Ustad N. Zahiruddin Dagar (left) with the author
Snapshot
  • Shiva is the Beginning. So is Raag Bhairav — the musical reflection of the destroyer, the compassionate, Shiva.

The Dagars are to Hindustani music what Naad, the divine sound, is to Dhrupad, the oldest surviving form in Indian music. The family of Dagars, consisting of some of the greatest vocalists and instrumentalists, has played a pivotal role in shaping and preserving Dhrupad – in their riyaaz rooms, at concert halls across the globe, and in the guru-shishya parampara. The Dagars have been the leading custodians and dedicated practitioners of Naad yoga, in Dhrupad, developing this sacred musical offering into a powerful tradition of sound, literature, music, aesthetics, rhythm, beat cycles and tempo. While Dhrupad-singing connects the worshipper, the worshipped, the spiritual and spirituality in its meditative form, practice and structures, it is also known for musical grandeur dedicated to the celebration of Shiva, Ram, Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesh and the Devis, in compositions. These compositions nurtured by the Dagar lineage are our musical heritage .

Shiva is the Beginning. So is Raag Bhairav — the musical reflection of the destroyer, the compassionate, Shiva. Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar, disciple of Dagar Brothers Ustad N. Zahiruddin Dagar and Ustad N. Faiyazuddin Dagar, made his beginning in music with Bhairav. Over the decades, Shiva has appeared in his renditions, in all moods and movements, dancing to Pakhawaj and becoming one with Tandav. Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar writes for us on Shiva on the occasion of Mahashivratri from Benaras, the city of Mahadev.

Shiva: The Beginning, Middle And End

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Bhairav is Shiva is Bhairav. Bhairav, the raga of Shiva. In the Dagar family, a family of great musicians, the initiation to music starts with raga Bhairav. I am writing on Lord Shiva from Varanasi, Benaras, Kashi, the city of Shiva and UNESCO ‘City of Music’. I am not sure if my writing, or words can describe the role and the essence of Shiva. My introduction to Shiva happened through His Bhairav.

When I was four, or a bit older, I used to enjoy a fast composition, which is set in 10 beats cycle in faster tempo. My father and uncle, the Dagar Brothers, Ustad N. Faiyazuddin and Ustad N. Zahiruddin used to sing with the fabulous pakhawaj player of his era, Pandit Gopal Das Panseji, who accompanied them. Their presentation of the composition was powerful. It used to shake the world for me. Things around me would vibrate. At that time, I was not aware of the word “Tandav”. I used to love this composition.

Shankar, Girijapati, Parvati, Pitieswar, Galey Mundh Mala, Mahamaheshwar

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Jata mein Ganga, Trilochan, Trishul, Dhar nano Kailashpati, Satiwar, Bhuvaneshwar

This composition depicts Shiva, the Lord of Mountains, Husband of Parvati, around his neck is the garland of skulls, He is the highest Lord, the World or Universe, the highest Lord.

In His hairlocks is goddess Ganga, He is the keeper of the Trident, the three-eyed God, we bow to the Lord of Mount Kailash, Satiwar, Bhuvaneshwar, the Lord of Bhuva, the land and forests, Lord of Earth.

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My uncle taught me this composition. Guests would ask me to sing it. Like any other child who wants to become the centre of attraction, I would enjoy getting the attention while singing this composition. The journey and music, I can say, began, with this composition.

Shiva is the true representation of the Indian arts. It is said that Bharat Muni got the intuition from Shiva to create the Natyashastra, the treatise on Indian performing arts, music, dance and drama. Who does not know about His double-headed drum, the Damaru, the Tandav and His perfect composed posture of Natraj, depicted by so many dancers to explain the aesthetics, movement and the centre of the body? There is some kind of a format in the raga system. One of them is called Shiv Matt.

Shiva, the Ultimate, the Dev, Mahadev, the God, the most powerful of all the Gods, who is behind everything, the Lord of Ganga, the sacred river of India, whose route is itself a mystery and who goes along the life of living beings; the mentor of Ravana. Ravana, the king of Lanka, who got the blessings from the Lord Shiva to live as long as he wanted; Husband of goddess Parvati, and Father of Lord Ganesh, without whom every ritual is incomplete. Shiva is Aadi, the Beginning, He is Madd, in the middle, the Sustainer, and He is Annt, the End. This composition in Raga Bhairav on Shiva has been with our family:

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Shiv Aadi Madd Annt Jo Gaat Jogi Jogi, Kanak Vish Ami Adi Bhogi.

(Shiva the Beginning, Middle and End, who sings, who is a jogi, recluse, He can eat metal, be it Gold, Poison intoxicating elements …)

Navike Kamal Te Teen Moorat Bhaee Bhin Jaani So Hi Narak Bhogi.

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(From the Navel, the Lotus Flower has emerged, the Idol, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh, who does not know the mystery about them will get Narak, the Hell)

Here, the poet sees everything in Shiva.

So, we are taught about the importance of Shiva who is the most powerful God. His existence is everywhere, the Universe co-exists with Him. Where is He not present? The manifestation and the depictions ask. His restlessness can shake the Universe in His Tandav. His composed posture is as calm and as relaxed a position as Mount Kailash. He is everywhere.

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I pray His powerful blessings remain with the Dagar family until the Doomsday, the Pralaya, the Qayamat, the End.

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