Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz and musicians
On Sufiana Mousiqee
“Only a few families in Kashmir practiced this musical form, whereas the tallest Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaaf, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz and Ustad Abdul Ghani Namtahali contributed to impart to their family members and were/are practicing artists.
The Maestros inherited from their forefathers, the elite class of masters like Ramzan Joo, Sidh Joo, Abdullah Shah, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Qaleenbaaf the art of Sufiana Mousiqee and devoted their life to the art which unfortunately is dying due to public insensitivity.
This indifference is initially the direct result of lack of State patronage. The only source that could promote this art was State run Radio Kashmir that must be said was dominated by people who were averse to the very idea of promoting a tradition that was linked with Islam and Muslim culture.
The lyric language used is Persian dialect and the instruments source Persia or the Middle East. With the passage of time the legendaries of yester years from the Valley, performed in a society that was responsive, blend the lyrics with local Kashmiri dialect to make it understandable and acceptable to local population. Kashmir being predominantly muslim enjoyed the music with spiritualism and Sufism being the heart and soul of Sufiana Kalam.
The music that is basic to Kashmir, the crucible of many forms of arts and crafts witnessing callousness towards the traditional and folk arts, the cultural invasion from north and central India made all the difference and the younger generation who would be the future of this music were attracted to Indian music that offered glamour, cheap love songs and unfulfilled dreams.
Radio Kashmir being directly controlled from Delhi managed to consign Sufiana Kalaam to history.
Sufiana Mousiqee generally known as “Saazandar Geawun”is the classical rendering in which lyric predominates the Maqam (Mode). The Sw’ras (Notes)make their presence felt and there is no clear-cut recurring pattern of sw’ras that could pervade in each song of the Maqam.
It is believed that Hayat Joo the great ancester had come from Iran and later settled in Kashmir. He was the great musician of the time. Sultan Joo the student of Hayat Joo would sing in the royal court of Maharaja. The Maharaja would send his special horse Kontal Gur to fetch him to give performance before the Maharaja.
It is significant to note that most of Kashmir’s Maharajas, though hindus by faith, were literate as they could read, write and understand Persian.
Music may belong to any nation or place, the fact remains that it is always good to ears. In other words there are no barriers of language or words that limit music lovers to listen and appreciate a good voice or a tune. Music has always been a part and parcel of human culture and tradition and has had a unique status.
The sweet tunes thus produced touch the heart and mind and even consoles human souls No one knows for sure the origin of music but it is believed that the origins of music can be traced to Egypt and from there spread to other nations.
Sufiana Kalaam is primarily vocal, choral music. It is performed by an ensemble of four to seven musicians and all musicians sing in unison except the main singer (leader of the ensemble) who sings the main lines of the song. The poetry associated with sufiana kalaam is in two languages, Persian and Kashmiri.
The favourite poems are those of the great Sufi mystics of Persia and kashmir such as Hafiz, Jallauddin Rumi, Jami, Omar Khayam, Amir Khusro, Rasul Mir, Neame Seab and others.
Kashmiris are a singing people; songs and ghazals have always been part of their literary culture. Music was introduced in Kashmir during the rule of Sultan Zainulabidin known as Budshah (1420 – 70) and before this time there is no historical evidence to prove that there was any kind of music around and so possibly were no musicians around.
Sultan Shamasuddin Shahmiri is famous for promoting music and encouraged quite a few musicians of that time.To do this he had many Sanskrit books translated and encouraged a good number of musicians to carry on the tradition. It is said that Sultan Zainulabidin was himself attracted to music and encouraged local musicians and even invited musicians form different countries.
Budshah’s brother Sultan Hassan Shah (1472 – 84) introduced an independent Government department to promote music. Sultan Zainulabidin had a special interest in music and he would organise special meetings for musicians to perform. His son heir apparent Sultan Haider Shah was good at playing instruments. His grandson Sultan Hassan Shah was also good in the art of music.
He invited musicians from South India to promote music in Kashmir. An exclusive department of music was created for the first time in his life time. Kashmiri music, it is said, was at its zenith during the time of Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak as he himself practiced music and performed with perfection and his Queen Habba Khatun was also a great musician and RAAST Kashmiri raag is her invention.
In the not so distant past Kashmir liked the style of Sufiana music and is considered as the classical music of Kashmir. As most of the poetry used is Persian which has its origin in Iran and central Asia but at the same time the local Kashmiri language blended with Persian gave it a different flavour.
The last king of Kashmir Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak attached lot of importance to poetry and music and his personal liking made quite a difference to its popularity. Chak kings exit from the dynasty rule deprived Sufiana music of state patronage and protection resulting in its decline.
Thereafter it survived getting protection from Sufi Saints and spiritual people (Darvesh) and also the rich elite as this provided musicians involved with zeal, enthusiasm and very importantly a source of income.
In the recent past State run Radio Kashmir played its role to promote this art but it was limited due to the paucity of resources available. State’s Cultural Academy also played a role but again lack of resources at their disposal hampered the progress.
The maestros like Ustad Kamal Bhat, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaf, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and finally Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz contributed with the help of Cultural Acadmey topromote this art and in seventies started holding music classes on regular basis to teach and impart Sufiana music to younger generation and during these courses scholarships were also offered as an incentive to these students.
This continued approximately for three years and the program had to be abandoned due to scant attention and interest by the local population and among other reasons has been attributed to the cultural invasion from central India.
Moreover, the older generation who kept the tradition alive passed away one after another and the new generation lost the touch completely.
There are a few books written by people like “Taranai Sarwar” by Khushdil, “Asli Mousiqui” by Hafiz Ahmaduulah Punjabi and “Ramoz mousiqui” by Shiekh Abdul Aziz and this has been a good effort but again due to lack of interest very few people are aware that such books are even available. “Koshur Sargam” of Shiekh Abdul Aziz recorded Sufiana poetry and this system of notation is perhaps the only one around.”