Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar , A Tribute


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MAY 10 , 2013           11.55 P.M.


Zia Fariduddin Dagar

15 June 1932 – May 8, 2013

I must state in the beginning that I am not an expert on Indian Classical Music , whether Hindustani or Karnatak . I am just a connoisseur , an ardent fan . I was introduced to Classical music by my friend Shri Lakshmi Kant Tiwari . When we both were living in Deoria , my native place , we used to meet almost every evening and talk about classical music , its various aspects and about various singers . He introduced me to the world of Pandit Onkar Nath Thakur , Pandit Bheem Sen Joshi , Pandit Jasraj , Pandit Rajan Mishra and Pandit Sajan Mishra and of course Dagar Brothers . He gave me cassettes of Pandit Onkar Nath Thakur and Dagar brothers . And thus a life-long addiction to Dhrupad started .

Dhrupad  is the oldest existing form of north Indian classical music (Hindustani classical music) . Ustad Nasiruddin Khan Dagar was the man responsible for the resurrection of Dhrupad in modern India . After his early and untimely demise , his sons Ustad Nasir Moinuddin Dagar and Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar carried the flag forward and revived the Dhrupad tradition .

Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar was the one more torch-bearer of Dhrupad in the illustrious family of Dagars . He was the most influential Dhrupad vocalist in India after the senior Dagar Brothers ; Ustad Nasir Moinuddin Dagar & Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar.

He toured in India and abroad for the propagation of Dhrupad . He performed widely in India and abroad . By 1980, he had virtually settled down in Austria teaching Dhrupad in Austria and France. Once, during a visit to India, one of his disciples, the filmmaker, Mani Kaul came to him and pleaded with him to provide the background score for a film, The Cloud Door (1994) he was making on Madhya Pradesh. During the making of the film, they spent over two months in Madhya Pradesh . Later on he settled in Bhopal and taught at the Dhrupad Kendra, Bhopal, along with his elder brother, Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar for 25 years . There he trained students like the Gundecha Brothers.

He was awarded the 1994 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Hindustani music-Vocal by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama.

Padma Shri– India’s fourth highest civilian honor been conferred upon him in year 2012 – but he turned it down, saying the government did not care about his seniority as he was chosen for it after much younger Dhrupad singers were conferred the honour.

He also received the Tansen Samman from the Madhya Pradesh government and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. In 2005, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Dhrupad Association.

He was a distinguished guest faculty at ‘Dhrupad Sansar’, IIT Bombay for a span of 5 years.

Later on towards the fag-end of his career,  he was staying and teaching at the Dhrupad Gurukul near Panvel, which was built by his elder brother Ustad Z. M. Dagar and continued to perform in India and abroad untill his brief illness and death on 8th May 2013.

On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my heart-felt condolences on the sad demise of the titanic figure of Dhrupad tradition .

I am also grateful to my friend Shri Lakshmi Kant Tiwari for introducing me to the world of Dagar Brothers and Dhrupad .


[ Some facts about his life has been taken from Wikipedia . I am grateful . ]



Vidur’s Travel Diary – 8 : Gwalior [ C ]

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 27 , 2012           09.30 P.M.

Gwalior travelogue is really getting longer . This is the third one . 

But I clicked lots of photos and apart from that , Jai Vilas Palace and Gwalior fort are really historic and have many anecdotes worth telling , so I can not shorten the travelogue even if I wish to .

If I am remembering correctly , I visited Gwalior for the first time in 1977 / 78 . I went to visit Jai Vilas Palace and Gwalior fort for the first time on that visit . Since then I have visited these two places  3 / 4 times . But this time I went with renewed vigour and with different understanding and outlook .

I always knew that Gwalior is associated with legendary singer Tansen and Maharani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi also . But I was unable to visit their memorials on my previous visits . This time I made it a point to include these memorials in my itinerary .

So after finishing visit of Gwalior fort , I went to see Tansen Mausoleum . I was excited as it was my first visit . Passing through the lanes and by – lanes of old Gwalior , my car stopped in front of an unimpressive iron gate . But as soon as I entered in the compound I was shocked to see a grand mausoleum .

This grand mausoleum belongs to Muhammad Ghaus , a venerable Sufi saint of those times and the mentor of Tansen . Tansen [ born 1493 or 1506  – died 1586 or 1589 ] was born as Ramtanu in a Hindu Gaur Brahman family . His musical talent came to prominence at the age of 5 . Initially he learnt music from Swami Haridas of Vrindavan . He rose to national prominence in the court of legendary Man Singh Tomar , the 10th Tomar King of Gwalior . In Man Singh Tomar’s court he became exponent of Dhrupad and made this form of Hindustani Classical music world-famous . Man Singh Tomar gave him title of  ” Tansen ” . He , later on ,  joined the court of Ramchandra Baghela of Reva . Mughal emperor Akbar heard about him and invited him to his court . Tansen went there , joined his court and thus rose to prominence and immortality .

Later on he embraced Islam and married Akbar’s daughter Meherunnissa .

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor - Main Entrance

Mausoleum of Tansen

Mausoleum of Tansen

Mausoleum of Tansen & Muhammad Ghaus As Seen from the Entrance

Mausoleum of Tansen & Muhammad Ghaus As Seen from the Entrance Gate

Tansen's Mausoleum

Tansen's Mausoleum

From Tansen’s mausoleum , I drove to Maharani Lakshmi Bai memorial at Kotah Ki Serai near Phool Bagh . This world-famous queen of Jhansi [ November 19 , 1835 – June 17 , 1858 ] valiantly fought the British during 1st War of Independence of 1857 . She lost Jhansi fort due to treachery of her own people , came to Gwalior to seek help of Scindias but was not able to get their help . Scindia’s unflinching loyalty to their British masters and their non – cooperation to the freedom struggle drove Maharani Lakshmi Bai away from Gwalior and while crossing a nullah , which is still there , she was martyred by British army . She was only 23 years old at the time of her death .

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

After paying my obeisance at the memorial of Maharani Lakshmi Bai , I was engulfed with emotions . It is sad to get martyred at the tender age of 23 . It is sad to not have a family life , which she definitely deserved . She died for the country at such a tender age but her memorial is not well – kept at all . Few months back I visited Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial at Sriperumbudur . It was so well maintained and beautifully kept , that I was amazed . I am not saying that Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial should not be maintained properly . But the memorial of Maharani Lakshmi Bai also deserves same treatment , if not better .

I am saddened by the neglect .

Evening started descending on the Gwalior city . It was time to leave . Same never-ending feeling engulfed me again and completely.

I remembered Agyeya’s famous lines and left Gwalior . Hope I would visit Gwalior again and really soon .

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]


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