In Memory of Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall

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Bio-data of Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall (25th April 1926  – 30th June 1984)

His motto ‘Beauty is the smile of God, Music his voice’

Dr  Ishwardutt Nundlall was born on the 25th April, 1926  in the northern part of Mauritius, at Labourdonnais, Mapou. His parents soon moved to La Caverne, Vacoas when he was still a child and where they stayed thereon. 

His father, late Pundit Jugnandun Nundlall was a Vedic priest who had a great love for Indian culture, Hindi, & music and he used to sing ‘ bhajans’ very melodiously accompanied by flute. 

Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall inherited the artistic & cultural qualities from his father. He had his primary education at the Aryan Vedic School, Vacoas.

He wanted to further his inherent talents and he was very fortunate to get a Scholarship from the Indian Government to study music in India, namely at the Bhatkhande Music Institute, Lucknow, India. 

For 7 years he studied vocal and instrumental music at the National Academy of Music Lucknow- Bhatkhande University, India and got his B. Mus & M. Mus Degree. As thesis for M. Mus. he wrote “Music in Mauritius “ which is a survey of Western and Eastern music and Folklores in Creole & Bhojpuri popular in Mauritius at the time. He received a 1st prize award for this from Bhatkhande University, Lucknow, India.  

During his years of training, he came in contact with several maestros  and learnt several languages such as Hindi,  Urdu, Bengali &  Sanskrit.

He learnt violin from Professor Jog, sitar from Ustaad Yousouf Ali Khan &Ustaad Sakhawat Hussein Khan, Vocal  from Dr Ratangankar and Rabindra Sangeet from veteran Pankaj Malick, Bhajans from Jutika Roy in Calcutta.

He was highly inspired in his writing skills by his guardian, Dr Yashpal a top most novelist of India who received the Padma Bhushan for his colossal original contribution to Hindi Literature.

Upon his return to Mauritius in 1958, Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall undertook research work and he was the first Mauritian to have earned a Doctorate in Music.

For several years, he held Music concerts throughout the island and gave the Mauritian population a taste for Indian Classical Music and folklore. 

He studied Western Music too and he carried out “A Survey of World Music”, which was also his thesis for doctorate. 

He continued to practice, for long hours, music and train his first students in vocal and instrumental music at home and much later began to teach music to the students at the Teacher Training College, at Beau-Bassin.

He introduced the systematic teaching of Indian music in the educational institutes of Mauritius, first to trainee teachers of the  primary schools, then in the secondary schools. Later, he also taught music in the State Secondary Schools, and in the Private Secondary Schools.

In 1974, he said there’s a big job to be done in the field of music in Mauritius and that he laid the foundation stone for the future.

His first pupils and accompanists:

• Ms Brinda Gopaul from La Caverne for tanpura,

• Mr Rajmun Bharuth  from Petite Riviere for tabla,

• Mr Sachidanand from Bambous for vocal,

• Mr Beekharry for violin

• Mr  Chinayya Uckiah, - Vocal

• Mr Indurduth Dreepaul - Tabla

• Mr  Ishwarlall Bungshi, - Flute

• Mr  Atmanand Budheea, - Vocal

Among many more 

He initiated the Trainee Teachers at the Teacher Training Centre in Indian Classical music in Beau Bassin together with Mrs Odette Tulsi for Western music.

He wrote many articles especially on themes of Music in English, French and Hindi in the various Mauritian newspapers.

He was the President of the Vacoas  ‘Hindi Parishad’ and wrote articles in the ‘Anurag” magazine.

His lecture recitals throughout the island must still be echoing in the minds of all music lovers.

He had a mastery over all styles of music, vocal, light classical, classical, ghazal and Tagore.

He used to organize Mehfils at home at La Caverne for all his music lovers & friends. 

He was also a regular music presenter on the only National radio and television, later MBC radio & MBC T.V. His popular program “Sargam” was listened and appreciated by many for many Years in the 80’s 90’s. He also had the opportunity to perform at the BBC and All India Radio.

He was among the founder members of the “School of Indian Music and Dance” where Mr & Mrs Nadkishore from India, joined and left their footprints too in the Mauritian soil and in the field of Music and Dance 

This school set-up originally in Beau-Bassin, Vandermesh Street was  shifted to Moka and has become the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture.

Besides being a musician, Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall was a linguist, expressing himself with decorum in English, French, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Sanskrit. 

He was a composer, a writer and a brilliant orator with a sharp wit and jovial disposition.

He wrote the books 

1. “ Dialogues on Music” in English,    

2. “Bharat ki Sangeet Kala” in Hindi &

3. “ Music in Mauritius” in English 

4. ’Music Arts in India’ in English

5. ” A Survey of  World Music ’  in English

Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall passed away on the 18th June 1984, leaving behind for - ever, the foundations in the field of music, literature on the Mauritian soil.

To-day we are reaping the fruits which Dr Ishwarduth Nundlall laid in the hearts and soul of  thousands of Mauritians.

He used to say and sing ‘ Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru Maheshwara’ to veneer his  Guruji’s & masters and to-day his compositions can be heard.

He belonged to that kind of people - those who make things happen, devoted to his life goal ‘ to be of service to mankind ‘ and enriching the individual, society and the nation  regardless of  class, creed, colour, reward or recognition.

He inculcated the spirit of doing the right thing regardless of what others think and guided us to build our life and business on honesty and selfless dedication.

It’s an honour and a privilege to be amongst all those who have known him, (from greatest politicians  to the  man in the street) followed his teachings and are now leading the way .

I am very proud to be his niece, daughter of his eldest brother, late Mr Satiakam Nundlall and the grand –daughter of a Pundit Jugnundan Nundlall, a Vedic priest of Arya Samaj who performed hawans at the abode of many eminent personalities and tied the bonds of marriage of Sir Aneerood and Lady Sarojini Jugnauth. 

Dr Ishwarduth Nundlall always stretched his arms and helped those facing difficulties in attaining their educational goals. He advocated  humbly  with the respective authorities for those who  had the potential and wished to pursue further in the field of music and dance. 

We are very grateful to all the High Commissioners of India, who from the outset have been continuously offering scholarships to Mauritians willing to pursue their studies especially Indian music and dance. 

I, am one whose University studies in India he sponsored in 1971, when my sister Shakuntala Nundlall got a scholarship from the Government of India, to study sitar in Lucknow and in 1973 my younger sister Anita got a scholarship to study Indian dance at the Bhatkhande College Lucknow.

Although originating from a very small family of 3 brothers and one sister namely: Mr Satiakam Nundlall, Mr Satyabhan Nundlall, Mrs Sabeetree Gopee, he built an infinite and undeniable bond with all those he came in contact with.

We are grateful to thank the Government of Mauritius, The Indian High Commission  of India, the Ministry of Arts  & Culture, the Minister of ,  Education & Human Resources for the homage  paid to Dr Ishwarduth Nundlall on the  7th July, 2012.The Northern Association of Indian Music held a laudable initiative under the Chairmanship of the director, an ex pupil Mr Chummun,  “ Dr. I. Nundlall Sangeet Samaroha” to mark the 28th Death Anniversary of  Dr Ishwarduth Nundlall  at the Indira  Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture, in Mauritius.

I vividly remember, when on the 12th March 1968, our flag floated for the first time in the Mauritian sky, under the  melody and tune of the folkloric song of  “ kanathari gopiyan ne…' conducted by  the maestros  Dr. Ishwarduth Nundlall, Mr & Mrs Nandkishore , the musicians, the dancers , the pupils of the School of Indian Music and Dance  and myself,  performed the song and dance item on the tarmac  at Champs de Mars, accompanied by instrumental music.  

He composed the song “Mauritius hai desh hamara, jaanse apni hamko pyara”  to mark the Independence Day Celebrations  on the 12th March,1968 . This song was also submitted to the Selection Committee for the  National Anthem.

He also composed the music for the song ‘Mauritius Swarg Sahodaye, Mauritius desh mahan, jai jai desh mahaan’ composed by Professor Ram Prakash with whom he held a close association.

Dr Ishwarduth Nundlall entertained very close and friendly relationship with many.

He composed music for the dance ballet’ Mauritius ki Shristi’ composed by Mr Somduth Buckory in the 1970’s.

Dr Iswarduth Nundlall has created the root of a very wide and rich family of Mauritian musicians and artists. Wherever he went he built a strong bond , be it in India, U.k., France, India, South Africa, Kenya or Reunion Islands.

Every year, he travelled to U.K. and met all his friends and relatives abroad and they shared rich and happy moments together and always looked forward to his next visit.

Dr IswarduthNundlall passed away in Liverpool in UK, at the residence of his nephew   Mr Mukeshwar Ravind Nundlall on the morning of 30th June, 1984. On that morning he woke up and played his sitar for about an hour , as was his routine, when he was taken aback by a pain in his chest. He was rushed to the hospital where the doctors confirmed that he had already expired.  His sudden and unforeseen death took everybody by surprise. His cremation was held on the 11th July, 1984. He was mourned by many.

Written by Ms Geeta Nundlall

(Niece of late Dr Ishwardutt Nundlall)


Above is copy of an article written by Mr. Jooneed Jeerouburkhan in Montreal, July 7,2012 on the occasion of a special ceremony, held on Sat July 7, 2012, 3.30PM. IGCIC, Mauritius


Ladies, Gentlemen , Lovers and Practitioners of Shastriya Sangeet,

It is a great honour for me, and a very moving experience also, to be associated, even from as far away as Montreal, with this wonderful celebration of Pandit Ishwardutt Nundlall.

Dr Nundlall was the true pioneer of Indian classical music among Mauritians. Through the great violinist Pandit V.G.Jog, who guided his studies in the late 50s and early 60s at the Marris College of Music in Lucknow, now the Bhatkande Music Institute University, he was heir to a rich and noble legacy linking the Gwalior, Agra and Maihar gharanas.

Pandit Nundlall was our first musical guru as he came once a week, after classes, to teach us the mysteries and the magic of sargam at the Royal College Curepipe, where we were very lucky students indeed. He was a soft-spoken, ever-smiling ustaad, a person of infinite charm, at ease at the piano and with the violin, and always ready to emphasize a taan vocally.

“Beauty is the smile of God, Music is His voice”, he told us at the very outset, a quotation I’m sure all his students remember.

To me, Pandit Ishwardutt Nundlall was also a neighbour in La Caverne, and a friend who I had the pleasure to entertain in Montreal where he stopped in the early 80s on his way to see the famous Niagara Falls. He had already seen Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In La Caverne already, I often walked over to his house and sat in till quite late on training sessions with his students. Once when I was on a visit in Mauritius, he interviewed me in Hindustani for MBC radio about the spreading culture of India in North America. 

Once he told me about a self-important compatriot, still in the colonial days, who raised his nose at him, saying, harshly and arrogantly: “Savez-vous de qui je descends?” To which he replied, with his smile, and characteristically soft voice: “Vous descendez? Moi, je monte!”   

In Montreal, I arranged for him to meet with friends from Lucknow, one being Anand Yashpal, son of the Indian revolutionary and Hindi writer Yashpal. Many of my friends from Lucknow were of Pandit Nundlall’s generation and it was fascinating to watch them share memories of places and people, including college girls, from their student days!

We resolved to meet again but it was not to be. Fate plucked him too soon from our midst. But we were privileged to have had him among us. He was like a raag on the bansuri of Shri Krishna (he was called Nundlall, after all!) which travelled with our common jahaazi ancestors across the Kaala Paani, and wafted over Mauritius for many decades of the late 20th Century. He was one of the most delicate flowers from India to sprout and bloom on the rough volcanic basalt of our scattered island-nation.  

We are fortunate that his family and his students are continuing his gharana, his silsila, his parampara. I gratefully thank The Northern Association of Indian Music, The Mahatma Gandhi Institute and the Indira Gandhi Centre for making this celebration possible.

Let us hope the country will honour him as he deserves and keep alive his memory through some form of meritorious official recognition – which will never come soon enough. It’s not just about the unique contribution of Dr Nundlall to Mauritius; it’s also a matter of our own national pride.

Thank you. Dhanyawaad. 



July 7, 2012