Tuesday, June 4, 2019


                                   ( Baba in centre And Ravi Shanker on extreme right  )
                                                   ( Ravi Shanker and Annapurna Devi )
                                                           ( Baba in his room )
                                                                    ( Baba's room )

                                ( Nal Tarang Created by Baba from unused gun barrels )
                                                 ( Baba with Ali Akbar and Ravi Shanker )
                                                         (Ali Akbar Khan )
                ( Ustaad Aashish Khan Debsharma )


" Na takht-o-taaj mein na lashkar-o-sipah mein hai
Jo baat mard-e-qalandar ki bargah mein hai"

( Allama Iqbal)

(A monarch’s crown and mighty army can never give such glee,
As can be felt in presence of a Qalandar bold and free.)

 A friend who visited Baba’s  house  in Maihar ( District Satna ,Madhya Pradesh  )     told me as this:- 

“The cot on which Baba slept , is preserved . Photographs of Swami  Vivekananda , Goddess  Saraswati, Sri Krishna , Gurudev Tagore, Jesus Christ, Sri Hanuman Ji    and Beethoven still hang on the walls of the room.Nal Tarang invented by Baba from out of use gun barrels  is  also preserved " 

Baba's house is a Museum now. It is visited by  many lovers and connoisseurs  of his  music .Maharaja Brijnath Singh of Maihar State  appointed Baba Allauddin  as his court musician and made him his Guru in Maihar where he eventually settled to teach. In 1926 he started his music institution by teaching war orphans and destitute children. `Madina Bhavan`, his home, became a Gurukul for music.

The world of Hindustani  classical ( instrumental ) music  will rarely  see a musician as great and perfect as Baba Alla ud din Khan.
 Baba   played Sarod with both the hands . Not Sarod alone , he played  many instruments, something that shaped his pedagogy.  He would mesmerise his listeners when he played Veena, Surbahar, Sitar, Sarod,  Shehnai, violin or even flute .In fact Baba was a musical genius who could  play any instrument that he could lay his hands on.

  Maihar String  Band  ,  an orchestra with Indian instruments was his creation. To  his son, Ali Akbar Khan, he  taught Sarod, his daughter Annapurna Devi learned the Surbahar. To  Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee, Baba taught   sitar,   to Robin Ghosh he taught   violin and to to  Pannalal Ghosh he taught  Bansuri or Flute .

   Baba's  daughter Annapurna Devi married Pandit Ravi Shanker in 1941 and they were divorced in 1960. Pandit Ravi Shankar writes this in his  autobiography,' Raga Mala' :-

“There was no love or romance or hanky-panky at all between Annapurna and myself, despite what many people thought at that time. I do not know how she truly felt about the match before marriage, although I was told that she had ‘agreed’.” 

 Baba's son Ali Akbar khan was he foremost virtuoso of the lute like Sarod, whose dazzling technique and gift for melodic invention, was often on display in concerts with his brother-in-law Ravi Shankar.

The violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who brought Ali Akbar  Khan to the United States in 1955, called him “an absolute genius” and “the greatest musician in the world.”

And the well known musician Aashish Khan  Debsharma  ( Born 1939 ) is Baba's grandson.  He also learnt music from Baba . Aashish  has been awarded  Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2005. In 2006, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in the 'Best World Music' category. And in 2007,  Aashish  became the first ever Indian classical musician to be made  a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain .About baba , Aashish says :

" I had started my Taalim with dadu (Ustad Allauddin Khan) at Maihar, at an age I didn’t even properly understand what music was all about. I was petrified of him; he was very strict and discipline meant the world to him. I had to do 12 hours of Riyaaz every day, broken into four-hour slots. On certain days, he would get so involved that Taalim would stretch for much longer, till I was completely drained. Whenever he was away on concerts, Pishi (Annapurna Devi) would give me Taalim. It was a different world altogether. However, my father (Ustad Ali Akbar Khan) was easy to train under.  " 

 Baba  was fond of Samkeerna (compound) Ragas, and created many Ragas  of his own.  Madan Manjari (named after his wife), Prabhakali, Swarasati, Shobhavati, Madhavasri, Hem Bhairav, Madhavgiri, Bhagvati, Hemant, Hem Behag , Manjh Khamaj and many more . Many of these have not become common. From  Maihar repertoire; Manjh Khamaj is perhaps the best knownl

As a principle, he never accepted cash or gifts from his disciples. As a matter of fact, he took care of the food and lodging expenses of his disciples.

It is said that Baba was a hard task master . For one complete night ,  he tied his son Ali Akbar with a tree  when he could not pick up some notes . He would make his disciples get up at  5 AM even during winters  by removing their bed sheets and sprinkling water over their faces.

With a long and luminous life of extraordinary creativity behind him, Baba Allauddin Khan lived in Maihar from 1918 until his demise in 1972. Baba was born  in  village Shibpur now in Bangladesh .His father, Sabdar Hossain Khan, was  a musician.

A devout Muslim who prayed five times a day , Baba   was also a great devotee of Maa Sharada (Saraswati) of Maihar Temple and Lord Shiva .Baba would read out from the Holy Quran, Ramayan and Bhagwat  Gita to his disciples.

Dr S. Radhakrishnan was an ardent admirer of Baba and his music. 

( Avtar Mota )

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