Vishnu Digambar Paluskar

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Vishnu Digambar Paluskar
Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.jpg
Background information
Born August 18, 1872
Origin Kurundwad, Bombay Presidency, India
Died August 21, 1931 (aged 59)
Genres Hindustani classical music
Occupation(s) singer
Years active 1890–1931

Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar (August 18, 1872 – August 21, 1931) was a Hindustani musician. He sang the original version of the bhajan Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, and founded the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1901. His original surname was Gadgil, but as they hailed from the village Palus (near Sangli), they came to be known as the “Paluskar” family.

Early life and background[edit]

Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was born in a Marathi family of Kurundwad, a small town named bellgaon falling under the Deccan division of Bombay Presidency during British rule, presently in Maharashtra. His father, Digambar Gopal Paluskar, was a singer of Kirtan (a religious song).

He went to a local school in Kurundwad for primary education. But tragedy struck Paluskar at an early age. During a Hindu festival called Datta Jayanti, a fire-cracker burst near his face damaging both his eyes. Being a small town, there was no immediate treatment available and Paluskar lost his eyesight. Nevertheless, he regained it some years later.

The king of Miraj recognising the talent in the boy put him under the guidance of Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar, a learned musician. Paluskar trained under him for 12 years until in 1896 the relations between the teacher and student became strained.[1]

Musical Journey[edit]

After that Paluskar began touring the country and studied the musical traditions in each part of Northern India. He went from place to place and visited many royal families in cities like Baroda and Gwalior, well known for their patronage of musicians. But he broke a long-standing tradition of Indian music by giving a public concert in Saurashtra and charging a nominal fee. Till then, concerts were given only in palaces or temples. He studied Brijbhasha, a dialect of Hindi, spoken at Mathura. Vishnu Digambar met Pandit Chandan Chaube and learnt Dhrupad music from him. In 1901, he reached Lahore, where he decided to establish a music school.

Gandharva Mahavidyalaya[edit]

On May 5, 1901, Paluskar founded the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a school to impart formal training in Indian classical music.[1] This was a school open to all and one of the first in India to run on public support and donations, rather than royal patronage. It was a challenge to the traditional method where a student lived under the teacher’s roof. Many students from the School’s early batches became respected musicians and teachers in North India. This brought respect to musicians, who were treated with disdain earlier.

In September 1908, Paluskar went to Bombay (now Mumbai) to establish another branch of the school. As the work-load increased, he shifted the school from Lahore to Bombay. To accommodate all the students, he took loans, built a new building for the school and hostel as well. To settle debts, he gave several public concerts. But while on a concert tour in 1924, Paluskar’s creditors attached his properties and auctioned off the school.[2]


Paluskar died on August 21, 1931, three days after his 59th birthday. On July 21, 1973, the Posts and Telegraph Department, Government of India paid homage to Pandit Paluskar by releasing a commemorative stamp.[3] Today, Paluskar is seen as the musician who brought respect to the profession of classical musicians and took Hindustani classical music out from the traditional Gharana system to the masses. He has written a book on music called Sangeet Bal Prakash in three volumes, and 18 volumes on ragas as well. His disciples—famously Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Omkarnath Thakur, Narayanrao Vyas, Shankarrao Vyas, and B. R. Deodhar—became renowned classical singers and teachers. His son Dattatreya Vishnu Paluskar was also trained in classical music and carried on his father’s mission. In 2000, the India Today magazine named Pandit Paluskar to be one of the 100 people who shaped India.[4]

See also[edit]

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Vishnu Digambar Paluskar
Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was a Hindustani musician. He sang the original version of the bhajan Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, and founded the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1901. Wikipedia
Born: August 18, 1872, Kuruntwad
Died: August 21, 1931, Miraj
D. V. Paluskar
D. V. Paluskar
Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande
Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande
Omkarnath Thakur
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