The word “gurukul” conventionally referred to the home of the guru. But in the context of traditional learning, it also related to the guru-shishya pedagogical system that required the shishyas, or disciples, to live with the guru under the same roof.

The strict adherence to this system in the context of Hindustani music declined in the 20th century due to a variety of societal changes. While individual, customised instruction continued alongside the institutionalised training imparted through music schools and departments in universities, the practice of residing with the guru was discontinued.

Instead, a new incarnation of the gurukul has emerged over the past 50 years or so. The gurukul is no more the original home of the guru. It is, instead, an institution with amenities that would normally be associated with a large music school or college.

Most of these new gurukuls have been started and are run by celebrated musicians or their families and disciples. These gurukuls may not necessarily be the permanent homes of these musicians or the gurukul may be one among many homes. But these are spaces established for gurus and shishyas to live in proximity over an extended period for the purpose of intensive training in the art.

Importantly, despite the institutional trappings, these spaces continue to follow and encourage etiquette that is part of the traditional guru-shishya parampara.

A significant exception to this form of institutionalised gurukul devoted to a single guru is the Sangeet Research Academy, funded by the Indian Tobacco Company.

The Sangeet Research Academy prides itself as being the first institution of its kind which gives guru–shishya parampara an institutional basis by bringing together gurus from various gharanas and their chosen disciples for prolonged training on a single campus.

The institution looks after the lodging and boarding of the gurus and disciples and they receive salaries and stipends.

However, for the 19th episode of our series on public spaces named after Hindustani musicians and institutions, let us return to gurukuls devoted to individual gurus and their musical practice.

We walk along the Vrindavan Gurukul Chowk, a junction in northern Mumbai named after the gurukul established in 2002 by bansuri maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia with patronage from the Sir Ratan Tata Trust.

A second Vrindaban Gurukul was opened in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, in 2010. The Vrindavan Gurukul has been receiving donations for the institution as well as for funding scholarships awarded to students.

Over the years, the Vrindaban Gurukul seems to have broadened its scope to include training in other disciplines as well. According to its Facebook page, the institution “is dedicated to the teaching and promotion of performing arts of the world (music and dance particularly), yoga, and meditation techniques, in a serene atmosphere, along the ancient Indian ‘gurukul’ principle.”

In addition, despite being a gurukul, its effort at connecting with music lovers using methods other than traditional pedagogy is evident in the online learning programmes offered through iSM, or theIndian School for Music, Mentors or Masters.


Thus, the Vrindaban Gurukul in many ways extends beyond the idea of being a space for one guru and his or her disciples to many teachers conducting workshops and other training programmes.

Here is a short documentary made by Doordarshan on the Vrindaban Gurukul in Bhubaneshwar.


We end with a documentary on the maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia.


One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.