Pt S. C. R. Bhat felicitated
By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, April 2, 1989
Speaking of the true role of an ideal teacher, the late Dr S. Radhakrishnan once observed: “He is the best teacher who does not merely inform, but radiates power and transmits faith”. The life and career of Pandit S.C.R. Bhat, with the immensity of his contribution to the propagation of Hindustani music, can be easily cited as the most emphatic proof of the validity of Dr Radhakrishnan’s observation.
Few people, not excluding even the aficionados of Hindustani music, may have quite known much about Panditji’s colossal stature as a guru, who has so lavishly given away his ganavidya to whoever came to seek it.
The presentation of a public purse, totaling Rs 1.75 lakh (besides several gifts in kind) to Pandit Bhat on the occasion of his felicitation in Bombay on March 12 was symbolic of the respect, goodwill and admiration he enjoys.
The function was unique in many ways. It synchronized with the completion of Panditji’s 50 years of teaching and his 71 years of age. This means that Panditji donned the mantle of guru while he was barely 20 years old and that, too, at the behest of his distinguished guru, the late Acharya Ratanjankar.
Coming form an erudite priestly family of Shirali, in Karnataka, Nandabhat, as he is fondly known in his Chitrapur Saraswat community, grew to the sonorous Vedic chants around him. After his basic training fromKrishnabhat Honevar, a reputed local musician-priest, he was placed under the tutelage of Acharya Ratanjankar. As soon as he graduated in Hindustani music with flying colours from the Bhatkhande Vidyapeeth at Lucknow, the Acharya, who headed the institution, appointed him on his teaching staff.
After a long stint at Lucknow, Pandit Bhat moved to Bombay and served on the senior teaching faculty at the Bhavan’s College of Music and later at Shreevallabh Sangeetalaya at Sion, in North East Bombay, where he still continues his teaching pursuit.
The Podar College auditorium where the function was held, was packed to capacity.
The proceedings began with a choral song in the form of a ragamalika, extolling the greatness of guru, by students of the Sangeetalaya. This was followed by an evocative pakhavaj solo by the eminent veteran, Arjun Shejwal, who was ably assisted by his gifted son, Prakash, with Gurudatta Heblekar on the harmonium. Then came what was rightly the star attraction of the event – Panditji’s impassioned recital.
There was an element of anticipation and surprise, too, among the listeners when he appeared on the platform to the tumultuous applause from the auditorium. Anticipation, because Panditji’s solo recitals have been extremely rare during the last three decades, and it is only as a senior partner in a vocal duet that most rasikas have heard him.
As for the element of surprise, it was generated by Panditji’s incredible singing for 75 minutes. He was seen in an unusally fine fettle from start to finish. The raga Shree was his choice for detailed exploration through nom-tom style alap followed by khayal vilambit and drut. The clear comprehension of the opening swaras of the profound evening melody served to portray its entire mood and character. The raga finally emerged as a grand, imposing edifice of sculptured sound – a feat only maestros of his eminence can achieve.
Pandit Bhat has initially guided today’s veterans like Ginde, Dinkar Kaikini and Zarin Daruwala.
The post interval programme covered vocal and instrumental recitals by Ginde (Bahar, C.R. Vyas (Yaman and Hamir Kaikini (Shyam-Kalyan and Bageshree-ang Chandrakauns and sarodist Zarin Daruwala-Sharma