Indian Mysticism and The Rudra Veena


                               Ustad bande Ali Khan with his Been                    

                                               Rudra Veena

One of the most ancient Indian string instruments the Rudra Veena Is believed to have been made by Lord Shiva by taking inspiration from the form of Goddess Parvati. The Rudra Veena was so made; the dandi is the hand of Shiva. The frets are the bangles, the strings the Kesh of Shiva. The pegs symbolize the Sapt Rishis, The peacock the vehicles of Goddess Saraswati and the bridge itself Goddess Saraswati. The two gourds are Lord Brahma and lord Vishnu. Recent in depth studies have revealed that the Rudra Veena has come into being in the13th or the 14 century and the name being Been. This instrument was used by the ascetics for meditation. It also found its way into the royal palaces where it gained Royal Patronage of the kings. But this instrument was always heard in Chambers with special audiences.  Ustad Naubat khan and Ustad Bande Ali Khan for e.g. were very famous beenkaars

In the Dagar family the Been, was played from the time of Ustad Zakiruddin Khansaheb. He was a prominent vocalist at the Jaipur Darbar and a Beenkaar too. He was married to Umrao, the daughter of Ustad Bande Ali Khan. She was also a Beenkaar. Their son Ustad Ziauddin Dagar a vocalist at the court in Udaipur was also an expert Beenkaar. His sons Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar learnt to play from him though, Ustad Fariduddin Dagar chose to sing professionally. Thus Ustad Zakiruddin Khan’s lineage has sustained the Dhrupad style of Been playing successfully over three generations.

Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar however made magnanimous changes both practical and artistic and altered the Been into the Rudra Veena. Instead of bamboo, he used teak wood. He also added an extra Chicari for a bell like effect. He changed the gauge of the strings, the height of the frets, and the size of the gourds considerably changing the tone of the Veena and bringing it closer to the voice and more suitable for Dhrupad. All these changes were made at the shop of Kanailal and Brothers under Nitai Babu at Kolkotta



The Surbaahaar Is basically a Bass Sitar that bends towards the Rudra veena. It was customary in the olden times to play the Aalaap Jod and the Jhala on the Surbahaar and then the Gatkari on the Sitar. The Surbaahaar belonging to the Saadharani Geeti under the tutelage of Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar and his brother Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar is the old traditional Kanailal Surbahar. Special attention has been paid to the Jawari and the guage of the strings. There has also been a certain choice of method of what to play selectively on this instrument which makes it stand it apart from the other schools of the same instrument. it has obviously bent towards the Rudra Veena. There are very few Surbaahaar players today. 

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