Fahimuddin Dagar: A legendary voice

One of the greatest maestros of Dhrupad gharana is no more.

Akrita Reyar

Indian classical music is poorer by a golden voice. This week, the legendary exponent of the Dhrupad gharana, Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar passed away into eternal abyss.

Born in Alwar in Rajasthan in 1927, Fahimuddin became one of the leading torch bearers of the Dagar legacy, the roots of which can be traced to the Guru of Tansen, Swami Haridas Dagar.

The originally Brahmin family had converted to Islam during the Moghul dynasty, but kept alive their strong Hindu musical roots. Many of the compositions the Dagars render can be traced back to the Vedas and other Hindu texts.

Fahimuddin was initiated into music by his relatives Ziauddin Khan Dagar, Ustad Hussainuddin Khan Dagar (known as Tansen Pandey) and Ustad Imaumddin Khan Dagar.

He learnt Sanskrit from his father Ustad Rahimuddin Dagar as well as instructor Giridharilal Shastri. His uncle Ustad Nasiruddin Khan Dagar tied the sacred thread -genda- on him to allow him the rite of passage into the Dagar Dhrupad gharana.

Talking about their musical lineage and structure, Ustad Fahimuddin had said once in an interview, "In the beginning, there were four forms - `chhanda`, `prabandha`, `dhruva` and `matha`...These then gave way to four styles - `dhadhoo roop`, `miras roop` and `jog roop`. These styles later gave way to `banis` - `dagar bani (from which the lineage of the musician draws its name)`, `khandar bani`, `nauhar bani` and `gauhar bani`."

"The development and continuous additions and modifications were made by legendary sages like Nayak Gopal, Nayak Baiju and Swami Haridas Dagar. One of the most loyal votaries of the `gayaki` was Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior," he had explained.

Interestingly, he claimed that his style of singing could be attributed to the flow of compositions from his navel to his head. Particularly known for his long ‘alaaps’, Fahimuddin believed in interacting with the youth and explaining to them the intricacies of his ancient art.

I had the fortune of listening to his spell-binding music on several occasions at the India International Centre. I also heard him sing along with his nephew Wasifuddin Dagar, on whose shoulders now rests the responsibility of carrying on the tradition.

The maestro lived in RK Puram, a colony not very far from my house and would love to play with his pet cats there.

Ustad Fahimuddin was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, Meyar Foundation award, Kalidas Samman, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan award, Sahitya Kala Parishad award and the Nada Lifetime Achievement award. He was given the Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratan Puraskar in hospital recently, as he was unable to attend the function due to his protracted illness.

With IANS inputs

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