Bismillah Khan
Profile Of Classical Musicians

Bismillah Khan was an Indian musician who was awarded Bharat Ratna Award. He was a Shehnai maestro playing this for more than eight decades. He was born on 21st March 1916 in Dalit Muslim family in Bhirung Raut Ki Gali in Dumraon in Bihar.

His parents are Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. His birth name was Qamaruddin. His elder brother was Shamsuddin. It was his grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan who started calling him Bismillah. His father was also a shehnai player who played in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon Estate in Bihar. He had five sons and three daughters.

He went to Varanasi when he was six years old and got trained by his uncle Ali Baksh. Though he was a pious Muslim he was also a devotee of Goddess Saraswati. He brought the musical instrument shehnai to limelight and used this in the All India Music Conference held at Calcutta in 1937.

He performed at the Red Fort in Delhi on the evening of India’s Independence in 1947. He performed Raga Kafi during the ceremony of India’s first Republic Day on 26th January 1950. His performance is telecasted on 15th August every year on Doordarshan after the speech given by Prime Minister from Lal Qila. This tradition started from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru.

He had played shehnai for some movies like Sanaadi Appanna in Kannada, acted in the movie Jalsaghar, performed for Goonj Uthi Shehnai. A documentary film Sange Meel Se Mulaqat portraying his life was directed by Goutam Ghose. He did not have many students as he seldom accepted him.

He died on 21st August 2006 in Varanasi. A day of national mourning was declared on his death. He was buried at Fatemain burial ground with gun salute from Indian Army. Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar award is given by Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi to youngsters who excel in music and dance.

Awards & Titles

He received Bharat Ratna award,

Padma Vibhushan Award,
Padma Bhushan award,
Padma Shri award,
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award,
Tansen Award,
Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi award, etc. He got honorary doctorate degree from Banaras Hindu University and Viswa Bharati University.