It was like a meteor that he passed across the Indian sky
and cut in his wake the body of Hindustani classical music into two neat halves;
one half before Kumar Gandharva and one half after him, a kind of a
B.C. and an
A.D. in Indian music. This book examines the magical opening up of a man from
one tradition to the building of another.
Kumar sang out of the Bandish and not out of the Raga — a
complete turnaround in the culture of Hindustani classical music. And of course the passion and intensity with
which Kumar invested his performance.
It could be said without the slightest exaggeration that it was Kumar Gandharva who brought Bhakti Sangeet back into Indian Classical music. Bhajan singing is not Bhakti singing, Kumar used to say. It is not the subject of God in the lyrics of the Bhajan that makes it into Bhakti Sangeet — but the man singing it.
This book has taken a lifetime to get written. Over the
years, randomly the material for this book got collected. Not because any of us
who knew Kumar and felt the epochal implications of the art that his life
presented thought that it needed necessarily to be documented in a book; but that it needed to be understood for its own sake.