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Allauddin Khan

Allauddin Khan (born 1862 at Shibpur village in Brahmanbaria, in present-day Bangladesh), was the son of Sabdar Hossain Khan who was also called Sadhu Khan. Fakir Aftabuddin, his elder brother, taught him the first lessons in music. Allauddin Khan became a master in sarod. He was a disciple of the legendary Wazir Khan.

He married Madanmanjari Devi in 1888. Ali Akbar Khan was his son and a famous sarod of renown. He had three daughters namely Sharija, Jehanara and Annapurna Devi. When the jealous mother-in-law of Sharija burnt her tanpura, Allauddin resolved not to train his other daughters. But he changed his mind when his daughter Annapurna proved to be very talented. She was married to Ravi Shankar, the sarod maestro, but later divorced him He died in 1972.

Known as Baba Allauddin Khan, he was proficient in a number of instruments and one of the greatest music teachers. Besides son Ali Akbar Khan and daughter Annapurna Devi, his other disciples included Ravi Shankar, Vasant Rai, Nikhil Banerjee and Pannalal Ghosh.

A Muslim, he was devoted to the goddess Sarada Devi, a form of goddess Saraswati to whom he constructed a temple at the top of a hill in Maihar. He was so devoted that he refused to leave Maihar despite many offers and preferred to die at the feet of his goddess even refusing to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

Education and Musical Career

Allauddin jointed a jatra band running away from home at the age of ten. This introduced him to the Bengali theater form and its rich tradition. He later went to Kolkata and became a student of Gopal Krishna Bhattacharya, alias Nulo Gopal, a singer. Though committed to a 12-year programme, Nulo Gopal died in the seventh year of plague. He then became a disciple of Amritalal Dutt who was the music director of Star Theatre of Kolkatta and a relative of Swami Vivekananda. He also studied classical violin from Lobo who was a Goanese bandmaster.

Allauddin came under the spell of sarod when he heard Ahmed Ali Khan at a concert organised by the zamindar of Muktagachha, Jagat Kishore Acharya. Ahmed Ali Khan was a disciple of the famed master, Asghar Ali Khan, the grand-uncle of Amjad Ali Khan. For five years he trained under him. He took lessons at Rampur from Wazir Khan Beenkar, a descendent of the legendary Tansen and a court musician of the Nawab of Rampur. He thus got access to the Tansen school of music (Senia gharana) through this association. He was later anointed as the court musician to Brijnath Singh Maharaja of Maihar Estate in Central Province.

Contribution in Indian Classical Music

The Maihar gharana of Indian classical music was reshaped by Allauddin Khan during the period he was the court musician. Hindustani instrument music was undergoing immense change during this period with Allauddin Khan introducing beenbaj and dhrupad ang into the classical instruments.

Important works

Allauddin Khan, an ardent lover of sankeerna (compound) ragas, composed his own ragas including Arjun, Bhim, Bhagabati, Chandika, Bhuvaneshvari, Dhankosh, Dhabalashri, Durgeshvari, Dipika, Gandhi Bilawal, Gandhi, Hem-Behag, Haimanti, Hemant Bhairav, Hemant, Jaunpuri Todi, Imni Manjh, Komal Bhimpalasi, Kedar Manjh, Madanmanjari, Komal Marwa, Madhavgiri, Madhabsri, Manjh Khamaj, Malaya, Muhammed, Meghbahar, Prabhakali, Nat-Khamaj, Rajeshri, Raj Bijoy, Subhabati, Shobhavati, Surasati and Sugandha. The best known amongst them is the Manjh Khamaj. Some of his recordings are available on CD, on the Great Garanas: Maihar compilation in RPG/EMI's Chairman's Choice series. There is also a film on him called Raga directed by Howard Worth (1971).

Awards / Achievement

Allauddin Khan is the creator of the Maihar genre of music. He set up the Maihar College of Music in 1955. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1952, the Padma Bhushan in 1958 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1971 by the Government of India.