Dhrupad raga believed to be the oldest form of Hindustani classical music, has drawn a number of foreign students to Bhopal to learn the musical genre.
At least nine students from Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Russia, Pakistan and Bangladesh are learning the musical discipline at an institute run by Dhrupad maestros the Gundecha brothers–Umakant, Ramakant and Akhilesh.
Dhrupad has its roots in Vedic hymns and mantras. It is derived from the word Druva, the steadfast evening star in the galaxy and Pada which means poetry. Dhrupad emphasizes on maintaining the purity of the ragas and swaras and was sung by its singers in the temples to pay respect to the gods in the ancient times.
The purity and spirituality of Dhrupad has a power of its own to make people think,” says 30-year-old Bilge Evrensel from Turkey, a student at Dhrupad Institute.
Bilge, who runs a Yoga centre in Istanbul, Turkey, came to Bhopal in March this year after coming to know about Dhrupad and listening to records of the Gundecha brothers.
“A friend in Turkey told me about Dhrupad and suggested that I listen to the Gundecha brothers. After listening to their music I was so mesmerised that I decided that I want to learn the musical genre and that too from the Gundecha brothers,” she says.
“I am planning to stay here for at least a year to learn Dhrupad. …I would like to use my knowledge of Dhrupada in teaching Yoga… this will give an alternative to people who are looking for a way to achieve inner peace.”
Onur Halil Dagli (53), another student from Turkey who works as a music therapist, believes Dhrupad will help him heal people in much better way.
“Dhrupad is like an open museum of sound. It has proven therapeutic properties that will help me in healing trauma of people by pacifying their inner soul,” he says.
Eva Espeita from Madrid in Spain who runs Yoga school says that she too came to know about Dhrupad and the Gundecha brothers and decided to learn the discipline from them.
“Dhrupad…defines vibrations of sound of the universe,” says the 37-year-old Spaniard.
A number of foreign students who are learning Dhrupad in the city have also started teaching the discipline at music schools in the city. “I am architect in Bangladesh and learnt music from my father. I decided to learn Dhrupad and came to Bhopal in 2014 along with my Russian wife, Amiran Hasan, who is learning to play esraj. I am learning Dhrupad at the institute and also teaching students in a local music school,” says 25-year-old Ahsan Zulkarnain.
Indian students at the institute say that the dedication and determination of their foreign colleagues inspires them to learn with much more dedication.
“Foreign students at the institute have deep knowledge of music, which inspires us,” says Sajan Sankaran, a 24-year-old IIT Bombay graduate and a student at the Dhrupad Institute.