Baba Harivallabh, the
founder of this glorious tradition of Sangeet Sammelan was born in the later
part of 18th Century in village Bajwara, in District Hoshiarpur (Punjab). Bajwara is a small historical village, named after Baiju
Bawra, the great singer of
India. The young
Harivallabh spent his early childhood in this village, but unfortunately he
at an early age. His maternal grandfather, Pandit Jwand Lal Jyoti brought
him to Jullundur.His maternal grandfather used to visit Devi Talab and listen to Swami
Tuljagiri singing Bhajans in Dhrupad style. He would often take the young
Harivallabh along with him to Devi Talab where the young Harivallabh would
meet Swami Tuljagiri and listen to his Bhajans with undivided attention.
These meetings left a deep impact on the mind of this sensitive and
precocious child. Instead of playing with other children of his age he would
sit for hours on the steps of Devi Talab singing Bhajans. Pandit Duni Chand
was engaged to give formal lessons in music to the young Harivallabh.
Baba Tuljagiri, a great saint, a sanskrit scholar, a great exponent of
Dhrupad style of classical music and the 'mahant' of Baba Hemgiri's 'Gaddi'
used to live in a temple at Devi Talab. One day he found Harivallabh sitting
on the steps of Devi Talab in deep meditation with his eyes closed. Baba
Tuljagiri kept standing there watching Harivallabh. As Harivallabh opened
his eyes, he found Baba Tuljagiri standing before him. This was the moment
when the enlightened "Guru" found a devoted "Shishya" ready for total
The young Harivallbah decided to renounce the world for the pleasures of
serving his guru. Swami Tuljagiri initiated his disciple Harivabllabh into
the learning of the Holy Scriptures, Sanskrit and Music.
Harivallabh possessed a remarkably melodious voice and soon touched great
heights in classical music. He used to sing bhajans in Dhrupad style. Baba
Harivallabh's favourite bhajans were, "Hae Tuhi aad Aant" and "Ta Mehrba
Barse" sung in Raag Handol and Raag Malhar respectively. He created a stream
of Bhakti Ras with his sweet and melodious Bhajans. People from all corners
of the City would flock on the steps of Devi Talab to listen to these
Bhajans of Baba Harivallabh. Such was the pull of these Bhajans that even
the furies of nature could not keep the people away. The scorching heat of
summer, lashing showers of rainy season or the biting cold of winter could
not stop people from coming to the Devi Talab to listen to these Bhajans. It
is said that during the rainy season when the surrounding areas were
submerged in water, people would often swim across to reach Devi Talab to
sit at the feet of Baba Tuljagiri and Baba Harivallabh.
Recognising the extra ordinary qualities in his disciple, Baba Tuljagiri
named Baba Harivallabh as his successor to the 'Gaddi'. Baba Tuljagiri left
this mortal world in 1874 and Harivallabh thus became Baba Harivallabh.
In the year 1875, on the first death anniversary of his great Guru Baba
Tuljagiri, Baba Harivallabh thought the best way to pay his homage would be
through music. Baba Harivallabh decided to hold a memorial ceremony where
Sadhus and Saints were invited to sing devotional compositions at the
Samadhi of his guru. The ceremony started with Hawan Yagya at the Samadhi
followed by Langar for Sadhus, Saints, faqirs, devotees, poor & needy.
Sadhus and Saints sang Bhajans in the traditional Dhrupad style through out
day and night sitting around bonfire in the biting cold weather of December.
The congregation lasted for two days.
Such like congregations became a regular yearly feature year after year.
Sadhus came in large numbers to pay their homage to Baba Tuljagiri. Although
the fame of this Sangeet Mela had spread far and wide yet only Sadhus and
Saints were invited to sing at these congregations.
Baba Harivallabh attained his Samadhi in 1885.
Back to Top
After Baba Harivallabh
attained his Samadhi in 1885, Pandit Tolo Ram, a devoted disciple of Baba
Harivallabh succeeded to the sacred "Gaddi". Pandit Tolo Ram belonged to a
well-to-do family of Jullundur. He was a simple and austere Brahmin who led
a life of purity and devotion. He had dedicated his entire life in the
worship of God and in the service of his Guru. He remembered by heart the
Dohas and Chaupies of Tulsi's - Ramayana. He built a "Samadhi" of Baba
Harivallabh to perpetuate his memory. He preserved the Tamboora and the "Kharaon"
of his Guru.
Pandit Tolo Ram
Pandit Tolo Ram kept
the tradition alive by holding Sangeet Sammelan every year in the memory
of his Guru's Guru. The annual gathering came to be named after
Harivallabh himself rather than his Guru.
Pandit Tolo Ram
made some innovations. Along with Sadhus and Saints, he started inviting
the singers from the region. At that time those who attended the
Sammelan were Pt. Dwarka Dass, Mohammed Hussain of village Hariana, Mian
Amed Khan of Phillaur, Shri Puran Chand of Hadiabad (Phagwara), Mian Udo
Khan of Rampur and many others.
As the gathering at the
Samadhi kept on growing year after year, the fame of Jullundur as a seat of
great classical music in north
grew far and wide.
Pandit Vishnu Digamber
A miracle happened
in the year 1908. It was the visit of Pandit Vishnu Digamber. As he was
going to Jwalamukhi with his disciples, he halted at Jullundur for a
night. He heard that a Sangeet Sammelan was in progress at Devi Talab.
He could not restrain himself from attending such a Sammelan. Soon he
was also sitting among the listeners. He made a request to Pandit Tolo
Ram to give him some time to sing. Pandit ji thought that the handsome
looking youngman was perhaps unaware of the great classical standards of
the Sammelan. However, hesitatingly he allowed him to sing at the end of
the sitting. Pandit Vishnu Digamber recited his composition in Raag
Jaunpuri the words of which were, "Tum Kon Rijhvan Jayo".
voice of Pandit Vishnu Digamber was like a thunder though it had in it the
melody and sweetness of the Heavens. It at once captured the hearts of all
the listeners. Nobody ever seems to have listened to such a Raag and Aalap.
Listeners were simply amazed at this feat. They were so enthralled by the
performance of Pandit Vishnu Digamber that they took him round the City in a
procession on an elephant.
Pt. Vishnu Digamber's visit
added new dimensions to the Sangeet Sammelan. Its popularity touched all
corners of the country. So much so, that the musicians would consider it
their proud privilege to participate in this Sammelen. It was a great honour
and a testimony of merit for a musician to present his art from the stage of
the Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan.
Even the great musician Pandit Omkar Nath Thakur who scaled new heights of
glory in the field of Indian classical music had to produce the Harivallabh's
Testimonials of merit before being allowed to, give his performance before
the Maharaja of Kapurthala. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the
stamp of perfection was marked upon a musician only when he had participated
in this Sammelan.
After Pandit Vishnu
Digamberís visit, Pandit Tolo Ram a gave serious thought to inviting
musicians from all over the country and for this purpose he undertook a
journey throughout India and invited renowned singers. Participation of
stalwarts like Sarvshri Bhaskar Rao, Ram Krishan Shankar, Pandit Bala Guru,
Pandit Omkar Nath Thakur, Shri Mohammed Khan Sarangia, Bade Gulam Ali Khan,
Imdad Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan added new
grandeur to the Sammelan.
Until 1922 the entire
organisation of the Sammelen was concentrated in the hands of Pandit Tolo
Ram. However Pandit Ram Rakha Ram, Pandit Dogar Mal and Shri Arjan Dass who
were his close associates helped Pandit Tolo Ram in making the arrangements
since with the ever increasing popularity of the Sammelan, it was becoming
more & more difficult for Pandit Tolo Ram to make the arrangements
single-handedly. Thus, the necessity of a regular committee to look after
the arrangements was felt. There was no dearth of enthusiasts who came
forward willingly & voluntarily to co-operate with Pandit Tolo Ram.
Pandit Jagan Nath Parti, a
teacher by profession, an ardent lover of music and a devotee of Pandit Tolo
Ram was appointed the first secretary of Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Mahasabha.
Rai Bahadur Devi Chand became the first President of the Mahasabha. Shri J.N.
Parti remained secretary from 1922 to 1964. The fact that he remained
secretary of the Mahasabha for a long period of 42 years, speaks volumes
about his dedicated and sincere services to the cause of the Sangeet
Sammelan. Pandit Tolo Ram remained the main spirit behind the Sangeet
Sammelan which was the great mission of his life. It was the vision and
foresightedness of Pandit Tolo Ram that carried the Harivallabh Sangeet
Sammelan to the zenith of glory. The Sangeet Sammelan grew absolutely into a
secular, non-sectarian institution and singers irrespective of caste, colour,
creed and nationality have been participating in it year after year. Pandit
Tolo Ram turned this tradition into a unique institution during his
life-time. The Sangeet Sammelan caught the attention of newspapers long ago.
In 1913, The Tribune published a brief notice of the great Harivallabh
Sangeet Sammelan of Jullundur under the headline: "A Symposium of
Musicians". After mentioning "for the information of those not already
aware" that this conference meets once in the year and is the only one of
its kind in India, " it went on to say: 'An additional attraction
this year will be the presence of Pandit Ram Krishan Bajaj (an
illustrious singer styled Tansen of his age) of Goa, who has accepted an
invitation to come and take part. In view of the cold weather, it is
requested that visitors will kindly bring their beddings with them, and
arrangements will be made to look to their comforts otherwise. "
Till the last breath,
Pandit Tolo Ram tirelessly worked with devotion and dedication. He endowed
the Sammelan with sobriety and sanctity. As every piece of music has its
end, the long and glorious life of Pandit Tolo Ram came to an end in the
Back to Top
Pandit Dwarka Dass
Pandit Tolo Ram breathed his last in 1938, Pandit Dwarka Dass, a great
devotee and disciple of Pandit Tolo Ram succeeded to the sacred "Gaddi".
Although Pandit Dwarka Dass carried on the tradition till he breathed
his last in 1952, yet after about six years after the death of Pandit
Tolo Ram he nominated Seth Hukam Chand and Sh. Ashwini Kumar as Trustees
of Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Mahasabha
Trust to look after properties of the trust situated in Devi Talab.
After the sad demise of Seth Hukam Chand in 1954, Sh. Ashwini Kumar I.P.,
Former Director General, B.S.F. is the sole Trustee of this Trust.
Kumar, a great lover of Indian classical music, nurtured the Mahasabha and
raised its stature to being recognised as the best Sangeet Sammelan in the
world. Modern outlook, while keeping the old traditions intact, is what
brought forth the transformations in the Sangeet Sammelan. One such
transformation was to invite great female artists to the sammelan; as all
along ladies were neither allowed
to perform on the Harivallabh stage nor were they allowed to sit amongst the
Shri Ashwani Kumar
management of the event, best artists, well organised functions,
unprecedented number of music lovers from all
India attending the sangeet sammelan, live coverage by All India Radio, wide
coverage by the print and electronic media were some of the highlights of
sangeet sammelan during the time Shri Ashwani Kumar was actively involved in
the organisation of the sammelan. Shri Ashwani Kumar's contribution to India
is not only limited to being a brave and fearless Police Officer or being a
sincere promoter of sports but he has made a great contribution in
preserving Indian classical music and culture.
Keeping in mind, the
historic importance of Devi Talab which is one of the 52 "Sidh Peeth" of
Devi, Shri Ashwani Kumar accceded to the request of citizens of Jalandhar to
build a temple in Devi Talab.
Kumar continues to provide patronage, inspiration and guidance, to the
current team as the Chairman, Trustee and as an ardent devotee of this
sacred seat of music.
Back to Top