PT. VINDHYA PRASAD GAUR
Feb, 1907 - Dec 26, 2005
I am fortunate to have received my Guruji's love, affection, and blessings! Whatever music sense and sensibilities I have acquired, I know, those are my Guru's blessings to me!
"विद्या ददाति विनयं"'(knowledge provides humility and modesty), my Guruji truly embodied that. To me, a guru is not a person who is just a vehicle for transferring knowledge. A guru is a person, who trains a student to have an open and receptive mind. A guru is a person who teaches not to seek perfection but to strive for excellence. A guru is a person who shapes his/her students for life to be humble, genuine & sincere.
His philosophy and some other comments are engraved in my mind forever! I take them as my life lessons! I vividly remember him saying "बेटा, तालियों के पीछे मत भाग। पहले सुरों की पहचान तो करले। चाँद जब बीच आसमान में हो तब उसे उंगलियों से दिखाने की ज़रूरत नहीं होती, लोग खुद-बखुद देखतें हैं और सरहातें हैं।" (Don't chase after the name or fame. Get acquainted with the 'sur' first. When the moon rises to the mid-sky, people appreciate and enjoy on their own, without someone pointing at it).
As his 'शागिर्द'(student) fo many years, I have vivid memories of our sessions together! I completed the course of 'Sangeet Visharad' under his tutelage while taking lessons at the institute, in a group set-up. But, most of the memories are from the private sessions which took place at our university quarter/flat. He was rigid about certain things, especially when it came to performances, yet liberal in many other areas. He used to say "बेटा, खूब सुनो और दूसरों की अच्छाइयों को अपनी गायकी में ढालने की कोशीश करो।" (Listen extensively to other artists and try to incorporate their good qualities into your singing and make it your own). Back in those days, one would expect a Guru to say, stay within the 'Gharana'(the lineage of singing style), but not him, he was exceptional.
My Guruji remained single & raised one of his nephews. His music was his '(prayer & homage) to the divine. He kept his music away from the limelight and chose to stay away from public performances. I was told by him that in his early years, he had performed once a year in a Ram Mandir in Janakpurdham. In his prime, he had declined invitations to perform in 'Sangeet Sammelan' (Music Conferences) and recording offers from 'HMV'(His Master's Voice). I wish he didn't though! What a tremendous loss, not just for me but for the world of music!
My Guruji, was a tall, handsome, and charismatic personality. Charismatic, yet laced with humility. Reserved, yet with a sense of humor. Apart from the music, he surely had a presence with his back brushed grey hair with sophisticated simple attire. Mostly he wore 'Kurta-Pajama' paired with a vest. In the wintertime, he wore an 'achkan style'(Indo-western) suit,'topi'(cap) or Kurta-Pajama paired with a Kashmiri Shawl. His shoes were always leather sandals or pumps.
Guruji originally was from Lucknow, India. In his prime, he had extensively traveled all over India. To my good fortune, he had finally chosen to settle down in Patna, Bihar (India). He was the head of the music department of 'Vindhya Kala Mandir', Patna. This institution is affiliated with 'Bhatkhahande Sangeet Vidyapith', Lucknow. He used to converse in a Lucknowyee style Hindi with a mix of Urdu words in it. His voice had a husky, softer tonal quality. He belonged to 'Gwalior Gharana'. He was contemporary of Pt. V.G Jog (Violin maestro). They were 'guru-bhai'(learned from the same guru). Initially, he received training from his father (Shri Durga Prasad Gaur) and his cousin brothers, Jwala Prasad, Ram Sahay, Dalip Ram, and Ayodhya Prasad. Later he received training from Mirza Maqsood Ali, Md. Osman Khan, Avval Khan, Pt. Govind Narayan Natu (famously known as Natu Shahab), and Pt. Ratan Jankar, all legends in their field.
Back then, there were no TV stations in Patna, only AIR (All India Radio). Around the time of my senior years in high school, there were a lot of suggestions being made that I should audition for the AIR. Guruji was very reluctant! My parents were somewhat aligned with Guruji's thought process too. Eventually, my parents agreed and Guruji gave his permission too. He was happy and proud when I got accepted for both, शास्त्रीय संगीत और सुगम संगीत (Classical and Light music).
I seek my Guruji's blessings to continue my journey as truthfully and sincerely as I can.