Till the moment when a fatal accident on 14th August 2011 claimed this noble, vibrant soul, Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh was moved by thought of bringing music to children, especially in India. He was on his way to attend Independence Day Celebrations at a school he had adopted. He had made Indian Classical Music work in several ways taking it to many far-east countries for the first time. Apart from traditional presentations, he innovated with Japanese artistes, introducing them to galaxy of Indian Raga-s; taught Sitar, traditionally, to young and mature learners and healed many with his music. A child prodigy himself, he realized the importance of recognizing and nurturing talent at an early age.
For past few years he had been working towards appreciation and promotion of Indian Classical Music by instituting awards and providing stage to young talent. His obeisance to music and Indian philosophy, Darshanam was planning a music academy, which Chandrakant would have announced on 15th August 2012. His students, friends and fellow musicians decided to give shape to his dream and gave the name of Sitar-wizard to the academy.
Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh Music Academy & Madhukali – advisor to Unesco Convention 2003 — planned a Sitar workshop at Amruta, Pune. For Chandrakant and wife Pooja, it was not home in limited sense most people consider their personal living-space, but home to music. As tribute to his magnanimous spirit, the workshop would invite learners from all part of the world. Dr. Ragini Trivedi, daughter of musician-scholar Dr. Lalmani Misra consented to conceptualize and conduct the workshop. Dr. Sudha Aklujkar, bereaved elder sister of Dr. Chandrakant acted as local organizer, while Dr. Pooja Chandrakant planned the workshop from Tokyo.
To encourage learners of varied skills the workshop was divided into beginner and advanced tiers. Syllabus for the course was written in Ome Swarlipi and sent to all learners in advance. Dr. Sudha Aklujkar contacted friends and soon had a number of offers to accept Sitar-s lying unused with them. Mirajkar-s at Puna have been in close contact with Sardeshmukh family close to nine decades. They enjoyed blessings of Dutta-Guru Shri Sardeshmukh Maharaj. Bosom-friend Yusuf was shattered by loss and the morning after attending funeral of his friend, he met the same fate being hit by a truck during morning-walk. Son, Sajid and brothers Aslam, Zakir, Matim joined in preparation of Sitar-s for workshop.
By afternoon of 31st March most of the participants had reached Puna. Dr. Santosh Pathak from Banasthali Vidyapeeth had been invited for the beginner workshop. In the first session on 1st April, Dr. Pathak and Dr. Aklujkar interacted with eager students and instructed them in holding of Sitar and assuming correct posture. Dr. Ragini Trivedi had prescribed this in the syllabus
Day one: (For basic learners)
(i) Introduction to sitar (main seven or six strings)
(ii) Finger position, posture, introduction to the natural notes (frets)
(iii) Practice synchronization of both hands (sliding of left hand from one note to another, playing Da Ra with right hand)
Learning five Alankar-s: (Sent to learners in digital notation-system, Ome Swarlipi) Conversant well with his mentor’s techniques, Dr. Pathak began teaching the alankar-s designed to achieve different skills. The first-day alankar-s would acquaint pupils with mizrab bol-s and train them in movements of right hand.
The next five were designed as exercise for left hand finger movements. In the coming days the students were instructed about the Raga structure and by the end of third day they were playing Raga Yaman. Says Yoshihiro Kimura:
Dr. Pathak taught us more than 15 alankar-s and 2 raga-s for 3 days. He is very energetic person and taught us kindly, telling some joke at times. So students could enjoy learning sitar. After the morning class we enjoyed homemade lunch with all. Mrs. Neelima Karkare, mother of Dr. Pooja Sardeshmukh, prepared all dishes for us. For students it was too short time to learn all of them, but we will keep practicing at home. This workshop has triggered desire in students to learn sitar more.
The second part of workshop – advanced sessions – started on 5th morning with Dr. Ragini Trivedi. During the intense three day sessions, advanced learners were taught the essentials for stage presentation – from perfect tuning of instruments to Vilambit (slow) compositions. After they had practiced for 3 hours, the learners were given a change with lessons about fundamental theory of Indian music – Shruti, Gram, Murchhana etc. – so they may understand the art better. The discussions on various practical and theoretical aspects helped with understanding of Indian music. Several myths and fallacies, popular in media were clarified; such demystification is vital to comprehend true elements of Indian musical heritage. The learners were amazed and proud to learn that they were included in the fourteen centuries long tradition of Tri-tantri Veena, now known as Sitar.
[ Video clip of learners practicing Alankar-s using Ome Swarlipi, the digital notation system, can be viewed here]
For musicians and academicians of Puna the workshop was a dream come true. What they always rue – lack of sincerity on part of pupils – was available in abundance here. It also proved their words that learning of music is Tapascharya – intense devotion – as both the Guru and the disciples in this workshop worked together from nine to nine, treating meal-time as discussion and question-hour session. Media-persons, scholars, practitioners, educationists and mere enthusiasts kept visiting Amruta throughout the duration and left with sense of fulfillment that the traditional devotion of learning through Guru-Shishya mode has been revived. In some cases, a student who had never held a Sitar in hand, played out Raga composition in four days.
The dream of Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh was planned out by devoted wife Pooja situated in Japan and fructified through organizational skill of Dr. Sudha Aklujkar and expertise of performer-academicians Dr. Santosh Pathak and Dr. Ragini Trivedi visting Puna from Jaipur and Indore, respectively. Founder of Madhukali, Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya in his message to participants blessed them for their dedication and devotion. Through this, Madhukali’s belief – Conservation through Education – gleaned from life and work of Dr. Lalmani Misra turned into a concrete reality. Mr. Raghavendra Tripathi, a music enthusiast and admirer of Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh had come all the way from Bangalore to Puna. He expressed his desire to hold the next Darshanam Sitar Workshop at Bangalore. Similar requests have been received from other cities. The voice of Veena will continue through willing hands in its service.