The powerfull voice, that spelt magic for almost 75 years was of none other than our great Dr GanguBai Hangal. Her’s was a life full of struggles. When she Sang in hall L7, IIT Kanpur it was a great moment for me to be there, and to witness her singing on the stage. Later Back Stage I touched her feet for blessings and told her that I am a student of Kathak, “Good” She said, and told she stop learning Dance, as her mother or someone said Dancing may disturb her vocals.
Since childhood she had to struggle on daily basis. As a girl she must have felt bad when fellow neighbours commented over her family, her vocation etc etc. She later told someone, who wrote her biographical work that she used to feel very bad when she traveled 30 Km by train to go to home of her guru Sawai Gandharv for music class and on the way people commented and crowded to see a “Ganewali”. She was a young girl that time. How cruel people were at that time. I can imagine people crowding on streets and laughing and sounds of their comments, which were like missiles reaching the ears of a tiny girl, who was on her way to learn music. What was her fault, if she was born into that family? Is’nt the father or the society was responsible for this condition of a girl, who was left to learn music, just to entertain the society, MEN (?). In those times “singing” was not considered a good profession.
On the other hand people of higher caste used to keep a lady belonging to a community who was considered as low caste. They lived with these ladies and several children were born but they did not own these ladies or their biological children. These men were from upper caste, were married and had their own families. Despite of all they exploited these ladies, Owing to a “tradition” or prevalent social custom mostly suiting to these men.
But with a great determination and hard struggle She and her mother achieved a great success. It is written that her mother AmbaBai, who was a singer stoped singing Carnatic music when she came to know that her daughter GanguBai has liking to Hindustani. Mother then arranged lessons for Hindustani. Thus the mother sacrificed her singing lest her singing may influence the young GanguBai, who has started leaning Hindustani. Both these ladies had to manage their livelihood and keeping a TRADITION of Music alive. They had to keep PURITY of Music- Ragas etc. Thus with a great struggle GanguBai achieved a Name for herself.
Had She been a Boy, she could have lived with her GURU-Sawai Gandharv as Pt BhimSen Joshi lived. She was a girl she could not do that thus she had to travel 30 Km by train and then go walking to her guru’s home just to learn music for one or two hours. It was her passion for music that drove her or kept her overcoming all the hazards of journey
She Died on 21 July 2009. Thus in this month of July we remember her.
Her simplicity is still remembered by most of the people of her time. Here in these photos you can see her with all time greats. HiraBai Bordekar, Ravishankar, Kishan Maharaj, Pt BhimSen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansoor.Pt Jasraj and the below is the picture of humility a great voice- the Saraswati of India, Lata Mangeskar bowing at the feet of a great doyen of Classical Music Smt GANGUBAI HANGAL.
As the Great MS has one favorite that was her daughter Radha. Smt GanguBai also had star of her eyes that was Smt Krishna. sh
Immortals. They belonged to an era, that was an golden era of Hindustani music or so to say our great Indian Music. They will always be immortals, till the time Music remains on this land She and other such greats will always be remembered.
Once she was invited to sing in some congress meeting. Mahatma Gandhi was supposed to attend. She sang but her mind was preoccupied with the thought that during the lunch time she would be asked to have lunch seperately from others.. That time she might have been good singer of some status, that’s why she might have been invited to sing at such gathering. But just imagine the thought she was suffering… it was social stigma.. she had to fight the social stigma attached to the profession. But inspite of all odds she lived on her life. fighting all lows and ups and downs. Even day to day needs to run the family. We will always remember her for her strong will power. She was a true BHARAT RATNA…. Sat sat Naman