IT WAS AYODHYA’S HONOUR THAT IT HOSTED BEGUM AKHTAR’S ART: YATINDRA MISHRA - The Daily Guardian
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IT WAS AYODHYA’S HONOUR THAT IT HOSTED BEGUM AKHTAR’S ART: YATINDRA MISHRA

A celebrated Hindi poet, music and cinema scholar and also the prince of Ayodhya, Yatindra Mishra opened up about the recent translation of his book, ‘Akhtari: Soz Aur Saaz Ka Afsana’, based on the life, times, and music of Akhtari Bai Faizabadi aka Begum Akhtar, and more.

Anshu Khanna

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A celebrated Hindi Poet, Music and Cinema Scholar and also the prince of Ayodhya, Yatindra Mishra has four collections of poetry to his credit —Yada-Kada, Ayodhya Tatha Anya Kavitayein, Dyorhi Par Aalaap, and Vibhas. He has several well-received books on Indian Classical Music and cinema including Girija (Based on Thumri Singer Girija Devi), Devpriya (Dialogue with danseuse Sonal Mansingh), Sur Ki Baradari (Life & Times of Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan) and Akhtari: Soz Aur Saaz Ka Afsana (Based on Thumri and Ghazal Queen Begum Akhtar). He is the editor of a cultural gazetteer of Faizabad titled Shahernama Faizabad. His book Lata: Sur-Gatha (Musical Journey of legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar) won seven awards. He is currently working on a book on eminent lyricist, poet, and filmmaker Gulzar Saheb. An understated cultural aficionado, his works are linked to his inherited legacy in the richest, most seamless manner. Yatindra spoke to The Daily Guardian about the English translation of his book Akhtari the Life and Music of Begum Akhtar based on the life, times, and music of Akhtari Bai Faizabadi and more.

Yatindra Mishra

EXCERPTS:

Q. Can you share the famed legacy of music in Ayodhya?

A. My city Ayodhya is a Vaishnav city where there is a tradition of Madhuropasana or Ram Rasik Bhakti Tradition. Here the deity is revered by the devotee through music channelised by love and devotion. The pioneer of this tradition was the ancient saint Sant Kripa Niwas. 

Ayodhya is a complex blend of Ram bhakti, Nirguna Upasana, folk culture of Awadh, and snippets of musical heritage from the Ram Bhakti traditions of the South. It is visible in the path of Alwandar Strota where Shri and Narayan are worshipped. The city boasts of Ramleela Performances in fields (Maidani Ramleela) that bear the traces of Parsi theatre along with Ram Katha Gayan. Ram Katha Gayan is a major part of the theatrical musical legacy of the land. The winds carry hymns sung in temples all over the city, composed on a common beat and rhythm pattern following in the tradition of Saam Gaan from the Saam Veda. Saam Veda is the Veda is among the four holy books that deal with music. Over time, the city has also been touched with modernity and musical instruments like harmonium, tabla, dholak, manjeera and the live musicians have been replaced with records and tapes. It is common to hear Mukesh’s Ramcharitmanas, Hanuman Chalisa by Anoop Jalota and Hari Om Sharan being played in the temples. 

There have been many famed personalities who have graced the musical landscape of Ayodhya. Begum Akhtar, Swami Pagaldas, and a disciple of the renowned Mridangacharya Swami Bhagwan Das are noteworthy. Pandit Rasik Vihari Mishra ‘Kallu Maharaj’ and Bhagwat Kishor ‘Vyakul’ were great artists dedicated to their craft who did not get the fame they deserved. Pandit Dayashankar Mishra pioneered a rendition in bhajan and khayal gayaki  and established a new Gharana. 

My lovely grandmother Late Rajkumari Vimla Devi introduced me to the nuances of music. She was a trained semi-classical and folk singer and whose art remained unrecognised. She was trained under the tutelage of Pandit Ram Padarath Ji and also received training from Akhtar. Bhajans sang in her voice along with traditional folk songs in authentic Awadhi dialect like sohar, nakta, banna, and hori make up my fond memories. Ayodhya has a current of melancholy which is perceptible in the lilting Ramdhun that resonates in the city.

Q. Your book Akhtari relives the era of Begum Akhtar’s residency in Ayodhya. Explain the legacy?

A. The period from 1935 to 1945 was when Akhtar was making appearances in darbar and holding Khadi Mehfils (singing, dancing, and performing while standing). She performed in Ayodhya Darbar especially on Dussehra and Holi. This fact is further established by the works of historian Salim Kidwai that this was the time when she was holding Khadi Mehfils mainly in the Awadh Province. She mesmerised the elites and the common man alike with her aura as a diva. A white Mercedez Benz from Ayodhya Raj, under the then king Maharaja Jagdambika Pratap Narayan Singh, went to fetch her, bearing the number plate Ayodhya-126. By all records, it was her favourite and special attention was paid that this car remained in her attendance. Her visits and performances made up for interesting anecdotes that have been passed down to us from generations. Talking to my elders, I came to know that there was a fight amongst drivers as to who would go to receive her. Apart from her stardom, it was also because of her magnanimity as the driver in attendance got lavish tips, inams, and ikrams.

She sang a multitude of songs including sadra, mubarakbadi, thumri, kajri ghazal, holi and phaag ki thumri. My grandma mentioned her rendition of thumri Chala ho pardesiya naina lagaye, and  Holi ki thumri Daff kahe ko bajaye main toh aawat rahi  were something magical. She was fortunate enough to learn these from the great doyen. At that time, Akhtar graced the Royal Darbars of Kashmir, Reewa, Baroda, Darbhanga, and Rampur. The era dictated that the singer performing in the Baroda Darbar of Maharaj Sayajirao Rao Gaekwad III was listed as an A grade artist. It was a stamp of endorsement for any Bai ji or classical singer and in those times Akhtar was a prominent presence there. In these circumstances, it was an honour for Ayodhya that it hosted and revelled in her art. 

Q. Which is your favourite composition from her repertoire?

A. Picking a favourite amongst her songs is akin to say that Hazaron khwahishein aisi ki har khwahish par dum nikale. Each song, composition, and rendition pierces my heart in a new way. But if I have to pick a favourite I would go with Koyaliya mat kar pukaar, Nihure-nihure buhare, Jabse shaam sidhare, Kaun tarah se tum khelat holi, and Mori bali si umariya gaune ki aayi ratiya. Kaifi Azmi’s Aisa to zindagi mein kisi ki khalal pade, Sudarshan Fakir’s Kuchh toh duniya ki Inayaat ne dil tod diya, and Ahmad Jalili’s Ab chhalakate hue sagar nhin dekhe jate are perennial favourites in ghazal. The list will go on as the magic of the Akhtar unravels.

Q. What does music mean to you?

A. As a writer and poet, music is something inexplicable. It would be better if I said that what is inexplicable can only be explained through music. It touches on nuances, sentiments and meaning of the human life which were hitherto untouched. It calls out for something divine, the pukaar elevates the human experience. For me, music is suspended between being a solace and being sublime. I believe that if God exists, He can only be reached through music. It is not without reason that the last step of Navdha Bhakti culminates in musical offerings to God.

Q. How do you see the famed Ganga Jamuni culture of Avadh thriving in Ayodhya?

A. These are not just the cultural ethos of Ayodhya but the whole of India. The tradition of Nauha singing on Muharram is carried on with the same reverence and sanctity that is given to any other holy practice, Kabir the weaver is sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Meerabai’s padas by Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. I was captivated by Ustad Bismillah Khan’s spirit for his practice of playing sehra for Baba Vishwanath. Ayodhya is a living, breathing specimen of the same ethos. Muslims make up a major part of the Ram Leela performances in Mumtaz Nagar, a part of Ayodhya. We find soulful music emanating from the dargah of Hazrat Sheesh Paigambar and Argada Masjid in Ayodhya. Music talks of the shared divine, the shared bliss of harmony and melody. Various sects and regions too find their presence in Ayodhya with temples like Kale Raam Mandir. They carry on their respective musical and artistic traditions. 

Q. Did you relive a fine moment while penning the book on Lataji?

A. It was a journey in all sense. I understood that however cliché it must be, the journey is more rewarding than the destination. There were countless moments, some moments of pure awe where I stood star-struck, that I am talking to a legend who defined generations. I find myself extremely fortunate that in the process of writing this book I embarked on a journey to understand the musical and cultural topography of the Indian subcontinent. This quest to understand the music of the Indian diaspora has been incredibly enriching.

Q. Who are your favourite voices from Avadh? Share the legacy of words and verses of Avadh.

A. The most endearing ones are Arjoo Lakhnvi, Majaz Lakhnavi, Meer Anis — the king of Mersia and Khwaja Haider, Ali ‘Aatish’ Pandit Brijnarayn ‘Chakbast’ and Mohd. Rafi Sauda. The pioneers who have lifted Hindi poetry on their shoulders are Kunwar Narain, Raghuveer Sahay, Jaishankar Prasad, and Mahadevi Verma. Some eminent lyricists who always win over my heart are Shakeel Badayuni, Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, and Kaifi Azmi. 

Q. What are your views on the he fable of the Ayodhya Princess travelling to Korea and the link enjoyed between the two families?

A. Around two decades ago historians from Korea visited my home Rajsadan to meet my father Bimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra. They had documents and historical and archaeological proofs stating that the clan mother of the Garak Clan was the princess of Ayodhya. Around 2,000 years ago, the king of Ayodhya had a dream that if he set his daughter to sail in a particular direction, it would result in her fortune. So he did as the divination dictated and Princess Suriratna set sail. At the same time, the King Kim Suro of Korea got a dream that to seek his fortune he should go in the direction in which the Princess was sailing. And on the consultation of his royal astrologers, he revered Princess Suriratna as an auspicious blessing and the two of them were married in a holy union. Thus she came to be known as Queen Huh. They had 10 sons, eight of whom became bhikkhus (Buddhist monks), one founded Japan, and one founded Korea. 

The Koreans pay homage to their Clan Mother, wherein the Garak Clan is the largest clan of Korea and has given the nation many leaders and visionaries. It was my father who pioneered the relation between Ayodhya and Korea. He went to great lengths to seal and honour the relationship at personal cost and effort. 

The Korean delegation comes every year for the past 20 years where they are hosted by the Royal Family of Ayodhya at their residence. There is an exchange of two cultures and their respective arts. It is a beautiful ceremony that could sustain itself because of my father’s efforts.

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A WAVE AGAINST THE CURRENT: GOVIND SINGH RATHORE AND THE SAMBHALI TRUST

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Worldwide, it is a common feature for boys from male-centric family setups to grow up into active perpetrators of the very patriarchy that they were raised amidst. Add to that the socio-cultural dividends accorded to patriarchs in more conservative milieus, which further bolsters male-chauvinistic conducts of behaviours and mindsets as a widely accepted and rewarded norm. Direct and indirect references to social misconducts warranted by patriarchy pervade across class, caste, race and religious barriers in most parts of the world, but their increasing severity towards the more underprivileged rungs of every society are obvious. Not only does the lack of social mobility subject certain groups to more intensified discrimination, but also makes their redressals more elusive. And until those with socio-economic capital don’t step in as active contenders, these social evils will continue to pervade and plague our existence.

Govind Singh Rathore.Amongst the series of vocational training initiatives, sewing has emerged as a popular skillset.A workshop with members of the Sambhali Trust.Govind Singh Rathore with a few members of the Sambhali Trust.

An acute exception to this standard progression of patriarchal norms in Rajasthan is Govind Singh Rathore, the elder son of a traditional Rajput family in Jodhpur City. Having had been birthed and brought up there, Govind became a conscious receptor of his family’s patriarchal ways at a relatively young age. In this regard, his experience is not very different from other boys his age, who too, receive an upbringing soaked in male entitlement and privilege. The institutionalisation of women subordination, that they witness through their family’s treatment of its female members is normalised in the very psyches of young boys and men. But Govind’s mental make-up would set him apart from other boys his age in more ways than one.

Govind was only 15 when his father died, leaving his mother hapless to contend with the stiffening destiny of widowhood. The lack of dignity that a society accorded to its women, especially those with the lack of protection of a male member pierced Govind’s heart. Even worse off than women of India’s higher castes were those from Dalit and minority communities, whose gloomy futures as women are further doused by their lower caste standing. With a lack of not just societal sympathy, but a total absence of familial support and compassion, what was their escape route from this labyrinth of misery?

After long mulling over this question, there came a day in 2006 when Govind finally found an answer. The prime and most obvious barrier to their social emancipation, as Govind identified, was their illiteracy and financial dependence. “That day, I decided to do something for the disadvantaged women and asked my house-maid Meera to bring her two non-school going daughters over, so that I could begin teaching them some reading and writing. To my surprise, 18 girls turned up with my housemaid the following day. Perplexed as I was, I didn’t refuse anyone and set off with the motivation of my wife Mukta and a small fund pooled in from the earning of my ancestral guest house, Durag Niwas”, says Govind.

This seemingly small philanthropic venture organically began to grow, and its overwhelming response soon led to the Sambhali Trust, which Govind founded in the January of 2007 as a non-profit organisation with an amplified resolve to provide distressed women with a sense of belonging through a community that enabled their education and vocational training. Members of the Sambhali Trust devised a quest for its sustainability by showcasing their craft handiworks through the Sambhali Boutique. Over time, Govind’s humble venture has reached out to over 10,000 women and girls in and around Jodhpur through nine empowerment centres and two boarding homes that provide basic education and sewing training to its inhabitants. He also led Sambhali Trust’s ripples to his ancestral village of Setarwa, wherein academic scholarships, self-defence training workshops and micro-finance projects have gathered wind to stir a gleam of hope in the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.

Up until now, Govind Singh Rathore’s passionate endeavours in the field of philanthropy sound like a much-needed fairy tale in our troubled times. However, there is a price to pay for every convention broken, and Govind shares his own consequences—“With no experience and guide to run a charity, I faced sceptical behaviour of the community being a Rajput working for the SC/ST, being a Hindu involving myself with a Muslin community, being a man working for women. Discrimination of some members in the family not accepting to even drink water at our home for this, judgemental behaviour of people for NGO’s and foreign volunteers, people even thought I was involved with missionaries looking for SC/ST’s to bribe them and change their religion.”

That said, it is evident as to how Govind’s resolve to bring about change in his world proved to be far stronger than the cynicism and distrust he faced. Today, Sambhali Trust attracts thousands of volunteers and interns from India as well as around the world, and has marked its presence in five countries and has got an accreditation from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

His true zeal and passion to bring about change left Govind’s resolve undeterred even during the onset of the recent pandemic. When the outspread of Covid-19 brought tourism to a complete standstill, Govind offered his familial guest house to the health administration to serve as an isolation facility and relocated his family and some volunteers at Setarwa.

For the next three months of lockdown and rampant unemployment, Govind stirred through the sweltering desert heat providing ration to villagers. “I am delighted that God up there chose me for this noble work, I will not back off come what may”, Govind concludes.

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DR RAVIDARSHAN VYAS HOSTS SOLO SHOW AT AHMEDABAD’S ICONIC ART ADDRESS

Anshu Khanna

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It’s very rare for a qualified practitioner of Ayurveda to also be an artist behind museum-quality art. Dr Ravidarshan Vyas, the Rajya Vaid of Gondol state in Gujarat, is one such exception. He recently hosted his solo show of paintings, his live’s repertoire. Works in oil that capture what he calls the history of royal India, its mythology and regal folklore. Hugely inspired by the genre of calendar artist Raja Ravi Verma, Ravidarshan, who also helms the much revered Shaktipeeth Bhuveneshwari Temple, had a galaxy of royal stars attending his preview. From the Maharawal of Baria to the princess of Bhavnagar, the Nawab of Balasinore and the scion of his own state of Gondol, Dr Vyas got them all to attend. Including the heir to the Hutheesing family Umang Hutheesing who finds his art, “European in style and fiercely Indian in story.”

Maharaval Tushar Singh Devgarh Baria with the art and Nawab Salauddin Khan Babi of Balasinore.Rohit Raje Deshmukh of Surguna Maharashtra .Mahalaxmi.Vyas.Darbar Saheb Satyajit Khacher, Rani Alaukika Raje, Yuvraaj Raviraj, and KS Shivraj of Jasdan.Mrs and Mr Vyas with Bijeshwari Gohil of Bhavnagar, and KS Jyotirmah Sinhji of Gondol.The royal line up

Grandson of the much-acclaimed Vaidya His Holiness Acharya Shri Charan Tirtha Maharaja, he steers a pharmacy founded in 1904. “My grandfather was the royal physician of many states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Though based out of Gondol in Kathiawar, we were consulting many leading families like Jodhpur, Rajkot, Jasdan etc.”

Heir to this legacy of science, Ravidarshan is a lover of art, qualified in homoeopathy, and still consults. Besides being the Gaddi Pati of Bhuvaneshwari Temple, a Shakti Peeth revered by people of Gujarat, living across the globe.

“I am not really trained in an institution. I paint through the inner instinct of growing up amongst Ravi Varma’s art.” The Vyas family enjoys a deep closeness to the Jasdan royal family and Baroda and in his work, you will find many references to parts of their stunning palaces. Like the Maand room in Jasdan Palace that is a reflection of the local craft of mirror work and has sparkling brass urns piled upright to its roof. Ravidarshan paints an image of the siblings Krishna and Subhadra chatting in this very room. Then there is the image of Mohini, half male, half female seductress, who could lure the most saintly of saints in Laxmi Vilas Palace, Baroda.

“Raja Ravi Varma’s every brushstroke captures the depth of Indian mythological history. In his work, I find a Godlike innocence and in my own way I try to recreate that rare reverence.”

Curated by Deep Khatri with whom Dr Vyas creates art inspired fashion, the show also throws light on some recent works like his interpretation of the erstwhile Rani of Ayodhya. Waking to visions of the sheer sadness of her life, he captures her in the jungle, devastated and lost.

He shares, “Ayodhaya was a flourishing kingdom even after Rama rajya. Manorama, married into the family saw her life tumbling down losing her husband, her kingdom and her wealth. To save the real heir of the empire her son Sudarshana, she escaped to the jungle and my painting portrayed her lost in a devastated jungle. The burnt wood carved frame represents devastated Ayodhya suffering due to this sudden incident.”

Gods, goddesses, Maharanis and their strife filled life, Ravidarshan’s art, carrying forward the vivid genre of Ravi Verma’s art, is a must-watch for those living in Gujarat.

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Royally Speaking

(DIS)UNITY IN DIVERSITY?

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As an Indian, I have held immense pride in my nation’s diversity of regions, topographies, languages, cuisines, traditional attires and religions to name but a few. This diversity’s gruesome heads to surface every now and then, but the utopian in me seeks solace in India’s symbiotic retention of parallel worlds, realities and truths. Of holding both, apples and oranges, chalk and cheese in one marvellous subcontinental platter. Where progressive and fascist political agendas relay side by side, India’s ever-continuing power of dissent seems threatening to more and more citizens and netizens.

For the sake of individual thought and liberty, I hope for socially constructive dissent to prevail above and beyond the shackles of threat that it faces. But after shedding a naive vestige of my perceptions, I also understand that dissent and threat are impersonated and conducted by us, the very people who constitute India and the world at large.

Whereby there was a time in India a few decades ago where differences in political ideologies could very well hold a civilised conversation, today they host an economy of squealing prime time debates. Whereby there was a time when diverse religious identities co-inhabited unassuming neighbourhoods, today many of them lie ghettoised. Some in hushed tones, and the others more boldly so. After years of observing this organised chaos, Mark Tully once remarked that in India, we don’t cast our vote but rather, vote our caste. Having being born and brought up in a family with ample political participation, my pragmatism knows that contesting the caste-based or religious-based vote banks, especially in less urbanised parts of India is asking for too much. But how do our identity markers find ways of pervading so rudimentarily?

Soft ethnocentrism and territorial attitudes vis-a-vis us fellow Indians would make many like myself concede to the otherwise casual remark touting Indians to be amongst the most racist and discriminatory people in the world. In my backing of this argument, I am not even factoring in the post-colonial shambles of racism or counter racism yet. If we take a minute to consider the alienating extent of the oblivion that percolates south of the Vindhyas, and the resentment it triggers in return for the butter chicken-eating, noisy north Indians, many more such tropes from our personal experiences begin to jostle in.

In my own case, I’ve grown up in a multi-cultural family that constitutes a mix of Rajasthani, Gujarati, Himachali, Kashmiri and Bundelkhandi influences. Thanks to the privilege of the resultant cultural exposure, my worldview isn’t as geographically confined. But on the downside, this very advantage makes ethnic myopias seem more acute to bear. As a full-time resident and hotelier of Manali, I have become habituated to being asked about my story from Rajasthan to here. Which is perfectly alright, until the unsuspecting ‘local’ asks whether or not I am a ‘local’ myself. Given that I am a registered voter of Himachal Pradesh, I am told that I don’t look or seem like a local. How is one expected to bargain that? I remember my Nepalese classmates from Mayo putting their experiences into one poignant phrase, that after 9 years of being in an Indian boarding school, they were too Indian to count as Nepali, and still too Nepali to count amongst Indians. Indian diaspora is sure to relate to the same transnational alienation that they still might feel, no matter how many more bridges globalisation physically erects. But for most of us even at home, intra-national alienation is as real as it gets.

The average commuter is expected to notice the overwhelming discrimination accorded to drivers bearing number plates from ‘outside states’. Never mind the state number plate defaulters, it’s the outsider who is more likely to be harassed over the very same trivialities. Should a person belonging to a different state express their keen interest and/or genuine knowledge in my own, I forsake curiosity for my ego and am so easily threatened. Is being an Indian not enough? This might be a more reasonable question before I can begin fancying the idea of questioning whether being human will ever be enough.

One takeaway looks my way. The very diversity that united us seems to create divides. The question is the same as the answer. We embody the difference, the similarity, the unity and the diversity.

It makes us kind just as it makes us cruel. The only variable there is, and the only one that matters right now, is which of the two ends we choose.

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A WOMAN AHEAD OF HER TIMES

Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari was a divine soul who believed in helping people around her in whatever small or big form she could. Because she believed helping a person in need is equivalent to worshipping God.

Khyati Singh

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Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari was the fourth daughter of Late Raja Jaganath Singhji of Daulatpur and his wife Rani Saheba Hiteshindra Kumari who belonged to Patiala Royal family daughter of Raja Ranbir Singhji of Patiala.

Being born in the times of purdah she had a vision that was quite different than her brothers and sisters. She was a woman filled with daring, never scared of speaking the truth and alone managed to do a lot of things that nobody ever imagined.

Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari.

Her father late Rajasaheb Jaganath Singhji was addicted to alcohol and she was very close to her father she didn’t go to boarding school like her other siblings who got educated in Doons, Welhams, MGD girls school and Mayoor School Ajmer. Rather she stayed back with her parents in Bhopal and looked after them and their properties. Though her mother was from Patiala they had a lot of financial support also at times from Patiala.

But once her mother passed away things changed and situations worsened. Her father being addicted to alcohol had sold their palace and all the agricultural land of Daulatpur to his cousin brother Laxman Singhji in 1958.

Late Maharaj Saheb Madhusudan Sinhji and Late Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari.

Once when Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari had gone to Daulatpur to pay condolence to Rajputohit of Daulatpur jagir she requested Laxman Singhji to let her worship ‘Gadi Madi Mata’ their diety the Kuldevi that’s when Laxman Singhji misbehaved with her and she decided to pay the debts of her father and take back the entire property. She did manage to but it back from her uncle Laxman Singhji not only that but she also bought a plot from the villager and gave it to Laxman Singhji along with the money.

After that along with her father and her younger sister Srimati Mohini Inder Kumari married in Jamnagar family now stayed sometimes in Daulatpur and sometimes in Bhopal. She had set up a small business for women empowerment in Daulatpur village where they used to make small toys made of wood as Daulatpur being on the periphery of Kheoni Sanctuary had a lot of teak and bamboo wood once in abundance. And she also used to get the zardozi work done in the small town of Sehore and sell these products in fairs which were held in cities like Bhopal. She used to travel on horseback, and a lot more adventures she did being unmarried and when the society was orthodox and people believed in purdah in spite of Daulatpur being jagir of Bhopal state. She broke the stereotypes.

Late Maharaj Saheb Madhusudann Sinjji at Daulatpur Garhi along with the villagers.

Later in January 1963, she got married to Maharaj Saheb Madhusudan Sinhji of Danta Bhawangadh one of the princely states of Gujarat, Maharaj Saheb Madhusudan Sinhji was the second son of Late Maharana Sir Bhawani Sinhji and Late Maharanisa Anand Kunwar Ba of Danta Bhawangadh.

In Danta too she tried to set up a small business like dairy farming, making of pickles and papad but unfortunately the luck didn’t support her and she was unsuccessful in it. Along with that as she had to look after Daulatpur too as well as her father and her younger sister who was unmarried then, she helped her younger sister in getting married and looked after her father who used to stay in Daulatpur. Unfortunately, her father late Raja Saheb Jaganath Singhji got infected by the deadly disease of Cancer and Jagjit Inder Kumari also went into financial crisis and she also got infected with high diabetes as well she lost her elder son as she could not take care of him as he was an immature born child. Her spirits went low and hence she had to send her father to Bhopal to live with her brother Bharat Inder Singhji and then in his last days Raja Jaganath Singhji was sent to Kalapeepal at his cousin brothers house where his cousins and his nephews took care of him and he took his last breath and due to heavy rains, his cremation was also done in Kalapeepal and not in Daulatpur.

After her father’s demise and being a diabetic patient she could not look after her properties in Daulatpur hence everything she had in Daulatpur she willed it to her younger daughter Rajkumari Gitanjali Devi.

As long as she lived in Daulatpur and also in Danta she worked for a lot of people especially the villagers. She wasn’t a graduate but she had quite a good knowledge of ayurvedic medicines as she was fond of reading she had learned a lot. Today she lives in the heart of the people of Daulatpur for whom she often went out of the way and worked.

After marriage, the younger daughter for almost nearly 10 years with her husband Mr. Dharamsingh Karmyal stayed in Daulatpur and practiced agriculture but for their kids better education and future, their sold the agricultural land moved to Gujarat and somehow due to some misunderstandings today the fortress of Daulatpur has become a government entity—which is a big question mark as no one knows how and why it happened.

Later on 6 June 1996 after a long battle with diabetes, she took her last breath in a hospital in Palanpur. And being bahu of Danta she was cremated in the Royal Crematorium of Danta which is in Gangwa village a jagir of Danta.

Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari had three children. Two daughters namely Rajkumari Hemangni Devi married to Menghani and Rajkumari Gitanjali Devi married to Mr. Dharamsingh Karmyal. One son Rajkumar Harshvardhan Sinhji married to Kunwarani Vrindakumari of Gorad Jagir.

That was she the Legend Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari in my eyes she was definitely a hero. She never let anyone leave her house empty stomach. She was always fond of cooking and hosting people over food. She also helped lots of people for getting jobs and helped the people by providing medical facilities if they could not afford them. She used to provide food to those people living in nearby areas and couldn’t afford it.

She was a divine soul who believed in helping people around her in whatever small or big form she could. Because she believed helping a person in need is equivalent to worshiping God.

Hence in her fond memories and remembrance, I Khyati Singh granddaughter of Shrimati Jagjit Inder Kumari has started a foundation ‘Food for cause’ for old people suffering from Alzheimer who are seen on public places like railway stations and bus stations where we provide them food with the help of local tea stalls who provide us the information about these kinds of people.

Currently, we have started our first batch at Aburoad railway station. Also, we would like if anyone wants to join us can always get in touch with us on our Instagram handle @khyatisingh784. Slowly and gradually our mission will also be to provide education to the students who cannot afford fees for their school. This year we have enrolled only one student, but we look forward to many more.

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Royally Speaking

EIGHT ROYALS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2022

The thrill stays same as the world advances into 2022, and the year ahead offers plenty of opportunities to people to make a mark in their various fields.

Anshu Khanna

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2022 though begun on a fearful note remains another year, another hope. We list for you eight incredible royals, young and promising who will make the year a success story in their journey towards perfection.

PRINCESS DIYA KUMARI OF JAIPUR:

Princess DIya Kumari

A custodian of Jaipur’s rich cultural heritage, the torchbearer for girl’s rights in Rajasthan, a member of parliament who won with a thumping majority from Rajsamand, a strong voice for BJP in Rajasthan and a philanthropist who, through her, NGO PDKF has empowered hundreds of women in Rajsamand and Sawai Madhopur, Diya Kumari is emerging as a leader to watch out for. The torchbearer for the role royals can play in present-day politics.

HH MAHARANI RADHIKARAJE OF GAEKWAD:

Maharani Radhikaraje

The palace is alive once again: with the sound of music, the patronage of craft and the promise of philanthropy. The Laxmi Vilas Palace at Baroda has become an oasis of craft and culture under the patronage of its Maharani Radhika Raje. Possibly the strongest voice in craft revival today, Radhika is as vocal in saving our animals as she is committed to the cause of women empowerment. Through the pandemic, she worked hard to support those truly marginalised like the LGBTQ community of Gujarat. May she continue to play her role of the protagonist to perfection.

PRINCESS MRIGANKA KUMARI OF PRATAPGARH:

Princess Mriganka Kumari

Tucked away in rural regions of Avadh, Pratapgarh is finding itself in the midst of refined living with its Princess Mriganka Kumari presenting to the world an amazing array of honey, ghee, pickles and salts that are produced under her stunningly curated label Pratapgarh Collective. Following 100 percent natural processes, this farm-to-table story is cultivated by women of the village who now stand tall on their independent feet and has found their way to the dining table of film stars, leading influencers and connoisseurs of true taste.

PRINCESS VAISHNAVI KUMARI OF KISHANGARH:

Princess-Vaishnavi-Kumari

Legacy is for most royals to keep, but turning it into a mystical fable is Princess Vaishnavi Kumari of Kishangarh. Heir to the legacy of miniature art personified by Kishangarh’s Radha, Vaishnavi, a SOAS graduate is all set to present before the world her creative oeuvres with art this year. We wish her all the best. Known for its pichwais, its Kamdhenu cow and its valorous, playful Krishna, this art form under Vaishnavi has adapted a more pop approach. Deeply inspired by Pakistan’s reigning pop art, she hopes to add this element to Kishangarh miniatures.

YUVRAAJ VIKRAMADITYA SINGH OF J&K:

YUVRAAJ VIKRAMADITYA SINGH

Home to his family Karan Mahal is now a beacon of heritage luxury for the world to see. The Yuvraaj of Jammu & Kashmir paves the way for inherited homes to turn into cordon bleu luxury homes that also houses nostalgia and memorabilia in many ways. Karan Mahal, all of seven keys sits on the saddle between two hills—one of them the Shankaracharya peak—of the Zabarwan mountain range. Nearly 60 acres of orchards and woods surround it. With Covid driving the world towards terrains more serene, and Kashmir opening up, this heritage hotel promises to be the toast of 2022.

JEMA AKSHITA BHANJDEO OF MAYURBHANJ:

Jema Akshita Bhanjdeo

The title of a princess who cares sits best on her able shoulders. Akshita Bhanjdeo has made it to many glossy covers as not just a perfect host in her majestic Mayurbhanj home, now a heritage property. But also as someone who has emerged a strong voice in the world of sustainable and slow fashion. The project Karkhana chronicles taking the grass-root craft to Haute, stylish levels.

HH MAHARANI PRIYARAJE SCINDIA OF GWALIOR:

HH MAHARANI PRIYARAJE SCINDIA

Born into the Gaekwad legacy of Baroda and married to the dynamic aviation minister of India, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Priyaraje is an educationist, a culture protagonist, and a heritage promoter who is quietly working towards bringing world-class experiences to her land of Madhya Pradesh. A strong believer in promoting experiential tourism, she is all set to emerge as a strong voice in this realm.

MAHARAJA CHAITANYA RAJ OF JAISALMER:

MAHARAJA CHAITANYA RAJ

Last year changed his life forever placing this young lad all of 24 into the seat of power after his father passed away. Chaitanya Raj Bhati’s swearing-in was covered extensively by the media. Now at the helm of his family’s varied businesses he is also getting set to promote the life of his people in Jaisalmer. The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls being one of his most commendable contributions as a young Maharaja.

A project initiated by the international non-profit organisation CITTA, and operated by its India’s arm, it is located near the village of Kanoi, Jaisalmer. Donated by Chaitanya Raj Singh it has his total attention. Best of luck to the young Maharaja who is trying to fit into his inherited throne.

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Royally Speaking

RAJASTHAN’S GOLDEN MARKSWOMEN

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Rajputana’s archaic association with warrior-ship has translated during less feudal eras into renowned sportsmanship in the fields of equestrian sports and marksmanship amongst others. Late H.H. Maharaja Karni Singhji of Bikaner made India’s mark in the world of shooting, a legacy that his daughter, H.H. Baijilal Rajshree Kumari inherited and proved to be a trailblazer indeed. In more recent times, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s Olympic and Apurvi Chandela’s Commonwealth medals brought immense pride to the nation. While male expedience in sports generalised as masculine is expectingly lauded, increasing participation of women in these disciplines is reclaiming the sphere altogether. Moreover, the oft-forgotten martial expedience of Rajput women is revived every time a woman shooter narrows down on her target and fires her weapon.

Himangini Rathore Hooja (R) with Geetanjali Singh (L) at the 2019 National Championship

With Bihar’s Shreyasi Singh clinching two golds at the recent national championship in Patiala, Rajasthan’s women double trap shooting team ruled the winning podium, winning their state gold with their cumulative scores. Thus, it can be said without doubt that this year’s double trap shooting season truly belonged to Rajputana’s various daughters. With Shreyasi’s forthcoming feature on the horizon, Rajputana Collective proudly celebrates the victories of champions Himangini Rathore Hooja and Anushka Singh Bhati. Members of Rajasthan’s trapshooting team that emerged victorious this year, both Himangini and Anushka share their journeys as trap shooters – how it all started, their highs and lows, and insights into India’s shooting world.

Bearing her ancestral roots in erstwhile Bikaner’s Ghantel thikana, Himangini Rathore Hooja reminisces growing up to the glorious tales of late H.H. Karni Singhji. She was blessed with the streak of her maternal grandmother (Nanisa), who made her mark by winning small bore competitions in Uttar Pradesh’s Tala estate as early as the ’60s. Despite that, it wasn’t until after Himangini’s marriage that she took to shooting clay pigeons. “My husband enjoyed clay shooting and encouraged me to visit the shotgun range with him at Jaipur. I fired my first shot in 2011, but I only took up shooting in 2015”, she says.

Anushka Singh Bhati (L) and Himangini Rathore Hooja (R) after competing at the Rajasthan states tournament

Subsequently, her younger teammate, Anushka Singh Bhati elaborates on her beginnings. “My papa got me into shooting, as he was a national-level shooter in the 1980s and wanted to introduce his children to the sport as well. When we were young, he’d take us to the range. Initially, I started with pistol but then got into trap as it was an outdoor sport and I liked that. Initially, I was quite hesitant but my parents and brother Janmejay motivated me. I smashed my first clay bird in trap, it was my first ever target with a little bit of beginner’s luck.”

Himangini’s recently acquired all-India ranking of 4th in double trap accords a convincing validity to her statement, and she is truly walking the talk. In similar conjunction, Anushka’s impressive qualification into India’s top 15 in women’s trap and double trap events supplicates this community-centric conviction. Moreover, she is the only woman shooter from Rajasthan to have qualified An athlete endorsed by Khelo India, Anushka won Rajasthan its first-ever gold medal in the senior trap mixed team event with Manavaditya Singh Rathore.

While sharing their rise in shooting glory, both Himangini and Anushka pay their worse days at the range their due. “I definitely have a lot of low days where I feel unhappy with myself when I am not able to invest mentally in the game to the extent that I feel I should be”, Himangini adds. Anushka too shares a day in the recent nationals when she was left distraught by her unexpected performance. These shooting blues are a feeling that every practicing shooter or even sportsman can relate to. But success comes to the stubborn hearted, and evidently so. Within two years of shooting, in the 2017 nationals, Himangini had made her way into the trap finals match. On a similar feat, Anushka too scored her lucky 25/25 in her second nationals’ participation.

The need to bolster India’s infrastructure for shotgun shooting though is one that both concur with. “I don’t think that the current infrastructure is sufficient for the growing talent in shotgun shooting. To begin with, there is a shortage of ranges all over India. Other than that, the licensing procedure for weapons is a very complicated procedure and offers little support”, Anushka comments. Adding to that, Himangini says, “Trap shooting is an expensive sport. Availability of firearms and ammunition is a tremendous problem when one is just starting off with clay shooting. Also, while both- the union and state governments provide financial support, the actual disbursement of funds could be made more prompt. In my case, the Rajasthan Rifle Association has been extremely supportive through the years, and I feel the support of local, district and state associations will help the growth of national talent.”

The adverse impacts of Covid-19 on the sport of trap shooting is another aspect that is difficult for shooters worldwide to sideline. “We didn’t get to practice much in the past two years due to Covid and not many matches were held. This led to a lack of mental preparation that affected my performance in the last nationals”, Anushka elaborates. Himangini holds a relatively more optimistic approach. Although factors relating to the pandemic and personal safety do divert one’s mind with additional elements apart from shooting while in a competition, she credits the open-aired nature of the sport as a crucial safeguard. “At the ranges in Jaipur, all shooters were extremely considerate and careful regarding Covid norms”, she adds.

When asked about their favourite marksmen, Anushka idolises Michael Diamond and had the good fortune of meeting him during his visit to the Rajasthan OASES Range. Himangini mentions Slovak Shooter Zuzana Štefečeková as her shooting inspiration and praises her for her performance at the Tokyo Olympics. In the 2019 nationals, the duo was a part of the teams that had won Rajasthan silvers in trap and double trap. That marked a special year for being their first silver victory, and 2021 made them bring home the gold.

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