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Shehnai of Bismillah Khan | NCERT Solution | English | CBSE | Class IX

Updated: Apr 21, 2022






THEME

  • This lesson is about Ustaad Bismillah Khan. He was a well-known shehnai player in India.

  • His Uncle, Ali Baux, inspired him to learn the lesson in Shehnai.

  • He played the shehnai on the day India got independence i.e 15th August 1947.

  • This lesson highlights his road to success and his philosophy of life.

Story At A Glance

  • EMPEROR Aurangzeb banned the playing of a musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence for it had a shrill unpleasant sound.

  • A barber of a family of professional musicians, who had access to the royal palace, decided to improve the tonal quality of the pungi.

  • He chose a pipe with a natural hollow stem and made seven holes on the body of the pipe.

  • He played the instrument before royalty and everyone was impressed. The instrument was later named as the ‘shehnai.

  • Shehnai is considered to be auspicious. For this reason it is still played in temples and is an indispensable component of any North Indian wedding.

  • The credit for bringing this instrument onto the classical stage goes to Ustaad Bismillah Khan.


  • As a five-year old, Bismillah Khan played gilli danda near a pond in the ancient estate of Dumraon in Bihar.

  • He would visit the nearby Bihariji temple to sing the Bhojpuri ‘Chaita’, at the end of which he would earn a big laddu weighing 1.25 kg, a prize given by the local Maharaja.

  • This little boy has grown up to earn the highest civilian award in India — the Bharat Ratna.

  • Born on 21 March 1916, Bismillah belongs to a well-known family of musicians from Bihar.

  • His grandfather, Rasool Bux Khan, was the shehnai-nawaz of the Bhojpur king’s court. His father, Paigambar Bux, and other paternal ancestors were also great shehnai players.

  • Bismillah started accompanying his uncle, Ali Bux, to the Vishnu temple of Benaras where Ali Bux would play the shehnai and Bismillah would sit listenting for hours together.

  • Slowly, he started getting lessons in playing the instrument and would sit practicing throughout the day.

  • Utsad Bismillah Khan would visit the temple of Balaji, temple of Managala Maiya and on the bank of river Ganga he would practice playing the shehnai.

  • The flowing waters of the Ganga inspired him to invent ragas that were earlier thought to be beyond the range of the shehnai.


  • With the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in 1938 came Bismillah’s big break. He soon became an often-heard shehnai player on radio.

  • When India gained independence on 15 August 1947, Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to greet the nation with his shehnai.

  • The Raag that was played by Ustaad Bismillah Khan on the occasion of the Independence of India was Raag Kafi. He played it from the Red Fort.

  • Bismillah Khan has given many memorable performances both in India and abroad.

  • His first trip abroad was to Afghanistan where King Zahir Shah was so taken in by the maestro that he gifted him priceless Persian carpets and other souvenirs.

  • Film director Vijay Bhatt was so impressed after hearing Bismillah play at a festival that he named a film after the instrument called Gunj Uthi Shehnai.

  • The film was a hit, and one of Bismillah Khan’s compositions, “Dil ka khilona hai toot gaya ...,” turned out to be a nationwide chartbuster!

  • Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to be invited to perform at the prestigious Lincoln Centre Hall in the United States of America.

  • He also took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair.

  • Film director Vijay Bhatt was so impressed after hearing Bismillah play at a festival that he named a film after the instrument called Gunj Uthi Shehnai.

  • The film was a hit, and one of Bismillah Khan’s compositions, “Dil ka khilona hai toot gaya ...,” turned out to be a nationwide chartbuster!

  • Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to be invited to perform at the prestigious Lincoln Centre Hall in the United States of America.

  • He also took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair.

  • National awards like the Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan were conferred on him.

  • In 2001, Ustaad Bismillah Khan was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.


  • With the coveted award resting on his chest and his eyes glinting with rare happiness he said, “All I would like to say is: Teach your children music, this is Hindustan’s richest tradition; even the West is now coming to learn our music.’’

  • A student of his once wanted him to head a shehnai school in the U.S.A., and the student promised to recreate the atmosphere of Banaras by replicating the temples there. But Khan saab asked him if he would be able to transport River Ganga as well.

  • Ustaad Bismillah Khan’s life is a perfect example of the rich, cultural heritage of India, one that effortlessly accepts that a devout Muslim like him can very naturally play the shehnai every morning at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

  • Ustaad Bismillah Khan passed away on 21 August 2006 at the age of ninety after a prolonged illness. He was given a state funeral and the Government of India declared one day of national mourning.

Recapitulation

  • EMPEROR Aurangzeb banned the playing of a musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence for it had a shrill unpleasant sound.

  • Later on a barber modified it and the instrument was later named as ‘shehnai.

  • Shehnai is considered to be auspicious. For this reason it is still played in temples and is an indispensable component of any North Indian wedding.

  • The credit for bringing this instrument onto the classical stage goes to Ustaad Bismillah Khan.



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