Many arts in traditional India were the preserve of hereditary practitioners, some of whom are still supported by Hindu temples. An example is the community of hereditary musicians (kirtankars), who still serve in the temples of the Vallabha Sampraday, a Vaishnava sect with its main centre in Nathdvara, Rajasthan. The performance of music, in the form of haveli sangit, has been a prescribed part of worship in its temples (havelis) since the sixteenth century. According to tradition, the svarups of the sampraday are entertained with music seventeen times daily. In the most important haveli, the Shri Nathji temple in Nathdvara, there are eight full-time musicians. In the other centres there are fewer musicians and music is performed less often.
This book deals with the role of music in the sampraday and with the lives of the musicians, in particular that of Pakhavaji Guru Purushottam Das and his family. It is concerned with the living tradition, and what it can tell us about the past. By revealing the context in which music was created in Nathdvara, it provides new insights into the functioning of traditional artist communities and their response to the challenges of a changing world.
Anne-Marie Gaston (1941-2018) studied classical dances and other arts in India from 1964. She obtained an M. Litt. and a D.Phil. from Oxford University on Indian Arts and taught at universities and colleges throughout North America and UK. From 1967 onward, under the stage name, Anjali, she performed several styles of classical Indian dances (Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Chhau and Kathak) extensively in India, Europe and North America, receiving much critical acclaim. Her pioneering work using mixed-media in Indian dance presentations emphasized the relationships among dance, sculpture and painting. Anne-Marie also choreographed and staged many recitals on non-traditional themes. Her performances can be viewed at www.culturalhorizons.ca. Anne-Marie Gaston's most recent work Bharatanatyam Evolves: From Temple to Theatre and Back Again came out posthumously in 2018.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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