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Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan was a great Indian shehnai maestro of Benares and awarded with the Bharat Ratna in the year 2001 being the third classical musician. Bharat Ratna is the uppermost national honour in India. He got the fame worldwide for performing the shehnai more than eight decades.

Biography of Bismillah Khan

Birth history and background

He was born in the bihari Muslim family at the Bhirung Raut Ki Galim, Dumraon, Bihar at 21st March in 1916. He was the second son of the Paigambar Khan and Mitthan, named as Qamaruddin in order to rhyme with his brother Shamsuddin. It is considered that his grandfather, Rasool Baksh Khan called him as a Bismillah after caring him as a newborn. It is considered that the predecessors of the Bismillah Khan were court musicians and they accustomed to perform in the Naqqar khana at the princely states of Bhojpur (Currently Bihar). Bismillah Khan’s father was used to performing shehnai at the Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh court of the Dumraon Estate, Bihar.

It is believed that when he was just six, he went to the Varanasi and completed his training under the guidance of his uncle, the Ali Baksh Vilayatu. His uncle was playing shehnai at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.

Religious history

He was the great follower of the Saraswati (the Hindu Goddess of wisdom and arts) even he was from Muslim religion. He was also fan of the many Indian musicians and played shehnai at the Hindu temples including the renowned Vishwanath Temple at the banks of the river Gange in Varanasi. He had performed for divine master the Prem Rawat.

Career history of Bismillah Khan

Perhaps he was the only one performing the shehnai (a famous classical instrument) single-handedly. In the All India Music Conference Calcutta in 1937; he gave shehnai the center stage of Indian music. He was one of the best musicians in the Indian classical music and he is renowned for his monopoly over the shehnai and Hindu-Muslim unity. In his whole life he had played shehnai to his audiences all across the world and spread the message of peace and love through his music. He was fully dedicated to his art and even it is also considered that he referred his shehnai as his begum after the death of his wife. On his death, shehnai was also buried with his body.

His performances at the Red Fort in Delhi

Bismillah Khan had won the rarest rare honor of performing at the Red Fort in Delhi on the evening of the Independence Day of India in 1947. He also had performed the raga Kafi at the eve of first Republic Day ritual on 26 January in 1950 from the Red Fort. This performance of him is added as a cultural part of the Independence Day celebrations of India and his show is telecast every year on the 15th August on Doordarshan channel. Doordarshan channel broadcast the live performance of shehnai maestro just after the prime minister’s speech at Lal Qila in Old Delhi. This custom is followed from the period of Pandit Nehru.

Filmy history

Bismillah Khan had a brief history in the Indian movies. He has played his shehnai for the role of Rajkumar in the Kannada movie Sanaadi Appanna. He acted in Jalsaghar (a movie by Satyajit Ray) and played shehnai in Goonj Uthi Shehnai in 1959. Film director the Goutam Ghose has directed the Sange Meel Se Mulaqat upon the life of Bismillah Khan.

His Student life

He rarely accepted students. He met with the Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji (present master of Namdhari Sikhs) and saw the very brilliant youngster, Baljit Singh Namdhari, playing the tarshenai. Bismillah Khan welcomed Baljit Singh Namdhari as a student. He accepted two more students, Kirpal Singh and Gurbaksh Singh Namdhari playing tarshenai in 1999. His another student is Usthad Hassan Bhai (at present in Kasaragod).

His personal life history

He got illness on 17th August of 2006 and admitted to the Heritage Hospital, Lanka Varanasi for his treatment. He died just after the four days of his admission into the hospital on 21st August of 2006 due to the chronic cardiac arrest. He left behind him a big family of five sons, three daughters and a large number of grandchildren.

The Government of India has declared his death day, a day of national mourning. His body was buried together with his begum, Shehnai at the Fatemain burial ground in the Varanasi beneath the neem tree. His body was buried with the 21-gun salute from the Indian Army.

Ustad Bismillah Khan got the Yuva Puraskar (for young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance) in the year 2007 in his honour.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Awarded with the Bharat Ratna in 2001.
  • Become fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1994.
  • Got Talar Mausiquee from Republic of Iran in 1992.
  • Awarded with the Padma Vibhushan in 1980.
  • Awarded with the Padma Bhushan in 1968.
  • Awarded with the Padma Shri in 1961.
  • Got Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956.
  • Got Tansen Award by the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Got three medals in the All India Music Conference in Calcutta in 1937.
  • Got the Honour of Best Performer in All India Music Conference in the Allahabad in 1930.
  • Bismillah Khan had honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University , Visva Bharati University and Santiniketan.
  • He was requested to come to play shehnai at the first Independence on 15th August, 1947 in Delhi Red Fort by the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • He had participated in the World exhibition in Montreal.
  • He had participated in the Cannes Art Festival.
  • He had participated in Osaka Trade Fair.
  • He got his 80th birthday celebrated by the World Music Institute in the New York.

Frequently Asked Questions on Ustad Bismillah Khan

Ans. Ustad Bismillah Khan can teach us two very important lessons about life: dedication and being honest about your work.

Ans. Bismillah Khan was a symbol of how India’s different religions could work together. He was a very religious Muslim, but used to play during the morning Aarti at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. He also played at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a holy place for the Sikh people.

Ans. On August 21, 2006, he had a heart attack and died.

Ans. Bismillah Khan received Bharat Ratna because with his concerts, he kept classical music alive. He was a strong supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity, and he used his songs to spread the idea of brotherhood.

Ans. Bismillah Khan was born in Dumraon, Bihar, on March 21, 1916. Khan spent his whole life playing the shehnai with all his heart. Khan is known for having a simple life. He had won the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna.

Ans. Bismillah Khan has a lot of love for India and Banaras. He says that when he goes abroad, he misses the holy Ganga and India.

Ans. He loved India so much that he never wanted to live anywhere else. So, whenever he was in a different country, he always wished to go to Hindustan.

Ans. Bismillah Khan got the Padma Shri for his work in Indian traditional music in 1961. He also won the Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and the Bharat Ratna in 2001.

Ans. Bismillah Khan used to sing the Bhojpuri song “chaita” when he was five years old in the Bihariji temple in his home town of Dumraon, Bihar. At the end of the song, the local Maharaja gave him a big laddu that weighed 1.25 kg as a reward.

Ans. The moving water of the River Ganga gave him ideas for making up new “ragas” that were thought to be out of the shehnai’s range at the time.

Ans. Bismillah Khan turned down a request from one of his students to open a shehnai school in the U.S. because he did not want to leave Hindustan, especially Banaras, the Ganga, and Dumraon.

Ans. Bismillah Khan grew up on the banks of the Ganga River. He also learned to play the shehnai there. This is why he loved the Ganga River so much.

Ans. Bismillah Khan came from a musical family and hence took a keen interest in music. He teaches us a very important lesson about life. People get ahead in life through hard work and dedication.

Ans. Upon his first visit to Afghanistan, King Zahir Shah was overwhelmed by him that he awarded him with rare Persian carpets and other gifts.

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Ustad bismillah khan.

Domain: Performing arts

State: Uttar Pradesh

Description:

The video presents a shehnai performance by the eminent Hindustani classical musician Ustad Bismillah Khan. Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006) is one of the most recognizable faces of Hindustani classical music. His attention to pitch, phrasing and the expert execution of meends , pukars , khatkas , murkis , zamzams , taans and gamaks on the shehnai transformed the instrument. Under Bismillah Khan the shehnai came out of its ceremonial context and began to be acknowledged as a classical music instrument. One of the highlights of his concert performances was the performance of passages where the shehnai took centre stage and all other accompaniments fell silent. The shehnai alone would explore musical intensity and emotion in full silence only to break it with a crescendo on the mukhda or the sam .

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Ustad bismillah khan: the pied piper, sitarist and a grammy nominee, gaurav mazumdar writes about shehnai maestro ustad bismillah khan and his global popularity..

Ustad Bismillah Khan: The pied piper

On August 15, 1947, as India took its first steps as an independent nation, the sweet notes from Ustad Bismillah Khan’s shehnai filled the Red Fort as the country celebrated its freedom. The shehnai maestro had chosen to stay in India instead of making his way to Pakistan. Ustad Bismillah Khan was a pathbreaking musician who not only brought the shehnai to the forefront, but also embodied the philosophy of oneness. He was a practising devout Muslim, who gave equal respect to other religions and beliefs. A man known for his high morals, simplicity and strength of character, Khan won over the world with sheer charm and magical performances.

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Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan’s biography: Early life, career, achievements, legacy, and more

Today marks the birthday of the legendary classical musician ustad bismillah khan: get to know about his early life, how he started his career as a musician and more..

Yashita Sinha

Originally known as Qamruddin Khan, Bismillah Khan was born on 21st March 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar and Orissa province, British India. He was a classical musician who played shehnai, a ceremonial oboelike North Indian horn with such expressive inventiveness that he became a prominent Indian classical music artist. In this article, you will get to know about his early life, education, career, awards and recognition, and more. So without further ado, let’s get started. 

My tribute to the great Indian Shehnai Maestro "Bharat Ratna" Ustad Bismillah Khan Ji on his birthday. pic.twitter.com/sxetC6ykfb — Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) March 21, 2015

Bismillah Khan Biography

Bismillah khan: early life .

Born as the second son to Paigambar Khan and Mitthan, Bismillah Khan was earlier named Qamaruddin so that his name would sound similar to the name of his elder brother, Shamsuddin. However, when his grandfather, Rasool Baksh Khan held him as a baby, he uttered the word "Bismillah" and hence came to be known as Bismillah Khan. 

Khan’s family ancestors were musicians in the court of the princely states of Bhojpur and his father was a Shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh. Being born into a family of musicians, Bismillah Khan started developing a knack for music during his childhood. Growing up watching his father play shehnai, he decided to follow in his footsteps. 

Bismillah Khan: Career 

The honor of playing on the eve of india’s independence , bismillah khan: personal life and family, bismillah khan: cinema performances , bismillah khan: awards and recognition , bismillah khan: a living example of religious harmony .

Although Khan was a Shia Muslim, he worshiped the goddess Saraswati and performed at both  Hindu and Muslim ceremonies. There’s also a story that narrates Khan’s interaction with Lord Krishna himself. It starts on his train journey from Jamshedpur to Varanasi where he was going to perform in a religious concert. During his journey, he came across a young boy with a dark complexion, holding a flute in his hand. The boy was playing the ‘raaga’ that Ustad couldn’t recognize. He asked the boy to play the same tune repeatedly. 

Bismillah Khan: Legacy 

Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of the most legendary classical musicians to popularize shehnai in Indian classical music. He invented new raagas and patterns that made a significant impact on musicians. Although he didn’t accept many students as his disciples that could have carried his legacy, he made such an everlasting impact on music that he became unforgettable. 

In his honor, Sangeet Natak Akademi came up with a new award called ‘Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ which is awarded to young performers who bring a new perspective to the field of music, dance, and theatre. 

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  • Bismillah Khan

Biography of Bismillah Khan For UPSC

Bismillah Khan, popularly known as ‘Ustad’ was an Indian musician who played a pivotal role in bringing a reed musical instrument, shehnai, to the classical stage of Indian music. He was one of the greatest exponents of Indian classical music and the third classical musician to receive the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour of the country.

Read about Ustad Bismillah Khan and his contribution to Indian classical music in the following article.

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Early Life of Bismillah Khan

  • Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916, in Dumraon, Bihar, as the second son of Paigamar Khan and Mitthan. His ancestors were musicians in the court of the princely state of Bhojpur. His father was a musician in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon.
  • He got introduced to shehnai through his maternal uncle, Ali Baksh ‘Vilayatu’, who was the official shehnai player at the famous VishwanathTemple in Banaras. Noticing Bismillah Khan’s interest in music, Ali Baksh started tutoring him in lessons of shehnai. He accompanied Ali Baksh for his lengthy practice sessions in temple rooms at Balaji Ghat. His genuine enthusiasm got him involved in the world of music. He practised for long hours with his uncle and got familiarised with different forms of music and ragas.
  • His long hours of dedicated practice sessions improvised his craft and talent. He played shehnai on the banks of the River Ganga at the Vishwanath Temple. Drawing inspiration from the flowing waters of Ganga, he invented ragas beyond the range of shehnai. He experimented with the music to make it more appealing. He was also a devotee of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom and arts.
  • The first major musical concert that gained popularity was his performance at the All India Muslim Conference in 1937 in Kolkota. With the performance, shehnai, which was primarily used for ceremonies, was elevated to the level of a classical musical instrument.
  • Bismillah Khan began his career by playing at various stage shows. He got his first break in 1937 when he played at a concert for the All India Music Conference in Calcutta. This performance brought shehnai into the limelight, and was largely accepted by music lovers.
  • He gave concerts in many countries, including Afghanistan, the USA, Canada, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, West Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, and various parts of Europe.
  • During his illustrious career, he played in many prominent events throughout the world. Some of the events where he played shehnai include the World Exposition in Montreal, the Cannes Art Festival, and the Osaka Trade Fair.

Association with Films

  • Goonj Uthi Shehnai – The Hindi film ‘Goonj Uthi Shehnai’ had a shehnai recital by Bismillah Khan himself. Also studded with recitals from other famous musicians like Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan and Amir Khan, the movie went on to become a blockbuster. It had its music composed by Vasant Desai.
  • Sanaadi Appanna – In 1977, the maestro from Varanasi flew to the Prasad Studios in Chennai to work on a Kannada film titled ‘Sanaadi Appanna’. He spent nine days there, along with his troupe, consisting of ten members. He had decided to work on the film as its lead character, played by Dr. Rajkumar, was a rural shehnai artiste. Bismillah Khan’s brilliance formed the determining part of the movie, where the music was composed by G. K. Venkatesh.
  • Sange Meel Se Mulaqat – ‘SangeMeel Se Mulaqat’ is a documentary on Bismillah Khan’s life directed by Goutam Ghose. The film features the maestro himself, and gives a fair idea about his growth from a young shehnai player to one of India’s best.
  • Ustad Bismillah Khan believed that music has no caste. He fostered Hindu-Muslim unity and tried to spread the message of brotherhood through his music.
  • He received the honour of playing Shehnai on the eve of India’s Independence in 1947.
  • He trained students with the thought that there was only little that he could share with his students. He believed that his skill is the result of blessings from Lord Shiva. His followers include S.Ballesh, a famous Shehnai player, and Krishna Ballesh. He also taught Shehnai to his sons, Nazim Hussain and Nayyar Hussain.

Later Years

  • On 21 August 2006, he died of cardiac arrest at Heritage hospital in Varanasi.
  • He received the highest Civilian Honour of the country, Bharat Ratna in 2001.
  • The Government of Kerala presented him the Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram in 1998.
  • He was selected as a fellow of Sangeet Nataka Akademi in 1994.
  • He received the second-highest civilian honour of the country, Padma Vibhushan in 1980, and the third-highest civilian honour in the country, Padma Bhushan, in 1968. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1961.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ustad Bismillah Khan

Why is Bismillah Khan called ‘Ustad’?

Bismilla Khan’s extraordinary talent and dedication to playing the musical instrument, shehnai, garnered worldwide recognition. This earned him the title ‘Ustad’ or maestro as he was the greatest exponent of shehnai during those times.

How did Ustad Bismilla Khan spread the message of religious harmony through his music?

Ustad Bismillah Khan Khan strongly believed that music has no boundaries, including religion. He fostered Hindu-Muslim unity through his music. Shehnai was predominantly used in temples, initially. He worshipped Lord Shiva.

What were the honours received by Ustad Bismilla Khan?

Ustad Bismillah Khan received the first, second, and third highest civilian honours of the country, for his extraordinary talent in playing shehnai. He received Bharat Ratna in 2001, Padma Vibhushan in 1980, and Padma Bhushan in 1968.

What was the source of inspiration for Ustad Bismilla Khan?

Ustad Bismillah Khan worked hard to master the art of playing shehnai. The flowing waters of Ganga were a source of inspiration for him to improvise his music.

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Paragraph on Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan was a renowned musician of India and had mastered playing shehnai. He had a great role in making shehnai music popular in India and the world. Music is a collection of different types of pleasant sounds that gives a soothing effect to our mind and body. This pleasant sound is composed by using different musical instruments. The beautiful soothing music that we hear is made possible by the musicians having proficiency in playing different musical instruments. There have been several great artists and musicians born in India and Ustad Bismillah Khan is one of the shining stars among them.

Short and Long Paragraphs on Bismillah Khan

The topic ‘Bismillah Khan’ is very important for school students and exam aspirants. The students are often asked to write an essay, assignment, project, etc on this topic. They find difficulty in thinking that what things have to be included in writing on this topic. In the same reference, I have provided sets of short and long paragraphs on this topic. I hope that this might be useful to all students in giving them an idea of writing essays, paragraphs, or assignments on this topic.

Paragraph 1 – 100 Words (A Glance On A Famous Indian Musician)

Bismillah Khan is a popular name in the field of Indian classical music. He was a famous shehnai player and gave national as well as international fame to this folk music. This great musician was born on 21st of March in the year 1916 in the Bihar state of India. He was born in a family that was linked with the art of music from generations. Apart from being a great shehnai player, he was also a very generous person by nature. He had learned to play shehnai from his uncle Ali Baksh Khan who used to play shehnai in Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi. Bismillah Khan also accompanied his uncle to play shehnai in different ceremonies. He has bagged several awards and achievements for his excellent skill of playing shehnai.

Paragraph 2 – 120 Words (Bismillah Khan’s Contribution Popularizing Shehnai)

I think that you all would have heard of the beautiful and melodious sound of shehnai often in the marriage ceremonies. Isn’t it true? It is really difficult to imagine that the instrument shehnai that was earlier only the part of folk music has gained the status of becoming classical music. The credit of bringing this form of music to such a height goes to the famous Indian music player named Bismillah Khan. Shehnai is a musical instrument that has been instituted in India. This instrument is made up of wood at one end and has a bell-like metal structure at the other end. It is because of the Ustad Bismillah Khan that shehnai is known in the entire nation and different parts of the world. The people living in western countries now recognize this instrument and show curiosity in learning to play the same. Bismillah Khan is therefore regarded as a precious jewel in the history of India.

Paragraph 3 – 150 Words (Bismillah Khan: The Pride of India)

The word shehnai brings the name of great musician Bismillah Khan in our mind. He is popularly said as the pride of the holy city Varanasi in India. He was a person who believed in simple living and high thinking. This was only the thing that differentiated this great personality from others. He had made a lot of effort to become a great musician in India. He started his day with rigorous exercise and then he used to play shehnai throughout the day. Mostly he used to practice playing shehnai near the river Ganga and the temple areas in Varanasi. He was a very spiritual person and greatly believed in God. He also said that his excel in this art was only because of the blessings of Lord Shiva. The great success that he had achieved in his life is because of his earnest love in his passion for playing shehnai. He had travelled to different parts of the world after becoming a famous shehnai player. Many of the countries requested him to stay there for his entire life but he never accepted the same because of his love with Indian state Varanasi. This great musician took his last breath on 21st August 2006 and his death was a great loss for the nation.

Paragraph 4 – 200 Words (An Account On Early Life Of Bismillah Khan)

The country India is a treasure of several talented personalities in the field of art and culture. Bismillah Khan is one among them and is regarded as the famous Shehnai player of India. His ultimate love for playing the instrument shehnai has made this art rank among the finest classical music in India. He was given the title of ‘Ustad’ because of his excellence in his art.

Early Life Of Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan was born to Paigambar Baksh and Mitthan Khan on 21st March in the year 1916 in Dumrao a small town in Buxar city of Indian state Bihar. His family members were involved in the profession of music from generations. Qamruddin Khan was the original name of Bismillah Khan. Bismillah Khan which means ‘in the name of Allah’ was the name given to him by his grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan. He went to Varanasi to learn to play Shehnai from his maternal uncle Ali Baksh Khan at the age of six years. Thereafter, he never went away from there and always remained in Varanasi. He tied a knot with his own cousin in the year 1932 and had nine children.

Patron Of Hindu-Muslim Unity

Ustad Bismillah Khan was born in a traditional Muslim family in the Bihar state of India but he is regarded as a patron of Hindu-Muslim unity in the nation. He wanted that the power of music keep the people united and live together. He was a great devotee of goddess Saraswati. Moreover, he used to say that he would play the shehnai because of the blessing of Lord Shiva. He practiced playing shehnai near the temples and in this way, he was promoting the Hindu-Muslim unity in the nation.

Paragraph 5 – 250 Words (Ustad’s Journey Of Becoming A Famous Shehnai Player)

The legendry Shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan is a famous name that is recognized very well in India and the entire world. He had added great beauty to the Indian classical music by ornamenting it with the melody of shehnai. His entire life and the effort that he made to reach such a height of success is full of inspiration for the younger generations.

His Journey Of Becoming A Famous Shehnai Player

Bismillah Khan started playing shehnai at a very small age of six years. He was greatly in love with this art and used to call his shehnai his ‘begum’. He learnt to play Shehnai music on different types of ragas and he gave the melody of this instrument to the most difficult ragas that were really impossible to be done with shehnai. In the year 1937, the concert performance at the All India Music Conference in Kolkata gave him great publicity in the nation as a famous shehnai player. Later, he started performing in different concerts held in the nation as well as different countries of the world.

The great musician Bismillah Khan played shehnai in the year 1947, on the eve of first Independence Day at Red Fort. Since then his performance at Red Fort every year had become a part of the Independence Day celebration in the nation. He had also performed in different Bollywood movies and had bagged several awards for the same.

Awards Conferred On Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan had been awarded several awards and achievements for his remarkable contribution to the field of music. He had received India’s highest civilian award named ‘Bharat Ratna’ in the year 2001. He was the third musician in India to get this award after Subbalakshmi and Ravi Shankar. ‘Ustad Bismillah Khan Puraskar’ was the name of award started by the Sangeet Natak Academi in the year 2007 to give tribute to the great musician Bismillah Khan. He had also bagged the Sangeet Natak Academi fellowship and award in 1994 and 1956. He had also been awarded the Tansen award by the government of Madhya Pradesh. There are several awards and honours that have been received by the famous shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan for his remarkable contributions to Indian music.

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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions On Bismillah Khan

Ans. Bismillah Khan was popularly called ‘Khan Saab’.

Ans. Tehran is the country in the world that has built an auditorium named ‘Tahar Mosiquee Ustad Bismillah Khan’ in honour of Bismillah Khan.

Ans. Raag Kafi was played by Bismillah Khan on India’s first Independence Day on 15th August in the year 1947.

Ans. Bismillah Khan’s first abroad trip for playing Shehnai was to Afghanistan.

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Madras Courier - Quicquid Agunt Homines

Remembering Ustad Bismillah Khan

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On the morning of August 15, 1947, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, India was ushered into an era of independence by the soothing sound of a Shehnai, played by its greatest master, Ustad Bismillah Khan. It was a tremendous honour, both for the player and his instrument. And it was repeated, when Jawaharlal Nehru asked Bismillah to perform in 1950 on the occasion of Republic Day.

Ever since, millions of Indians gained a familiarity with the Shehnai by listening to Republic Day broadcasts – where Bismillah’s performances became a tradition. The Shenai is a wind instrument, similar to the oboe. It’s commonly found in temples ; its sound considered auspicious.

56 years later, the same Ustad listened to the proceedings of the 2006 Republic Day celebrations on the radio. He heard himself perform and remarked on how the government now used his music but failed to invite him. That same year, the man who had become synonymous with the Shehnai passed away . By his death at the age of 90, Bismillah had won every award possible for an Indian artist – from the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honour) to the Sangeet Natak Academi Award, Tansen Award and Padma Shri.

Perhaps, Bismillah would have gained in worldly fame had he accepted the invitation from an American university to be its musician in residence. But he would not leave Varanasi, where he spent his entire life.

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Ustad Bismillah Khan

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  • Bharat Ratna (2001)

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Despite his fame, Khan’s lifestyle retained its old world Benares charm. His chief mode of transport was the cycle rickshaw. A man of tenderness, he believed in remaining private, and that musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen.

He was a pious Shi’a Muslim and also, like many Indian musicians regardless of creed, a devotee of Mother Saraswati . 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. He received his training under his uncle, the late Ali Baksh ‘Vilayatu’, a shehnai player attached to Varanasi’s Vishwanath Temple.

Khan was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument. He brought the shehnai to the center stage of Indian music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937. He was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as he and the shehnai are almost synonyms.

Khan is 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 has played in Bangladesh , Afghanistan , Europe, Iraq, Iran , Canada, West Africa, USA , USSR, Japan, Hong Kong almost every capital city across the world.

Khan had the rare honor of performing at Delhi’s Red Fort on the eve of India’s Independence in 1947. He also performed Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950. His recital had almost become a cultural part of the Independence Day Celebrations telecast on Doordarshan every year on August 15th. After the Prime Minister’s speech from Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Old Delhi, Doordarshan would broadcast live performance by the shehnai maestro. And this tradition had been going on since the days of Pandit Nehru .

Ustad Bismillah Khan: Awards

  • Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi (1994).
  • Talar Mausiquee from Republic of Iran (1992).
  • Padma Vibhushan (1980)
  • Padma Bhushan (1968)
  • Padma Shri (1961)
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1956)
  • Tansen Award by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Three medals in All India Music Conference, Calcutta (1937)
  • “Best Performer” in All India Music Conference, Allahabad (1930)

Recognition

  • Banaras Hindu University
  • Visva Bharati University
  • Santiniketan
  • Was invited by the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to play Shehnai on the first Independence Day (August 15, 1947) in Delhi’s Red Fort.
  • Participated in World Exposition in Montreal
  • Participated in Cannes Art Festival
  • Participated in Osaka Trade Fair
  • His 80th birthday was celebrated by World Music Institute in New York

On August 17, 2006, Khan was taken ill and admitted to the Heritage Hospital, Varanasi for treatment. He died after four days on August 21, 2006 due to a cardiac arrest. He was ninety years old. He is survived by five sons, three daughters and a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Government of India declared one day of national mourning on his death. His body was buried at Fatemain burial ground of old Varanasi under a neem tree with 21-gun salute from Indian Army.

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Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan: A Musical Legacy that Echoes Through Time

  • Post author By Mala Chandrashekhar
  • Post date September 15, 2022
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write a biography on ustad bismillah khan

Bismillah Khan  (born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 – 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title Ustad, was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the  shehnai , a reeded wooden wind instrument.

While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played primarily schooled in traditional ceremonies, Khan is credited with elevating its status and bringing it to the concert stage.

He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the  Bharat Ratna , in 2001, becoming the third classical musician of India after  M. S. Subbalakshmi   and  Ravi Shankar  to be awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Personal life

Bismillah Khan was born on 21 March 1916 into a family of traditional Muslim musicians at the town of Dumraon British India, as the second son of Paigambar Bux Khan and Mitthanbai.

His father was a court musician employed in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon Estate in Bihar. His two grandfathers Ustad Salar Hussain Khan and Rasool Bux Khan were also musicians in the Dumraon palace. 

He was named Qamruddin at birth, to rhyme with his elder brother’s name Shamsuddin. Upon seeing the newborn, his grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan, also a shehnai player, is said to have exclaimed “Bismillah”, or “In the name of Allah”, and thereafter he came to be known by this name.

At the age of six, he moved to Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, to be apprenticed to his maternal uncle, Ali Bux ‘Vilayatu’ Khan, a Shehnai player attached to the  Kashi Vishwanath Temple . 

At the age of 14 Bismillah accompanied his uncle to the Allahabad music conference.

Khan attributed his skill to the blessings of Nath ( Shiva ), and believed that there was little that he could teach his disciples. Khan seldom accepted students.

He thought that if he would be able to share his knowledge it wouldn’t be useful as it would only give his students a little knowledge.

Some of his disciples and followers include  S. Ballesh , and Krishna Ballesh as well as Khan’s own sons,  Nazim Hussain  and Nayyar Hussain.

On 17 March 2006, Bismillah Khan’s health deteriorated, and he was admitted to the Heritage Hospital, Varanasi for treatment.

Khan’s last wish – to perform at  India Gate , could not be fulfilled. He wanted to pay tributes to the martyrs. He waited in vain till his last rites. He died of cardiac arrest on 21 August 2006.

The Government of India declared a day of national mourning on his death. His body along with a Shehnai was buried at Fatemaan burial ground of old Varanasi under a neem tree with a 21-gun salute from the Indian Army.

Street in Hyderabad, Telangana, named after Bismallah Khan which was inaugurated by Pandit  Hariprasad Chaurasia  and  K Viswanath  on 7 April 2013.

Sangeet Natak Akademi , New Delhi, instituted the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2007, in his honour. It is given to young artists in the field of music, theatre and dance.

The Government of Bihar has proposed setting up of a museum, a town hall-cum-library and installation of a life-size statue at his birthplace in Dumraon.

Bismillah Khan was commemorated on his 102nd birth anniversary by Search Engine Google which showed a special doodle on its Indian home page for him on 21 March 2018.

In the documentary film, Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars,  Clapton  cites Bismillah Khan as an influence and how he tried to use his guitar to imitate the music of Khan’s woodwind instrument.

Awards and recognitions

  • Bharat Ratna  (2001)
  • Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram  (1998), Government of Kerala
  • T Choudayya National Award (1995), Government of Karnataka
  • Fellow of  Sangeet Natak Akademi  (1994)
  • Tahar Mausique from Republic of Iran (1992)
  • Padma Vibhushan  (1980)
  • Padma Bhushan  (1968)
  • Padma Shri  (1961)
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award  (1956)
  • Tansen Award by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Three medals in All India Music Conference, Calcutta (1937)

Recognitions

Bismillah Khan had honorary doctorates from :

  • Banaras Hindu University ,  Varanasi
  • Visva Bharati University ,  Santiniketan

Others include

  • Was invited by then  Prime Minister of India  Pandit  Jawaharlal Nehru  to play  shehnai  on the first Independence Day (15 August 1947) in  Delhi ‘s  Red Fort .
  • Participated in  World Exposition  in Montreal
  • Participated in Cannes Art Festival
  • Participated in Osaka Trade Fair
  • India Post issued commemorative postage stamps of ₹5.00 denomination on 21 August 2008
  • On his 102nd birthday, Google honored Bismillah Khan with a  Google doodle .

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He was a classical musician who played the shehnai, a ceremonial instrument resembling a North Indian clarinet.

write a biography on ustad bismillah khan

Bismillah Khan Biography: Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar and Orissa province, British India, under the name Qamruddin Khan. He was a classical musician who played the shehnai, a ceremonial instrument resembling a North Indian clarinet, with such expressive ingenuity that he became a prominent figure in Indian classical music. This article provides information about his early life, education, career, honours and honours, and more. Therefore, without further ado, let’s begin.

Bismillah Khan Biography

Bismillah khan: childhood.

Bismillah Khan, the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan, was originally named Qamaruddin so that it would sound comparable to his older brother’s name, Shamsuddin. However, when his grandfather, Rasool Baksh Khan, held him as an infant, he uttered the word “Bismillah” and thus became known as Bismillah Khan.

Khan’s ancestors were court musicians for the princely states of Bhojpur, and his father was a Shehnai performer for Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh. Born into a musical household, Bismillah Khan began developing a talent for music during his childhood. Having observed his father play the shehnai as a child, he decided to follow in his footsteps.

Bismillah began his voyage to Varanasi at the age of six, where he was trained by his uncle Ali Baksh, who played the shehnai in temples and many ceremonies for Hindu deities as well as weddings. In order to learn shehnai, he accompanied his relative to ceremonies. As he began to develop a fondness for the shehnai, he practised numerous musical forms and ragas that allowed him to uncover intricate patterns that other musicians deemed impossible.

Bahadur Shah Zafar Biography: Age, Height, Career, Family, Personal Life, Movements

Bismillah Khan: Profession

Bismillah Khan began his career by performing in numerous stage productions. In 1937, he received his first significant break when he performed at the All India Music Conference in Calcutta. After this performance, Shenani became a popular instrument and was praised by music enthusiasts. Bismillah’s first exposure was a turning point in his career, as there was no going back after this. He subsequently performed in numerous nations, including the United States, Canada, Bangladesh, West Africa, Japan, Iran, Iraq, and Hong Kong.

The privilege of performing on India’s advent of independence

On the eve of India’s independence in 1947, Bismillah Khan was granted the uncommon honour of playing the shehnai at Red Fort, Delhi. His performance, which was live-broadcast by Doordarshan and viewed as the main attraction of Independence Day festivities, reached thousands of households.

Bismillah Khan: Personal Life and family

Khan is known for his modest way of existence. He travelled to various locations by bicycle and rickshaw and ate plain fare. He treated every member of his joint family with love and respect. Despite having five biological sons, he adopted a daughter.

Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away on August 21, 2006, at the age of 90, after sustaining a cardiac arrest. Under a neem tree, his Shehnai was interred with him in his grave at Fatemain cemetery. The Indian government proclaimed a day of national mourning, and the maestro was given the Indian Army’s signature gun salute.

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Ustad bismillah khan, "a symbol of india's religious pluralism," passes away.

Source: BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5270968.stm?ls

On August 21, 2006 BBC News reported, "Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of India's most prolific musicians, gaining worldwide acclaim for playing the shehnai for more than eight decades. He was credited with helping the shehnai - a type of wind instrument - attain a higher status in Indian classical music and taking it to a world stage. It had earlier considered to be an accompanying instrument. In 2001, he was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. The shehnai is traditionally played at Indian weddings and ceremonies and its high-pitched notes and heart-tugging sound are considered auspicious. A devout Muslim, Khan was a symbol of India's religious pluralism and a symbol of harmony for people of different faiths. He was often seen playing at various temples and on the banks of the holy river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Varanasi, his home town. He was particularly proud of playing outside the famous Vishwanath temple in Varanasi."

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COMMENTS

  1. Bismillah Khan

    Ustad Bismillah Khan (born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 - 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title Ustad, was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a reeded woodwind instrument.He played it with such expressive virtuosity that he became a leading Hindustani classical music artist. His name was indelibly linked with the woodwind instrument.

  2. Ustad Bismillah Khan Biography

    In 2007, the famous Sangeet Natak Akademi came up with a new award 'Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar', which is given to young performers in the field of dance, music and theatre. There are many biographies of Bismillah Khan, written by eminent authors. Some of the biographies include 'Bismillah Khan and Banaras: the seat of shehnai ...

  3. Bismillah Khan

    Bismillah Khan (born March 21, 1916, Dumraon, British India [now India]—died August 21, 2006, Varanasi, India) was an Indian musician who played the shehnai, a ceremonial oboelike North Indian horn, with such expressive virtuosity that he became a leading Indian classical music artist. His name was indelibly linked with the shehnai. Bhimsen ...

  4. Bismillah Khan Biography

    Born In: Dumraon, Bihar. Bismillah Khan was born in Bhirung Raut Ki Gali at Dumrao, Bihar, in 1913 to Paigambar Khan and Mitthan into the family of musicians. His forefathers were musicians in the courts of the princely states of that time like Bhojpur, Bihar and his father was a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh, Dumrao.

  5. Bismillah Khan: Biography, Recognitions and Awards

    Ustad Bismillah Khan was a great Indian shehnai maestro of Benares and awarded with the Bharat Ratna in the year 2001 being the third classical musician. Bharat Ratna is the uppermost national honour in India. He got the fame worldwide for performing the shehnai more than eight decades. Biography of Bismillah Khan

  6. All You Need To Know About Ustad Bismillah Khan, The

    The maestro was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2001. Ustad Bismillah Khan's last wish, to be able to perform at the India Gate as a tribute to the martyrs, remained ...

  7. Ustad Bismillah Khan Biography, Shehnai, Classical Music Artist

    Regarded as one of the best classical musicians India has ever produced, Ustad Bismillah Khan's name is synonymous with the shehnai in India. This great musician was born on March 21, 1916 at ...

  8. Ustad Bismillah Khan

    Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916-2006) is one of the most recognizable faces of Hindustani classical music. His attention to pitch, phrasing and the expert execution of meends, pukars, khatkas, murkis, zamzams, taans and gamaks on the shehnai transformed the instrument. Under Bismillah Khan the shehnai came out of its ceremonial context and began to ...

  9. ABOUT USTAD

    Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan (March 21 1916 to August 21 2006) Bismillah Khan was born in the small village of Dumraon in Bihar. He spent his childhood in the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganga, where his uncle was the official shehnai player in the famous Visvanath temple.

  10. Ustad Bismillah Khan: The pied piper

    Ustad Bismillah Khan was a pathbreaking musician who not only brought the shehnai to the forefront, but also embodied the philosophy of oneness. He was a practising devout Muslim, who gave equal respect to other religions and beliefs. A man known for his high morals, simplicity and strength of character, Khan won over the world with sheer charm ...

  11. Bismillah Khan: The Maestro of Indian Classical Music

    Bismillah Khan, also known as Ustad Bismillah Khan, was a legendary Indian classical musician who played the shehnai, a traditional Indian wind instrument. His contribution to Indian classical music is unparalleled, and he was widely regarded as a national treasure. In this article, we will delve into his life, musical career, contributions, and legacy.

  12. Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan's biography: Early life, career

    Ustad Bismillah Khan's biography Originally known as Qamruddin Khan, Bismillah Khan was born on 21st March 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar and Orissa province, British India.

  13. Bismillah Khan

    Ustad Bismillah Khan - an Indian shehnai player. Read the biography of Ustad Bismillah Khan for UPSC.Learn about the only shehnai player in India who received Bharat Ratna.For more articles on art and culture for UPSC, follow BYJU'S. ... UPSC Mains Answer Writing Practice. Weekly Updates. Weekly GK and Current Affairs Quiz Apr 06 - Apr 12

  14. Paragraph on an Bismillah Khan in English

    The students are often asked to write an essay, assignment, project, etc on this topic. They find difficulty in thinking that what things have to be included in writing on this topic. ... 'Ustad Bismillah Khan Puraskar' was the name of award started by the Sangeet Natak Academi in the year 2007 to give tribute to the great musician ...

  15. The Maestro's Melodies: Ustad Bismillah Khan

    Ustad Bismillah Khan at a concert in 1964, Photo by Robert Garfias, via Wikimedia Commons. Ustad Bismillah Khan was a world-famous shehnai player whose musical legacy continues to shine into the hearts of the people of the subcontinent. His incredible career of more than eight decades earned him the highest of civilian honours such as the Padma Vibhushan in 1961 and the Bharat Ratna in 2001

  16. Remembering Ustad Bismillah Khan

    On the morning of August 15, 1947, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, India was ushered into an era of independence by the soothing sound of a Shehnai, played by its greatest master, Ustad Bismillah Khan. It was a tremendous honour, both for the player and his instrument. And it was repeated, when Jawaharlal Nehru asked Bismillah to perform in 1950 on the occasion of Republic Day.

  17. Ustad Bismillah Khan Biography For Students

    Ustad Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 at Bhirung Raut Ki Gali, in Dumraon as the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. He was named as Qamaruddin to rhyme with Shamsuddin, their first son. His grandfather, Rasool Baksh Khan uttered "Bismillah" (the basmala) after looking at the newborn, thus he was named Bismillah Khan.

  18. Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan: A Musical Legacy that Echoes

    Bismillah Khan (born Qamaruddin Khan, 21 March 1916 - 21 August 2006), often referred to by the title Ustad, was an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai, a reeded wooden wind instrument.. While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played primarily schooled in traditional ceremonies, Khan is credited with elevating its status and bringing it to the ...

  19. Bismillah Khan Biography: Birthday, Early Life, Career, Family

    Bismillah Khan Biography: Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar and Orissa province, British India. ... Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away on August 21, 2006, at the age of 90, after sustaining a cardiac arrest. ... You may write to us at [email protected] ...

  20. Ustad Bismillah Khan, "A Symbol of India's Religious Pluralism," Passes

    On August 21, 2006 BBC News reported, "Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of India's most prolific musicians, gaining worldwide acclaim for playing the shehnai for more than eight decades. He was credited with helping the shehnai - a type of wind instrument - attain a higher status in Indian classical music and taking it to a world stage.

  21. Walk The Talk: Ustad Bismillah Khan (Aired: May 2005)

    Among the winding bylanes of Varanasi, Shekhar Gupta meets Ustad Bismillah Khan, the maestro who elevated the shenai from an instrument played at weddings to...

  22. PDF 26 UST AD BISMILLAH KHAN

    a. Ustad Bismillah Khan received the Bharat Ratna in 2001. ___ _____ b. Ustad Bismillah Khan was the third son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. __ _____ c. Ustad Bismillah Khan often played the shehnai at the V ishwanath T emple located in V aranasi.___ _____ d. Ustad Bismillah Khan s father was a soldier in the army of Maharaja Keshav Prasad ...

  23. In search of the Banaras of Ustad Bismillah Khan

    The shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan was born in Dumraon, Bihar, on March 21, 1916, and moved to Banaras when he was only a child. The ease with which this Shia musician embraced the tenets of the Hindu faith seems improbable in the present day. More than 16 years after his death, we must ask if he was an exemplar of Banarasi camaraderie or ...