Dhrupada is the oldest genre of north Indian vocal music, referred to by Indian musicians and music scholars with high respect as the fundamental style, the ancient and most sacred genre — the quintessence of north Indian art music. Despite its key function in the music history, dhrupada has assumed the role of a museum piece within the rich and colourful tradition of Hindustani classical music. Having been the predominant style at the Mughal court of Akbar in the second half of the sixteenth century, dhrupada suffered continuous decline from the seventeenth century onwards. The tendency started changing only by the middle of the present century when musicians, music scholars and other responsible individuals in India and abroad initiated various activities for the revival of the dhrupada genre. One of the few family traditions who maintained the art of dhrupada singing to the present day is the Mallik tradition associated with the royal court of Darbhanga in northern Bihar. It was founded by two brothers named Radhakrisna and Karttarama around the middle of the eighteenth century. Being among the main exponents of dhrupada of the present, along with the Dagars, the Darbhanga tradition is continued today in two lineages. The most senior living musician of the Darbhanga gharana is Pandit Vidur Mallik of Vrindaban.
The present book offers insights into a variety of aspects of dhrupada performance in Darbhanga style, with focus on the branch of Pandit Vidur Mallik, and including research papers, interviews, and transcriptions of both traditional and modern dhrupada compositions of this tradition. After Indurama Srivastava’s book Dhrupada: A Study of Its Origin, Historical Development, Structure and Present State (published in 1980), the present account is the second book on the subject of dhrupada to be published in English, and it is at the same time the first comprehensive account of dhrupada in the Darbhanga tradition. With the publication of this book, the author wishes to pay tribute to her musical teacher Pt. Vidur Mallik, and to pay her respects to Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, the academic director of Sri Caitanya Prema Sansthana in Vrindaban, for his tireless support for the promotion of dhrupada.