Music

Deciphering the code

Shovana Narayan

Shovana Narayan   | Photo Credit: S. S. KUMAR

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s seminar on “Sangeet Ratnakar” threw light on significant aspects of classical art forms

The Sanskrit treatises have been important sources of information on theory and practice of Indian music, dance and drama and their evolution from the ancient to the modern times. A revisit to these through a collective effort of researchers, scholars, performers and connoisseurs, is perhaps required to understand the concepts. “Sangeet Ratnakar” (SR), the monumental work of Sharngadeva, written around 13th Century, is one of the most important Sanskrit texts that bridges the gap between theory and practice of performing arts of the ancient medieval times. To bring forth its importance in the existing cultural scenario a two-day seminar was organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB) Delhi Kendra on the codification of the textual and oral practices of Sharngadeva.

The seminar was inaugurated by noted scholar Dr. Kapila Vatsyayana while the keynote addressed was delivered by Dr. K.D. Tripathi, Prof. Emeritus Banaras Hindu University (BHU) who emphasised the need to ponder on the issue since people were moving away from traditions and languages like Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, etc.

A number of leading Indian and foreign scholars and artistes presented papers and gave interesting lecture-demonstrations bring forth many interesting features of the text. Prof. Ritwik Sanyal from BHU, gave references from SR explaining how the desi becomes margi in Dhrupad. Relating SR to the Dagur Bani of Dhrupad, he talked about not only the pragat and gupta swaras and vishranti, the silence, but also demonstrated various gitis of SR like the shuddha in Marwa or the bega-swara giti in Sohini or the gaudi giti in Darbari. His demonstration highlighted the anibaddha and nibaddha gana, ragaalpti and rupakaalapti mentioned in SR through the present day Dhrupad alap and layakaari.

Vidushi Shovana Narayan’s Kathak demonstration brought clarity to various concepts given in the Nartana Adhyaya of SR, like the usage of ‘arala hasta’. Prof. Najma Parveen Ahmad. focussed mainly on the two important texts “Lahjat-e-Sikandar Shahi” and “Ghunyat-ul-Munya” that have elaborately dealt with in SR.

Prof. Richard Widdess, from UK, spoke about aalap and alapti as expounded by Sharngadeva. He explained the author’s description of a method of improvisation (ālapti) that evidently reflected the practice of his own time which is closer to the swar vistār of present-day Hindustani music.

Sanskrit scholar, Dr. Satyavrat Shastri suggested that the old treatises which are not available should be translated back into Sanskrit from their translated versions in Chinese, Arabic and Persian. Vidushi Parwati Dutta from Aurangabad gave an impressive demonstration based on the Nartana Adhyaya of SR, examining possibilities of exploring lasyanga and gharghara through present day Odissi and Kathak dance forms.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 2:02:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/deciphering-the-code/article18865737.ece

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