Part-I, Breaking Hindu Traditions, Forcing Islamic Culture

Excerpts from the book:

Muslim leaders had protested the playing of music outside mosques, an issue that had long been an incendiary one and that had caused riots in Bombay as early as 1870 between members of the Parsi and Muslim communities. While other singers at the INC had performed without the use of musical instruments, Paluskar took it upon himself to protest what he saw as an unfair infringement of Hindu rights and shouted down no less a nationalist figure than Mohammed Ali, president that year of the INC, a leader of the Khilafat movement and friend of Gandhi. The episode is narrated differently by each of his biographers and by newspaper accounts.

The Kesari reported the event as follows:

When it came Paluskar's turn to sing, he took with him the absolutely necessary instruments such as the haathpeti [harmonium], fiddle, tabla, etc. when he was told that there was a ban on the use of instruments. He would not accept this. When it came his turn to sing his couplets once again there was a furor raised about his using instruments. He asked [Maulana] Mohammed Ali about it, and was once again told about the ban. For this Marathi Panditji, this insult could not be borne! He also understood very well the nature of the slight. He replied to Mohammad Ali in a crystal clear and commanding voice. Panditji said, "A national session is not a Musalman mosque. As the national session belongs to Muslims, it belongs as well to Hindus and others. At a nationalist session you demand that instruments not be used, what is the meaning of such an outrage?

You yourself have arrived at this session in great style to the playing of various instruments and drums, why was the ban not instituted at that time? To institute it at the time when singers are to sing is to insult those less important than you."67

Paluskar was permitted to perform with musical accompaniment and after his outburst, the Kesari reported that there was no more talk about a ban on music.

67. See Kesari, January 8, 1924. The actual line is “nokarshahi cheech areravi zhaali,” which translated literally means “the arrogance of a servants’ government.” By extrapolation it suggests an affront to legitimate government or rule. Paluskar demonstrated his ability in using the political rhetoric of his time at the same time he highlighted his devotion to a specific national cause.

A subdued Aliya and Fattu Khan performed for Sayajirao Gaekwad, and at that performance, three sets of musicians, separated from each other by seniority, employment, and fame, were brought together in a moment of historical crisis. The Khan brothers finished their recital with the expectation that no musician would sing after them, given their stature and fame. This was an accepted norm, both then and now. Senior, famous musicians closed out performances while junior, lesser-known musicians began them. But Sayajirao Gaekwad wanted to showcase the talent of his own kalavants (the artists of the kalavant karkhaana) perhaps even to measure, by contrast, their caliber against Aliya and Fattu Khan. His kalavant karkhaana employed many musicians, and he demanded that one of them sing after the famous duo. He was stunned that none would comply with his order. Only two visiting singers, Abdul Karim and his brother, dared breach Hindustani music’s protocol and agreed to perform,…

Take Away:

1. Muslims will impose their religious faith and practice everywhere. If others will protest, they will be called communal as in this case, where the author has tried to paint Pandit Paluskar as communal. The author has suddenly moved to mention the mother tongue and cast of Pandit Paluskar; without mentioning the mother tongue and sect of Jinnah and Gandhi

2. Muslims will break every Hindu tradition; while insisting on following their traditions; not even hesitating to forcefully apply them on others.

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