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Rudra Veena

P.D. Shah

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"You will see that my father never used Tanpura while playing Rudra Veena because he said that this was the perfect instrument giving the perfect sound of OM from which all the sounds are created.  It does not need any support of a drone.  And so you can hear only Rudra Veena sound which gives out great effect uplifting you spiritually as well if, you are attuned to it."
~ Vijaya Rajkotia, daughter of P.D. Shah

Life sketch of Shri P.D.Shah
-----------------------------------
Punshi Dharamshi Shah, also known as P.D. Shah, was born in a village called Nani Khavdi near Jamnagar, Gujarat on January 20, 1911.  After having lost his mother at the age of 7, he was sent by his ailing father to live in Bombay at a community boarding school when he was 12 years old .  Although he was a very astute student, he had to leave Elphinston College after 2 years of studies in order to secure himself financially.

P.D. Shah married my mother Jaya in 1935 in the village Bharudia near Jamnagar.  They moved to Ahmedabad where he tutored students in English.  Having developed a passion for music at an early age, he began to learn to play instruments such as the violin, flute, dilruba and sitar from Gandharva Mahavidylaya.  He also joined the scouts and played the flute in the marching band, eventually becoming the Band Master.  Having learned to play all the various instruments, he began giving music classes at his home.

It was at this time that he met Ustad Mohammed Khan Faridi Desai (father of Shamsuddin Faridi Desai) who was performing at the Royal courts of the Maharaja of Sanand, Jayawant Singh Waghela.  P.D. Shah became his disciple and learned to play the Rudra Veena (Bin).  He also played the Rudra Veena with Maharaja Jayawant Singh Waghela, who was himself a disciple of Ustad Mohammed Khan Faridi Desai. Maharaja Jayawant Singh visited P.D.Shah's house with Guru Mohammed Khan many times and spent night in music.  Shri P.D.Shah also performed at the Royal palace of Her Highness Gulab Kunvar Baa of Jamnagar state.

My parents had three daughters and one son, all of whom later developed the same passion for classical music.

In order to support his family, my father began a small business, supplying oil from Cochin to the textile mills in Ahmedabad.  He eventually shifted his business to Bombay in 1956, where he also began to organize classical music concerts through his institution the Veena Mandir.

As he continued his sadhana in playing the Rudra Veena, he pursued other hobbies as well including philosophy and astrology.  P.D. Shah became a renowned astrologer and developed quite a clientele, one of which was the actor Guru Dutt.  Through his keen interest in philosophy, he met Sri Daya Mata, the president of Self-Realization Fellowship / Yogoda Satsanga Society.  He was initiated into Kriya Yoga taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.

By 1960, Shahji, as he was later known, had lost his voice due to fibrosis of the vocal chords.  He was diagnosed with cancer of the vocal chords in 1965 and was treated in London, and his cancer went into remission.  After returning to London in 1970 for his five-year checkup, he continued on to the United States to visit his son, who at the time was studying in New Mexico.  From New Mexico, he visited his friends in San Francisco whom he had met during their trips to India.  His friends had previously expressed an interest in learning to play the Rudra Veena from him and also organized concerts for him at colleges in California.

Some students also took lessons in learning Rudra Veena.  He even became a visiting professor of music, astrology and philosophy at some of those institutions.

I remember my father learning Carnatic music from Sri Narayan Swami in Bombay in 1967 and he applied adding these techniques to his Rudra Veena which we find in his recordings that were made in USA during his visit around 1970 to 1975.

P.D. Shah was the first artist to introduce this ancient instrument and perform on the Rudra Veena in concert in the United States, and the response was quite overwhelming.  There are clips of his recordings on YouTube and this site for your reference.

Inspite of his poor health, my father always remained absorbed in music of his Rudra Veena.   Sadly, he finally succumbed to lung cancer on July 11, 1975 in Bombay.

Performances

Shree P. D. Shah - Raag Malkauns on Rudra Veena
Late Shree P.D. Shah playing Aalap, Jod, and Jhala in Raag Malkauns on Rudra Veena.
Performed at Pamona College, California on 22nd November, 1970.




Shree P. D. Shah - Raag Brindavani Sarang on Rudra Veena
Late Shree P.D. Shah playing Aalap, Jod, and Jhala in Raag Brindavani Sarang on Rudra Veena.
This performance was recorded in September, 1970.




Shree P. D. Shah - Raag Miyan Ki Todi on Rudra Veena
Late Shree P.D. Shah playing Aalap, Jod, and Jhala in Raag Miyan Ki Todi on Rudra Veena.
This recording was done in San Francisco on 10th October 1970.




Shree P. D. Shah - Raag Bhimpalasi on Rudra Veena
Late Shree P. D. Shah playing Aalap, Jod, and Jhala in Raag Bhimpalasi on Rudra Veena.
This performance was recorded in September, 1970.


Shree P. D. Shah - Raag Bhimpalasi on Rudra Veena
Late Shree P.D. Shah playing Aalap, Jod, and Jhala in Raag Bhimpalasi on Rudra Veena.
Performed at Pamona College, California on 22nd November, 1970.


Documents

ElinorHouldson

IndianMusivProvidesMysticalMeditation

NoFiddlerOntheRoofhe

CaliforniaInstituteofAsianStudies

Special thanks to Vijaya Rajkotia, for contributing this important historical documentation!
Vijaya Rajkotia's youtube library may be found

Here



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