UPSC 2012

QUES – With reference to Dhrupad, one of the major traditions of India that has been kept alive for centuries, which of the following statements are correct?

1 . Dhrupad originated and developed in the Rajput kingdoms during the Mughal period.
2 . Dhrupad is primarily a devotional and spiritual music.
3 . Dhrupad Alap uses Sanskrit syllables from Mantras.
Select the correct answer using  codes given below :

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None of the above is correct

Solution (b)


QUES 1 . Consider the following statements regarding Dhrupad style of Indian classical music –

1 . It is the oldest form of Indian classical music that exists today.

2 . It has originated from an even more ancient religious music form, Prabandha.

3 . Dhrupad uses mainly Pali language.

Which among the above statements is /are correct ?

a .  1 & 2

b . 1 & 3

c . 2 & 3

d . 1 , 2 & 3

Answer – a

QUES 2 .Who is known as the originator of the Dhrupad style of Indian classical music

a . Raja Veer Singh 

b . Raja Man Singh

c . Daulat Rao Sindhia

d .  Ranoji Rao Sindhia 

Answer – b

QUES 3 . Dhrupad is traditionally performed to the accompaniment of the –

a . pakhawaj  and  sitar.

b . mridangam and sitar

c . Sarangi and mridangam

d . pakhawaj  and  veena.

Answer – d


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  • The oldest form of Indian classical music that exists today is Dhrupad.
  • It is said to have originated from an even more ancient religious music form, Prabandha (2nd to 7th AD).
  • The language of Prabandha was preeminently Sanskrit, whereas Dhrupad used mainly medieval Hindi or Brijbhasha .
  •  The word Dhrupad is the Hindi form of the original Sanskrit, Dhruvapada, a combination of Dhruva = structured or rigid and Pada = word.
  • The birth of Dhrupad coincided with the Bhakti movement of Vallabh Sampradaya and resultantly was devotional in nature.
  • Dhrupad was sung in temples, the singer facing the divinity or it was sung by Vaishnav mendicants in their wanderings. This was the genesis of the Haveli Dhrupad.
  • From this early chanting, Dhrupad evolved into a sophisticated, classical form of music.
  • About six centuries ago, Dhrupad came to be patronized by the royal courts.
  • However, its complex rendering became too highly sophisticated for royal audiences and the nature of the compositions became more secular.
  • Some were written eulogizing the emperors; others were elaborations on the music itself, while still others were about heroic deeds or even elegant poetry in admiration of female beauty, especially Radha.
  • In particular Raja Man Singh, king of Gwalior and a musician and a great lover of music gave Dhrupad immense encouragement and introduced many refinements. This came to be known as the Darbari Dhrupad. On account of his contribution, he is known as the originator of the Dhrupad style that is followed even today.
  • The distinctive quality of Dhrupad is the emphasis on maintaining the purity of the ragas and the elegance with which the swaras are used.
  • It is also known for its austere quality and its extended presentation style is marked by precise and orderly elaboration of a raga and strict adherence to the tala.
  • This exposition preceding the composed verses is called alaap, and is usually the longest portion of the performance.
  • This aspect of dhrupad has been the most influential, and is reflected in other North Indian musical formats, especially in instrumental music and even khayal singing.

Dhrupad has a very masculine style and was traditionally performed to the accompaniment of the pakhawaj  and the veena.

  • Dhrupad is also the first form of Indian music where due to its literary excellence and poetic quality, the text or lyrics rose above being merely a vehicle of expression of the notes and rhythm.
  • It is in fact the fine blend between the melody and the poetic qualities of dhrupad that gave its uniqueness.

Dhrupads are sung in four styles called Banis –Gauri (Gohar), Khandar, Nauhar, and Dagar  – initially named after the language or dialect in which the verse was written and mentioned in Raja Man Singh Tomar’s treatise on the subject, Raga Darpan. The four banis, in later years, came to signify stylistic differences.


Today there are only three major schools of Dhrupad: Betia, Darbhanga and Dagar. The Dagar family is the oldest, having kept this tradition alive for generations.

Dagar  Gharana

The Dagar Gharana took firm roots under the supervision of Ustad Behram Khan (1753-1878), who was associated with the royal court of Jaipur . The Dagarbani dhrupad rendition is characterized by meditative and leisurely development of alap.

The main representatives of the present-day Dagar gharana are the descendants of Ustad Zakiruddin Khan as well as of Ustad Allabande Khan’s four sons, Nasiruddin, Rahimuddin, Imamuddin and Husseinuddin.

Darbhanga Gharana

Radhakrishna and Kartaram, the court musicians for the Nawab of Darbhanga in the mid eighteenth century, are considered to be the founders of the Darbhanga tradition of dhrupad.

The performance of the Darbhanga Gharana of dhrupad singers can be distinguished mainly by the way compositions are sung after the alap. A major emphasis is placed on the rhythmic aspect of the singing.

The distinctive feature of the gharana is powerful and expressive vocal delivery, combined with a lively style of performance. Prominent singers include the late Ram Chatur Mallik , who was court musician at Darbhanga, Vidur Mallik, Abhay Narayan Mallik, and Prem Kumar Mallik.

Betia Gharana

The Betia gharana associated with the erstwhile royal court of Betia in Bihar primarily flourished during the 19th century. Dhrupad in Betia style is signified by the apparent simplicity of vocal delivery coupled with emphasis on the composition .

Prominent singers include Shiv  Mishra, Guruprasad Mishra, Jaykaran Mishra, Bholanath Pathak and  Falguni Mitra .