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‘Indian music is a link to our ancient tradition and culture’

Ustad Baha’ud-din Dagar is 20th descendant of the Dagar family who has devoted his life for enriching Dhrupad music. Dagar who is in Goa to perform at the BITS Pilani, K K Birla Goa Campus speaks with NT BUZZ about his music, the future of Dhrupad and how Indian classical music enhances one’s spiritual self
Q. You are 20th in the line of the Dagar family, which is synonymous with Dhrupad. So, how do you look at this legacy? Does it in anyway pressurise you?
There is no pressure. There never was. The main lakshya (aim) was to enjoy the music. It was difficult in the beginning to attempt that but gradually one arrives at that. Now that we have received the music one can make a decision to pass it forward with the time.

Q. How you look at the future of Dhrupad music in the country?
The future of Dhrupad is bright as Dhrupad will take care of itself. It is the responsibility of every new musician in every generation to see to it that we don’t destroy our past for our selfish future. Overall Dhrupad has spread extensively in the last ten years because of promising artists. I hope we can keep it that way as nothing is permanent and one has to always look into as far as quality control is concerned.

Q. It is believed that for any art form to grow it has to represent the time. So, do you believe that even Dhrupad music should move with time? Why?
The only reason Dhrupad has survived is because it has constantly grown within its frame work and has been taught down the generations. I think these two aspects go hand in hand and are crucial for the survival of any art form. Music is an expression and it would be impossible to find that it is not relevant today as it is related to day today life and experiences of a human being.

Q. You are now passing on your knowledge to the future generation. How you look at the response? Is it exciting now that there is a growing interest in Indian art and culture as a whole?
Yes, definitely there is a great amount of interest in art and culture. The emergence of multimedia has gone a long way in upholding the promotion of music. We get to listen to so many recordings which we would have not heard of otherwise in our lives. We still need good music critics to represent our work and explain its expression. Sometimes giving too much information on the internet or even availability of lots of music can create a perception of “I know and I have it”, but at the same time prevent a person from getting a deeper understanding of the nuances of the art.
Yes I am teaching newer students. The response is very slow. But we are concentrating on quality not quantity. Its traditional aspect has to it be revered and preserved. This music amongst other few things in India is a link to our ancient tradition and culture and connects our past to our present.

Q. How does the process of teaching help you to grow as an artist?
Teaching in short is also asserting what you know and looking at it a million times and from various perspectives. It helps us to know our work better. So definitely it helps us grow.

Q. You are also part of the Goa University’s VRPP Programme where you teach Indian Classical music. How was the experience of teaching to wide section of society?
It was very interesting. In a way I got to share my opinion and at the same time I was able to make some people understand what to expect from Dhrupad as an art form.

Q. Lastly, what is it about Indian Classical music that enhances your spiritual self?
Spiritual self enhancing is a difficult exercise. Music is supposed to be an easier medium to attain such benchmarks. But, it still requires the participation of the self. One’s outlook, behaviour and actions will go a long way to decide whether he/she will enhance him/herself spiritually. And this is a continuous process.
(Srutilaya the classical music and dance group of BITS Pilani, K K Birla Goa Campus in association with ICCR are hosting ‘Sursangam-2016’ a tribute concert in memory of Suresh Ramaswamy on October 15 at 5 p.m. where there will be a rudra veena recital by Ustad Baha’ud-din Dagar accompanied on Pakhwaj by Pandit Sanjay Pant Agle and alumni performance by Carnatic vocals: Shreecharan S, Mridangam: Ramanujam N, at Auditorium, BITS Pilani, Goa Campus. The event is open to all.)

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