Talking about my Gharana (Maihar Seni Gharana), I need to establish a most Important link, namely the connection between the great Sarod players of the last generation of Seni Gharana. For this let me go back to Emperor Akbar’s court in the 16th Century’s India. The brightest Sun in Emperor Akbar’s court was Tansen (1520-1589), a musical genius from Gwalior whom the Emperor had brought and appointed as one of the Nine Jewels of his court. Tansen composed many new Ragas, such as Mian Ki Todi, Mian-Ki-Malhar, Darbari Kanada etc. and laid down the foundations of North Indian Classical Music through 300 Dhrupad Compositions. Tansen had a Hindu wife as well as a Muslim wife, called Mehrunissa. From the latter he got a son Bilas Khan (Composer of Raga Bilaskhani Todi) and from Hindu wife he had three children Tan-Taranga, Suratsen and Saraswati Devi. Suratsen founded the Jaipur Sitar Gharana. Saraswati Devi was a famous Dhrupad singer who married Raja Misar Singh, a noted Beenkar (Veena Player) of Rajasthan. Misar Singh eventually became a state musician in Emperor Akbar’s court and was converted to Islam and renamed Naubat Khan. The descendants of Saraswati and Misar Singh were Beenkars as well as Dhrupadiyas and they continued and developed the traditions of Instrumental (in particular Veena and Sitar) music as well as vocal music. They established what is now known as Seni Beenkar Gharan, the most important musical family in North Indian Classical Music. Although they officially had Muslim names, they also had dual Hindu names; thus Wazir Khan for example was also called as Chhatrapal Singh and Dabir Khan was also Dayal Singh. These descendants and disciples of Saraswati and Misar Singh include Niyamat Khan (vocalist, also known as Sadarang in many Khayal compositions), Amritsen (Jaipur Sitar Gharana, 1814-1894), Omrao Khan (Veena, Surbahar, Sarod), Gholam Mohammed Khan (Lucknow Sitar Gharana), Bahadur Hussain Khan (inventor of Tabla) and Ustad Wazir Khan. The descendents of Bilas Khan (Tansen’s son) were Rababiyas and Dhrupadiyas and include Jafar Khan, the inventor of Sursringer. These two branches constitute the Seni Gharana. Ustad Wazir Khan was a brilliant teacher, performer and composer and the leader of the Seni Gharana in the last Century. He was a Beenkar (Veena Player) and Dhrupadiya. His family line could be tracked back directly to Tansen and his musical knowledge inclused many of Tansen’s original Dhrupad Compositions. Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was one of his disciples.

     Perhaps the most important occurrence in the history of Sarod playing is the fact that the foremeost Sarodiya of the last generation, Baba Allauddin Khan came to be a disciple of Wazir Khan. Thus the fully power and accumulate musical knowledge of the Seni Gharana was incorporated into the Sarod art of the genius that was Allauddin Khan. The result was that a style of Sarod playing developed in which the vocal traditions of Dhrupad and Khayal and the instrumental Traditions of Veena (slide and glides) and Rabab (rhythmic, staccato and plucked) came to be blended beautifully and esthetically into this one Majestic Instrument. This is why, today’s Sarod playing has such a wide and dynamic range from the tenderest Meends to thunderous Jhalas and lightning speed Taans.

     Ustad Baba Allauddin Khan (1862-1972) as we know is a legendary figure in Indian music. He was born in East Bengal (Now is Bangladesh) and from a very young age developed a thirst for music and musical knowledge that eventually led to one of the most incredible music journeys of this century. He mastered many instruments including Tabla, Violin, Sursringer and Surbahar but finally turned to the Sarod and became a student of Sarod wizard Ahmed Ali Khan. After six years of living with Ahmed Ali. Baba had learnt everything that Ahmed Ali had to offer and Baba decided to seek training from Ahmed Ali’s Guru the great Ustad Wazir Khan of Rampur, scion of the Seni Beenkar Gharana. Baba had to confront many difficulties in becoming Wazir Khan’s disciple, but eventually Wazir Khan opened up his treasure hours of musical compositions and taught Baba for 12 years after his eldest son, who was being trained to succeed him, died suddenly. It is remarkable that Baba, although an outsider to the Sarod as well as the Seni Gharanas in terms of family linage, became the most important figure in North Indian Classical Music in the last century because of his sheer talent, determination and relentless pursuit of his goal of attaining perfection in music. Baba Allauddin Khan lived only to serve the cause of music. He was a lifelong devotee of Goddess Kali and later as a court musician in Maihar worshipped Goddess Sharda Devi, also knows as Maihar Devi. He avoided fame and wealth, pursued music as a path to spiritual salvation and offered his creations at the feet of Sharda Devi, in order to obtain her blessings and attain Nirvana through musical Sadhana. He was regarded throughout India as a musician saint and many students journeyed to Maihar to learn from him. He himself remained a student of music till the age of 70 completely mastering the Dhrupad and instrumental compositions of the Seni Gharana and adding innumberable new compositions and many new Ragas, such as Hemant, Shobhavati, Durgeshwari etc. his eventual contributions are so outstanding that today this Gharana is known as Maihar Seni Gharana (Seni Baba Allauddin Gharana). Baba openly and generously transferred the vast wealth of his musical knowledge to a large number of disciples. Of those the most famous are his son the legendary Sarod Maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Sitar Mestro Pt. Ravi Shankar. The dazzling virtuosity, musical depth and brilliance of those two musicians have exposed audiences all over the world to the treasures of Maihar Seni Gharana. Baba’s other world famous disciples are his grandson Ustad Aashish Khan, Sitar Maestro Pt. Nikhil Banerjee and many more famous names. The art and magic of Sarod and the exquisite beauty, creativity and sophistication of North Indian Classical Music and mostly with such a fantastic heritage, the future of instrumental music and the Saord in particular is bright indeed.

   
 
 

 

 
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