The Week, April 2014
It was indeed a moment back in time for me to perform recently for Gandharva Mahavidyalaya which celebrated its 75th anniversary. Located in New Delhi, this epic institution was founded in 1939 by Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya who took inspiration from the principles of the great musical icon Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. It was initially established in Prem House, Connaught Place, finally branched out in old Delhi at Kamla Nagar near Delhi University. The institution today is guided by a Music Advisory Board composed of learned and veteran Artists of India. In fact, my very first break in a major festival in New Delhi in the sixties was for Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. The 8-day festival titled ‘Tarpan’ was a homage to the pioneering efforts of Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya towards his contribution the propagation of the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya that entered its momentous year! Post partition, Delhi had a cultural vacume as the the music capital back then was Lahore. However, the establishment of this institution along with the its festival titled Vishnu Digambar Jayanti made way for many other Festivals and institutions who took inspiration from Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya . The organization contributed greatly in imparting training to entire generations of music lovers and bringing classical music into the cultural mainstream. The 75th year festival featured some of the best talent amongst the younger dancers today, interestingly paired with an established guru and senior exponent of another style; an extremely wonderful concept that will surely benefit from the novel association and be exposed to unique inputs that will further their own understanding of the form. The other days had both instrumentalists and Vocalists from the Classical fraternity. I am very happy that Madhup Mudgal and his sister Madhavi Mudgal have taken forward their father’s legacy and prophesy to such great heights.

I remember a very interesting incident that took place in New Delhi’s Sapru House during the ongoing Vishnu Digambar Jayanti during the sixties. I was concluding the all-night session in the wee hours of the morning. I made an announcement to the audience to guess the Raga. Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya and Pandit Jasraj who were in attendance in the front row said it was Anand Bhairav, which it of course was. However, from somewhere in the hall, a voice said that he didn’t think so! I looked at the person and it was Prakash Vadhera, a flutist and also a disciple of Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya who was now a journalist for a reputed National Daily. It was a testing moment for me as I could have lost my temper towards his inappropriate comment in a concert hall especially when his own guru confirmed what the Raga was. By god’s grace, I used humor as a tool and told him that I made the effort for Anand Bhairav, but maybe I failed. At which the audience laughed and I saw him walk out of the hall. Reviews back in the day made a big impact, especially to younger artists. We all go through highs and lows but the mantra is to keep walking as it’s a long journey. I remember a reading a review once in a national daily as a young musician that said ‘Not yet Ustad!’
I hope and pray that through music there should be peace all over. So many countries like Syria, Egypt today are facing war……