Music was his soul mate

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TRIBUTE Pandit D.S. Garud was one of the early maestros who brought Hindustani music to Bangalore. The 97-year-old musician who was a picture of deep commitment passed away last week RAVINDRA YAVAGAL

D uring my growing up and learning years in Dharwad, I didn't know of Pandit D.S. Garud. Once in a while I used to hear my guru Sheshagiri Hangal and other leading musicians mention the name of a Dattappa, who was an extraordinary musician in Bangalore. Apart from that I knew nothing. Sheshadri Gawai would visit Dharwad regularly and hence when I came to Bangalore, he was the only person I knew.

When I moved to Bangalore in 1982, I met Pandit Ramarao Naik. He was such a traditional man, but in our very first meeting he had said, “Why don't you stay with me till you settle down in Bangalore?” Somehow the concern that he showed towards me made me feel very close to him. And it remained that way till his end. Years later, because of my association with Ramarao Naik and other musicians, I gradually learnt of D.S. Garud's exceptional scholarship. But to this day, I wonder why I never went to his house and learnt from him? Even by listening to him I could have learnt many things. Maybe I did have a reason. It was a felicitation programme to Rama Rao Naik and all the top artistes had assembled that day. Garudji was providing saath to Ramarao Naik's vocal concert. I was sitting in the audience along with my friends and I guess we cracked some joke and laughed. Later, after the concert, when I went up to Rama Rao Naik and wished Garudji, he immediately said, “you youngsters laugh at old tabaliyas like us?” I was taken aback. Somehow, after that day, I felt a little intimidated by his stern demeanour, though I was always in awe of his great scholarship.

The Bangalore Sangeeth Sabha was set up in 1948 and it was D.S. Garud's brain child. He set it up with the view that artistes have to perform and not spend an entire life teaching. Teaching is a one-to-one activity but performing involves the community. Now so many people stake claims over propagating music in Bangalore; but it was actually Garudji, Govind Vittal Bhave and Sheshadri Gawai who brought Hindustani music to Bangalore. And none of them ever bothered about publicity.

Garudji was very straight forward and blunt. He never did anything that was against his consciousness. In his boyhood days, he was aspiring to be an actor, but he had a polio attack and his father Sadashivrao Garud, the doyen of company theatre, insisted that he should learn music which would be of immense help to the company as well. He left home and struggled to master his music; he even worked in Bollywood before he actually came to Bangalore and became a full-fledged musician. He travelled from one place to the other, tried his hands at various things, met several people but a steady life was far from close. What compounded matters was his unbending self-respect, even when hunger, poverty and despair loomed large.

I feel very moved by the kind of people they were. Their passion and determination to excel was so high that they never thought of consequences. We are so caught up with livelihood and material comforts, and even in the most trying circumstances I don't think it crossed Garudji's mind ever. He lived in a rented house all his life and didn't even allow his children to take care of him.

You can imagine what a great musician he was by listening to his students like the sitarist Pandit Gopinath. Till recently, Pandit Gopinath continued his tutelage under Garudji. This sustained learning accounts for his acute sense of laya and his awareness of rhythm as an intrinsic attribute of music. Probably, his idea of training his students to keep track of the tala without a dependence on the tabla, stems from this awareness. Pandit Garud voluntarily offered tabla saath to this chosen student and accompanied him on the tabla for several years.

The life and times of Pandit Garud is the story of a committed musician. It's a story of hardship and simplicity, of a man who sought no fame or name, but stuck to music like penance. These are stories we can only hear, we no longer live in times where we can witness them unfold before us.

(The writer is a leading tabla player of the State.)



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