Bhopal: Dhrupad Sansthan unfazed by the spate of allegations

In the eye of a social media storm over the recent allegations of sexual misconduct, the Dhrupad Sansthan appears unfazed by the controversy.

Umakant Gundecha, the chairman of the Sansthan located in Neelbad on the outskirts of Bhopal, has been ignoring phone calls. He has, however, ordered an inquiry into the allegations levelled by Lilian van Dam, a disciple and a yoga teacher based in Amsterdam.

Regular teaching activity has continued undistracted by the recent allegations of sexual abuse against one of the gurus, Akhilesh Gundecha.

Anant Gundecha, the nephew of the Umakant Gundecha, said the chairman has instituted an inquiry by an independent committee into the issue.

"We are putting out all the information on our website www.dhrupad.com. The website had little to show for now about the institute and its activities and the latest controversy. A safe environment and impartial teaching have always been the paramount concern at Dhrupad Sansthan," said a statement issued by Anant Gundecha.

"The committee shall look into the complaints brought into its notice and will strive to deliver justice," it added.

Akhilesh Gundecha, a leading pakhwaj artiste and the brother of Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, the famed exponents of the Dhrupad style of music, has recused himself from the activities of the Sansthan that imparts training in one of the oldest surviving classical music forms in India. He is facing an inquiry following allegations of sexual abuse were levelled against him and Ramakant Gundecha.

One of Lilian van Dam's Facebook posts claimed that many students were sexually propositioned, told to give in if they "ever wanted to have a career in music", and that saying no would mean "trouble at the Gurukul". The post also claimed that the gurus touched their students inappropriately.

Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha learned Dhrupad from Zia Fariduddin Dagar and his brother Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, who had earned a legendary status.

The Gundecha brothers were awarded Padma Shri in 2012 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2017.

Dhrupad has a dedicated audience in Europe where concerts are held regularly. Many students at the Dhrupad Sansthan are also Europeans.

After Dagar brothers led the revival of Dhrupad music, Gudecha brothers almost became synonymous with the style over the years. Other musicians such as Uday Bhawalkar and Ritwik Sanyal have also played a major role in making it popular in other parts of the world.

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