The genius of Baba Allauddin Khan

Maihar in Satna district is the home to the temple of the revered mother goddess Sharda situated on Trikut hill. It is also the home to the Maihar Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music, and to its founder- Ustad Allauddin Khan , lovingly called ‘Baba’ meaning ‘father’.

Born in 1862 in Shibpur village of Brahmanbaria which today lies in Bangladesh, Ustad Allauddin was attracted to music from a very early age. As a little boy, he bunked classes and spent the school hours in a nearby Shiva Temple, listening to the devotional music played by the saints in the temple.

Courtesy: Discogs

At the age of ten, Allauddin left home to follow his passion. He joined a ‘jatra’ party where he was exposed to a variety of folk music, ranging from kirtan to bhatiyali. In Kolkata, he took training in vocal music from the noted musician Gopal Krishna Bhattacharya also known as ‘Nulo Gopal’. After twelve years, Khan turned to instrumental music. He mastered many indigenous and foreign musical instruments like sitar, flute, piccolo, mandolin, banjo, etc., under the guidance of Amritalal Dutt, who was a cousin of Swami Vivekananda and the music director of the Star Theatre. He also learned to play many other instruments like shehnai, naquara, tiquara, jagajhampa, pakhawaj, mridangam and tabla . After years of struggle, Allauddin Khan was accepted as a disciple by the famous Veena player Ustaad Wazir Khan of Rampur. He was appointed as the court musician for the Maharaja of Maihar, and established the Maihar band- an orchestral group of orphaned children.

His disciples include his son Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, his daughter Maa Annapurna Devi, Pandit Ravishankar, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Pandit Pannalal Ghosh among others- each of whom went on to become notable musicians.

Ustaad Allauddin Khan never practiced music as a profession. The highest peaks as well as the deepest roots of music, nothing was untouched by him. Although he was primarily a sarod player, Baba Allauddin could play all sorts of instruments with equal ease and command. To him, music was a form of worship, a way of knowing oneself.

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