Bismillah Khan : a write-up by Shashwat Mishra

Oct 9, 2013 am31 10:57am

"Even if the world ends, the music will still survive"- Bismillah Khan

Varanasi lost his music in the form of Pandit Bismillah Khan Sahib. Khan Sahib was born in Dumrao(Destrict of Bihar) on march 21,1916 and he leave us alone on 21st of august 2006.He was a great shehnai maestro from Varanasi(Banaras).He was the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna (in 2001), the highest civilian honour of India. He also had the distinction of being one of the few people to be awarded all the top four civilian awards.He born as the second son of his parents, Paigambar Khan and Mitthan, he was christened as Qamaruddin initially, before his grandfather uttered Bismillah after looking at the newborn. He was a pious Shia Muslim. His ancestors were court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in Bihar. He received his training under his uncle, the late Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu', a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath Temple.He was a devout Shiv, but he worshipped goddess Saraswati as well. He often played at various temples and on the banks of the river Ganga in Varanasi, besides playing outside the famous Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.Ustad was perhaps single man who responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument. Ustadji had a rare honor of performing at Delhi's Red Fort on the eve of India's Independence in 1947. It was Khan Sahib who poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India�s first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950.He has played in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and almost every capital city across the world.Despite his fame, Khan's lifestyle retained its old world Banares charm. His chief mode of transport was the rickshaw(pulled by man). A man of tenderness, he believed in remaining private, and that musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen. Ustad Khan will remain remembered as one of the finest musicians in post-independent Indian Classical music and one of the best examples of hindu-muslim unity in India.His concept of music was very beautiful and his vision, superb. He once said, "Even if the world ends, the music will still survive" and he often said, "Music has no caste".He always keep his Sahanai near him at the time of death also.He is no more but he always with us in the form of sahanai,music, hindu- muslim unity and Banaras.

Main awards:
Bharat Ratna (2001) ,Padma Vibhushan (1980) ,Padma Bhushan (1968) ,Padma Shri (1961) ,Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1956) ,Tansen Award by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh ,Talar Mausiquee from Republic of Iran, 1992. ,Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi, 1994. 

-By Shashwat Mishra from Varanasi