Celebrating the 'gurukul' tradition


“There will always be someone to rock the cradle of music. Classical music is eternal, and it will continue to touch one’s soul till the Universe exists...”

This was the constant refrain of late Hindustani vocalist Gangubai Hanagal when she made an appearance in public functions.

Gangubai, who was fondly called Gangajji, played a major role in putting Hubli’s name on the national and international music map.

Dignitaries visiting Hubli never miss an opportunity to visit her house even today. This shows the lasting impression she made on the minds of music and art lovers.

Gangubai passed away two years ago at the age of 98. The world lost not only a great musician in her death, but also an important proponent of the guru-ghishya (teacher-student) tradition of music.

But fortunately, the gurukul tradition is once again gaining momentum, thanks to the State government and music lovers of the region. It is the enthusiasm and interest that people here have shown, that has resulted in the setting up of a gurukul for teaching classical music in Hubli.

The Gurukul Model Education Centre of Indian Classical Music has come up on a sprawling five-acre land in the picturesque background of Nrupathunga Betta at Unkal in Hubli.  The Gurukul is managed by Gangubai Hanagal Gurukul Trust, set up by the State government.

The construction of the Gurukul was started in 2007 when Gangajji was still alive. Unique architecture and design elements have been used to give a traditional look to the building. All this has come at a cost of Rs 5.8 crore.

The Gurukul has six houses, each house with two bedrooms and a riyaz (practice) room for teachers (gurus). There are also six houses for students, each house consisting of six rooms.  An administrative block, two guest houses, staff quarters, and a canteen are also part of the Gurukul.

Green concept

The entire architecture of the Gurukul is based on the green concept. The building has come up in natural surroundings. If seen from a distance, the houses look like slides. A well-developed lawn, abundant trees, and rain-water harvesting system installed in every house has made this Gurukul a perfect place for anyone who wants to learn classical music.

It is also an ideal place for budding artistes. An open-air theatre has been constructed in the campus. The government had plans to get the building inaugurated by Gangajji herself. But, she passed away when it was under construction. She was cremated on the campus. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa dedicated the Gurukul to the nation on the birth anniversary of Gangubai Hanagal (on March 5) this year.

Following in Gangubai’s footsteps

Gangubai learnt music under the guru-shishya tradition. She used to walk 20 km every day from Hubli to Kundagol to train in the Kirana gharana of Hindustani music from Ramabhavu Kundagolkar, popularly known as Sawai Gandharva.

She also advocated continuation of the guru-shishya tradition to pass on the legacy of classical music to future generations. The aim of the Gurukul is to prepare students to turn performing professional artistes under the various gharanas of Hindustani vocal and instrumental music. However, students who study in this gurukul do not get any conventional degree certificates (like BA etc).

A committee, headed by veteran poet Chennaveera Kanavi, has been formed to select teachers (gurus). The committee has already accomplished its task. Noted musicians Mani Prasad (Kirana gharana), Prabha Atre (Kirana gharana), S S Haldanarkar (Agra gharana), Vidyadhar Vyas (Gwalior), Vijaya Jadhav (Atrauli gharana) and violinist N Raju have given their consent to work as gurus here.

The teachers will be given Rs 50,000 as honorarium (dakshina) every month, plus Rs 5,000 as food allowance and free accommodation. Students will be given free accommodation and Rs 2,000 as stipend per month, according to Dharwad Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain, who is also the co-chairman of the Gangubai Hanagal Music Trust.

A committee headed by senior journalist Patil Puttappa will prepare the curriculum for the Gurukul. An expert committee, consisting of gurus, will select students above 18 years with a basic knowledge of Hindustani music, to be trained in the Gurukul. The gurukul is the first of its kind in India and is expected to start functioning from July.

Points out veteran poet Channaveera Kanavi, “Gangubai might have got a number of awards and honours for her work, but the Gurukul is the highest tribute paid to Ganugubai by anybody.”


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