Tuesday, April 14, 2015




A Master Santoor player of the traditional Sufiana genre , a vocalist and above all a great human being ,He was perhaps the first person from the state to receive Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1972.He sang the pangs of a heart that is in profound love . And sang in a tone that depicted his irresistible love for the ultimate reality . A love for the unseen beloved. With his Santoor , he would play the notes that yearned for peace . These notes sent a message of divine tranquility all around .
Those who heard him sing “Ya Rasool e Hashmi “ felt mesmerized .Those who heard him sing Pandit Krishen Joo Razdan’s Shiv Leela “ Beil Ta Maadhal venna Golaab Pamposh Dastaai” felt that nothing more could be offered to the supreme Shiva . And those who heard his “Baael Ha Ruma Rummaai “ or ” Baal Marrayo “ Must have moistened their eyes in the intense platonic longing ( for the beloved contained in the lines ) that he puts forth while singing in his soulful voice .
Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru was also an   admirer of the Sufiana notes that his Santoor created .
Listening the Magical Maqams ( Ragas ) on his Santoor especially Maqaam e kalyan , Maqam e Asaawari Maqam e Saba, Maqam e Rehavi, Maqam e Isfahan and Maqam e Nawah was a real treat that kept you spellbound. As full time employee of Radio Kashmir Srinagar , His contribution is immense in enriching the traditional sufiana music both in style and content . We do not know the fate of his Naat ,Manqabat and Santoor recordings at Radio Kashmir Srinagar.

Ustaad Tibetbaqal’s pupils have not only popularized the Santoor or Shat -Tantri Veena ( 100 stringed Veena mentioned in Taittiriya Samhita  ) but created a new class of listeners for this wonderful instrument .  Currently , his Grandson Aadil Tibetbaqal is also active in carrying forward this genre of Sufiana music in kashmir.Aadil has also been trained by renowned Musician and Santoor Master Pandit Bhajan Sopori.
Ustaad Tibetbaqal belonged to a family from Ali Kadal in Srinagar downtown that had Business ( Pashmina ) connections with Ladakh , Yarkand and Tibet. Nothing to do with music or singing . But Ustaad was adamant to learn it. He learnt Sufiana music from Ustaad Ghani joo and Ustaad Ramzaan Joo .
And he could play harmonium and Tablaa as well. 
He was a widely travelled artist who performed in many countries world over that included France ,Germany USA , England, Iran and many central Asian countries.

His recordings are rare and precious . My friend bought some recordings of his sufiana music from a shop / store in London. Yes I mean the recordings that were done by Taj company Lahore in 1944 and Mohan Lal Aima assisted recordings done by David Lewiston in Srinagar that were released sometime in 1974. David Lewiston Was a collector of World’s Traditional / folk music .

As mentioned by Sh. T N Dhar in his book , Ustaad Tibetbaqal gives credit to Kashmiri poetess Arinmaal for rearrangement of some Maqams ( Ragas ) in sufiana music of Kashmir. I quote from the book “ KASHMIRI PANDIT COMMUNITY A PROFILE “By Triloki Nath Dhar ( Page 58 Mittal Publicatiions, Darya Ganj New Delhi Tel…011-25351521) …..

“ I was once told by Late Mohd Abdulah Tibetbaqaal that the Ragas of sufiana Qalaam called Maqams prevalent these days are those that have been rearranged by Arnimaal. The fact that she was well versed in music is borne out by Rhyme scheme ,Rhythm and musicality of her compositions. And she was the wife of the Author of “Bahar Taweel” or the great Persian poet Pandit Bhawani Dass Kachroo.”

( Young Ustaad Tibbetbaqal getting ready for a concert in Feb 1953 when high level Iranian Press Delegation visited kashmir )

My father would often tell me that Ustaad Tibetbaqal and Shri Ved lal Vakil would sing and play instrumental music before Saint Gopi Nath Ji of Kashmir. This is also substantiated by the book “SAINTS AND SAGES OF KASHMIR “ ( at page 326 Published by A P H Publishing Corporation Darya Ganj New Delhi Tel 011-23274050) … I quote …
“ Many well known musicians of Kashmir like Shri shivpuri , Ustaad Tibetbaqal and Ved lal Vakil would present kashmiri sufiana kalam and Bhajans before him “

   (Young Ustaad Tibbetbaqal performing in  a concert ... Photo  October 1951 )

Such rare musicians come once only. The rest is their immortal creative work .
( Avtar Mota )
Baqal in kashmiri means a Trader , A wani ( Baniya ) who also did money lending at times . Since the family was trading in pashmina imported from Tibet and ladakh , his clan was given the nickname of Tibet Baqal or a Trader connected with Tibet. In Arabic , Baqaal is also used for a vegetable Vendor.

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  1. very informative sir! Thanks for meticulous research and initiative to share.

  2. I loved rereading this, Autar Bhai. Its full of nearly-forgotten info. Kudos to you.

  3. Thanks dear Rakesh Ji.Tara Dhar Hasnain Ji , saw ur comment today only. Thanks a lot.


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