September 23, 2019

Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande

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VISHNU NARAYAN BHATKHANDE

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PANDIT VISHNU NARAYAN BHATKHANDE

Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (August 10, 1860 – September 19, 1936) was an Indian musicologist who wrote the first modern treatise on (North Indian) Hindustani Classical Music, an art which had been propagated earlier for a few centuries mostly through oral traditions. During those earlier times, the art had undergone several changes, rendering the raga grammar documented in scant old texts outdated. Ragas used to be classified into Raga (male), Ragini (female), and Putra (children). Bhatkhande reclassified them into the currently used Thaat system. He noted that several ragas did not conform to their description in ancient Sanskrit texts. He explained the ragas in an easy-to-understand language and composed several bandishes which explained the grammar of the ragas. He borrowed the idea of lakshan geet from the Carnatic music scholar Venkatamakhin.

Bhatkhande’s first published work, Swar Malika, was a booklet containing detailed descriptions of all prevalent ragas. In 1909, he published Shri Mallakshaya Sangeetam, in Sanskrit, under the pseudonym ‘Chatur-pandit’. To make this cultural heritage accessible to the common man, he published commentary on his own Sanskrit grantha in Marathi over a span of several years; it was published over four volumes bearing the title: Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati. These volumes form today the standard text on Hindustani music, an indispensable starting point for any student of Hindustani Classical Music. His disciple S N Ratanjankar, Ratanjankar’s disciple K. G. Ginde, S.C.R.Bhatt, Ram Ashrey Jha ‘Ramrang’ and Sumati Mutatkar are among the notable scholars who followed in the footsteps of Bhatkhande. Bhatkhande wrote all of his works under one of the two pseudonyms, Vishnu Sharma and Chaturpandit.

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