The guru-shisya parampara is the system of master/disciple lineage that characterizes the traditional education system of North Indian music. The term parampara, disciplic succession,' is introduced in the Bhagavad-gita (4.2), when Krsna tells Arjuna: This Knowledge of yoga was passed down in disciplic succession and in this way the seer-kings knew it. In the music tradition, the disciplic succession of the family lineage (gharana) is officially continued in the ganda bandham ceremony in which the student is elevated to the status of a close disciple with the tie of a thread around the student's wrist. This gesture and a nazrana payment freely given with the greatest respect symbolize the bond between a student and his guru. The tabla disciple's devotion to the guru is a form of bhakti devotion in the same way that a yogic disciple submits to the will of a guru in order to master the esoteric practices held within the realm of his teacher's knowledge. Following the ganda bandham rite, the new disciple can expect to receive a more intensive training, including techniques and compositions reserved for close disciples. It has been argued that the dilution of classical music in modern day India is due to the decline of the gharana system that seeks the systematic dissemination of musical knowledge to such worthy students, in favor of the music college system which offers a survey education better-suited to hobbyists.
[...] “Musicometric Dynamism of the Jatis”.(Journal of the IMS Vol 1982) 29 [xviii] Ibid [xix] Bhowmick, K.N. Traditions of Tabla-Riyaz in Banares School.” 63 Edwin Gerow, “Abhinavagupta's Aesthetics as a Speculative Paradigm,” 189 [xxi] Robert Simms, “Aspects of Cosmological Symbolism in Hindusthani Musical Forms.” 81 [xxii] For an account of a Sufi halvet experience, cf. Özelsel, Michaela. Forty Days. Vermont: Threshold Books [xxiii] James Kippen, The Tabla of Lucknow [xxiv] Ibid. [xxv] Robert Simms, “Some Thoughts on the Meaning of Riaz in Hindustani Music,” 6 [xxvi] Edwin Gerow, “Abhinavagupta's Aesthetics as a Speculative Paradigm,”191 [xxvii] [...]
[...] In the same way that tantric power is divided into action and knowledge, the musical knowledge (ilm[xi]) received by the disciple must be actualized through practice (riyaz) in order to be transmitted.[xii] Thus, integrity of the entire musical tradition depends as much on riyaz as it does on the guru-shishya parampara.”[xiii] This importance of riyaz to the fidelity of the lineage necessitates that practice is standardized across the tradition. The Banares gharana imparts on its disciples five “Traditional Principles of Riyaz” which by their emphasis on bhakti should be cause of musical inspiration.”[xiv] The principles advise that: i. [...]
[...] Kedar Nath Bhowmick, a disciple of a sixth-generation Banares ustad, relates several anecdotes of musical masters whose intense practice and devotion led them to abilities perceived by their contemporaries as superhuman. For example, the third generation Pandit Biswanath Prassadji “possessed supernatual power of displaying the Tabla word “GEDINNA” as a result of his dedicated riyaz with devotion for the Goddess Annapurna in Varanasi.”[xxxiii] By the merit of this devotional offering the artist was rewarded by what he considered to be the blessings of the Goddess in the form of a composition received in a dream. [...]
[...] The process of riyaz is considered to “consist of three stages: first one must sweat, then bleed, and finally cry before success is attained.”[xxxviii] Indeed there seems to be undeniable sense of mortification in musical riyaz, engaging or subordinating the body toward a higher goal, transcending the flesh in order to develop the the same endeavor of practitioners in the “bhaktic and ascetic strains of Hinduism.” The purpose of musical riyaz is to develop skill and concentration on the instrument for the simple reason that “sustained concentration a prerequisite for performance.” One clear nexus between musical and spiritual practice is this cultivation of concentration in riyaz. [...]
[...] These principles clearly delineate how disciples may progress in musical development through devotion to their guru and riyaz. Ustad Afaq Hussain of the Lucknow gharana believes that the process of musical improvisation (upaj) cultivates the concentration developed through technical education (ta'lim).[xv] formulas ought to come to mind, and they do eventually come in the light of the ta'lim. As the ta'lim increases, the disciple finds the strength of mind to create new things if his mind is good. Upaj means the exertion of the mind.”[xvi] This mental dexterity that is developed through practice of improvisational techniques suggests that concentration is necessary to perform music well. [...]
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