One thing which can’t be stopped from travelling to a different country without a visa or passport is- Art and Music. I will talk about music and some of its gharanas which have travelled across the borders of the country and thus taking its tradition and ethos to a completely new place. Music has no boundaries all it requires is, to touch the human soul with the perfect sur and melody.
My first exposure to the Pakistani Music was a few days back, when I heard Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Youtube. Initially, I was sceptical of a form of music I wasn't really keen on exploring. But when I heard some of Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s
compositions it stunned me. Then, I started exploring more and more about the Pakistani tradition of music.
|Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan|
Then, I came across a gharana called Sham Chaurasi gharana, which has an interesting story behind its name. In the early years of the last century, in what was the undivided Punjab, a singer was rewarded by his patron with a gift of the revenue from 84 (chaurasi) villages. The singer, whose name was Sham, thereafter came to be known as Sham Chaurasi, and those who sang in his style – both his family and his shagirds (students), who comprised both Hindus and Muslims – were considered to belong to the Sham Chaurasi gharana.
The area comprising these 84 villages is now in India; in 1947, most of the adherents of its musical tradition crossed the newly-drawn line on the map to settle in what is now Pakistan.
Something similar happened with the representatives of the style known as the Dilli gharana. Several of them moved to Pakistan, while some others remained in India.
Gharanas are most often named after a place, rarely after a supposed founder. Sham Chaurasi gharana is an exception which comprise of both the founder’s name as well as the place’s name.
In the case of gharanas like Shyam Chaurasi and Dilli, the change in location for musicians symbolises a lot of things. For now, not only are the gharanas’ singers not located in the supposed place of origin, but a huge difference or the gap also separates them from the place after which the gharana is named. That difference is not just caused by distance. It has more to do with changes in the situations singers have to live with and the social system within which they have to work.
I believe music can be a strong and creative medium to bring about peace and stability between India and Pakistan. Since music is flexible and can surpass all borders, it can play a pivotal role in healing the frayed relationship. This is exactly why we have so many fans in India following the melodious talent that comes from across the border. Faced with strictures against certain forms, ragas, bandishes, even names, Pakistani musicians have successfully adapted themselves to newer techniques and gayakis to fit them into spaces and forms which are considered acceptable.