Suraj Nirwan: Leading torchbearer to the oldest tradition of Tabla

New Delhi: 

Indian Classical music has been a source to express the stirrings of one’s soul. Through the centuries, it has evolved, transformed, and interacted with a different culture. However, its melodic essence has remained the same. 

Suraj Nirwan, son of late Pt Subhash Nirwan, a renowned Tabla legend and maestro of Delhi Gharana style of playing (Delhi Baaj), believes that this true essence of Indian classical music should be propelled worldwide. Suraj trusts he can purify the listeners’ souls and provide them with momentary inner peace. With his harmonious tunes, other than making it just technical creativity through his unique playing style, he has already made a massive difference in his field. His maturity, tonality, and soulful meditative performances have gained substantial recognition worldwide at such a younger age.

Born and bred in the celebrated musical family of Delhi Gharana, Suraj learned the delicate art of tabla from his father. Even in his formative years, Suraj began showing signs of a prodigy. So it was no short a wonder when he accompanied his father on one of the most prestigious stages of Indian classical music, Sankat Mochan Sangeet Sammelan, Varanasi. He was only four years old at that time. Suraj believes that to become something more, you need to learn minor things first, and getting a suitable ambiance to grow, learn and evolve is the key to success.

Today, Suraj holds the novel vision of promoting the intricate Indian traditional culture and its rich and ancient learnings and concepts through his versatile skills of tabla playing, singing, and composing music. Moreover, he has spread the idea that Indian classical music contains the power to heal souls at every possible stage performance worldwide. These include a broad spectrum ranging from speaking at TEDx NMIMS Shirpur to performing solo at Sankat Mochan Sangeet Sammelan, Haridas Sammelan, Harballah Sangeet Sammelan, and countless others.  

Delhi Gharana is the oldest of all tabla gharanas. The playing style is popularly known as “do unglion ka baaj” (two fingers style). Suraj Nirwan holds immense proficiency in this treasured tabla playing art and has developed a unique style of playing it. His proficiency in playing and an extremely high degree of maintaining a balance between Baya and Daya are matchless. From complex Shyahi and Kinar bols to flawless ‘Dhir-Dhir’ and expanding traditional ‘Kaida’s tenaciously by creating exceptionally harmonic Upaj is a perfect reflection of his character in his art. Moreover, he has created a tandem between conventional and modern techniques of tabla. 

Recently, Suraj received the chance to pull the audience into the enchanting tunes of Delhi Gharana Tabla at the “Mewati Sangeet Martand Parv” festival, organized by Pandit Jasraj Institute. On 19th September 2021, the festival was held to celebrate 91st JasRang, 1st JasVibhu Janma & the 26th year of the Gurukul. Suraj not only pulls in the listeners with his unmatched skill of executing accurate Bols but creating magically profound tonality has something so peaceful in his playing that is almost bygone in today’s speedy style of tabla playing. 

Suraj is somehow quite different and inspiring from his similar club of professional artists. At such an earlier stage of a highly skilled and successful career, he is tirelessly spreading his idea of promoting Indian classical music. Through his groundbreaking foundation (a tribute to his legendary father-cum-Guru) entitled Pt. Subhash Nirwan Foundation, multiple events, and activities are performed. The foundation is involved in teaching, nurturing, and felicitating young artists. Through this renowned foundation, Suraj is providing a significant performing opportunity to talented young artists. The sole vision behind this highly appreciative work is to provide much-needed and timely recognition for brighter and financially safer careers of upcoming new talents in Indian classical music.

Suraj also held the post of Tabla faculty at the Department of Music and Fine Arts, Delhi University. Also, he was part of the faculty at other reputed educational institutions such as Kala Ashram, Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and more. Presently, Shri Suraj Nirwan is posted as a Teacher-cum-Performer in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has been given this exceptional opportunity from ICCR to teach and promote Tabla. With a vision to infuse the beauty of our traditional Indian classical music globally, Suraj is setting new milestones every day.

If we talk about the impact of Suraj’s tabla playing, we all know Indian classical music follows a gentle melody. But when one listens to Suraj’s performance with tabla, the stage accompaniment and the audience cannot help but be pulled into a trance. One note seems to follow the other in the song that flows out of his fingers, creating a continuous meditative eternal effect of pure healing music. Suraj intends to bring people closer to the glory of Indian classical music. The music, practiced for centuries, can set the stage for spiritual and physical healing. As the raaga align with the time of day, as they influence the emotions or rasas, the sheer positive impact of classical music cannot be overlooked. 

Through the years of performing, teaching, composing, and songwriting, Suraj has not only faced and overcome the upheavals of his life. He has also witnessed other people overcome the hindrances in their lives. Indian classical music is inherently organic. It, thus, holds the power of bringing us closer to our inner being. The mindfulness that Suraj feels when he practices the tabla or composes music is unparalleled. It makes him believe that engaging with classical music can improve his emotional, mental, and physical state. 

It is time now, Suraj trusts, to tap into the immense resource that has the potential to heal our mind and body. In the form of classical music, this resource can make one more emotionally aware, profoundly connecting them to the world around them. Indian ragas hold the power of making one undergo identification and transformation, so thus the Indian classical instruments, if learned perfectly. Music may be just a form of entertainment for some, but Indian classical music holds power to break down the wall holding us back from creation. 


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