Dhrupad - A Tradition of Excellence
  The sense of the term Dhrupad is "Dhruba - Pada".
Dhruba means the truth and Pada means the lyrics, the composition : Essentially it likes to indicate a composition which has got some internal value and which is always true. On the other hand, on the devotional angle " Dhruba " means " God " which is one and true. Naturally any composition which depicts God is Dhrubapada or " Dhrupad ". This " Pada " is being illustrated through some musical tunes / nodes i.e this composition has accordingly being termed as " Dhrupad music ". It has also being termed as "Marg Sangeet". " Marg " means the path i.e the way. The music which shows the way to achieve devine stage or the realisation stage towards the God is the Margsangeet and accordingly " Dhrupad " has been termed as a Margsangeet not a mere " Classical Music ".

Dhrupad from the ancient time has got several changes and no clear idea actually is available from the ancient times, but from the dynasty of Alauddin Khulji i.e. from 1296-1316 and with the incoming of Amir Khasru, actually the historical changes are available from the records properly. Dhrupad has got proper form i.e. Sthaie Antara , Sanchari & Abhoge, these four stages, from the dynasty of Maharaja Mansingh Tomer (1486 - 1516 ) of Guwalior, according to the opinion of few musicologist.

Dhrupad is the outcome of research of Raja Man Singh. Old Nayak Baksu helped him a lot in establishing the Dhrupad. Actually Dhrupad was a very old music in ancient times but Man Singh developed into a effective style and established a comprehensive form of it. There were so many interpretation about it as found in the history, but we do not like to go into details of it. We want to confine writing into various types of Dhrupad and the particular style of singing mainly " Gourharbani " style presently.
At the time of Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, we find from the history four(4) types of Bani of Dhrupad and each Bani of Dhrupad evolved a separate style of singing.They are : -

  1. Gourharbani
  2. Dagar Bani
  3. Khandar Bani
  4. Nauhar Bani
From the " Madual Musika " the famous music book written by Hakim Mohammed, we find that there were four Music pandits in the darbar of Raja Akbar. They are the creator of Different Bani / types of Dhrupad as stated below.

1. Tansen - His father's name was Markand Pandey and he was from Gwalior. He was a disciple of Swami Haridas of Brindaban and Tansen belongs to a " Giuria " Brahmin family and the style of singing he used to undertake was known as " Gourhar Bani " style or " Gouri ".

2. Raja Sammokhan Singh - He was a famous Bin player and after his marriage with the daughter of Tansen, he has been named as Nabat Khan. The residence of Nabat Khan was at " Khandar ". Accordingly his style of singing was known as " Khandar Bani ".

3. Briz Chand - He belongs to a Brahmin family from the village " Dagur " near Delhi. Accordingly his style of singing is named as " Dagar Bani ".

4. Srichand - He was residing at " Nauhar " at Rajasthan and a Rajput by caste. His style of singing was known as " Nauhar Bani " style.

There were so many controversies about the residence of above 4 musicians but every body is in the same opinion regarding their style of singing as available from the records.

Main characteristics of 4 Banis

Gourhar Bani
The main character of this style of Bani lies in its demonstration. This Bani is the creator of " Sant Rasa " into the mind of listeners. It's laya (motion) is slow and is dedicated to the divine appeal . It creates impact of divine pleasure amongst the listeners and demonstrator and creates emotional experiences tending to a heavenly pleasure. This Bani has termed as " Raja " of 4 types.

Dagar Bani
Dagar Bani has the character of simplicity. Its motion is easy and simple and listeners are affluent with its simplicity and tenderness. It is called the " Mantry " of ' 4 ' banies.

Khander Bani
" Khander bani " style creates the impact of "Tibra Rasa " amongst the listeners. It's main symptom lies in its variety and gordiousness. This music is very ornamental and creates Earthy pleasures. It is called the " Senapati " of the teams of 4 Banis.

Nauhar Bani
It has completely different type of singing. Nodes are applied from one tune to another by galloping one or two or more nodes. Naturally its motion (speed) is " Drut " (speedy) and it creates " Sringar Rasa " amongst the listeners. This type of demonstration is mainly " Dhamar " singing. This type of singing has been termed as " Servant " amongst the four Banis.

Gourhar Bani or Gouri
The ancient " Suddha " style of singing has been later termed as " Gourhar Bani " style.
The main feature is that the Swars(Nodes) are applied always through " Mira " and from one node to another in a flattened mannner. Naturally is a slow motioned music and main stress is being given on " Sur " & " Lyrics " and for creation of " Bhaba ". It creates an impact of " Bhakti Rasa " and is very pure. nowadays this style of singing almost obsolete only a few musicians are continuing this style of singing. This style of music has got the glamour of creating " Bhaba Rasa " & submission to the almighty God and is very devotional in nature. It has got a musical up but going out of the frame of the music and elaboration of music on laya. Tala & Sur and to create emotional experience is the main characteristics of this type of music and that is why it has been placed at the top of all styles i.e. " Raja " although this style is very tough and needs a tremendous control of the Pardas. Mir & other musical alankers.
This style of singing has been very much developed by Mia Tansen of Gwalior and though not inventor of this style. He can safely be called the father of " Gour Har Bani " style of music. He was very much adapt in this style although he was conversant with other styles also. This style is being followed by the disciples of " Bilas Khan " the son of Tansen.
An illustration of the Gourhar Bani style of Dhrupad is given -

Gour har Bani - Chautal
Rag - Bilas Khani Tori

Sthaie :- " Prem Nagar Brindaban Ananda Dham Mahatirtha Bhakta Gan Ke Gagan Paban Madhur Madhur ".

Antara :- Hari Narayan Krishna Narayani Radhika Jugal Rup Kare Bicharan Ati Manohar.

Sanchri :- Gopijan Ballav Sri Radha Madhab. Lila Rache Naba Naba Ghanashyam Sundar.

Abhoge :- Krishna Mantra Sadhak Jana Gaye Sada Nam Gaan . Darshan Pawanke Dhaya Antar.

Conceived by :- Satinath Bhattacharya