Hindi translation of legendary singer Gauhar Jaan’s biography released
Prabha Khaitan Foundation, in collaboration with Bharatiya Jnanpith, launched the Hindi translation of historian Dr Vikram Sampath’s book on legendary singer Gauhar Jaan, My Name is Gauhar Jaan. Titled Mera Naam Gauhar Jaan Hai, the book was unveiled by dance exponent Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh, Padma Bhushan Pt Sajan Mishra and Padma Shri Malini Awasthi. Anshuman Jain who has translated the book to Hindi was also present on the occasion.
A panel discussion with Dr Sampath, Malini Awasthi and Pt Sajan Mishra as panellists was also held on the occasion.
Gauhar Jaan, the first recorded artiste of India in 1902, was a gramophone celebrity but over time she got relegated to the pages of history without much acknowledgment of her huge influence on society. She along with many other tawaifs of her ilk had played a significant role during India’s freedom movement too.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sampath said the word tawaif, which is almost invariably misinterpreted by the general public and given a negative connotation, comes from a tradition of families and enjoyed a hierarchy, just the way it exists even today in every sphere of life. The uppermost echelon of tawaifs was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching adab (etiquette), kaayda (manners) to the kings and young princes. “They would also familiarise the royalty with the subtle finer nuances of poetry, music, dance and literature,” he elucidated clarifying that tawaifs were the first empowered women in India who also were first women tax payers.
“Sampath ji has given a new life to Gauhar Jaan ji, and I thank Prabha Khaitan Foundation for such a noble thought. She earned the dubious epithet of a tawaif but I salute such a tawaif with all my heart,” said Pt Mishra. He also shared his family’s 300 year old tradition of singing khayal music.
Gauhar Jaan was perhaps the first woman artiste who established herself on her own in a male dominated world, said Awasthi. “In the guise of the life of a singer, the book is a history of riyasat, history of music and the account of such a brilliant singer. I feel the book gives a lot of important advice to any reader just the way my gurus imparted such nuggets to me during my training. Though her repertoire is available on Youtube for all to cherish, what one gets in the book is virtually unknown to nearly all of us. One also gets a rare glimpse of the guru-shishya tradition of India,” she said.