Pt.Balabhau Umdekar Kundalguru - Court Musician of Gwalior

Jul 3, 2024 - 02:38
Pt.Balabhau Umdekar Kundalguru - Court Musician of Gwalior

Pandit Balabhau Umdekar Kundalguru, the esteemed founder of Chatur Academy of Indian Music, is celebrated for his extraordinary contributions to Indian classical music. A legendary maestro, his teachings and legacy continue to inspire and shape future generations, making him a monumental figure in the realm of traditional Indian music education.

Pandit Balabhau Umdekar was born on August 5, 1901, to the celebrated musician Pt. Nattubhaiya Umdekar. Tragically, he lost his father at the tender age of five, forcing him to embark on his musical journey alone. Despite the harsh conditions, including freezing mornings where he would use two puppies to keep warm on his way to training, he remained dedicated. He would leave early and return late, receiving rigorous training under legendary maestros such as the late Balasaheb Guruji, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan Saheb, and Pt. Mahadev Shastri.

Pt. Balabhau Umdekar was appointed as the court musician for the Gwalior Court of the Scindias, where he became one of the highest-paid musicians of his time. His house was filled with gold utensils, gold items, and jewelry, reflecting his success and prestige. His musical prowess was matched by his wife, Radhabai Umdekar, a proficient sitar player. They had six children, all of whom became accomplished musicians: Late Smt. Sangeeta Kathale (SumanUmdekar ), a famous vocalist; Late Smt.Vimal Belapurkar, a violin player; Late Smt.Indumati Telang, a sitarist; Late Smt.Kamal Mandal, a vocalist;Late Pt.Madhav Umdekar, a renowned vocalist; and Pt.Shriram Umdekar, a top-grade artist skilled in Rudra Veena, Surbahar, and Sitar. Today, Pt. Shriram Umdekar's daughter Dr.Radhika Veenasadhika first lady Vichitra Veena Player and Smt.Geetika Masurkar a known vocalist and granddaughter Miss Aarohi Budhkar Vichitra Veena Player continue Pt.Balabhau Umdekar "Kundalguru"'s legacy.

Pt.Balabhau Umdekar trained many famous students, including Pt.Sharadchandra Shridhar Paranjape, Pt.Bhaskarrao Sangit, Pt.Babu Shastri, Pt.Gangadhar Bhagwat, and Pt.Raghunandan Sant. In 1927, he founded the Chatur Academy of Indian Music and authored over 15 books. He also established the Chatur Sangit Mahavidyalay, contributing significantly to Indian classical music education. Pt.Balabhau Umdekar passed away on 8th June 1968 due to illness. His Chatur Academy's legacy lives on through the Veena Venu Art Foundation, continuing to inspire and nurture future generations of musicians. Even today, the Pt. Balabhau Umdekar Smruti Sangeet Samaroh is celebrated in his memory by his son, Pt. Shriram Umdekar.

Pt.Balabhau Umdekar (Kundalguru)was renowned for his sweet yet strong voice, powerful enough to be heard from 100 feet away. He was also known as "Kundalguru" due to his miraculous recovery from a severe illness after his wife received gifted kundals from a saint who was later nowhere to be found. These kundals made him fit within a day when medicines had failed. His remarkable life and contributions have left an indelible mark on Indian classical music. He remains to be an inspiration even today.

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