Story of the Hansa Veena

the latest Hansa Veena manufactured by Bhabasindhu Biswas of Kolkata
the latest Hansa Veena manufactured by Bhabasindhu Biswas of Kolkata

A highly evolved form of the slide guitar as an Indian classical instrument


The sheer genius of Pandit Ravi Shankar, who so far had created ragas, a host of superb musical compositions keeping the whole world enthralled, has now given a new vent to his creativity. On 7th April,2000, Panditji unveiled to the world of Indian classical music a new instrument, christened by him as the Hansa Veena. Vishan Das, the proprietor of the famous Instrument maker, M/S Rikhi Ram and Sons of Delhi, has worked sincerely to make this instrument under the constant guidance of Pandit Ravi Shankar.


The instrument Pandit Ravi Shankar unveiled at a ceremony organized in Delhi at his place on his 80th birthday, is an evolution of the Indian classical guitar. Same evening, the launching of the Hansa Veena was done by his senior disciple BarunKumar Pal. 


Apart from playing sitar for more than six decades, Panditji has been working with several others Indian and western Instruments, deeply analyzing their characters for their best utilization. Panditji had now conceptualized and implemented several brilliant basic modifications to the guitar played as Indian classical instrument, to make a complete and compact instrument that could competently render the delicate nuances of ragas.


A totally new Indian instrument is born. He makes a historic addition to the world of Indian classical Instruments.


Later, the Hansa Veena was officially launched at different places of India, UK, Singapore, Canada and USA. National and international TV channels reported the news with Barun Kumar's concerts and lecture demonstrations on this instrument.


Newspapers like Times Of India, Telegraph, Hindustan Times, Statesman, Business Standard, Sambad Pratidin and others covered launching events of HansaVeena organized by Rajya Sangeet Academy (West Bengal Govt), Salt Lake Cultural Association of Calcutta, Aurobindo Ashram of Pondicherry and Auroville, Indian Embassy of UK, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata and others. Within a short time, th Hansa Veena has become a very popular Instrument for its beautiful tone and wider recognition.


The playing technique of this new Instrument has some similarities to Indian classical guitar (slide guitar). But the structure, shape, material of construction and above all the quality and tone of the sound production is more akin to the Vichitra Veena. It is played using a slide on the left hand and special plectrums on right hand fingers.


Apart from the regular fretboard of a slide guitar, everything in this instrument is Indianised. The Instrument is made out of a single piece solid wood. It has a semi flat sound chamber like the Tambura and Veena. It has five playing strings, one supporting, three chikaris and 12 sympathetic strings. The edge of the hollow neck or fretboard is beautifully curved to resemble the neck of a swan. Like the veena, sarod and sitar, the tuning keys are made out of wood. Above all, the tone of the Instrument is more like the veena, very smooth and well balanced. Like Vichitra Veena, the beautiful sustained tone helps an artiste to play in the real gayaki (vocal) style. 


Pandit Barun Kumar Pal with his guitars and Hansa Veena designs, 1971-2010