Two Men and Music

Two Men and Music

Product ID: 18050

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Author: Janaki Bakhle
Publisher: Permanent Black
Year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 338
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178241579


Two Men and Music what does it mean to invent a classical national tradition? In this pathbreaking work on North Indian classical music, Janaki Bakhle examines the role of colonialism in the making of a tradition that is often incorrectly assumed to possess an unbroken history from antiquity to the present.

At the end of the nineteenth century, two men with very different visions-V.N. Bhatkhande and V D Paluskar-worked to give Indian classical music its present distinctive form. Where previously no particular ideology, religious group, or ethnic identity had dominated, in the hands of Paluskar, a bhakti nationalist music was to be cleansed of its bawdy associations and put in the service of Hindu proselytizing.

Bhatkhande, a secular musicologist, on the other hand, hoped that, through systematic classification and categorization, music would become a new modern, national, academic art, avoiding religious entanglement. Bhatkhande’s politics were ahead of his time, but the victory has been Paluskar’s-the victory of sacralization, not secularism.

Viewed against the backdrop of colonial modernity, these two different projects exemplify not only the success of a reformist modernization of music, but also the failures, contradictions, and compromises that accompanied North Indian classical music’s transformation in relation to gender, caste, religion, and the public cultural sphere.

A provocative examination of musicians negotiating the forces of the modern in order to ensure the survival of their musical traditions, this book also lays bare how art can, at crucial moments, be itself successfully wielded as a modernizing tool.


A pioneering book that helps to relocate the towering Hindu nationalists Bhatkhande and Paluskar-from the restricted world of music grammarians to the wider social history of colonial India.
-Partho Datta

Opens up a completely new area of research in modern South Asian history, exemplary for the very fine sense of balance with which it holds together both respects and criticism for the past it so brilliantly restores.
-Dipesh Chakrabarty

A brilliantly researched book that ads a new dimension to the invention of tradition required reading not only for historians of South Asian modernity, but for all interested in the sociology of the politics of identity.
-Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak



1. The Prince and the Musician

2. Music Enters the Public Sphere

3. The Contradictions of Music’s Modernity

4. The Certainty of Music’s Modernity

5. Music in Public and National Conversation

6. The Musician and Gharana Modern