The Sound Of Music| Part II| The Shehnai Of Bismillah Khan| Summary

Story/ Summary of chapter:  The Sound Of Music, Part II,The Shehnai Of Bismillah Khan, is presented below. Story along with words meaning, worksheets and NCERT Solutions for Class 9.


The second part of chapter ‘The sound of music’ is related to Shehnai vadak Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Emperor Aurangzeb banned pungi at his residence because of its unpleasant sound.  A barber who can go to the royal palace decided to improve tone of Pungi. He took a pipe with a natural hollow stem. The stem was longer and broader than the pungi. He made seven holes on it. When he played the new pungi by closing and opening of holes, a very soft and melodious sound were produced. This new instrument was liked by royal family. A story is said for new name of pungi that the instrument is first played in ‘Shah’s chambers by a nai (barber), the instrument was named the ‘shehnai’.

In the past, shehnai was part of naubat. Now, in North, it is important part of weddings and temples. Shehnai is brought to classical stage by Ustad Bismilah Khan.

Ustad Bismillah khan used to play gilli – danda near a pond in ancient estate Dumraon in Bihar. He sung Bhojpuri ‘Chaita’ at nearby Bihariji Temple. The local Maharaja gave him a prize of big laddu of 1.25 kg. Ustad Bismillah Khan belongs to a famous music family. He was born on 21 March 1916. 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.

Ustad Bismillah Khan saw his maternal uncle Ali bux playing shehnai at the Vishnu temple of Benaras. He then started learning and practicing shehnai at the Balaji, Mangla Maiya and the banks of Ganga.

Ustad ji went to Allahabad Music Conference with his uncle, at the end of the conference Ustad Faiyaz Khan praised him. He started playing shehnai at All India Radio in Lucknow, that was opened in 1938. After getting independence, he was the first to greet India with his shehnai. He played Raag Kafi at the Red Fort before Pt. J N Nehru and audience.

When he performed in Afghanistan, the king Zahir Shah gifted him priceless Persian carpets and other souvenirs. He also composed music for two movies one is Vijay’s Bhatt’s “Gunj Uthi Shehnai” and Vikaram Srinivas’s Kannada venture, “Sanadhi Apanna”.

He was first Indian to be invited to perform Lincoln Centre Hall in US. He also performed in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair. An auditorium in Teheran is named after him – Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan.

He was honoured with prestigious awards like the Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. He was honoured with India’s the most prestigious award Bharat Ratna in 2001.

Khan Saab loved Benaras for river ganga and Dumraon for its Mattha.

Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away on 21 August 2006 at the age of 90 after a prolonged illness. He was given a state funeral and the Government of India declared one day of national mourning.


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NCERT Solutions Class 9