Baiju Bawra to be a better musician than Miyan Tansen — Manjari Sinha



Ashok Vajpeyi after Chanderi Museum visit 
Ashok Vajpeyi after Chanderi Museum visit — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Remembering the reclusive singer

— Manjari Sinha

We all know about Tansen, the famous court musician of Emperor Akbar, but one hardly hears about his Guru Bhai and contemporary musician Baiju Bawra, who chose to live a life of oblivion, singing for himself. Many people even believe and take Baiju Bawra to be a better musician than Miyan Tansen. Baiju Bawra spent the last few years of his life in Chanderi and breathed his last there on Basant Panchami day in 1610. His samadhi is situated in Chanderi, located on the border of Malwa and Bundelkhand.
Chanderi — A veranda outside the Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — A veranda outside the Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — Choubisi Jain Temple — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — Choubisi Jain Temple — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — Burj at Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — Burj at Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

The Achaleshwar Mahadev Mandir Foundation (SAMMF) took a welcome initiative to start an annual Dhrupad festival at Chanderi, as a tribute to this legendary musician. The Pratham Baiju Bawara Dhrupad Utsav was organised by the SAMMF in association with the Raza Foundation and the Nagar Palika Parishad, Chanderi in memory of Baiju Bawra on his Punya Tithi Basant Panchami, the 13th of February, at the Raja Rani ka Mahal in Chanderi. The SAMMF got full cooperation by the people and the local authorities because this was also an opportunity to bring Chanderi into the limelight as an art and culture destination in Central India.
Chanderi — a staircase, Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — a staircase, Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Chanderi — A silk loom at Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chanderi — A silk loom at Raja Rani Mahal — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

session 'Virasat Ka Arth'— Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Kiran Tiwari — moderating session 'Virasat Ka Arth'— Photo © Bharat Tiwari


Ashok Vajpeyi and Gundecha Brothers in conversation 'Virasat Ka Arth'— Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Ashok Vajpeyi and Gundecha Brothers in conversation 'Virasat Ka Arth'— Photo © Bharat Tiwari

'Chanderi Museum'— L-R Bharat Tiwari, Shivkesh Mishra, Visitor, Gundecha, Manish Pushkale, Ashok Vajpeyi, Manjari Sinha, Chandra Prakash Tiwari, and 4 visitors —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
'Chanderi Museum'— L-R Bharat Tiwari, Shivkesh Mishra, Visitor, Gundecha, Manish Pushkale, Ashok Vajpeyi, Manjari Sinha, Chandra Prakash Tiwari, and 4 visitors —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

The festival began in the morning with a dhrupad workshop for the school children and college students of Chanderi and nearby places, with renowned dhrupad artists and Padma Shri awardees Gundecha Brothers who talked about the significance and majesty of the oldest form of Indian classical music derived from Sama Veda; and let them experience the beauty of dhrupad music. Gundecha Brothers also acquainted them with Baiju Bawra, the devoted disciple of Swami Haridas, and explained why they should be proud of him!

Sunset at Kirti Durg |  Chanderi fort | Qila Kothi —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Sunset at Kirti Durg |  Chanderi fort | Qila Kothi —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Majari Sinha admiring the beauty of Chanderi from Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Majari Sinha admiring the beauty of Chanderi from Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Mansih Pushkale at Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Mansih Pushkale at Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Samadhi of the great musician, Baiju Bawara (1542-1613) —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Samadhi of the great musician, Baiju Bawara (1542-1613) —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

There was a lecture and interactive session in the afternoon, with music lovers of Chanderi on “Virasat Ka Arth”, the meaning and significance of legacy and inheritance. The speakers were Ashok Vajpeyi, Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha and this critic. The evening started with the floral tribute at the samadhi of Baiju Bawra. The first Baiju Bawra Smriti Samman was awarded to the Gundecha Brothers Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha this year; who gave a dhrupad recital in the aesthetically elevating ambience of the open air stage of the Raja Rani ka Mahal, the 16th century heritage building of the Bundela Kings; divinely decorated with flowers and earthen diyas.
Silhouette da Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Silhouette da Chanderi fort —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari


Kiran Tiwari (left) with her mother and sister—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Kiran Tiwari (left) with her mother and sister—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Raja Rani ka Mahal, divinely decorated with earthen diyas —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Raja Rani ka Mahal, divinely decorated with earthen diyas —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Ashok Vajpeyi lighting the diya, inaugurating the Baiju Bawara festival—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Ashok Vajpeyi lighting the diya, inaugurating the Baiju Bawara festival—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

The editor's painting — Deo Prakash Choudhary at work —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
The editor's painting, Deo Prakash Choudhary at work — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Gundecha brothers opened their dhrupad recital with the meditative and detailed Aalap in raga Bhimpalasi. Although this is an afternoon raga of Kafi That; their reposeful presentation made it come alive as if it were minted for this very special evening. The Samvaad (harmony) between the two vocalist brothers is also their unique signature, where while one elaborates around Gandhaar or Pancham, the other works on or just holds the Samavaadi Swara.
Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha sing Jheeni jheeni beeni chadariya,  with Roman Das on pakhawaj. — Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha sing Jheeni jheeni beeni chadariya,  with Roman Das on pakhawaj. — Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Mansih Pushkale submerged, listening Dhrupad —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Mansih Pushkale submerged, listening Dhrupad —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Ashok Vajpeyi and others get high on Dhrupad by Gundecha Brothers —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Ashok Vajpeyi and others get high on Dhrupad by Gundecha Brothers —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Portrait of Chanderi fort from Raja Rani mahal —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Chandra Prakash Tiwari, Secretary, Sri Achleshwar Mahadev Mandir Foundation —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Chandra Prakash Tiwari, Secretary, Sri Achleshwar Mahadev Mandir Foundation —  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

Book release L-R Umakant Gundecha, Ramakant Gundecha, Ashok Vajpeyi, Deo Prakash Choudhary, Manish Pushlake, Shivkesh Mishra  and Chandra Prakash Tiwari—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari
Book release L-R Umakant Gundecha, Ramakant Gundecha, Ashok Vajpeyi, Deo Prakash Choudhary, Manish Pushlake, Shivkesh Mishra  and Chandra Prakash Tiwari—  Photo © Bharat Tiwari

The hour-long Aalap was followed with the dhrupad “Kunjan mein rachyo raas…” set to Chautala. They also sang the poetry of Nirala and Kabeer. Since Chanderi is also a place of weavers they sang the popular Kabeer Bhajan “Jheeni jheeni beeni chadariya…” set to Drut Sooltala. Roman Das provided adequate support on pakhawaj.

The event was simultaneously captured on canvas by two artists on either side of the stage. A book “Sunata Hai Guru Gyaani’ written by Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha was also released on this occasion.
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