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Magic in a Pair of Tablas
KATHMANDU, August 28: Achyut Ram Bhandari, a well-known tabla professor and performer, completed his Master's in Music from Allahabad before teaching music at Tribhuwan University for about two and a half decades.
His love for the tabla hasn't faded even after five decades of playing the instrument. He insists on playing tabla until his last breath. The artist had once learnt playing from renowned Zakir Hussain.
Born in 2016 BS, at Suntakhana in Gokarna, Achyut started playing at the age of nine. He took on playing professional tabla at the age of 17, and was even provided with the opportunity to visit Europe to perform his skills. After that, he has visited more than two dozen countries for various performances.
Every Saturday, about a dozen children from varying backgrounds come to his house at Guheshwori to learn tabal from him. Among his total students, Achyut teaches half of them free of cost. He has also published several tabla skills books for those who cannot be physically present to learn from him. 'Talananda', 'A Glance at Playing the Tabla', 'Divya Taal Sutra' are some of his famous books.
"Tabla has elevated from merely being my interest to a way of helping people," he said. Achyut is glad that the funds from his concerts and programs are helping to improve the lives of several people, like the starved kids in Ethiopia and Reason Karki's foreign studies.
Achyut takes pride in his students’ success. He said he becomes elated whenever he finds out that his students are utilizing, and earning through, their musical skills. He joyfully shared that one of his students, Sheetal Parajuli, earned about Rs 28,000 simply through his tabla skills.
Although both his legs were fractured in the April 25, 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Achyut didn't stop playing. Instead of sitting cross-legged (the standard position to play tabla), he used a wheelchair for ease. "My heart beats with the beats of my tabla. They provide me with life," he said.
He gives the credit for his success to his wife and mentioned how he only gets to follow his passion because his wife takes care of the chores at home while he absolutely follows the tunes of tabla. He compared himself and his wife to a set of tablas and said, "One is never complete without the other."
He plans to introduce 'Pandit Homnath Tabla Puraskar', named after his teacher Homnath Upadhyaya, to encourage aspiring tabla players.
Sharing about the origin of tabla, he said it came through several changes in the society against the use of loud music in villages. "A tabla set consists of left and right parts. The left is made of soil and metal, while the right is mostly made of wood,” he said.