Persistent non-belonging of Kumar Gandharva
Anubhuti Sharma
SWARMUDRA: KUMAR GANDHARVA PAR EKAGRA (VOLUME 1 AND 2) by Edited by Ashok Vajpeyi and Piyush Daiya Raza Foundation, New Delhi, 2023, 560.575 pp., INR 200.00 and ` 200.00 respectively
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

In April 2023, a concert was held in Delhi to mark the birth centenary of the maestro Kumar Gandharva, and his son Mukul Shivaputra was invited to perform. The hall was packed with expectant listeners as he was performing in the city after a long hiatus. He began the concert with the composition ‘Sughar bar paayo’ and one could hear a hushed murmur in the audience that it was the popular raag Jogkauns. But in fact, Mukul Shivaputra was singing raag Kaunsi, the alter ego of Jogkauns, a raag that sparked an argument in the 1950s between Jagannathbuwa Purohit and the young Kumar Gandharva. There is an anecdote that a new raag form was conceived by Jagannathbuwa Purohit in 1945 and popularized by Kumar Gandharva (there is also a recording on the internet believed to be from a mehfil at his own wedding in 1947 where he sang this raag). Between 1947 and 1952, while Kumar Gandharva was recovering from an illness in Dewas, Jagannathbuwa Purohit formalized it as a combination of two raags, calling it ‘Jogkauns’. The new form became popular and was being performed by different vocalists and instrumentalists. However, Kumar Gandharva refused to accept it, arguing that the original form was based on raag Malkauns, hence calling it ‘Kaunsi’. He also declared that he would never sing Jagannathbuwa’s raag for him again.

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