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Musical landmark at Vashi

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The Economic Times, February 28, 1988

A musical landmark will soon emerge at Vashi, in New Bombay. It is a three-storey building, estimated to cost Rs 60 lakhs, to provide for classrooms, compact apartments for gurus and selected shishyas. There is also to be a library with up-to-date equipment for recording and listening.

In addition, there will be a spacious auditorium within the building, where regular concerts will be staged from time to time. A section of the building will also house an administrative office.

The building is designed to be a memorial to the great contribution of Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar (1871-1931), who was the first musician to bring classical Indian music to the masses, the music that had long remained the exclusive preserve of rich patrons. This he did in the true tradition of a missionary. He undertook extensive tours all over India and set the trend of jalsas (public concerts) for the rank and file.

Panditji opened music schools all over northern and western India to facilitate mass education in music. He evolved, for the first time, a system of notation to facilitate academic instruction in music. He trained his students not only in vocal and instrumental music but also taught them to repair instruments.

The institution, which now has a country-wide network of branches, was founded by Panditji at far-off Lahore and later shifted to Bombay. The institution embodied a rare blend of the old gurukula tradition and the modern method of scholastic education. There were the boarder students who learnt and practiced music under the constant supervision of teachers for years. There also were arrangements for teaching those who attended classed on fixed days and at scheduled timings.

It was this disciplined teaching system at the institution that could throw up a galaxy of eminent musicians and teachers, like Omkarnath Thakur, Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Wamanrao Padhye, Shankarrao and Narayanrao Vyas and B. R. Deodhar, to name a few.

After Panditiji’s death in 1931, his devoted disciples founded the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal at Ahmedabad to fulfil his life-long mission of inculcating a love of music among the people by making it easily accessible to them.

Pandit Vinay Chandra Maudgalya, principal of the Delhi branch of the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, is the moving spirit behind the Vashi memorial. I gathered that the mandal is presently imparting training in music through more than four hundred schools affiliated to it.


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