The Hansaveena Story
"As the world and time is so unexpected, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would fall in love with another instrument so much. Here I am at it again, giving my best - Ramanan Venkatraman
On 7th April 2000, Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar introduced to the World of Indian Classical Music, a new instrument christened by him as the “Hansaveena”. Shri Vishan Das, proprietor of M/S Rikhi Ram and Sons - the famous Instrument makes of Delhi, had made this Instrument under the constant guidance of Pandit Ravi Shankar. The Hansaveena unveiled by Pandit Ravi Shankar in a ceremony organized on his 80th birthday, was inaugurated by a performance of his senior disciple Pandit Barun Kumar Pal who is the pioneer in introducing the improvised Hawaiian Slide Guitar as an instrument to play Indian Classical Music.
Later, the Hansaveena was officially launched at different places in India, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and USA. National and International TV channels like Doordarshan, ANI - News, ATN, and Sony - News covered the launch accompanied by concerts and lecture demonstrations on the Hansaveena by Pandit Barun Kumar Pal. Within a short time, the Hansaveena has become a very popular Instrument the world over for its beautiful tonal quality.
Apart from the regular fret board of a slide Guitar everything in this Instrument is Indianised. The Instrument is made out of a single piece solid wood. Has a semi flat sound chamber like Tambura and Veena, five playing strings, one supporting, three Chikaris and 12 sympathetic strings. The edge of the hollow neck or fret board is beautifully curved to resemble like the long neck of a Swan. Above all, the tone of the Instrument is similar to the Veena, Vichitraveena and Sarod. The beautiful sustained tone helps an Artiste to play in the real Gayaki (Vocal) style. And so, perhaps, the name “Hansaveena” for this Instrument came naturally to the Sitar Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Baba Allauddin Khan was the founder of Senia Maihar Gharana. He was a very well known court musician and a master of many instruments.
Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar, the man responsible for spreading Indian Classical Music the world over with his Sitar. Senior most disciple of Baba Allauddin Khan Sahab
Guru Barun Kumar Pal is the senior most disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar. He was a world-renowned musician and pioneer of the Hansaveena. Ramanan is a disciple of Pandit Barun Kumar Pal
After a brief moment of founding Sadhana School of Music, Dance and Arts, Ramanan started getting fascinated by the sound and beauty of the Sitar. This happened due to the collaboration with Radhika Samson (Sitar Player) & Pranav Ramji (Tabla). Trying to explore the aesthetics and mechanics of a Sitar, the interest and love for Indian Classical Music started to grow back in Ramanan. Occasionally trying to play the Sitar, he figured that the various things and techniques he would try to use to play something in the style of Classical Music, could be done in instances on a Classical Instrument like the sitar. Getting inspired by the amount of knowledge and skill a classical musician possess, he decided to start learning. Radhika, gave him the path to his Guru by inviting him to a concert Guruji was supposed to play in the Aurobindo Ashram. Until then, Ramanan had only heard how beautiful the sound of a Hansaveena is and the make of it is pure hard work and has wonderful aesthetics. The guy who made it is playing etc. but never had seen one in reality or heard it.
"If 'floored to the lowest level possible' is a quote to say, that I was astound and drooling over the sound of the instrument and the various techniques Guruji was playing with, then Floored I was. Not a single day goes by when I can't remember how it was to me, I believe that is what is keeping the drive in me to go ahead with this." says Ramanan.
Shortly after the performance got over and everyone was approaching Guruji, so did Ramanan requesting him to teach him his instrument. Guruji being the most humble man to be alive and the most earthed person, says to him "How can I teach you anything? You should be the one teaching me, tell me when to come.". Shattered by the thought of guilt and shamed by the thought of pride about everything he had achieved, Ramanan couldn't speak a word. He says, "I didn't realise at that instant, what he has trying to do. Later I realised that he was actually trying to help me get over my pride of being a self taught musician and the things I've done. I felt miserable and understood how a True Musician should be. Humility is what takes us to the next level, not Pride. He taught me that.". Pursuing Guruji constantly for almost a couple of months and occasionally requesting him to teach him, every time he met Guruji.
Finally on the 12th of July, 2014, the auspicious day of Guru Poornima, Guruji took Ramanan to Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar's Institute of Music and Performing Arts (RIMPA). Under the mesmerising photograph of the Great Pandit Ravi Shankar, he was taught his first pranaams to the divine Guru by chanting Guru Vandana. Being a part of such a wonderful legacy and the ideals and ideas of these great human beings who had achieved so much because of hard work and knowledge, Ramanan decided to devote everything for it. He slowly started realising the humungous amount of hard work that has been put behind the greatness of the Hansaveena. He says, "An irresistible love and respect came for Guruji and I swore to myself to be the one to ensure that his hard work will be showcased in the best and most appropriate manner to this world when my time comes. Having spent hours and hours of time with my instrument, I still have many avenues to touch and get better at, however, the avenues does not seem to end. There is more and more and more all the time. It is not about competition but the way this instrument is designed, everything that a human requires to bring his emotions out in front of people through sound is available and with great ease. How is that even possible?"
Ramanan is currently, a senior disciple of Pandit Barun Kumar Pal (Guruji) and is training in the true Guru Shishya Parampara. On many occasions he has given various performances with the guidance and love from Guruji. The style of playing would mostly be termed as the Senia Maihar Gharana Style, however, Ramanan says that mostly it is Guruji's style, which includes everything from the Gharana without fail, but it also has a touch of his musical sense in such a way that it sounds like a completely different world and side of music altogether.