The Sarod of India ‏سرود




Krishnamurti Sridhar



The Sarod of India


Ever since man was first fascinated by the twang of an arrow leaving an archer’s bow, stringed instruments have played a key role in the musical development of many of the major civilizations. The discovery that a plucked string’s sound could then be emphasized by positioning the string next to an air chamber, for example a hollow log or cavity, led to the development of early stringed instruments.

The Sarod is a fretless stringed instrument with an extended air chamber under the fingerboard. This differs from other Indian stringed instruments such as the Sitar or the Tanpura, which have an air chamber only at one end. Combined with the skin covering on the drum end of the instrument, the extended air chamber gives the Sarod a unique and clearly identifiable depth of sound.

It is commonly believed that the Sarod has its origins in the Afghan Rabab, a smaller stringed, lute-style instrument played while marching or riding into battle. Three Afghan horsemen from the Bangash tribe are said to have migrated to India around 200 years ago bringing the Rabab with them. Over the years these three settled in northern India, first taking up jobs as soldiers under different kings of the time. In addition to their fine horsemanship, their musical skills were noticed and the Afghans soon found their way into royal courts where their talents were utilized.

The families of these three continued the tradition of Rabab playing, however, over time, Indian music and instruments, especially those of the Veen(a) family, influenced the Afghan Rabab playing style as well as the instrument itself. An advantage of native instruments over the Afghan Rabab was the ability for the strings to sustain an echo, which allowed for slides on the string, already typical to Indian music. Gradually, instruments began to influence one another giving rise to new creations, such as the Sur-Shringar, which replaced the Tanseni Rabab’s skin drum with one of wood, its alabaster fingerboard with metal, and the silk strings with those of metal, thus better allowing the typical Indian musical characteristics to be applied. Later sympathetic strings were added which further embellished the sound quality of the instrument. These three changes, namely the metallic fingerboard and strings, and the addition of the sympathetic strings were a major influence on the development of the early Sarod.

A contradictory claim is that the Sarod and Rabab had their origins in northern India. Traces of similar Rabab style instruments can also be found in southern India, especially in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, where it is known as the Swarbat. The folk Rabab, an instrument popular in north India, had a wooden fingerboard, its strings were made of silk, cotton or gut, and it was played with a wooden pick. In history, reference is also made to a Sharadiya Veena from which the name Sarod may have been derived.

Regardless of the origin, the metamorphosis and experimentation of the instrument continued. Ustad Allauddin Khan of the Maihar Gharana created a Sarod with a round drum that more closely resembles that of the Veen and thereby adds to its tonal quality, while members of the Shahjahanpur and Gwalior Gharanas preferred the original, elliptical form. Both forms are seen today although the round drum has gained in popularity. Harmonic strings were also added and similarly some instruments today will have either six or eight main tuning strings. In addition, sympathetic strings will number between thirteen and fifteen.

The Sarod is played with a pick made of coconut shell, which is referred to as the Jaba. The pick is held firmly between the thumb and the rest of the fingers with a relaxed wrist to allow for a combination of the fast strumming and dramatic slides that are now identified with the Sarod.

The basic vocabulary of the Sarod is made up of two notes; the downward stroke on the string or ‘Da’ and the upward pluck or the ‘Ra’. However, by combining the Da and Ra strokes, Sarodias have an expanded vocabulary that is unique to the instrument. Often the Sarod is found to emulate the rhythmical patterns or bols from accompanying percussion instruments such as the Tabla or Pakhawaj.

This Gharana or school had its roots in the Bangash tribe of Afghanistan, three of whom migrated to India some 200 years ago bringing with them the Afghan Rabab. The Bangash tribesmen eventually settled in Rewa, currently in the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India, after taking up positions as soldiers under various ruling lords and kings. Eventually, they became court musicians.

One of the original tribesmen was Ghulam Bandagi Khan Bangash. There is controversy around the identity of his son who, according to some, was Hyder Khan and Hyder’s son’s name was Ghulam Ali Khan. Some other musicians and music historians argue that Ghulam Ali Khan was the direct son of Ghulam Bandagi Khan Bangash. In any case, all of the members of the Bangash families, descendent from the orginial three Afghan tribesmen, were Rabab players, and Ghulam Ali Khan, along with his cousins (or nephews) Enayet Ali and Niyamatullah Khan, laid the foundations of the Gharana.

The Bangashes became significantly influenced by Indian music through one Zafar Khan, a descendant of the legendary court musician Tansen, who is believed by some to have given instruction to the Bangash family. Zafar Khan and other descendants of Tansen from his son’s side used to play a form of Rabab that had become known as the Tanseni Rabab. The Tanseni Rabab was different in both structure and tonality from the Afghan Rabab and this influenced the Bangashes to make them experiment with their Rabab. Elsewhere, other members of Tansen’s family, referred to as the Seni Gharana, specialized in the Dhrupad style of singing and playing the Veen (north Indian Veena), another existing stringed instrument, from which they took the name of ‘Veenkar’.

Story has it that Zafar Khan heard Nirmal Shah Veenkar playing the Veen at a music conference in Varanasi and was impressed by the instrument’s ability to sustain notes and play both long Meends (slides) and Gamaks (repetitive slides). Khan then made some modifications to the Tanseni Rabab his family played, replacing the skin covered drum of the Rabab with a wooden covered drum, similar to the Sur-Bahar (also similar to the Sitar), the alabaster fingerboard with a metallic one, and the silk strings with metallic ones.

Meanwhile, the Bangash students or ‘disciples’ of Zafar Khan saw their master make changes to the Tanseni Rabab and also started to experiment with the Afghan Rabab they had been playing. The disputed son or grandson of one of the original Bangash tribesmen, Ghulam Ali Khan, replaced the wooden fingerboard of the Afghan Rabab with metal, and the existing strings with metal ones, thus initiating the development, which would later earn him the credit as the father of the modern-day Sarod. The shape of the Sarod also started to evolve from the Afghan Rabab moving from its original elliptical shape to a round drums shape, however, both are seen today. The alternate elliptical drum together with the hollow neck most closely tie the Sarod to its origins in the Afghan Rabab.

Ghulam Ali Khan had three sons – Hussein Ali, Murad Ali and Nanne Khan. Nanne Khan’s son was the great Sarod maestro Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan who also had three sons – Mubarak Ali, Rehmat Ali, and the world-renowned living legend, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

However, the middle son of Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Murad Ali Khan, is considered by many to be the most talented of the three brothers. He, like his forebearers, had received musical training from the descendants of Mian Tansen and is said to have greatly improved the technique of Sarod playing. Ustad Murad Ali Khan is also said to have provided basic training to his nephew, the great Hafiz Ali Khan.

Murad Ali Khan was childless. At some point of time, he had an argument with his siblings who ridiculed him for being without a successor, which was obviously a concern in those days. This comment is said to have angered him so much that he left his ancestral home in Gwalior. He made up his mind to find a boy, literally, off the streets and turn him into his successor – a musician par excellence who would be an ideal rival to his siblings and their successors. He went to Shahjahanpur, a small town near Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India where the family of Ustad Najaf Ali Khan, one of the other two members of the Bangash tribe who had come to India along with Ghulam Bandagi Khan Bangash (see History of Sarod) was living. The grandson of Najaf Ali, Ustad Enayet Ali Khan had settled down in Shahjahanpur. Murad Ali found a lonely orphan boy in Enayet Ali’s extended family and decided to adopt him as his son. He was named as Abdullah Khan and Murad Ali took him to Darbhanga in Bihar where he settled down as the court musician of the local Maharaja, and Abdullah Khan indeed became a legend.

Ustad Abdullah Khan started to visit Bengal during his time. It was quite customary for the Zamindars (landowning local lords established under British rule), who were often connoisseurs of music and great impresarios as well, to invite well-known musicians from other parts of India to perform at their courts. Abdullah Khan used to frequently visit the court of Birendra Kishore Roychoudhury of Gouripur in Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh).

Ustad Ameer Khan was the son of Ustad Abdullah Khan. He started learning from his father at a very early age and grew up to be an excellent Sarodia. He was also a prolific composer. Ameer Khan was invited by Lalita Mohan Maitra to come to his court and take up the permanent position of the court musician. He started to teach Sarod to Lalita Mohan’s two sons, one of them being Brojen Maitra. Soon the young Radhika Mohan, Brojen Maitra’s son, was also learning from Ameer Khan.

Since this Gharana evolved primarily from the Rabab, the playing style initially developed with the heavy right handed strumming of the strings. Later on, with the influence of other instruments such as the Veena and Sur Shringar, as well as vocal music, the Gharana included the use of the ‘Meend’ (long slides from one note to another) and ‘Gamak’ (the variation of the pitch of a note or the sliding movement between two or more notes, somewhat similar to a trill). However, the uniqueness of this Gharana still lay in execution of Bol-Taans or phrases emulating patterns of various percussion instruments.


The Heritage of the Sarod


Ustad Allaud- din Khan of Maihar

A famous disciple of Wazir Khan and an extraor- dinary teacher and performer himself is Ustad Allaud- din Khan of Maihar in Central India. This saintly and learned man became my revered guru, and it is to him that I owe my devotion and love for my musical training.

Allauddin Khan was one of the sons of a quite well-to-do peasant family in Bengal. They did not have a great deal of money, but were very rich in the land they owned and the animals they kept. His fam- ily were Bengali Muslims, converted to Islam only three or four generations before. The village they lived in was predominantly Hindu, and they all spoke Bengali. And so, even though his family were Muslim, Baba knew all the ways of Hindus and was well ac- quainted with their customs and ceremonies. Later, he was to follow a way of life that was a beautiful fusion of the best of both Hinduism and Islam.

His father used to play the sitar for the family and for his own pleasure. And Baba’s older brother, Afta- buddin, was a very talented and versatile musician who, too, did not perform professionally but played solely to express the music he felt within himself. In his later years, he became a very religious man and was revered equally by the Hindus and the Mus- lims who knew him. So it was natural that the mu- sical inclinations of little Alam, as my guru was called by his family, were intensified by listening to his father with the sitar and his brother playing a variety of instruments, including the flute, harmonium (a small, boxlike keyboard instrument), tabla, pakhawaj, and dotara (a plucked-string instrument with two strings). Young Alam used to steal into the little music room at home to try to play some of his older brother’s musical instruments – and was frequently punished for it. When his family realized that Alam had this burning love for music, they became worried that he might decide to be a professional musician and did not encourage him, for music was not thought of as a respectable profession for a young man. When young Alam wanted to leave his home and devote all his life to music, his brother, the influential one in the family, refused to let him go. The family much preferred that he take up regular studies in a school.

Baba has told us that by the time he was eight he could no longer take the strict discipline and enforced study of books. He hated studying and was constantly being punished for pursuing the thing he loved most – music. So, he left his family without saying a word and traveled to a nearby village, where he joined a party of traveling musicians led by a very famous player of the dhol. (Though the drums known as dhol or dholak are found all over India in different sizes and shapes, the dhol mentioned here is indige- nous to Bengal. It is a one-piece drum with two faces and is played with the hand on the right side and with a stick on the left.) Baba told the musicians he was an orphan, and they accepted him into their group, feeling sorry for the lonely little boy. Then he traveled with the musicians as they toured, and they reached the city of Dacca, the capital of the present East Pakistan. While he was a member of this mu- sical group, Baba had the opportunity to learn to play quite proficiently many varieties of drums-the dhol, tabla, and pakhawaj-and he also took up the shahnai and some other wind instruments-clarinet, cornet, and trumpet. During all the time Baba toured with this troupe of musicians and later stayed in Dacca, he did not communicate with his family. They were of course distraught when they realized he had left. They searched and searched for him, but finally had to give up.



The first forty years of Baba’s life were full of adventure, and he underwent many unusual, almost unbelievable, experiences through his intense love of music. Baba was never clear about how long he was with these musicians or how much time he spent in Dacca, but he says that he arrived in Calcutta when he was about fourteen or fifteen. I remember his tell- ing me about the hardships he suffered there.

He went to one of the most famous Bengali singers of the day, Nulo Gopal, a very devout and orthodox Hindu. Baba instinctively thought it might be better if he said he was a Hindu himself when he approached this teacher, so he took a Hindu name. Nulo Gopal saw the tremendous ardor and talent for singing this boy had, but he warned Baba that he himself had learned music in a very old, traditional style and said that he would teach Baba only if Baba had the pa- tience to learn in the same way. That is, Baba would have to learn and practice nothing other than the sargams, palta, and murchhana (solfeggio, scales, and exercises) for twelve full years.

Only then would Nulo Gopal start teaching all the traditional compo- sitions. This, he said, would not take a very long time, because Baba would already have a firm background! Baba did agree to the arrangement, and arduously de- voted himself to his study, but unfortunately, after only seven years or so, Nulo Gopal died.

Baba was so grieved by his death that, out of respect to his teacher, he took an oath never to take up singing as his profession. According to Baba, the excellent training he received from this guru in those seven years caused his musical sensitivity to grow to such a degree that he could notate in his mind as well as on paper any music he heard. This ability was to prove very helpful to him later.

During the seven years Baba was learning with Nulo Gopal, he took a job at the Star Theatre (run by Girish Ghosh, the father of Bengali drama) as a tabla player in the orchestra to make a little money, and he had some training in the playing of the violin from an outstanding Indian Christian teacher. Baba also participated in the frequent orchestral parties held by a prominent composer, Habu Dutt, who was the brother of the famed Swami Vivekananda. Habu Dutt had studied both Eastern and Western music and maintained an orchestra for which he composed in raga and tala framework; he used all the Western instruments as well as a few Indian ones. This later inspired Baba to create his own ensemble, the Maihar Band, which was quite famous for many years.

It was often frightening just to hear Baba talk about the hardships he suffered as a young man in Calcutta. The little pay he received at the Star Thea- tre and occasional extra income he got by playing a recital here or there all went to pay for gifts or offer- ings he brought to his teachers-fruits or sweets-in gratitude for their giving him lessons. Most of the time he had his one meal a day at some anna chhatra, a food dispensary provided for the poor by some rich families. (Until very recently, these existed in all the large cities as a common form of charity.) The rest of the day Baba either went hungry or nibbled at a handful of chick peas and drank the water of the river Ganges. He had no one particular place to stay. Sometimes he took a room in a cheap boarding- house, and other times he stayed in the stable of a wealthy family.

When he was in his twenties, Baba went to a city called Muktagacha, then in eastern Bengal, now in East Pakistan. It was here, at the court of Raja Jagat Kishore, that he heard the celebrated sarod player of the time, Ustad Ahmad Ali, and for the first time, he experienced the full effect of the musician and the beauty of the music. In his studies under Nulo Gopal, Baba had felt he was approaching the field of strict classical music, but when his guru died, he thought he had reached only the threshold of the musical sanctuary. He realized he needed another good teacher to elevate him to a higher level in his playing and understanding. So, he decided just then, in the Raja’s court, that he must take this musician as his guru and learn to play the sarod. Baba’s burning desire to learn and a recommendation from the Raja per- suaded Ahmad Ali to accept the boy as his disciple. When Baba began learning from Ahmad Ali, he gave up all his old dilettante musical interests and devoted himself solely to the sarod. The next four years or so were spent living and traveling with his ustad, serving him in every way, even cooking, and learning and practicing music as much as he could.

After some time, Ahmad Ali left the court and traveled to his home, the city of Rampur, taking Baba with him. By this time, Baba had learned a great deal of the art and technique of the sarod and had ab- sorbed most of the knowledge of his ustad. Some- how, he felt that Ahmad Ali was a bit apprehensive about Baba’s proficiency and was afraid that Baba might outdo him as a musician. One day, it happened that his guru called Baba and said that he had given him enough taleem (training) and praised him for achieving a fine standard of musicianship. Now, he said, it is time for you to go out and perform, and establish your own reputation, following the tradi- tion of sikkha, dikkha, and parikkha (derivations from the original Sanskrit of shiksha, diksha, and pariksha, which mean training, initiation, and evalua- tion).

Since Rampur was the most important seat of Hin- dustani classical music, Baba was overjoyed when he learned there were almost five hundred musicians who belonged to the court of His Highness the Nawab of Rampur. Out of these, at least fifty ranked among the foremost artists and were famed throughout India. They included singers of dhrupad, dhamar, khyal, tappa, and thumri, as well as players of been, sursringar, rabab, surbahar, sitar, sarangi, shahnai, tabla, pakhawaj, and many other instruments. At the head of all these musicians was the truly great Wazir Khan himself, a member of the Beenkar gharana, and thus of the family of Tan Sen. He was the guru of the Nawab and, in his seat next to the Nawab’s throne, enjoyed a position that was unique at that time. After taking leave of Ustad Ahmad Ali, Baba went on a kind of musical “binge,” and he met all the ustads and studied a little with a great many of them for a year or so. He was completely intoxicated with the ecstasy of meeting all these great musicians. After Baba settled down a bit, he decided he must finally go to learn from the greatest musician of them all, and the one about whom he had heard so many stories – Wazir Khan.


Ustad Wazir Khan, a direct descendant of Tan Sen, was the greatest living been player of the time. Filled with enthusiasm and bubbling with hope, Baba went off to meet him, but the sentries who guarded Ustad Wazir Khan’s gates, frowning at the young man’s shabby dress and poor appearance, denied him entrance. In despair, young Allauddin Khan rather melodramatically decided that he would either learn from this great master or give up his life. Nour- ishing these severe thoughts, he bought two tola weight of opium with which to kill himself if neces- sary. But fortunately, he met a mullah (Muslim priest), who dissuaded him from such extreme meas- ures and suggested another plan.

The mullah composed a letter in Urdu on behalf of the young aspirant, explaining how he had come all the way from Bengal especially to learn from Ustad Wazir Khan, and if that were to prove impos- sible, he would swallow a lump of opium and end his life. But there remained the problem of present- ing the letter to the Nawab. While the spirit of des- peration was mounting, young Allauddin happened to hear that the Nawab would soon be on his way to the theater, so he stationed himself on the road, hours ahead, and as the Nawab’s vehicle finally ap- proached, he threw himself down in front of it.

The police dragged young Allauddin Khan away to face the Nawab, who, when he heard the whole story, was so impressed by the fervor of a young man ready to use such grave methods that he called him to the palace to play for him.

Baba gave a very impressive performance on the sarod and on the violin, and then was asked if he could handle any other instruments. The Nawab was quite amused when Baba, replying, boasted that he could play any instrument available in the palace. So, all the instruments were brought out and, to the astonishment of everyone present, he did just that – one by one, he played them all, and quite deftly, too ! The Nawab asked him if he had any other talents, and Baba said that he could write anything played or sung. The Nawab was overwhelmed when Baba did this easily on the first attempt. The Nawab then sang him a very difficult gamak tan, a complicated embel- lishment in a phrase. Fortunately, young Allauddin had detected that the Nawab was becoming a little annoyed at the thought that such a young man might know more than he, and so he meekly replied that such a tan would be difficult to write down. The Nawab was so pleased at this that, in a benevolent mood, he sent for Ustad Wazir Khan and recom- mended young Allauddin to him as a deserving stu- dent. The Nawab himself called for a large silver tray full of gold sovereigns, sweets, material for new clothing, a ring, and new shoes. All these were given to Wazir Khan on behalf of the disciple, and the binding ceremony between Wazir Khan as guru and Allauddin Khan as shishya took place on the spot.

As Baba has said, from the time he moved to Cal- cutta until he came to Rampur, he had communicated with his family and had visited their home several times. His family, hoping they could give him a reason to stay with them, forced him to take a wife on one of his visits, and later, had him marry a sec- ond time. (Muslims may marry up to four times.) But to their horror, Baba ran away from home on the day after each marriage ceremony. His fanatic love for music left no room for such things as marriage or a family then.

In his first two and a half years as a disciple of Wazir Khan, Baba more or less had the duties of a servant and errand boy to his guru and was not really being taught music by him. Baba was rather unhappy about this, but he still spent as much time as he could practicing what he had learned from Ahmad Ali and others on the sarod. Then one day, there came a telegram to him in care of Wazir Khan, asking him to come home immediately because his second wife had tried to commit suicide and was critically ill. She was an extremely beautiful woman, and the peo- ple of her village had tormented her, saying she could not keep her husband at home for all her good looks, and teased her to such an extent that in her unhap- piness she tried to kill herself. Wazir Khan had the telegram read (it was in English) before passing it on to Baba. He was shocked and not a little angry to learn about this, because Baba had told him that he was completely alone and had no family. Imme- diately, he summoned Baba. After being interrogated, Baba tremblingly revealed the truth. When the great man heard the story, he was deeply moved. He real- ized that this was a young man with an unheard-of, abnormal desire to learn music, a love so strong that he would forsake anything else in life, including the love of two young and beautiful wives.

In tears, Wazir Khan embraced Baba, saying he had never realized any of these things, and he felt ex- tremely sorry that he had not paid any attention to Baba in those two and a half years. Then he advised Baba to go home for a while, and as soon as he had straightened matters out, to return to Rampur. Wazir Khan promised that he would consider Baba as his foremost and best disciple outside of his own family, and said he would teach him all the secrets of the art of music that the members of Tan Sen’s family pos- sess. “I’ll teach you all the dhrupad and dhamar songs,” he said, “and the technique and different baj [styles of playing] of the been, rabab, and sursringar.” He qualified his vow, however, by saying he could never permit Baba to play the been, because it is tra- ditionally restricted to the Beenkar gharana – his fam- ily – and he warned that if Baba were to play it Baba would never have an heir and his family would die out. Then Wazir Khan further explained that it would be quite possible for Baba to use all the tech- niques and styles of playing the been on the sarod, and he agreed to teach him to play the rabab and sursringar, two instruments that were going out of use at that time.

Wazir Khan did indeed keep his promises. Baba told us that many years later, when he was serving His Highness the Maharaja of Maihar, one day news arrived that Wazir Khan was on his deathbed. Baba rushed straightway to Rampur to be with his guru. Wazir Khan blessed him before he died, saying that Baba’s name and the names of his disciples would live forever and carry on the great tradition of the Beenkar gharana and the glory of Mian Tan Sen.


Few people have any idea of the contributions Baba has made to the world of music, especially in the in- strumental field. Above all, I feel, he is responsible for enlarging the scope and range of possibilities open to an instrumentalist. He has led us away from the confines of narrow specialization that prevailed in our music really through the first quarter of this cen- tury. Until then, one player would do only music of a light and delicate nature, and another would per- form only romantic compositions, some musicians were purely spiritual and others emphasized the “ma- terialistic” side of the music – the wealth of embel- lishment. Because Ustad Allauddin Khan, as a young man, was taught by so many masters, he learned a variety of styles of singing and playing and acquired a good many instrumental techniques – wind and bowed and plucked-string instruments, and even drums.

And so he very naturally incorporated in his playing of the sarod some of the characteristics of diverse vocal styles and of the playing styles asso- ciated with a number of different instruments. He is known mainly as a sarod player, but he also per- formed on several other instruments. He was equally well known as a violinist, and as he did with the sarod, he played the violin with his left hand. Three stringed instruments that he did not perform on in concerts are the been, the sitar, and the surbahar, although he was acquainted with their techniques.

Musicians who follow Baba’s example may now choose from a great many vocal and instrumental styles-alap, dhrupad-dhamar, khyal, tarana, tappa, thumri-and synthesize, creating a whole new con- cept in interpretation and performance. Baba faced much criticism in the beginning, as indeed, some of us, as his disciples, have been and are still facing. Early in his career, he was reproached for not playing “pure sarod” when he performed and was criticized for bringing other techniques into his playing. I myself, when I began public appear- ances, faced the charge of not playing “pure sitar” and of having sarod techniques in my music, because I had learned from a sarod player. And I remember clearly that even into the late 1930s, sitar playing was restricted to a very limited dimension, and the players kept to their favorite specialized areas of music. There were some who used a small sitar for the “authentic” sitar baj (here baj means style of playing) and played only medium-slow Masitkhani gats with simple tans (or phrases), a style of composition created by Masit Khan. There were others who played only medium- fast Rezakhani gats and still others who used a rather large sitar and played it more or less in the way one plays the surbahar (a large, deep-sounding instru- ment with very thick strings). I have heard the well- known sitarist Enayat Khan play the alap, jor, and jhala (first three movements of a raga) on the surba- har, then put aside that instrument and take up a small sitar to do the fast Rezakhani gat. His father, Emdad Khan, is known to have done the same thing.

The criticisms of “impurity” of style are likely to come from other musicians who use the same instru- ment, and they and their admirers can cause quite a storm of differing opinion. Also, musicians who do not belong to one strong and well-established gharana are often open to harsh judgments. A musician who is a member of a certain gharana may – and often does – change his style, enriching and expanding it after hearing other musicians and interpreting their ideas in his own way. But, if questioned about this, he has recourse to the shelter of his gharana. He can claim that there is a precedent for what he has done and trace it back through his own gharana’s traditions. Often, though, I am amazed that a musician who upholds the highest tradition can be cruelly criticized if he also happens to be a creative artist and brings about many innovations. The great Tan Sen and then Sadarang and even Allauddin Khan faced this sort of criticism early in their careers, but later their “in- novations” became part of our musical tradition, and , were well established through their disciples. That is one of the beauties of Indian classical music – that since the Vedas it has never stood stagnant, but has kept on growing and being enriched by the great creative geniuses of successive generations.

As a teacher, Baba aims at perfecting the hand and finger technique of the student. No matter what in- strument the student may choose, Baba insists that the student who shows promise should also learn to sing the palta, sargams, and other song compositions, carefully delineating the scope of the raga and its distinctive notes and phrases and correctly using the microtones, or shrutis, to give the proper effect to the music and make it come alive. The reason for this is, of course, that the basis of our music is vocal, and it is composed primarily of melody, of embellishment, and of rhythm; any melodic phrase, with or without a definite rhythm, that can be sung can also be played on an instrument, with each instrument’s own fea- tures bringing a special quality to the sound. Ac- cording to our tradition, even the instrumentalists are required to have a moderate command of the voice. This makes it easier for them when they take on the role of teacher to instruct their students, merely by singing the gats, or tans, or todas, or even the alap, jor, and jhala. Along with the ability to sing the melodies, Baba recommends that his students learn to play the tabla and acquire a good knowledge of taladhaya (rhythmics). In mastering the funda- mentals, the student learns all the technique of prop- erly handling the instrument of his choice, working in the particular idiom, tonal range, and musical scope of a given instrument by practicing scales, palta, sargams, and bols taught by the guru. Gener- ally, Baba starts with basic ragas like Kalyan for the evening and Bhairav for the morning, first giving, many pieces of “fixed music” in the form of gats, tans, or todas based on the raga. By “fixed music” I do not mean music that is written down as it is in the West; rather I am referring to what we call bandishes, which literally means “bound down,” but in this con- text means “fixed.” These are vocal or instrumental pieces, either traditional compositions or the teacher’s own, that students learn and memorize by playing over hundreds, even thousands, of times, to be able to produce the correct, clear sound, intonation, and phrasing. Thus, Baba lays a solid foundation for the student to know the sanctified framework of the ragas and talas.

When the student, after some years of training, has fairly good control of the basic technique of the in- strument and has learned a few more important morn- ing and evening ragas (Sarang, Todi, Bhimpalasi, Bhairav, Yaman Kalyan, Bihag, and so on) and has some mastery of the fundamentals of solo playing, then he may expand his creative faculties and is encouraged to improvise as he plays. But he has to be careful not to impinge on the purity of the raga. That is, his playing must be correct both in technique and interpretation. The right feeling of a raga is some- thing that must be taught by the guru and nurtured from the germ of musical sensitivity within the stu- dent. Unlike some other musicians, Baba has never been stingy or jealous about passing on to deserving students the great and sacred art that he possesses. In fact, when he is inspired in his teaching, it is as if a floodgate had opened up and an ocean of beautiful and divine music were flowing out. The disciple spends many hours simply listening to his guru, and then he endeavors to fill up the frame of a raga with impro- vised passages born out of the compelling mood of the moment or enlarged through his own attempts at improvisation as his understanding grows and he becomes more familiar with a particular raga. At first, the student may improvise only a fraction of his performance, but as his musicianship matures, so his confidence grows, and he improvises more and more. It is, in a way, like learning to swim. It is exhilarating in the beginning to feel your own body moving through the water, but you are afraid to swim far and there is always the fear of losing control somehow. So it is with a raga. You are always a little afraid at first that you will make mistakes, play the wrong notes, and go out of a raga or lose count of the rhythm as the raga carries you along, but your confidence keeps growing, and one day, you feel you have complete control over what you are playing. A truly excellent and creative musician of the Hindustani system will improvise anywhere from fifty to ninety per cent of his music as he performs, but this freedom can come about only after many many years of basic study and discipline and organized training (if he has a good deal of talent to begin with), and after profound study of the ragas, and finally, if he has been blessed with guru-kripa, the favor of the guru.

When I myself start to perform a raga, the first thing I do is shut out the world around me and try to go down deep within myself. This starts even when I am concentrating on the careful tuning of the sitar and its tarafs (sympathetic strings). When, with con- trol and concentration, I have cut myself off from the outside world, I step onto the threshold of the raga with feelings of humility, reverence, and awe. To me, a raga is like a living person, and to establish that in- timate oneness between music and musician, one must proceed slowly. And when that oneness is achieved, it is the most exhilarating and ecstatic moment, like the supreme heights of the act of love or worship. In these miraculous moments, when I am so much aware of the great powers surging within me and all around me, sympathetic and sensitive listeners are feeling the same vibrations. It is a strange mixture of all the intense emotions – pathos, joy, peace, spirituality, eroticism, all flowing together. It is like feeling God. All these emotions may vary according to the style and approach of playing and to the nature and princi- pal mood of the raga. We Indians say that in a per- formance of our classical music, the listener plays a great role. It is this exchange of feeling, this strong rapport between the listener and the performer, that creates great music. But wrong vibrations emanating from egoistic, insensitive, and unsympathetic listeners can diminish the creative feelings of the musician. Al- though I am not a Tan Sen, at times I have seen miracles happen with my music. Perhaps my playing does not cause rain to fall from the skies, but it has made tears fall from the eyes of my listeners. The miracle of our music is in the beautiful rapport that occurs when a deeply spiritual musician performs for a receptive and sympathetic group of listeners.


Besides being famous for his performances and in- novations in music, Baba was also very well known throughout the musical world for his temper. I was rather apprehensive about meeting him for the first time in person. But I still remember how surprised I was when I found him to be so gentle and unassuming, endowed with the virtue of vinaya (humility) in the true Vaishnav spirit. It is only when he is wrapped up utterly in his music that he becomes a stern taskmas- ter, for he cannot tolerate any impurities or defects in the sacred art of music, and he has no sympathy or patience with those who can. His own life has been one of rigorously self-imposed discipline, and he ex- pects no less from his students. Baba’s views on celi- bacy and especially on intoxication through alcohol or drugs are extremely rigid and severe. He strongly in- sists that the students follow brahmacharya – for the disciple, a traditional Hindu way of life that includes only the absolute essentials of material needs. This way, with no thoughts of fine clothes, fancy foods, sex or complicated love affairs or anything else that satis- fies and encourages physical desires, the student can channel all of his powers and forces, both mental and physical, into the discipline of his music. Music, to Baba, is a strict, lifelong discipline that requires long and careful training, and if a student is not prepared to regard music in this way, he had better not take it up at all.

Unfortunately, Baba no longer travels or performs now, although on special occasions he may be seen playing the violin or conducting the famous Maihar Band (an ensemble of Indian and Western instru- ments) of which he is still the director. He also con- tinues as Principal of the Maihar College of Music which he attends every day. In 1952, Baba was made a Fellow of the Sangeet Natak Akademi (National Academy of Performing Arts), and in 1958, he was awarded the Padma Bhusan, an honorary title for out- standing citizens, by the President of the academy. Viswa Bharati, Tagore’s university, gave him the hon- orary degree of Doctor. Thus, honor and recognition came to him in the evening of his life, but he remains, following the saying in the Geeta, unmoved and un- ruffled as he pursues his work and the study of music, never bothering, never worrying or looking back. Baba himself believes he is well over a hundred years old, and his centenary has already been marked. His true age is not known, because records have not been kept, but what does it matter if he is over a hundred or nearing a hundred? What he has accom- plished in his lifetime many others could not do if they had three hundred years to live. He is respected and well regarded by everyone, including the most orthodox Hindu Brahmins, as a rishi, responsible for safeguarding traditions, for developing, teaching, and passing on to disciples the art of music.

There are so many things one could add about Ustad Allauddin Khan. He belongs to a school that seems so far removed from our modern industrial era, and yet, in every way, he has been ahead of his time, injecting a new significance and life into Indian in- strumental music. With him will pass an era that upheld the dedicated, spiritual outlook handed down by the great munis and rishis who considered the sound of music, nad, to be Nada Brahma – a way to reach God.

(Text Excerpts on Allauddin Khan courtesy david philipson )


Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan

One of the greatest contributors to the development of the style of playing of the Shahjahanpur Gharana, Mohammed Ameer Khan was born in 1877, in Shahjahanpur. When he was about nine or ten years old, his father Ustad Abdullah Khan moved from Shahjahanpur to accept the position of a court musician in Dwarbhanga, now in the state of Bihar in India. During this time, Abdullah Khan also made several trips to Bengal for performances. The Zamindars or feudal landlords that the British government had appointed as the local governors were great connoisseurs of music and art. The Zamindars organized music soirees at their courts and it was customary for them to invite famous musicians and dancers from all over the country to come and perform as a way to show off their wealth.

Ameer Khan started learning Sarod when he was just four or five years old from his father, Ustad Abdullah Khan. Extensive training and rigorous practice turned him into one of the finest musicians of his time in the country. Around 1916, Ameer Khan came to the court of the Zamindar of Talanda in Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh) to perform and teach music. He started teaching music to Brojendra Mohan Maitra, father of Radhika Mohan Maitra. When Radhika Mohan was four, he started teaching him as well.

As a composer, he was prolific like his father Abdullah Khan and uncle Murad Ali Khan. Between the three of them, they composed over 500 Gats. The compositions were mainly in the style of Ghulam Reza, known popularly as Rezakhani Gats, and those of Feroze Khan, called Ferozekhani Gats.

Ameer Khan produced a very rich line of musicians proficient in Sarod, Sur-Shringar, Indian Banjo, Sitar, and the ancestral Dhrupad Rabab. Amongst his disciples were some well-known musicians such as Timir Baran Bhattacharya, Nirendra Krishan Mitra, Ashutosh Kundu, Nani Gopal Motilal, Hafiz Ali Khan, and Radhika Mohan Maitra. Extremely shy and an introvert by nature, the Ustad was inclined to record only one disc (78 RPM, Raga Kafi and Pahadi) at the earnest request from the famous poet and composer Kazi Nazrul Islam, then Program Director of the record company HMV. He recorded using a Sarod belonging to his disciple Radhika Mohan, which happened to be lying in a corner in the office of Kazi Nazrul inside the studio.

Towards the end of the year 1934, when Radhika Mohan was just 17 years old, Ameer Khan passed away in Rajshahi.

The undated article below appeared in a souvenir bill for a music conference in Calcutta. Pt Radhika Mohan writes about his guru, Ustad Ameer Khan. The use of the word ‘Shahib’ after the name of the Ustads is customary out of respect.

“The Story of Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan Shahib – The Great Sarod-Newaj of Shahjahanpur” – By Radhika Mohan Maitra

When the requests came to me from the organizers of this function to write an authentic account of my revered Ustad, I had several reservations in my mind. In the first place, according to the high ideals of Indian tradition, a disciple is not supposed to utter anything but praises for his Guru or Master, because of the very simple reason that a Guru is always a Guru, alive or dead, and as such is beyond all critical study. And secondly, if one has to tell the truth, his remarks may stir-up unnecessary commotion amongst the supporters of other eminent musicians and adherents to different schools of musical traditions. Our society, especially the musical society, is yet ready to face the truth or accept any observation with a rational outlook. In most cases, we are guided by emotions and not by reasons.

But in spite of all these considerations, sometimes one has to succumb to outside pressure, particularly if that pressure comes from near and dear ones. So I decided to write this story about my Ustad in a very simple and matter-of-fact way, because my Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib was really a very simple man with rare qualities of head and heart.

Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib had a very detached view about life and worldly needs. He had only two attachments for his earthly existence, (1) Music, which was almost his very life & breath and (2) Opium, which he used to take more as an aid to his ‘SHADHANA’ for aesthetic and artistic realizations than as an ordinary intoxicating element to satisfy his mundane requirements. He was also suffering from acute asthma towards the end of his life and it might also have been one of the reasons for his addiction to opium in the hope that it would lessen his physical sufferings. About food or clothes, he was utterly indifferent and for minting money he did not have any particular desire. He was immensely satisfied with what he had and did not care for anything more. He did not make any distinction between his rich and poor students, treating them all alike, even if some could not afford to pay him any fees at all. Money to him was no attraction. He wanted to give what he had and was not really interested in getting anything in return. This, in short, is the image of my Ustad as I knew him.

Now I will give an idea of his musical heritage and the distinguishing features of the Gharana or School to which he belonged. Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan, the celebrated Rabab player who is also supposed to be the first musician to have effected the modification of the Sarod from Rabab, was a court musician of the last independent King of Oudh, Wazid Ali Shah. Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan had three sons of whom Ustad Murad Ali Khan was the second. But Ustad Murad Ali Khan was childless, so he adopted a boy named Abdullah Khan, who belonged to the family of a hereditary vocal musician of Shahjahanpur. So by adoption Abdullah Khan was the legal son of Ustad Murad Ali Khan to all intents and purposes. And this Abdullah Khan was the father of my Ustad Ameer Khan and his brother Wazir Khan, who had settled in Lucknow and died sometime between 1940 and 47. I have given a genealogical table at the end of my article for the convenience of my readers (not reproduced, same as Shahajahanpur Gharana genealogy).

I was told by Ustad the late Ameer Khan Shahib, when I was a boy of say 10 years, that Ustad Murad Ali Khan Shahib had some domestic difference with the other members of his family and he finally left them with a vow that he would put someone in the way to efficiency by instructions and practice and carve out of him a Sarod player of such great calibre who would, in time, would be a tough challenger to all other Sarod players of Hindustan. He kept his vow and Ustad Abdullah Khan Shahib, the father of my Ustad, was the Sarod player, whom he trained with all the devotion and care, which he had at his command. I am very happy to say that I did receive personal corroboration of this fact from no less a person than the late Khalifa Badal Khan Shahib. The rumour goes that whenever anybody wanted to listen to a recital or Alaap of any Raga from Ustad Murad Ali Khan, he would invariably direct him to go to Ustad Abdullah Khan because he himself considered Abdullah Khan to be a much better Alap player than himself. Then he would say, “If you want to listen to some recitals of Gat-Toda, come to me, and myself and my son Abdullah will play this gat together.” Ustad Murad Ali Khan even used to say with great pride that Ustad Abdullah Khan, his son, had surpassed him as a Sarod player. Both these Ustads, Murad Ali & Abdullah Khan were court musicians of the Darbhanga Raj.

But my Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib had received his musical training more from his grandfather Murad Ali Khan Shahib than his father Abdullah Khan Shahib. The particularBaaj in which this great Gharana specialized is known as the Ferozekhani style. The Ferozekhani Gats are generally played in medium and medium-fast tempo rather than in fast tempo like Razakhani Gats. It is also marked by smart jumps from one octave to another with a surprise movement and is generally composed of at least three cycles of a Tala movement. Sometimes the Sthayee and the Antara portions do not have different identities, but are coalesced into one unified entity.

Let us now have a look at the musical scene of the then united Bengal about the time when my Ustad first came to Calcutta at the age of a mere twenty years, sometime in 1906 or 1907. He perhaps visited our ancestral home at Rajshahi, now in Bangladesh, in the same year, as my Father says, that he was in his teens when Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib came to our house. At that time this great metropolis was literally teeming with great Maestros in almost every field of music. Amongst those who used to live permanently here in Calcutta, names might be mentioned of Ustad Keramatulla Khan (Sarod), Ustad Ashadulla Khan (Kaukuv Khan in Sarod & Banjo), Khalifa Badal Khan (Vocal Music & Sarengi), Pandit Lachhmi Prasad Misra (Veena, Vocal Music & Tabla), Khalifa Abid Hussain Khan & Ustad Masidulla Khan (Tabla), Pandit Shiv Shevak & Pashupati Misra (Vocal Music & Sitar), Ustad Ramzan Khan (Tappa), Ustad Imdad Khan (Surbahar & Sitar) and a host of other eminent musicians. Ustad Enayet Khan Shahib in Sitar & Surbahar and Ustad Chotey Khan Shahib in Sarangi joined them at a later stage. Ustad Alauddin and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Shahib used to live permanently in Maihar & Gwalior respectively, though both of them used to pay occasional visits to Bengal.

It was not a very easy job to rise into prominence or attain immediate success or fame, particularly for an unknown artist of a comparatively immature age, when hoary-headed giants were already holding the forts in almost every aspect of Indian Classical Music. But Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib was made of completely different material and was not afraid to meet any giant in a duel. He had real music in him, which was not only different in style and form, but also had an unusually delicate and charming flavour, which was at once intellectually thought-provoking and aesthetically immensely satisfying, so much so that within a very short time he was universally acknowledged as a stalwart in his own field and by his own right.

As I have already told before that Ustad Alauddin Khan Shahib & Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Shahib did not make Calcutta their permanent home, but used to pay occasional visits from time to time. Therefore, the duty of imparting lessons in Sarod to musical aspirants in those days naturally fell on Ustad Keramatulla Khan Shahib (Sarod), Ustad Ashadulla Khan Shahib, and Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib. But unfortunately Ashadullah Khan Shahib, who is better known as Kaukuv Khan Shahib died a premature death in the year 1915. So the young learners of Sarod had to choose between Ustad Keramatulla Khan Shahib and Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib, and both of them shared their responsibilities with an open heart and almost with equal number of students. There is hardly any doubt about the fact that what Bengal has achieved today in the field of Sarod, is mainly due to those great Maestros, through their blessings, painstaking efforts and wonderful method of teaching.

Before I finish this article, I feel that is one of my solemn duties to point out to the readers the change of attitude noticeable amongst the musicians of today towards music. The old masters believed passionately the excellences is musical performance lay in strict conformity to the traditional concept and orthodox forms of Raga-Sangeet. A Raga, to them, was a symbol of eternal beauty, realised and realisable. Music being the vehicle of a Raga, there was hardly any room for self-expression in the name of creative inspiration. By creation they really meant a sort of ritualistic invocation to their favourite Music. According to them, therefore, the presentation of music must be as systematic and thorough as possible and appropriate techniques should be applied to that extent only, which was essential for the creation of purest forms of music. Their approach to music was more of a Devotee rather than a Creator, and they sacrificed their individuality to the sacred altar of Raga-Sangeet. It is this self-surrender and not in super-imposition of their personalities, that they found their highest fulfillment in Art.

The present-day attitude, however, is quite different. Modern artists believe more in technical innovations and new art forms than mere conformity to the age-old traditions of Raga-Sangeet. Deviation from tradition, according to them, is no sin if it adds luster to the existing forms. A Raga is not a living organism, but just an artistic symbol without any form. It is the artist who gives form and infuses life to a Raga and in so doing the artist must be allowed his unquestionable prerogative of individualism. Art in itself has no meaning, if it does not help the artist the realization of his own personality through creation. Hedonism and not Self-negation, is the basic principle of modern Musical Art.

Thus, while old masters concerned themselves with the realization of pure beauty in Art, the modern artists are primarily satisfied with creating beauty through Art. To the old masters, technique was just a means to an end, the end being the realization of eternal beauty in Art, which transcends all techniques. Technique, to the modern artist is not only a means but also an end in itself, the end being the creation of beauty, which is imminent with and not independent of technique.

Here ends he story of my Ustad. My respectful Pranams (respectful regards offered by a disciple to a Guru) to him with all the humility I have at my command.


Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra

One of the most famous Sarodias in the Shahjahanpur Gharana, Radhika Mohan Maitra was born to a noble family in Rajshahi, which is now in Bangladesh. The year was 1917 and India was still under British rule. His family, referred to as Zamindars or landowners, served under the British empire and helped collect local taxes from farmers. The Maitra family were also great patrons of music and art. His grandfather, Lalita Mohan Maitra, had commissioned the legendary Sarodia Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan of the Shahjahanpur Gharana to come to Rajshahi and become his court musician. Lalita Mohan’s sons took up learning Sarod from Ustad Ameer Khan. Radhika Mohan’s mother played the Sitar and was a disciple of Ustad Enayet Khan, the father of the legendary Sitar maestro, Ustad Vilayet Khan of the Emdadkhani Gharana.

When Radhika Mohan was about five, Khansahib, as Ameer Khan was referred to, noticed the child’s keen interest in music and started to teach him. Thus began Radhika Mohan’s formal training in music, which continued for another twelve years until the death of the Ustad.
Dabir Khan

Ustad Mohammed Dabir Kahn of Rampur Ustad Mohammed Dabir Kahn of Rampur Ustad Mohammed Dabir Kahn of Rampur Ustad Mohammed Dabir Kahn of Rampur

Radhu, as Radhika Mohan was affectionately called, flourished academically as well as in music. He graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Calcutta and a Master’s in Philosophy from the University of Dhaka. At the same time he continued his musical pursuits. After the death of Ustad Ameer Khan, he turned to Ustad Mohammed Dabir Khan of Rampur, an exponent of the Senia Gharana, to receive extensive training in the Dhrupad-Dhamaar style of Indian Classical music. He developed his own style, blending the Rabab style of the Shahjahanpur Gharana with the Dhrupad vocal style from the Senia Gharana. In the year 1937, he also briefly came in contact with Baba Ustad Alauddin Khan while performing at the Allahabad University Music Conference. Baba asked him to perform with him and he respectfully accepted the offer.
Radhika Mohan Alauddin

Radhika Mohan performing with legendary Sarod maestro Ustad Alauddin Khan at Allahabad University in 1937
During this course of time Baba also taught a few rare Ragas and Gats played in the Maihar Gharana to Radhika Mohan. Throughout the country, audiences were mesmerized by the wonderfully melodious tone of his Sarod, his perfect pitch and taans and toras executed at lightning speed but with amazing control. He was a purist at heart; one who strongly believed that the true beauty of expression lay in maintaining the purity of the Ragas and of the compositions by famous Ustads. Through his consummate skill in handling the instrument, the fluent and brilliant phrasing and articulation of bol-taans (rhythmic patterns), he took the Sarod baaj or playing style to new frontiers.

Radhika Mohan giving a recital on the National Program of Music accompanied by Shyamal Bose

Along with the Independence of India from British Rule in the year 1947, also came the Partition of Bengal, one of the darkest chapters in modern Indian history, which saw mass riots between Hindus and Muslims and thousands of murders and rapes, as well as widespread plundering on both sides of the divided state.
Radhika Mohan Chou En Lai

On his visit to China in 1955, Radhika Mohan is being presented a bouquet by the Chinese Premier, His Excellency Zhou En Lai at a reception in Beijing
At this time, Radhika Mohan was a professor of philosophy in Rajshahi College. His family decided to leave their ancestral home in Rajshahi and move to Calcutta. In Calcutta, Radhika Mohan was faced with an economic struggle for existence and having to think about earning a living to feed his family. He turned to teaching music, however, these were difficult times in which few people were interested in learning classical music. However, by this time his fame had already spread to other parts of the country and soon he was sharing the stage with other great musicians of his time such as Ustad Vilayet Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Amir Khan (vocalist) and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He also became a regular performer on All India Radio.
Radhika Mohan

The maestro being felicitated by a young Ustad Amjad Ali Khan upon receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Award

His fame soon started to extend beyond the shores of India. He was part of a cultural delegation to the People’s Republic of China in 1955, Afghanistan in 1965, and Nepal in 1967. He also extensively toured Australia and New Zealand in 1962, performing in different cities. In 1972 he was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award by the government of India.

As he entered the mid years of his life, he shifted focus from being a performer to a teacher. Ensuring that the legacy of the Shahjahanpur Gharana that had been created by legendary maestros continued, he was determined to pass on his knowledge to the generations to follow.
Radhu Babu Sydney

As part of a visiting cultural delegation in 1962, Radhika Mohan is seen talking to the officials of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust in Sydney, Australia
His labor of love bore fruit in several noted disciples, notable among them being Buddhadev Dasgupta, Anil Roy Chowdhury, Samarendra Sikdar, Rajani Kanta Chaturvedi, Pranab Naha, Dr. Kalyan Mukherjee and others. He had several students from overseas such as John Barlow, Michael Robbins, James Sadler Hamilton, to name a few. Interestingly, he had picked up a significant amount of the Emdadkhani style of playing the Sitar, first from his mother and later, through his friendship with Ustad Vilayet Khan. He taught a number of Sitar students such as Rajani Kanta Chaturvedi, Himadri Bagchi and Rabi Sen. Sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Bannerji had also received training from him for a few years before going to learn from Baba Ustad Alauddin Khan.

He composed some new Ragas, the most notable being Chandra Malhar, Dipa Kalyan and Alakananda. He also invented three new musical instruments – the Mohan Veena, Dil Bahar and Naba Deepa.
Radhika Mohan Instruments

The three new instruments that were created by Radhika Mohan
View more instruments

Radhika Mohan was uncompromising in his loyalty to the classical form and nothing could persuade him to pollute the purity of Ragas such as Darbari Kannada, Kaunshi Kanada or Hamveer Bilawal. At a time when other contemporaries dabbled in fusion or modern music that had more commercial value, he remained true to tradition.

In the mid 1970’s, on his 60th birthday, he surprised friends and students by suddenly announcing the decision to retire from actively performing on the big stage and All India Radio (AIR) and Television. In his last National Program of Music broadcast, he performed with his close friend, the legendary Tabla maestro, Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. In spite of being a Tabla maestro, Pandit Ghosh was not a graded musician for AIR and therefore, had not performed on the National Program before. Radhika Mohan wrote to the authorities saying that it was ridiculous that a great Tabla maestro like Pt. Ghosh would have to give an audition to get a Grade and added that he would only play in this program if Pt. Ghosh was given a grade and was allowed to accompany him. In time Pt. Ghosh’s grade arrived from Delhi and he performed with him.
In his final recital for All India Radio, the maestro accompanied by Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh on the tabla

In his final recital for All India Radio, the maestro accompanied by Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh on the tabla

Towards the late 1970’s the famous moviemaker Sir David Lean came to Calcutta and wanted to shoot a documentary on Radhika Mohan. Coming from an acclaimed director such as Lean, this was rare recognition for any Indian musician. The maestro was in his fading years of his life and undertaking this venture would have meant traveling and living outside India for a certain length of time. He politely refused the movie director’s offer, saying that if he left Calcutta, that would severely affect his students who were receiving regular training from him at that time.

In 1976 Radhika Mohan founded the Mohammed Ameer Khan School of Instrumental Music, which was dedicated to the development of young talent in Sarod and Sitar to carry the banner of the Shahjahanpur Gharana forward. He started the ‘Rising Talents’ music conference in 1977, which focused on providing opportunities to young and talented artists, irrespective of their Gharana or Guru, to perform in front of the music loving audience of Calcutta. This program became very popular and continued even after his death, till the mid nineties. Some of the most well known names in today’s Indian Classical music scene got an opportunity to perform on the big stage for the first time at the Rising Talents conference.

The maestro passed away after a brief illness in Calcutta in 1981 but his legacy lives on through his countless recordings and disciples.


Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta

One of the finest Sarodias of modern times, Buddhadev was born in Bhagalpur, Bihar, on 1st February, 1933. Unlike many famous musicians who have been his contemporaries, Buddhadev did not hail from a family of musicians. In fact, his grandfather was a lawyer and totally averse to music. His father, Mr. Prafulla Mohan Dasgupta was interested in music, but dared not venture into learning because of his father. Being in a government job, Prafulla Mohan was transferred from place to place, however, he made friends with local musicians wherever he went, and hosted them for soirees at his home. When Buddhadev was about nine years old, his father was transferred to Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh), where they met a young charismatic Sarodia by the name of Radhika Mohan Maitra. Not sure if it was his music or his good looks that impressed young Buddhadev, but he started learning the Sarod from Pandit Maitra. Thus began a long relationship of the Guru and his disciple, which lasted till Pt. Maitra’s death in 1981.

Having been born into a middle class Indian family, it was difficult for Buddhadev to choose music as his sole profession. In fact, he had seen his Guru struggle with finances when Radhika Mohan was forced to move to Calcutta after Independence and the Partition of Bengal. It was therefore, imperative that Buddhadev receive formal education and ultimately seek a job. He attended different schools wherever the family went and graduated from a high school in Calcutta. As an academic student Buddhadev showed that he was not ordinary either – he stood second in rank in the state Matriculation (secondary school) examination in 1948. He went on to study at Presidency College, Calcutta, and finally enrolled as a student of mechanical engineering at Bengal Engineering College (Sibpur), which was under the University of Calcutta. He graduated in 1954 and proceeded to take on a job with the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) as a power station engineer. During his early career, there was a period of about eight years during which there were no weekends or holidays, and he had to work around the clock at the power station where he lived as well. He worked for the CESC for 32 years before retiring in 1988.

Despite the grind of his exacting profession, he managed by the dint of his firm resolve and dedication to pursue and preserve his passion for the Sarod. He stood first in the Sangeet Prabhakar (Bachelor of. Music) and Sangeet Praveen (Master of Music) examinations of the Prayag Sangeet Simiti. He successfully appeared in the audition for All India Radio (AIR) in 1949, and went on to become a top graded artist, which was no mean achievement. Along with this, he started to make his mark as a young talent in various music competitions and conferences all over India and received appreciation from the great maestros and critics. He also performed for the BBC in 1958. In 1961, he performed his first National Programme of All India Radio and since then he has been featured in AIR’s National Programme and Radio Music Conference on more than twenty occasions.

He retired from his job in 1988 to focus more on music; something that he had always wanted to do. Currently, he is a superior performer, along with being a Guru in instrumental music at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Calcutta and the chairperson of the West Bengal Music Academy. He has also been on the expert committee at the Rabindra Bharati University and a member on the All India Radio Audition Board. Buddhadev has been honored with numerous awards including, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Prachhen Kala Kendra Award, ITC Award to name a few. He has also taught a number of talented disciples including his two sons Bhavani Shankar and Anirban, Debashish Bhattacharya, Sugato Nag and Prattyush Bannerjee, to name a few.Buddhadev 022

Buddhadev’s style is firmly anchored in the tradition of the Shahjahanpur Gharana and combines the Rabab style beautifully with the Gayaki (vocal) style. He has made a pioneering contribution in incorporating extensively a variety of khayal based Ekhara taans and Bandishes (Gat compositions) on the Sarod. Like his illustrious Guru, he has strived to discover new frontiers while staying within the boundaries of tradition. During the 1970’s he started to experiment with Rabindrasangeet, or songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore. Buddhadev examined the movements of the Ragas in some of the songs and started to develop Bandishes, adopting the core melody from these songs and forming subtle movements using Sarod vocabulary.

(Exerpts Courtes of Soumya Chakraverty)


Ali Akbar Khan

(14 April 1922 – 18 June 2009),

Ali Akbar Jhan Sahib often referred to as Khansahib or by the title Ustad (master), was a Hindustani classical musician of the Maihar gharana, known for his virtuosity in playing the sarod. Khan was instrumental in popularizing Indian classical music in the West, both as a performer (often in conjunction with Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar), and as a teacher. He established a music school in Calcutta in 1956, and the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967, which is now located in San Rafael, California and has a branch in Basel, Switzerland. Khan also composed several classical ragas and film scores.[1] He was a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Music[2] at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Trained as a musician and instrumentalist by his father, Allauddin Khan, Khan first came to America in 1955 on the invitation of violinist Yehudi Menuhin and later settled in California.[3] Khan was nominated for five Grammy Awards and was accorded India’s second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 1989.[4] He has also won a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts’s National Heritage Fellowship.

Ali Akbar Khan was born in the village of Shibpur, Comilla, in present-day Bangladesh (then East Bengal), to renowned musician and teacher, Allauddin Khan and Madina Begum.[5]  Soon after his birth, Khan’s family returned to Maihar (in present day Madhya Pradesh, India) where his father was the primary court musician for the Maharaja  of the princely state.[6]

From an early age Khan received training from his father in various instruments as well as vocal composition, but finally gravitated towards the sarod. Allauddin was a perfectionist and a strict taskmaster, and Khan’s lessons started before dawn and often lasted 18 hours a day.[7] Khan also learned to play the tabla and the pakhavaj from his uncle, Aftabuddin Khan, who he visited at Shibpur.[8] During this period he met several prominent musicians, such as the sarodist Timir Baran and flutist Pannalal Ghosh, who came to study with his father; in later years he was joined in his lessons by his sister Annapurna Devi, who became an accomplished player of the surbahar, and fellow student Ravi Shankar. Shankar and Annapurna Devi were married in 1941.[6]

Of his training on the sarod, he wrote:

If you practice for ten years, you may begin to please yourself, after 20 years you may become a performer and please the audience, after 30 years you may please even your guru, but you must practice for many more years before you finally become a true artist—then you may please even God

Ali Akbar Khan, after years of rigorous training gave his debut performance at a music conference in Allahabad  in 1936, at the age of 13. Three years later, in December 1939, he accompanied Ravi Shankar on the sarod during the latter’s debut performance at the same conference; this was the first of many jugalbandis  (duets) between the two musicians. In 1938 Khan gave his first recital on All India Radio (AIR), Bombay (accompanied on the tabla by Alla Rakha), and starting in January 1940, he gave monthly performances on AIR, Lucknow. Finally in 1944, both Shankar and Khan left Maihar to start their professional careers as musicians; Shankar went to Bombay, while Khan became the youngest Music Director for AIR, Lucknow and was responsible for solo performances and composing for the radio orchestra.

In 1943, on his father’s recommendation, Khan was appointed a court musician for the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh.[10] There, he taught and composed music besides giving recitals and was accorded the title of Ustad by the Maharaja. When the princely states were wound down with India’s independence in 1947 and Hanwant Singh died in a plane crash in 1948, Khan moved to Bombay.

In Bombay, he won acclaim as a composer of several film scores, including Chetan Anand’s Aandhiyan, Satyajit Ray’s Devi, Merchant-Ivory’s The Householder, and Tapan Sinha’s Kshudhita Pashan (“Hungry stones”), for which he won the “Best Musician of the Year” award. He also played Sarod for a song in 1955 film Seema which had the music composed by Shankar Jaikishan. Later in 1993, he would score some of the music for Bernardo Bertolucci Little Buddha.

Beginning in 1945, Khan also started recording a series of 78 rpm disks (which could record about three minutes of music) at the HMV Studios in Bombay. For one such record he conceived a new composition Raga Chandranandan (“moonstruck”), based on four evening ragas, Malkauns, Chandrakauns, Nandakauns and Kaushi Kanada. This record was a huge success in India, and the raga found a worldwide audience when a 22-minute rendition was re-recorded for the Master Musician of India LP in 1965 − one of Khan’s seminal recordings.

He performed in India and traveled extensively in the West. In 1956, Khan founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta, with the mission to teach and spread Indian classical music. He founded another school of the same name in Berkeley, California in 1967 and later moved it to San Rafael, California.[10] Khan performed in Boston with Shankar Ghosh in 1969 for the Peabody Mason Concert series. In 1985 he founded another branch of the Ali Akbar College of Music in Basel, Switzerland. Khan was the first Indian musician to record an LP album of Indian classical music in the United States and to play sarod on American television.

Khan has participated in a number of classic jugalbandi pairings, most notably with Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee and violinist L. Subramaniam. A few recordings of duets with Vilayat Khan also exist. He also collaborated with Western musicians. In August 1971, Khan performed at Madison Square Garden for the Concert for Bangladesh, along with Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha and Kamala Chakravarty.


Sharan Rani

Sharan Rani Backliwal (nee  Mathur) (9 April 1929 – 8 April 2008) was an Indian classical instrumentalist and music scholar, best known for her expertise with the sarod. She was India’s first woman sarod exponent[1]  and came to be popularly known as Sarod Rani (Queen of Sarod) paved way for a generation women to play of Hindustani instrumental music, She was a disciple of Ustad Allaudin Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan of Maihar Gharana school of Hindustani classical music

Her private collection of 370 musical instruments ranging from the 15th to the 19th century are now part of the “Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments” at the National Museum, New Delhi

She was born Sharan Rani Mathur in Walled city of Old Delhi to a conservative Hindu family of well-known businessmen and educationists.[1]  As a young girl, Sharan Rani learned to play the sarod from the master musicians Allauddin Khan and his son Ali Akbar Khan. During this period in Indian history, a career as a musician was seen as something for gharanas (families where music was a hereditary profession) or was the profession of nautch girls or baijis, not something appropriate for the daughter of a respectable, non-musician family. She also learned the Kathak form of classical Indian dance from Achhan Maharaj and Manipuri dance from Nabha Kumar Sinha.[5]  In 1953, she did her M.A from Delhi University, and studied at Indraprastha College for Women.

From the late 1930s, Sharan Rani presented her sarod recitals on the concert stage in India for over seven decades, receiving unprecedented critical acclaim. Since the 1950s she presented her sarod recitals abroad becoming the very first musician from India to go to many countries in all the continents. She played a vital role in introducing and popularising Indian classical music abroad. She was one of the very first to record for UNESCO and to release musical recordings with major record companies in the United States, Britain and France.

On the concert stage for over seven decades, many of her sarod recitals were graced by Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, and Heads of State of many countries. She performed at major music halls around the world and in many major music conferences in India. She gave many lecture demonstrations in India and abroad. She had a special fondness for children and young adults and always took out time to give special concerts and lec-dems, free of charge for them. She never turned down a request for a laudable cause and gave many benefit performances for charitable and worthy causes.

Concerned that the rich Dhrupad tradition was fading away, she was also the only artist keeping alive the tradition of playing Sarod with both Pakhawaj and Tabla. Hence, in many concerts, she also presented her solo recitals accompanied by both Tabla and Pakhawaj, besides her usual concerts wherein she was accompanied only by the Tabla.
[edit] Musical research and teaching

Sharan Rani also wrote a history of the sarod, titled The Divine Sarod: Its Origin, Antiquity and Development, which was released in 1992, by Shri K.R. Narayanan, the then Vice President of India.[1] A second edition of The Divine Sarod was released in 2008 by Shri I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India. She also wrote a number of articles on music.

Sharan Rani taught music through the Guru –Shishya parampara and never took any fees from her students. Many students also lived in her house as her resident-disciples for several years, free of charge. Many of her Indian and foreign students have gained repute in India and abroad.

The National Museum has a unique collection of old and rare musical instruments collected and gifted by master musician and Sharan Rani. In India, in the Pre Independence period, there was no museum in Delhi. No systematic effort had been made to preserve our musical heritage in terms of our musical instruments. Sharan Rani was a visionary and a ‘thinking artist’. With single minded determination, Sharan Rani took upon herself the onerous challenge of finding and acquiring old and rare musical instruments. Slowly and consistently over decades and without any outside aid, she built up an unparalleled collection of rare musical instruments. As an unparalleled legacy for future generations, she gifted from her personal collection, nearly 450 old and rare musical instruments spanning the 15th century till the 20th century to the National Museum, New Delhi in three stages, i.e. 1980, 1982 and 2002.

These instruments are housed in a permanent gallery, called the ‘Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments’, in the National Museum, New Delhi, inaugurated and dedicated to the nation in 1980 by the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, who called it a ‘collection of rare musical instruments of national importance.’ In 1982 and 2002, she again gifted instruments to the National Museum to further enrich the existing Sharan Rani collections in the Museum. The Sharan Rani collections highlight almost all the types of instruments used in Indian classical music. Some folk and tribal instruments are also exhibited in the collections. She has also collected and gifted investments of great maestros. One can also see western instruments which have been used for decades as Indian band instruments.

Due to her efforts, in 1998, Govt. of India’s Postal Department released the first ever set of four musical instruments (i.e. Sarod, Veena, Flute and Pakhawaj) and a first day cover based on four musical instruments from the “Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments”.

Sharan Rani being a master musician and ‘scholar artist’ collected and gifted to the Museum, instruments that are not only masterpieces from an aesthetic point of view, but were also musically perfect specimens. She has with great care restored many old instruments before donating them. All the instruments were gifted in playing condition. The collections donated by her comprise also of varieties of instruments from different States of India, from different ‘Gharanas’ of music, covering different time periods, allowing for a methodical comparative and developmental study.

Sharan Rani actively participated in India’s struggle for freedom. Over the years, she silently she helped many artists in need and helped many upcoming artists. Sharan Rani served as the Founder, President and Chairperson of leading music, cultural and educational institutions and organisations. Sharan Rani was one of the earliest artists of All India Radio and Doordarshan
A walk through the Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments at the National Museum is bound to be a slow one, punctuated by many stops to gape at the incredible exhibits. The gigantic ranasingha, intricate manjiras, more varieties of ghungroos than you ever thought could exist: there is enough that you’ve never seen or heard of before. But the most baffling exhibit has to be the bow and arrow. Its incongruity attracts immediate attention. The presence of this display is explained by a note, which ought to give even the slightly romantic musical enthusiast goose bumps. The theory goes that when the first arrow was placed against the string of the bow and released, the realisation that string could produce a sound spurred musical innovation. The several hundred stringed instruments on display in this room all trace their lineage back, through many centuries, to this one display.

The presence of the bow and arrow is also telling of the person who lends her name to the gallery. Backliwal, who passed away in 2008, is remembered as one of the greatest sarod players of all time, but this gallery is as significant as her musical legacy. Over more than five decades, she collected 450 musical instruments from across India – by herself, with her own money – and then decided to give it all to the National Museum. She donated her first batch in 1980, when the gallery was inaugurated by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Backliwal did not want the collection to be a random assortment. As the presence of the bow and arrow shows, she wanted a logical arrangement, one that would classify the instruments by type, and within that type, by chronology. It is heartening to see that the museum authorities have not been entirely dismissive of her vision.

Sharan Rani’s daughter, Radhika Backliwal Narain, still remembers the day on which her mother’s personal collection became a public one. “The director of the museum came to our house to oversee the process of shifting the instruments. You won’t believe it; my mother did a full ceremony with tilak and naryal, as if it was her daughter’s vidaai.” Backliwal could not contain her emotions on the day of the inauguration. While giving her speech, she was in tears, as she reiterated the same thought, that she was giving her children away. But nothing held her back from donating more instruments in 1982, and then again in 2002. She was insistent that her collection should be permanently displayed at the National Museum and not in any private instrument only gallery. “She wanted casual visitors, who would otherwise never come into contact with these instruments, to visit the gallery,” said her daughter.

The story of how she went on to build the collection is as compelling as the variety of instruments. Wherever she went to perform, Backliwal would seek out people with rare instruments. In this, she left no region in the country unexplored. As word spread about her collection, she started getting letters from people who were willing to give her rare instruments as donations. But some of the acquisitions came at great cost – perhaps the costliest among them the Kashmiri rabab on display. Her daughter recounted, “She was told that one fakir in Kashmir had a rare rabab, but the fakir was willing to give it to her only if she went to his house herself. The house happened to be on a machaan on a treetop and she had to climb to get there. She was pregnant at the time and when she got back to Delhi, she was told that she had had a miscarriage.”

Backliwal also ensured that all the instruments on display were in performing condition. She personally restored many of them before donating them to the museum. While most of the instruments are in good condition – with the colour in the miniature work still vibrant on many – some have started to show signs of neglect. It will be a crying shame if the authorities don’t keep up their maintainence. It is the least they owe to the extraordinary Sharan Rani.

In 1960, she married Shri Sultan Singh Backliwal who belonged to a prominent Digamber Jain business family of Delhi. In 1974, they had a daughter, Radhika Narain.[1]  After battling cancer for a few years, she died on 8 April 2008, a day before her 80th birthday.


Shrimati Sharan Rani



The Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments at the National Museum

A walk through the Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments at the National Museum is bound to be a slow one, punctuated by many stops to gape at the incredible exhibits. The gigantic ranasingha, intricate manjiras, more varieties of ghungroos than you ever thought could exist: there is enough that you’ve never seen or heard of before. But the most baffling exhibit has to be the bow and arrow. Its incongruity attracts immediate attention. The presence of this display is explained by a note, which ought to give even the slightly romantic musical enthusiast goose bumps. The theory goes that when the first arrow was placed against the string of the bow and released, the realisation that string could produce a sound spurred musical innovation. The several hundred stringed instruments on display in this room all trace their lineage back, through many centuries, to this one display.

The presence of the bow and arrow is also telling of the person who lends her name to the gallery. Backliwal, who passed away in 2008, is remembered as one of the greatest sarod players of all time, but this gallery is as significant as her musical legacy. Over more than five decades, she collected 450 musical instruments from across India – by herself, with her own money – and then decided to give it all to the National Museum. She donated her first batch in 1980, when the gallery was inaugurated by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Backliwal did not want the collection to be a random assortment. As the presence of the bow and arrow shows, she wanted a logical arrangement, one that would classify the instruments by type, and within that type, by chronology. It is heartening to see that the museum authorities have not been entirely dismissive of her vision.

Sharan Rani’s daughter, Radhika Backliwal Narain, still remembers the day on which her mother’s personal collection became a public one. “The director of the museum came to our house to oversee the process of shifting the instruments. You won’t believe it; my mother did a full ceremony with tilak and naryal, as if it was her daughter’s vidaai.” Backliwal could not contain her emotions on the day of the inauguration. While giving her speech, she was in tears, as she reiterated the same thought, that she was giving her children away. But nothing held her back from donating more instruments in 1982, and then again in 2002. She was insistent that her collection should be permanently displayed at the National Museum and not in any private instrument only gallery. “She wanted casual visitors, who would otherwise never come into contact with these instruments, to visit the gallery,” said her daughter.

The story of how she went on to build the collection is as compelling as the variety of instruments. Wherever she went to perform, Backliwal would seek out people with rare instruments. In this, she left no region in the country unexplored. As word spread about her collection, she started getting letters from people who were willing to give her rare instruments as donations. But some of the acquisitions came at great cost – perhaps the costliest among them the Kashmiri rabab on display. Her daughter recounted, “She was told that one fakir in Kashmir had a rare rabab, but the fakir was willing to give it to her only if she went to his house herself. The house happened to be on a machaan on a treetop and she had to climb to get there. She was pregnant at the time and when she got back to Delhi, she was told that she had had a miscarriage.”

Backliwal also ensured that all the instruments on display were in performing condition. She personally restored many of them before donating them to the museum. While most of the instruments are in good condition – with the colour in the miniature work still vibrant on many – some have started to show signs of neglect. It will be a crying shame if the authorities don’t keep up their maintainence. It is the least they owe to the extraordinary Sharan Rani.


Rajrupa Sen

Rajrupa started training at the tender age of five at the Ustad Ameer Khan School of Instrumental Music. Since 1989 she has been training under the guidance of Sri Siddharta Roy Chowdhury. Hailing from Kolkata, she has participated and won several awards. She received the National Scholarship for Senior Students of Indian Classical Music from the Government of India. Rajrupa was the youngest sarod player at the 15th North American Bengali conference, held in New York in 1995. She is a regular artiste of All India Radio, Kolkata.


Rajrupa Sen  – Sarod






A Video Tutorial on Shrutis on Sarod

can be found here :








or listen here for audio only


see also:


Click to access The-Sarod-Book_excerpt.pdf

About RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

Ram51 is a researcher in the various fields of Musicology, Philosophy and History as well as old languages. One of his first topics is the wide scope of Indo-arabic cultures as represented in various art-forms religion and history. Below a list of selected Research topics which sum up partitionally the task of anthropological Frameworks in totaliter : Sanskrit Hinduism and Mythology Hindustani Music, The Muqhal Empire Gharanas from North India Kashmir Sufiyana The Kashmir Santoor Traditional Folk Music from USA Philosophy in Orient and Okzident Genealogy of musical instruments Ethnomusicology, Arabic Maqams, No Theatre fromJapan, North american poetry, Cultural heritage of mankind and Islamic architecture... View all posts by RAM Chandrakausika राम च 51

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