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The Mewati Gharana is a musical apprenticeship clan of Hindustani classical music founded in the late 19th century by Ghagge Nazir Khan of Jodhpur. With its own distinct aesthetic and stylistic views and practices, the gharana is an offshoot of the Gwalior gharana and acquired its name after the region from which its founding exponent hailed: the Mewat region of Rajasthan. The gharana gained visibility in the latter half of the 20th century after the vocalist Jasraj revived and popularized the gayaki.
The musical ancestors of Ghagge Nazir Khan, the fountainhead of the Mewati Gharana, were exponents and descendants of the Gwalior Gharana. In seeking musical patronage, these descendants of the Gwalior style separated from their original clan and settled in what is now western and southern Rajasthan. Being isolated from the mainstream Gwalior musicians, the Rajasthan-based branch of the Gharana developed new stylistic forms and aesthetic principles as a result of separation. Eventually, these changes resulted in the Mewati gayaki and became distinct although reminiscent of the Gwalior style. It is for this reason that the Mewati Gharana is considered both musically and genealogically different from the Gwalior style.
Ghagge Nazir Khan passed on his musical tradition to his foremost disciples, Natthulal and Chimanlal. Natthulal passed the tradition onto his nephew, Motiram who shared this tradition with his brother, Jyotiram around the start of the 20th century. During this period, Mewati musicians were under monarchical patronage for their music.
Jyotiram later became a disciple of Rajab Ali Khan, bringing elements of the Jaipur and Kirana gayakis into the Mewati style. Motiram passed this tradition to his sons, Maniram and Pratap Narayan. After Motiram's unexpected demise, Maniram and Pratap Narayan were instrumental in grooming their younger brother, Jasraj, in the Mewati tradition after Jasraj renounced playing Tabla, his primary training at the time. Jasraj was initially influenced by the music of Amir Khan and Begum Akhtar but later developed a separate style. He introduced new stylistic elements into the traditional Mewati style, following the romanticism started by Omkarnath Thakur and producing a more emotive, devotional, rhythmic-conscious, and lyric-conscious style.
Mewati Gharana styles and trends
Although it has ancestry in the style and trends of the Gwalior gharana, the Mewati Gharana gayaki has some distinct qualities. Through Sufi and Kirtankar influence, the Mewati Gharana gayaki includes theistic and spiritual elements, where religious verses from Hinduism and Shia Islam especially Ismailism are incorporated not only in the grammatical content of the music, but as an intrinsic elements in musical development. Some contemporary compositions invoke the name and attributes of Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Aga Khan as the manifest Imam and the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu according to the Dashavatara. The verse "Om Shri Anant Hari Naaraayañ" is typically invoked as the initiation of a performance, and as the grammatical medium for an Alap. Elements of Hinduism and Shia Islam are simultaneously and polytheistically incorporated throughout musical works.
Mewati gayaki includes substantial use of sargam and tihais. In a crude sense, the approach to Taankari is similar to the Patiala gayaki and Tappa Gayaki in execution but is closer to the Gwalior gayaki in application.
Specialty ragas and compositions
Several ragas unique to the Mewati Gharana include Jaiwanti Todi (created by Maharaja Jaiwant Singhji Waghela of Sanand), Din Ki Puriya, Audav Bageshree, Khamaj Bahar and Bhavani Bahar.
Jasraj has added many devotional (religious) compositions to the Gharana repertoire, the most popular being, "Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya" in Bhimpalasi.