Remembering Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 into a family of court musicians and later trained under his uncle, the late Ali Bux 'Vilayatu', a shehnai player at Varanasi's Vishwanath temple.

During his long and fruitful career as an artiste, Khan enthralled audiences at performances across the globe. He was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the Tansen award as well as the Padma Vibhushan.

In 2001, Khan became the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

Despite his fame, Khan's lifestyle retained its old world charm and he continued to use the cycle rickshaw as his chief mode of transport till his death.

Where others saw conflict and contradiction between his music and his religion, Bismillah Khan saw only a divine unity. Even as a devout Shia, he was also a staunch devotee of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music.

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