The Founder and Guru
Arijit Mahalanabis began his studies in music under vocalist Smt. Shahana Banerjee of Delhi, shortly before his family moved from India to the United States. Faced with few options for formal study, Arijit undertook an intense period of self-directed study, encouraged and supported by his mother, Smt. Sukla Mahalanobis. Starting in 1989, he began a long association with Penn State University’s Raaga. During this time, he received much encouragement, mentoring and informal guidance from the members of this group, in particular in the joys of Carnatic music. In 1999 he moved to Seattle, a seminal moment in his musical life. There, he began a diligent period of discipleship under Smt. Shantha Benegal, a vocalist and musicologist versed in Dagar Bani Dhrupad, Khayal, and Thumri. Arijit learned much about each of these forms from his primary Guru. He was deeply influenced in his studies by time spent with various visiting musicians, particularly Pt. Uday Bhawalkar, Pta. Aditi Kaikini Upadhya, Pta. Neela Bhagwat and Pt. Samir Chatterjee. From his experiences, Arijit has emerged as a vocalist immersed in the nuances of the four genres of Hindustani music – Dhrupad, Khayal, Thumri and Tappa.
Arijit spent 15 years rejuvenating the Seattle Indian music scene, in the process serving in several major organizations. He served as the president of Ragamala, an organization devoted to presenting musicians from India to Seattle audiences. Arijit also established the Ashta Prahar, an annual 24 hour festival of Indian music, featuring a lineup of musicians local, national and international. He performed at every major venue in the area, including Ragamala, Town Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, the University of Washington, and Northwest Folklife Festival. Arijit has also performed across the country at various venues. After serving in adjunct positions at the Evergreen State College and the University of Washington, in 2008, Arijit found his true calling as a teacher of music, when he established the Seattle Indian Music Academy (SIMA). In 2014, after 15 years in Seattle, he relocated to State College, and is presently helping to establish a new SIMA (the Society for Indian Music and Arts) in his old hometown.