Hundreds of admirers of Ustad Allauddin Khan are aggrieved over non-observance of the birth anniversary of one of the greatest virtuosos of Hindustani classical music.
Born on 8 October 1862 in Bangladesh, Khan was a legendary musician in Maihar ruler’s court and laid the foundation of the iconic Maihar gharana of music.
Maihar, in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district, India, is renowned in the world of arts as the karmabhoomi of Baba Allauddin Khan, who was an accomplished ‘sarod’ player, multi-instrumentalist and teacher of Hindustani classical music.
But officials connected with the Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet and Kala Academy in state capital Bhopal maintain that the birth anniversary of the master artiste could not be celebrated owing to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The apathy of the authorities towards Indian music and musicians is worrisome
The Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet and Kala Academy stands in his name in Bhopal while a music college in the name of one of the most notable masters of classical music in the 20th century was set up in Maihar.
One of the path-breaking practices that Khan started in his ‘gharana’ was that the headship was not passed on to the members of his family but through the ‘guru-shishya’ tradition.
Arif Tanveer, a relative of Khan, complains that even though governments have spent crores of rupees to launch buildings in the names of renowned musicians and other artistes, the country has not been able to produce music legends in the class of Khan, Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Ravi Shankar since they are not even remembered on their birth and death anniversaries in a proper manner.
“The apathy of the authorities towards Indian music and musicians is worrisome,” he said.
Then Maihar ruler Brijnath Singh had brought Khan, popularly known as Baba Allauddin Khan, to his court at the start of the 20th century as he was impressed with his talent.
Khan would, till he was in good health, regularly visit Mata Sharda Devi’s temple in Maihar and sing devotional songs.
In 1954, the Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded him the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to Indian music. In 1955, Khan established a college of music in Maihar. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958, Padma Vibhushan in 1971.
Khan, credited with a number of new ‘ragas’, died on 6 September 1972 in Maihar.
There is an interesting story behind the ‘Maihar Band’ set up by Ustad Allauddin Khan.
Old-timers recalled that a plague swept through Maihar in 1918-19 and a lot of children lost their parents to the disaster. The renowned musician gathered these children and trained them in wind, percussion and string instruments as per their interests. It finally led to the formation of the ‘Maihar Vadya Vrind’.
Social activist and journalist Nandlal Singh said that the master musician may have been a Muslim, but he was a living example of communal harmony. His secular credentials can be gauged from the very fact that his house has two names - Madina Bhavan and Shanti Kutir.
Renowned artist Paresh Maity has created a 34-feet high, 20-feet long and 8-feet wide sculpture titled ‘Maihar’ on the lawns of Art Ichol to pay tribute to Mata Sharda and Ustad Allauddin Khan.