Monday, March 15, 2021

Prof. Baldev Singh Narang – An Obituary


Prof. Baldev Singh Narang – An Obituary

A Guru of Shastria Sangeet – Indian Classical Music, Prof. Baldev Singh Narang of Jalandhar passed away on March 2, 2021 at an age of about 75. The news of his demise came as a shock to the music lovers and cultural circles of Jalandhar and beyond. Ustad Baldev Singh Narang, who was popularly called Guruji, was a much respected and acclaimed personality in the world of classical music not only in India but abroad too. I did not know him personally till 2008. One of my cousins, Gurdial Mahey of Birmingham in the UK,

With Prof. Baldev Narang and Sangat Ram

brought him to India House, my official residence in Edinburg in Scotland, sometime in 2008 when I was the Consul General of India there. They stayed with as house-guests. Only then I could know that Narang Sahib was a vocalist of his own standing. He regaled us for several evenings with his classical singing over the readily available  Keyboard at our home over lovely and enjoyable relaxed atmosphere in the summer of Edinburgh. One evening I took him and Gurdial to a cultural function of the Indian community where I was the Guest of Honour. Judging the mood of the audience, I suggested to the organizers to listen to my guest Baldev Singh Narang and they immediately accommodated him in the programme. Oh my goodness, Narang Sahib did the trick and made the audience spell bound with his masterly performance. It was a rewarding occasion. Later on my retirement, I came back to my roots in Jalandhar and developed close relationship with Narang Sahib. He

was the soul and heart of the cultural life, particularly music, in Jalandhar.  During his life time, I was told, he was conferred with all important awards and recognitions in the field of classical music and rendition. Narang Sahib was Head of the Music Department in the local DAV College and taught music with authority and involvement. Some of the prominent singers like Hans Raj Hans, Jasbir Jassi, Sarabjit Cheems, Master Slim, Balkar Sidhu among others benefited from the training and teaching of Ustad Narang and earned laurels in their profession and career. An establish music master, Tejwant Kittu is also a student of the Guru Narang.  Baldev Narang remained a much acclaimed performer at the legendary Harballabh Sangeet Mela at Jalandhar for many years and later remained with the management of the Mela as an adviser and patron.

It was a matter of great satisfaction and pride that Baldev Narang was a son of the soil belonging to Nakodar. Music was running in his veins as his father Pandit Kesar Chand was a musician himself who initiated Baldev his son to the realm of classical music. The son made him proud with his musical prowess. The Antim Ardas of Guru Baldev Narang was held on March 14 at Guru Ravidass Bhawan in Jalandhar in which the Who’s Who of the cultural and musical life of Jalandhar and around was present to pay tributes to the departed soul and rightly so. The fragrance of the classical music was floating around as Alama Iqbal had said:

Uthaye Kuch Waraq Lale Ne, Kuch Nargis Ne, Kuch Gul Ne
Chaman Mein Har Taraf Bikhri Huwi Hai Dastan Meri

(Some leaves were picked up by the tulip, some by the narcissus, some by the rose
My story is scattered around everywhere in the garden)

Urha Li Qumriyon Ne, Tootiyon Ne, Andleebon Ne
Chaman Walon Ne Mil Kar Loot Li Tarz-e-Faghan Meri

(The turtle‐doves, parrots, and nightingales pilfered away
The garden’s denizens jointly robbed away my plaintive way)


On reading my blog, One of close friends in Jalandhar, Principal Jagdish Joshi himself a poet of standing with many books to his credit informed me that he was a close friend of Ustad Baldev Narang with regard to their cultural and intellectual pursuits. Narang Sahib sang Joshi Sahib's at least 8 Gazals which were available on YouTube. He recited on phone the Matla (opening line) of one the Gazals sung by Ustad  Narang which is worth sharing to salute both the masters - Joshi and Narang in respect of their respective skills and prowess of writing and singing:

कोई पत्थर खुदा नहीं होता ;

खुदा खुद खुदा नहीं होता!


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