Look into this genealogy keenly!
Irfan Zuberi: Where did dhrupad originate from?
Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar:
In the beginning, there were four forms - chhanda, prabandha, dhruva and matha. The remnants of these ancient forms are not to be seen in this day and age anymore. These then gave way to four styles - dhadhoo roop, miras roop, vant roop and jog roop which might still be in existence. All of this was part of a gradual development of music. These styles gave way to the four prominent stylistic affiliations or banis - dagar bani, khandar bani, nauhar bani and gauhar bani. This period would be roughly around the 12th century. The development and continuous additions and modifications to music were made by legendary sages like Nayak Gopal, Nayak Baiju and others. Among those who gave a sustained support to dhrupad was the great Maharaja Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior.
However, there exist competing views and controversies regarding who made which kind of contribution and how important a place that particular sage or master should occupy in the overall history of music. Some people say that Nayak Baiju had a competition with Swami Haridas Dagur but according to our family history, Nayak Baiju and Nayak Gopal lived during the Khilji dynasty whereas Swami Haridas Dagur lived during Akbar's reign. An esteemed friend of my father's and a great scholar Acharya Brahaspati once told me that he did a lot of research to come to the conclusion that Tansen was actually a Hindu. I congratulated him on his finding but wondered how it makes any difference to music in general and dhrupad in particular as both Muslims and Hindus have contributed immensely to music!
There is one important that people should know - there existed two individuals in the history of music both of which shared the name Swami Haridas but our ancestor was Swami Haridas Dagur who was also the guru of Tansen. By that link, the Senia gharana people are our guru-bhais since we share the same ancestral guru.
At the end of the day, these controversies, contradictions and bones of contention do not matter as it is the mool siddhant of music which is paramount in my mind since it lives forever whereas these debates die out with people.
IZ: You keep saying that dhrupad contains the full information of Indian classical music. Please elaborate on this.
Ust.RFD: As our great forefather Baba Behram Khan Dagar said, dhrupad is "ragatmak swaratmak, shabdatmak varnatmak, talatmak layatmak and rasatmak". It is due to these simple but deep reasons that dhrupad is both kalatmak and primarily vidyatmak. Practitioners of dhrupad also require an in-depth knowledge of nada yoga. So you see, dhrupad is an educational subject which is both theory and practice at once!
IZ: You often also say that "ved ka upved hai sangeet". Please explain this.
Ust.RFD: Think of the Vedas as vidhi and sahitya or information. Then, the upveda can be thought of as kriya or the practical form of the Vedas which is sangeet. There are four broad chapters within sangeet - prakaran adhyaya, vadya adhyaya, nritya adhyaya and taal adhyaya.
What can be called the mool mantra or the formula of the prakaran adhyaya is the following:
"Om antaram twam, taran taaran twam, anant hari narayan om"
Alaap is practiced using this mool mantra in the apabhransh roop employing scientific ways of pronunciation - taalu, oshti, jibya, danti, maurdhani, nasika, anu nasika and niran nasika. Further, there are five vidhis to present the alaap in the nadatmak form - eekaar, ookaar, naakaar, saakaar and taakaar.
All of these are practical things and I love to demonstrate these things for the young of the country because it is on their shoulders now that this rich tradition rests. It is only if we light a candle today that more candles will get lit by themselves in the future. At the same time, these are things which are absolutely essential for musicians to know for music cannot be presented effectively and comprehensively without the detailed knowledge of these things.
There is a wonderful chautaal (12 beat cycle) composition by Bilas Baras Sen (elder son of Miyan Tansen) in Raga Miyan ki Todi which is self-explanatory:
Sthayi - "Kaun bharam bhoole ho man gyaani
Poochhat raag akshar budh baani"
Antara - "An jaani kachhu na jaani
Jaani na jaat vidya bahut sayaani"
IZ: I have found that you are very interested in reading about other religions and poetry. Do share this interest of yours with us.
Ust.RFD: I have always been interested in gaining more and more knowledge! Things which are put simply but have an inherent depth in them attract me towards themselves. All the literature which has within itself the search for the essence of the Almighty interests me. I like the works of Maharishi Valamiki, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, Kabirdas, Tulsidas, Zauq, Mirza Ghalib, Mir, Momin and Dagh. They have all said things which seem so simple but when pondered upon, they open the doors to wisdom and deep insight. I give you a couple of examples:
Kabirdas - "Har har bhaje to kuchh na hoi
Har ko bhaje to har ka hoi"
Kabirdas - "Jaisee jaaki bhaavna vaiso vako phal"
Tulsidas - "Ye gun saadhan ten nahin aai
Tumri kripa koi koi pai"
It is the things which make me go "aah" rather than "wah" which attract me most as the former is the voice from within the depth of the soul whereas the latter is merely a vocal appreciation.
May the maestro rest in Peace!!