Dhrupad: The oldest form of Hindustani Music



  • GS Mains paper I, GS Prelims
  • Art and Culture, Hindustani music, Dhrupad, gharanas.


  • The Dhrupad or Dhruvapad, the oldest form of Hindustani classical music, is said to have originated from an ancient musical form called Prabandha.
  • The language of Prabandha was pre-eminently Sanskrit, it was devotional and sang of temple worship and rituals.
  • Gradually, Prabandha got set into basic ragas and talas and with changing times, embraced other themes.
  • From devotional it evolved into a sophisticated, classical form; it got royal patronage, it acquired a secular

About Dhrupad Gharanas:

There are four major Dhrupad gharanas pan India-

  1. Dagarvani of Delhi,
  2. Darbhanga (of Bihar with Gauhan vani and Khandahar vani),
  3. Bishnupur (started by the Kirtankaras of West Bengal during Bhakti era) and
  4. Bettiah Gharana of Bihar.

Of the four major Dhrupad gharanas only the Dagar and the Darbhanga or Gauhar exists. In the early part of the 20th century the form faced a loss of popularity and almost faced extinction. Dhrupad gradually gave way to a more free-flowing style called Khayal.

The Gundecha brothers– Ramakant and Umakant have made great contributions to the Dagar Gharana.

What are Hindustani music Gharanas?

  • After the downfall of the Mughal empire, various musical artists, who had royal patronage, turned towards the Princely states.
  • These musical exponents settled in the princely states and taught music to their disciples.
  • The music Guru had distinct musical aptitude, individual temperament and singing style. The followership of the Guru was called Gharana.

Sham Chaurasi Gharanas in Punjab:

  • Shaam Chaurasi is one of the four gharanas of Punjab, the other three being Patiala, Talwandi and Kapurthala.
  • The Shaameeye gharana has its roots in the small town of Shaam Chaurasi near Hoshiarpur, Punjab.
  • Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan, son of the legendary Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, the famous Nazakat-Salamat duo, is one of the famous representatives of this gharana.
  • Each has a distinct style though they adhere to the same principles.
  • Most of the descendants of this school live in Pakistan and have been following the technique of their forefathers.
  • Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan’s uncle Ustad Miyan Valy Ali Khan, originally trained in the dhrupad tradition, adopted these techniques to khayal.
  • The historicity, richness and depth in their gayaki have earned them recognition in the sub-continent.
  • Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan along with brothers Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan, Latafat Ali and Sakhawat Ali and cousin Rafakat Ali Khan , the tenth generation singers of this gharana.
  • Their musical lineage can be traced to the time of Emperor Akbar when Ustads Mian Chand Khan and Mian Suraj Khan (They were the originators of the Sham Chaurasi Gharana) were singers in the royal court and contemporaries of Mian Tansen.


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