So with the last of the thinkers gone, will the world of tabla be the same again? Will it decline once again into merely an accompanist's instrument? Ask anyone today to name a great tabla soloist, and chances are they will name Zakir Husain and then fall silent. The son of Ustad Alla Rakha, he has not only kept alive his father's legacy, but gone beyond it to carve out a very special place for himself in the world of music. But he lives in America, so apart from his brother Fazal Qureshi and Anuradha Pal, who also learned from the father, few were able to imbibe that incomparable artistry.
There is little left of the illustrious legacy of Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa of the Faroukhabad gharana. His nephew Rashid Mustafa Thirakwa is an accomplished player, but the magic is missing. The Delhi gharana today is almost non-existent after its big exponents, Ustad Latif Ahmad Khan, Pt Chatur Lal and later Ustad Shafaat Ahmad Khan passed away. Lost too is the tradition of Pandit Samta Prasad, another of Benares' celebrated performers. Similarly, the Lucknow gharana's great tradition is more or less dormant in India—its premier exponent Pandit Swapan Chaudhury stays mostly in the US. The Meerut or Ajrara gharana, brought to prominence by the great Ustad Habibuddin, is hardly visible—or rather audible—today. While there are still some artistes of the older generation—Pandit Shankar Ghosh and Lachchu Maharaj and other senior and gifted tabla players like Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Nayan Ghosh, Anand Gopal Bandopadhyay and Sanjay Mukherjee—who continue to carry the tabla tradition forward, they can't match the genius and star quality of the four greats.
Kumar Bose, 56Inherits the Kishan Maharaj legacy
But thankfully, there is a new generation of tabla players who have the potential to take India's tabla tradition to great new heights. Among them is Kumar Bose, seniormost disciple of Pandit Kishan Maharaj who has imbibed much of his guru's profound and inventive artistry. "Pandit Kishan Maharaj was a person who had an impact on your music as well your life, like a philosopher. A strict teacher, he always stood for authenticity in his art," says Bose. Two other rising tabla stars are Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari and Sandeep Das, also proud bearers of Kishan Maharaj's legacy. The gurukul established by Pandit Kishan Maharaj may well produce a few more stars, because he was an inspired teacher who shared his knowledge and skills with his students with whole-hearted generosity and dedication. But Kishan Maharaj was an exception, and many illustrious tabla traditions have been lost forever. Says renowned sarod player Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta: "A lot of tabla gharanas have just faded away after their maestros passed away. Today, it may be difficult to have new thinkers who offer something new to the world. Going forward, we may have an amalgamated style with glimpses of many different gharanas fused in different ways."Other musicians and experts are more optimistic about the future of tabla. Says Chakraborty: "Undoubtedly, it is the end of a yuga, but I am confident a new generation will arise to take the place of the old masters." Indeed, there are young tabla players who are fast gaining recognition—Shankar Ghosh's son Bickram Ghosh and disciple Tanmay Bose who are carrying on the Faroukhabad tradition; Samar Saha, disciple of Kishan Maharaj's contemporary Natu Ganguly; and Akram Khan.Kishan Maharaj once said there are three stages in an artist's lifespan: diksha, shiksha and pareeksha (initiation, learning and an endless examination). It remains to be seen how well the new generation traverses these stages.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT