The pakhawaj, a percussion instrument used in Hindustani music and in certain kinds of religious music, has also been called mridang or mrudang (not to be confused with the mridangam that is used in Carnatic music).

From most accounts, one of the key figures in the history of the pakhawaj seems to be Lala Bhawani Das, also known as Bhawani Din or Bhawani Singh. Some even believe that these were three separate individuals, but tabla player and scholar Aban Mistry believes that they are in fact different names for the same individual [Dr. Aban E. Mistry, Pakhawaj & Tabla: History, Schools and Traditions (trans. from Hindi by Yasmin E. Tarapore), Pt.Keki S. Jijina, Swar Sadhna Samiti, Mumbai, 1984].

The pakhawaj gharanas of Kudau Singh, the Nana Saheb Panse, and Punjab, are successors to the Bhawani Das tradition. Of these, the Punjab gharana has transformed itself to one of the gharanas in the tabla tradition. One branch of the Punjab gharana also plays the jodi or a pair that has a treble drum and a bass drum, the latter retaining the layer of wheat dough that is integral to the pakhawaj. We have discussed the Punjab gharana previously in our series on tabla gharanas.

Last week, in the first episode of our series on pakhawaj solo, we heard two representatives of the Kudau Singh gharana. Today, we will listen to a few tracks featuring performers from the Nana Saheb Panse gharana. This gharana is widely represented in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, as Nana Saheb Panse was employed as a court musician in Indore.

The first track features 78 rpm recordings of the noted pakhawaj exponent Govindrao Burhanpurkar. He presents compositions in Chautaal, a rhythmic cycle of twelve matras or time-units.


Well-known pakhawaj player Arjun Shejwal plays a solo recital in Chautaal followed by the ten-matra Jhampa taal. In these recordings made for the All India Radio, Shejwal is accompanied on violin by Ratnakar Gokhale.