Around the Web

Watch: A rabab gharana in Kashmir has kept the traditional musical instrument alive for generations

The nearly extinct instrument has been played in one family for at least three generations and counting.

There are many fans of the sarod and sarangi. Both these instruments have become an integral component of Indian classical music, yet their origins are little known to many – they can be traced back to an ancient instrument called the rabab.

Though very popular from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, especially in Indian classical music, the instrument faded into near oblivion, and was replaced by the sarod and the sitar. However, in Afghanistan, some parts of West Asia and in Kashmir, it still holds a steady niche for itself.

In India, a rabab gharana in Kreeri village in Kashmir’s Baramulla district likes to hold themselves responsible for the instrument’s persistence in the region. For generations, as this video by Kashmir Vision shows, the family has followed the tradition of playing the rabab across the world, starting with Sonaullah Bhat.

Sonaullah was a staff artist with All India Radio in Srinagar from 1932 to 1962, and performed in countries across the world. Legend has it, as his son Ghulam Nabi Bhat states in the video that Sonaullah was invited to Kabul once by the Badshah, where he defeated a Pathan in a rabab face-off. “The Badshah suggested his immediate evacuation through the night, or Pathans would chop off his hands,” Ghulam Nabi Bhat told Kashmir Vision.

The members of the family have stuck to the tradition, playing the rabab around the world. Abdul Hamid Bhat, one of Sonaullah’s grandsons, has even started a school to teach the playing of the instrument, called the Sonaullah Bhat Music Centre Kreeri, and tutored Yawar Bhat, the youngest rabab player in the family.

“I think rabab is in my blood,” he says in the video. “Like my grandfather, his brother and my uncle, I want to take this tradition ahead.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.