Tuesday, May 20, 2014




The youngsters do not know him. And the number of elders who knew him and adored him passionately are diminishing day by day . He was a stalwart and a trendsetter in an area that did not find favour in the orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society as it existed prior to 1947 . Yes ,I mean singing and dancing which he started possibly when he was in his school .He was Pandit Gopi Nath Bhat ( 1920-2001 ), a resident of Achhabal Adda, Ananatnag in the Kashmir valley . A folk singer ,dancer, composer and an adept instrumentalist who could play the harmonium, Tumbaknaari , Rabab , Tabla , banjo , Nott ( Matka ) , Ghaagar , Chimtaa , Khasu and Thaali .He sang Leelas , Naats , Chhakri and Sufiana Kalaam . He also sang Urdu Qawalis and Gazals in his own style .

Apart from singing and playing musical instruments , Gopi Nath Ji  was a great Bacha Nagma artist from the Kashmir valley .He had profound knowledge of Hafiz Nagma  as well. Quite often , he would himself perform Bacha Nagma after wearing the traditional Jaama ( dress for dancing ) and enthrall any gathering with his superb dancing talent especially the footwork and facial expressions . 

Bacha Nagma is one of the major folk dance forms  from the Kashmir valley. Believed to have been introduced by Afghans, in this dance, generally a boy  is  dressed like a  girl to perform dance and singing . The boy  is trained in singing and  dancing including fast swirls and spins during the dance . This  dance and singing is usually performed during the wedding celebrations . It is accompanied by instruments like Rabab, Sarangi,Nott ( Matka ) and Tumbaknaari . Hafiz Nagma, is also a serious classical dance form performed by the Kashmiri women wearing traditional attire. It is performed on the basis of the Sufiana Kalam and  the classical music of Kashmir . With separate Ragas called Muqaam, the Sufiana poetry is used as a part of Sufiana music and is very popular among the music lovers.  The main dancer of Hafiz Nagma is known as Hafiza. A wide range of instruments are used that include  Santoor, Sitar, Kashmiri Saaz, Tabla and Wasool.

The connoisseurs of Gopi Nath Ji’s  art still remember his “ Thaali ( plate ) spinning ”. He would hold the Thaali on his finger tip and spin it fast during dancing and singing.  Possibly  he was the first Kashmiri Pandit who ventured in this field in an orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society.  Gopi Nath Ji sang the compositions of Ahad Zargar , Shams Faqir , Rasool Mir , Master Zinda Kaul , Parmanand , Sochha Kraal , Assad ullah Mir , Wahab Khaar, Mehjoor, Azad and Nadim and many Sufi and Bhakti poets of Kashmir. He also sang Ghalib, Iqbal and Jigar Moradabadi  . It was amazing to see him singing all these poets from his own memory .He would be seen singing in private gatherings, marriage functions, Janam Ashtami celeberations ,Eid festivity, Mal-maas Bhan-maas at Mattan Teertha and Jyeshta Ashtami Mela at Kheer Bhawani shrine ,Tulamula . He would also sing Naat and Munajaat during Urs gatherings at various Dargaahs in the  Kashmir valley .For his dancing talent , Pandit Gopi Nath Ji was known as ‘Gupa Bacha” in  the Kashmir Valley . He has the distinction of singing before many saints and sages of Kashmir that included Swami Lakshman Joo, Nand Lal Mastana (Nand Mot ), Faqir Assad ullah Sahib, Lassa Sahib , Salaam Sahib and Bhagwan Gopi Nath Ji .

Though he sang for the  Radio, TV , Song and Drama Division and Field Publicity Division , Gopi Nath Ji  had some aversion for singing at these centres and institutions. Mohan Lal Aima brought him to Radio Kashmir and recorded three compositions but Gopi Nath Ji did not show any inclination for the  radio singing . Another trait of his personality was contentment . Never did he seek any personal favour from any person though he was well known to everyone in  the bureaucracy . And not even from Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad , the then Prime Minister of J&K  who himself was a lover of his singing style. He was also somewhat averse  towards getting his singing recorded . 

Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, Prof Jay Lal Kaul, Dina Nath Nadim, Durga Prasad Dhar, Agha Ashraf Ali and Dr Ali Jan were amongst his numerous admirers . No function was complete unless he sang  poet Rahim Sahib Sopori’s ‘jaan vandhyo ha ba paan vandhayo’  poet Rasul Mir’s ‘valaai kastoori’ ,poet Nadim’s ‘vothi baagitch kukli and poet Mehjoor’s ‘sahibo sath chham me tchaani’. He also sang Jigar moradabaadi and Ghalib in his own style. His team included Prem Nath , Sudershan Ji , Balji , Mohammad Ismail Dar , Abdul Aziz , Ghulam Rasool , Muhammed Ramzan and Abdul Samad .A devout Hindu who believed in Sadhna and Bhakti , Pandit Gopi Nath Ji was also a follower of Dervish Rahim Sahib of Kashmir. He was known for singing Lal Vaakh and Shrukh of Nund Reshi in such a passionate style that turned eyes of most of the listeners moist. After displacement from  the Kashmir valley ,this great son of Kashmir died unknown and unsung in Nagrota Jammu . Any person visiting him in his refugee shelter at Nagrota , would be smilingly welcomed and he would personally ensure that the guest did not leave without  food although he and his family had to struggle hard for survival post 1990s .

About Gopi Nath Bhat, Padama-Shri Moti Lal Kemu has said  this :-

“As a child I watched the Bhacha Nagma performances of Pandit Gopi Nath (Gupa Bacha) in Mehndiraat function in my own house. The house had a big hall in the top floor and people in the neighbourhood often made use of it for Mehndiraat purposes. Gopi Nath impressed me by his acting and dancing. He performed Gor, Krishen, Gosain, Batni and Moat in one character Paathers. Gupa Bacha was a superb performer, master of expressions, comic as well as tragic. “

Exile was a great setback for him. He could not reconcile to it . Till his last day , he kept  hoping for return to his Kashmir . 

"Hum andhiyon ke bunn me kissi Carwaan ke thay
Jaane kahaan pe aaye hain jaane kahaan ke thay .
Ae jaane dastaan tujhe aayaa kabhi khayaal,
Woh log kyaa huve jo teri dastaan ke thay …….(.Juan Elia )

( In the  stormy jungle  , we belonged a passing  Caravan ,
We don’t know where  have we landed  and
 Wherefrom  did  we arrive over here.
O ,  you , the beloved of my tale of woes, 
Did you ever think about 
 those who
 vanished  suddenly ,
and who were a part of your story .) 
( Avtar Mota  )

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.