My primary teacher of music, my Guruji, was late Pandit Raghunath Prasanna of the Banaras Gharana.
I studied with Guruji under the ancient Guru-Shishya parampara, which is an amazing gift if ever you could get one. It is a tradition in which the Guru ties a knot around your hand and makes you his disciple. Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was one-of-a-kind musician in Delhi and he could have obtained whatever he wanted as fees for teaching, but he chose to teach music to me for free. He never asked for any money for his instruction during the 10 years I learned from him from the age of 5. And there were no time limits. It was learning by experience. It was teaching with love. For those who hear love in my music, you know where it comes from now!
His grandson recently visited the US on a tour with several Indian and South African musicians. We had a lot of fun exchanging memories and music. I also obtained some more information on my Guru. Here it goes:
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was a doyen of wind instruments both shehnai and bansuri, an innovator and expert in instrument-making.
The title 'Prasanna' have been entitled to Pandit Raghunath by the king of Kuch Bihar. The king honored him as Pandit Raghu Nath Prasanna made audience happy, from then he has been named as "Prasanna" which literally means "happy".
Pandit Prasanna family hails from Benaras, the holy city of India, has been the cultural centre of music and art for thousands of years. The city is completely soaked in the great tradition of the Indian classical music both in vocal and instrumental. Artists from every genre have interacted with this great city and found spiritual solace that amply reflected in their artistic pursuits.
Banaras Gharana of India which known for its shehnai playing for several centuries. The shehnai in this family was earlier strengthen for many generations by Pandit Raghunath’s father Pandit Gauri Shanker, Pandit Tehal Prasad (his grandfather), Pandit Garib Das (his great grandfather). Pandit Raghunath Prasanna obtained his musical training from his father Pandit Guari Shanker, a shehnai player of repute, and gayaki ang from Pandit Dauji Mishra of Varanasi. He was the first person in the family to introduce the art of bansuri.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a bansuri player of great merit; he developed various techniques in the realm of flute playing so as to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the Indian classical music. In fact, he was responsible to provide a strong base to his Gharana by training his own family members including his son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna globally known for his melodious music. The tools and techniques developed by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna have been widely adopted by many of the Indian bansuri players including his younger brother and disciple Pandit Bholanath Prasanna and his disciple Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Rajendra Prasanna, Pandit Ronu Mujamdar and many others.
Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a legendary bansuri and shehnai player. He initiated into the art of bansuri playing from the instrument named Tripura bansuri and took this Tripura bansuri to Indian classical music and then he started Krishna Bansuri. He was an excellent instrument-maker, Ustad Bismillah khan used to call him "Vishkarma"- an Indian God, when saw his quality as an instruments maker.