pupil and over a period of time the shishya absorbs all the necessary traits and style of this gharana, thus paving the cycle continues.


Another striking feature of this tradition is its ability to teach spontaneity. Yes, spontaneous improvisation techniques are taught through this tradition. This is possible due to the fact that this tradition does not lay down a fixed format for teaching so; it varies from person to person, from teacher to teacher. So, improvisation is inherent in this tradition.From the above stated facts we get a clear picture of the strengths of the “Guru Shishya Parampara”. The student learns only from one teacher and thus, looks at all the aspects from only one vantage point.

Absence of a structured teaching method makes students more vulnerable to failures.This tradition is particularly helpful for imparting practical lessons. It does not help in learning the theoretical aspects of the subject. Overdependence on a single teacher. We must not forget that teachers are human beings and their strengths, weaknesses, mood swings, perception and overall personality become important factors at the time of teaching. However, the present form of “Guru Shishya Parampara” does not strictly adhere to the principles of this tradition. It rather uses some basic concepts of this tradition along with modern teaching methods and techniques.By using a MP3 player, iPod or digital recorder a student can now acquire more details in lesser time. Youtube and other such internet mediums have opened up vast archives of Indian classical music records of the past 100 years or so through which students can simultaneously learn and enrich their knowledge base. So, the scenario has changed quite a bit and we can expect to see more changes in the ensuing years.


“Guru Shishya Parampara” is still very much essential for Indian classical music. It has not lost its credibility due to the emergence of new technology or institutionalized training system. What is needed today is a fusion of “Guru Shishya Parampara” with institutional training. New technology and equipment can further increase the effectiveness of this tradition. We must not forget that this is a time tested method. With spontaneity and improvisation as its key ingredients, it is destined to play even a bigger role in shaping the future of Indian classical music.

On Teachers’ day, I derive great pleasure in writing about all those commendable Teachers who honed such skills into pupils. 

Debasmitha’s Bade Guruji, Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta was born in Bhagalpur , Bihar , on 1 st February, 1933 . He cannot claim any glorious musical heritage – his grandfather, a hardboiled advocate was totally averse to music. Buddhadev’s father, Shri Prafulla Mohan Das Gupta was however highly inclined to music but could not engage in any sort of musical activities because of his father’s stern opposition. However, he was a fairly good amateur singer, and Buddhadev’s mother as well took lessons in sitar playing for quite a few years. Being a government employee, Buddhadev’s father was transferred from place to place, but wherever he went, he became a close friend of the local musicians and invited them to his home. In spite of the frequent musical soirees at home, Buddhadev did not have a very early stirring of music in him. His disciple and Debasmita Bhattacharya’s father Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya under whose tutelage, Debasmita started learning Sarod at a very tender age of Four. One ought to thank these uncanny Sarod Masters and Legends to have brought out the best in Debasmita of what she is today in the annals of Pure Indian Classical Music.


The amount of dedication shows in her deftness and control over the difficult Sarod instrument while bringing out to the fore the shades of Shenia Gharana. She started the concert with an elaborate Raag Jhanjhooti for nearly an hour, displaying an unbelievable imagination that enthralled the discerning and followed it up with a Bandish in Raag Jog, my favorite. At the end, popular Tumri of Vocal Exponent Girijadevi evoked much applause for its rarity while Debasmita showcased her spontaneous singing talent so neatly presented, to my surprise. An in house concert brings about all the gamut of emotions that be and I wasn’t spared either. While the artiste on view is not exactly playing to the gallery unlike in an auditorium, there’s lot of scope to get into a quick act. Debasmita, a research scholar in ITC Sangeeth Research Academy of Kolkata holds lot of promise for the GenNext and undoubtedly counts among topnotch performers of her generation without semblance of doubt. With her frequent music demonstrations and workshops all over the country, she’s already earned a following of her own. Traversing thro Sweden on Indo-Swedish Cultural Exchange during July 2015 adds to her experience and many ensuing events are just an indication of how bright and beckoning is her future.She not only happens to be one of my close young associates but also a keen learner who dazzles wherever she treads. Of all the happenings during 2015 up till now, hers was the most anticipated concert, the first time ever in Bangalore which I was very much looking forward to and I was overjoyed to see what was my most ardent effervescent chip of a musically inclined family is all about. She dint disappoint me either in the truest sense.


About the Percussive accompanist Trilochan Kampli, my young collaborator brother in toe, lesser said the better. He’s a live wire performer who has enthralled connoisseurs all over at a very young age. All his credit be obligated to his mentor and Guru Tabla Maestro Late Sri Basavaraj Bendigeri under whose tutelage, Trilochan Kampli is counted upon the first-rate Percussionists of his generation.
TRIYoung & innovative, he brings about all that Tehrav and true Layakari redolent of a blooming wizard of our times. The underplayed chemistry between these two exponents did make all the difference to the concert. His innate understanding lies in sync with protagonist’s mind and always pleasurable to watch. He brings about such unnerving energy onto the stage with his sheer brilliance and finesse.


Last but not the least, I must compliment my good friend and accomplished vocalist Soundamini Venkatesh to have provided the choicest place ever for such small mehfils. Undoubtedly her abode is perfectly unique in few ways with all the right things falling in place for such affectionate show. Arohi and Aviratha are the reason behind this event.

It will be unfair on  my part should I not thank Debasmita Bhattacharya to have performed here – as I personally wished it would happen one day and it’s indeed a reality now – and Trilochan to have clinched in good spirit. I must also thank my close kins Dinesh Kumar B.V & Nagaraj Aithal P.R for their active participation alongwith scores of music enthusiasts assembled therein without whom the concert would have been lackluster




  1. Its very poignant and well written touching upon different aspects of gharana sangeet and the guru shishya pampara . congratulations on a piece well written Ashwini ji .Hope we keep getting more such thought provoking insights to various aspects of music


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s