Devoted to Krishna: Pt. Chandra Prakash  

In service of the divine

Pt. Chandra Prakash impressed with a recital of Haveli sangeet and explained its nuances to audience


The India International Centre (IIC) celebrated their annual day with an evening of Haveli sangeet. The invited exponent of Haveli sangeet was Pt. Chandra Prakash from Kishangarh, Rajasthan. His ancestors were associated with the Kishangarh Haveli of Maharaja Shri Krishna Rai, performing raga seva with daily rituals of the temple in ragas depending on the time of the day, season or festival. Pt. Chandra Prakash has been recognised for his musical expertise not just with the Governor of Rajasthan, Maharana Mewar Foundation or Dagar Gharana awards, but has also been felicitated by ‘Anjuman-e- Dargah Sharif’, Ajmer.

Indian music was patronised by temples from ancient times. It is said when some Muslim rulers started destroying temples, the Hindu deities were installed in havelis in Nathdwara, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where temples are still called haveli. Haveli sangeet is a form of Hindustani Music in Dhrupad-Dhamar style, where devotional padas of ‘Krishna-Bhakti’ are sung in Vaishnavite havelis as a musical offering to the presiding deity, along with the nitya seva, the daily rituals. Essentially a tribute to Krishna, Haveli Sangeet is sung along the Ashtayam Seva in the Ashta-Prahar ragas according to the time of the day. There are also seasonal or utsav padas, sung in seasonal ragas and Utsav Padas composed and sung accordingly. Swami Vallabhacharya and his ashta-chhap disciples were the pioneers of this genre of Pushti-Margiya Sangeet.

Carrying forward the tradition, Pt. Chandra Prakash has trained his son Bhupendra (a post-graduate from Jawaharlal Nehru University) and grand-daughter Kritika in Haveli Sangeet, who were there for vocal support. Heeralal Kirtania on harmonium, Pt. Krishna Gopal Sharma on pakhawaj and Pt. Chandra Prakash himself played jaanjh along with his devotion-charged singing. Opening with the Utthapan and ‘Aavani ke Pada’ in ragas Puriya Dhanashri and Gauri, he presented a pada of Maharaja Nagari Das in raga Yaman.

He further presented ‘Rasa ka Pada’, “Aaj Gopal Rasa…” in raga Kedar, written by Hit-Harivansh, a Badhai Pada for Janmashtami in Bageshri, an Utsav Pada for Hindola Utsav “Ho Lal jhuliye..” in raga Khamaj, an Aagamani of Basant Ritu in raga Shuddha Basant followed by a Nagari Das Pada in raga Bahar; concluding with the Ashray Ka Pada, “Bharoso dridh in charanan ke ro…”, by Surdas in raga Bihag. The Haveli sangeet padas were rendered well but the repetition of ragas like Bageshri could be avoided.

Pt Chandra Prakash initiated his audience with the details of Haveli sangeet and kept a constant rapport with them sharing anecdotes related to the padas being rendered. The Nagari Das Pada, for instance, was prefaced with “Nagari Das is a known name in Hindi literature but, in fact, he was Maharaj Sawan Singh, the 8th king of Kishangarh who employed the famous painter Nihal Chandra to paint a portrait of his beloved. This famous painting ‘Bani-Thani’ is compared with Monalisa, painted by Leonardo de Vinci. Later, Maharaja Sawan Singh dispensed with his kingdom and went to live in Brindavan and wrote devotional padas with the pen name Nagari Das. His beloved also wrote devotional padas with the pseudonym ‘Rasik-Bihari’.

Fusion group
Nirali Shah  

Maati Baani fusion group was hosted by HCL Concerts at the LTG Auditorium, presenting an amalgamation of Hindustani vocal and folk with Nirali Shah on vocals, Kartik Shah on guitar, Omkar Dhumal on flute and shehnai and Anurag Sawangikar on drums. The added attraction of Mati Bani was the folk artist Noor Mohammad Fakeer on Jidia Pawa.

Opening with a Kabir song in raga Durga, Nirali convinced about her classical training under Sanjeev Abhayankar, with her open “Aakar”, and the sprinkling of sargams which was visible all through, but, unfortunately, this could not help long. The Kafi-based Bandish ki thumri “Mitwa mane na….” next, was disappointing because her long preface introducing this ‘old traditional genre’, hardly matched her rendering. “Tore matware naina…”, describing the beauty of Krishna’s eyes, had Nirali literally whistling in between, perhaps trying to imitate the Flute of Krishna.

There was “Bawariya…” in Darbari, supposedly celebrating the Naad Brahma with dhrupad-style gamakas, “Jago Pyare...”, in Sarang, “Boondan boondan barkha barse” and “Albela Sajan” in Ahir Bhairav, but all in the fusion style of Mati Bani, with the unbearably off key orchestra. Nirali kept trying to establish rapport with the audience and surprisingly the most tuneful response came from the audience when she invited them to repeat the sargam.

Noor Mohammad, with Kachchhi Kafi on his tuneful Jodia Pawa, came as a soothing balm. His ‘Double Flute’ instrument was self-sufficient with one of the two flutes keeping the ‘sur’ and the other playing the lively folk tunes of Rajasthan. He needed just the drum to keep time, which could not do much harm.