Padma Vibhushan Pandit Kishan Maharaj passes
In a career spanning
more than fifty years, Pandit Kishen Maharaj dominated the world
of Indian classical percussion as a true representative of the
Banaras Gharana. One of the finest tabla players of our time, he
was born on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashtami in
the year 1923, in the holy city of Banaras. His father Pandit
Hari Maharaj was his first teacher. After his fatherís untimely
death, his training was taken over by his uncle, Pandit Kanthe
Maharaj, one of the great old masters and himself a disciple of
Pandit Baldeo Sahai, grandson of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder
of the Banaras Gharana.
Challenging the prevailing practice, his mission of taking the
tabla to its well-deserved status of respect proved to be highly
successful. His career began at the tender age of eleven years.
Within a few years, he was sharing the stage with stalwarts of
the time. His immense versatility in accompaniment, whether with
instrumental music, different genres of vocal music or dance has
been acknowledged the world over. His ability to play cross
rhythms and produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai
patterns, had made him one of the most respected and popular
tabla players of our time.
His abilities had been recognized time and again. In 1969 he
received the title of Sangeet Samrat from the Prayag
Sangit Samiti. In 1972 the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak
Akademi honoured him. The Padmashri came his way in 1973,
while in 1984 he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award.
The Hafiz Ali Khan Award came his way in 1986. In 2002,
the President of India awarded him the Padma Vibhushan
while in that year he was also the recipient of the second
Ustad Inayat Khan Memorial award for his contribution to
Indian classical music.
He had toured abroad extensively and had participated in several
prestigious events. Evolving his own style, the highlight of
which was his skilled layakari, he had trained several disciples
in the Guru-Shishya Parampara, many of whom are top-ranking
performers of today. He was regularly called upon to talk to
aspiring musicians and share with them his principles and
experiences. He unfailingly instilled self esteem and
confidence, guiding them towards the ideals that he had lived
A veritable paragon of talent, Maharajji will be sorely missed
by musicians and music lovers all over the world. He passed away
a little before midnight on 4th May, 2008.