The Benares Tabla Gharana

This page is my personal tribute to the Benares tabla gharana (Benares is also sometimes written as Banaras, and the city is now officially known as Varanasi; its ancient name is Kashi).

First, is a chart showing the various guru-shishya lineages within the gharana (you will probably need to scroll sideways to see it all); next are biographies and photos of some famous Benares gharana tabla players.

The Benares tabla gharana was developed a little over 200 years ago by the legendary Pandit Ram Sahai (1780-1826). Ram Sahai began studying the tabla with his father from the age of five. At the age of nine, he moved to Lucknow to become the disciple of Modhu Khan of the Lucknow gharana. When Ram Sahai was seventeen years old, Wazir Ali Khan, the new Nawab, asked Modhu Khan if Ram Sahai could perform a recital for him. Modhu Khan agreed, on the condition that Ram Sahai would not be interrupted until he finished playing. It is said that Ram Sahai played for seven consecutive nights. After this incredible performance, Ram Sahai was praised by all the members of the community and was showered with gifts. Shortly after this performance, Ram Sahai returned to Benares.

After some time performing in Benares, Ram Sahai felt the need to make a significant change in his tabla playing. For six months, he withdrew into seclusion, and worked to develop what is now known as the Benares baj or style of tabla playing. The philosophy behind this new style of tabla playing is that it would be versatile enough to perform solo, and to accompany any form of music or dance. The tabla would be able to play delicately, as required for khyal, or more aggressively, like pakhawaj, for the accompaniment of dhrupad or kathak dance. Ram Sahai developed a new way of fingering the tabla strokes; especially important is the sound Na, being played with a curved ring finger to allow for maximum resonance of the dahina. He also composed numerous compositions within existing compositional forms (gats, tukras, parans, etc.) and created new forms, such as uthan, Benarsi theka, and fard.

Today, the Benares tabla gharana is well known for its powerful sound, though it is important to note that Benares players are also very capable of playing delicately and sensitively. The gharana is categorized into the Purbi (eastern) baj, which includes the Farukhabad, Lucknow, and Benares gharanas. The Benares style makes use of the more resonant strokes of tabla, such as Na (played on the lao), and Din. Benares players preferentially use the full-hand TeTe strokes, rather than the single finger alternation preferred by the Delhi style, though both stroke types are integrated into the Benares baj repertoire. Benares tabla players are successful in all forms of tabla playing, including tabla solo, instrumental, vocal, and dance accompaniment. The tabla solo is highly developed in the Benares gharana, and some artists, such as Pandit Sharda Sahai, Pandit Kishan Maharaj, and Pandit Samta Prasad, have become famous as tabla soloists.

The Benares baj makes use of over twenty different compositional types, and has an enormously varied repertoire of each type.

Ram Sahai
(1780-1826)
Disciple of Ustad Modu Khan of Lucknow Gharana
Bhagat-ji
Disciple of Ram Sahai

Bhairow Prasad Mishra
Disciple of Bhagat-ji

Anokhelal Mishra
(1914-1958)
Disciple of Bhairov Prasad Mishra

Ram-ji Mishra
Son of Anokhelal Mishra

Mahapurush Mishra
(1932-1987)
Disciple of Anokhelal Mishra
Ishwar Lal Mishra
Disciple of Anokhelal Mishra
Chotte Lal Mishra
Disciple of Anokhelal Mishra
Bhairov Sahai
(1815-1894)
Nephew of Ram Sahai

Bhagwan Mishra
Disciple of Bhairov Sahai

Biru Mishra
Son of Bhagwan Mishra
Bansdeo Prasad
Disciple of Biru Mishra
Lachchu Mishra
Son of Bansdeo Prasad
Baldeo Sahai
(1856-1906)
Son of Bhairov Sahai

Bhagvati Sahai
(1896-1946)
Son of Baldeo Sahai
Sharda Sahai
(1935-2011)
Son of Bhagvati Sahai

Sanju (Vishnu) Sahai
Son of Sharda Sahai
Deepak Sahai
Nephew of Sharda Sahai
Shiv Sahai
Nephew of Sharda Sahai
Dinnanath Mishra
Disciple of Sharda Sahai
Kishor Kumar Mishra
Disciple of Sharda Sahai
Bob Becker
Disciple of Sharda Sahai
Tim Richards
Disciple of Sharda Sahai
Dr. Frances Shepherd
Disciple of Sharda Sahai
Ashish (Dheeraj) Mishra
Grandson of Sharda Sahai
Abhishek Mishra
Grandson of Ram Shankar Sahai
Ram Shankar Sahai
(1938-1972)
Son of Bhagvati Sahai
Durga Sahai
(1892-1926)
Son of Baldeo Sahai

Krishna Kumar Ganguly
“Natu Babu”
(1905-1993)
Disciple of Durga Sahai

Samar Saha
Disciple of Natu Babu

Bikku Mishra
Disciple of Baldeo Sahai

Samta Prasad
Disciple of Bikku Mishra

Kumar Lal
Son of Samta Prasad

Partha Sarathi Mukherjee
Disciple of Samta Prasad

Raganath Mishra
Grandson of Bikku Mishra
Kanthe Maharaj
(1880-1969)
Disciple of Baldeo Sahai

Kishan Maharaj
(1923-2008)
Nephew of Kanthe Maharaj

Pooran Maharaj
Son of Kishan Maharaj
Sukhvinder Singh “Pinky”
Disciple of Kishan Maharaj
Vineet Vyas
Disciple of Kishan Maharaj
Sandeep Das
Disciple of Kishan Maharaj
Kumar Bose
Son of Biswanath Bose & Disciple of Kishan Maharaj
Shubh Maharaj
Grandson of Kishan Maharaj
Biswanath Bose
(1928-1980)
Disciple of Kanthe Maharaj

Kaviraj Ashutosh Bhattacharya
“Ashu Babu”
(1917-2004)
Disciple of Kanthe Maharaj

Debabrata Bhattacharya
(1955- )
Son of Ashu Babu

Tapan Bhattacharya
Disciple of Ashu Babu

Shen Flindell
(1972- )
Disciple of Ashu Babu

Pandit Ram Sahai – The tabla baj that is today associated with the city of Benares was developed over two hundred years ago by the legendary Pandit Ram Sahai.

A child prodigy in his native city, he became a disciple of Ustad Modhu Khan (grandson of Sidhar Khan of Delhi) a musician in the royal court of Nawab Asafuddaula in Lucknow.

During his twelve year apprenticeship with Modhu Khan, Ram Sahai amassed a prodigious repertoire of compositions and mastered the art of improvised elaborations on a given theme.

When he was 21 years of age he made his debut performance at the court of Nawab Wazir Ali and accomplished the astounding feat of playing a tabla solo which continued uninterrupted for seven consecutive nights without reptition of a single piece.

In the middle of his career Ram Sahai retired from public life and turned his attention to the creation of a new style of tabla playing.

Through major changes in the position of the hand on the drum and a more efficient use of the fingers he increased the tabla’s range of tone and dynamics.

In addition to composing numerous pieces in the existing forms he introduced several new types of compositions which have come to be associated exclusively with the Benares baj.

The new style was eminently suitable not only for solo playing, but for any type of music from heavy classical dhrupad singing (usually accompanied by the pakhawaj drum), to the lighter forms of thumri and tappa, to all styles of instrumental music, and lastly, to Kathak dance.

Source – Pandit Sharda Sahai: The Art of the Benares Baj (CD), notes by Bob Becker, Neil Craig, Dr. Frances Shepherd.


Pandit Bhairov Sahai

Pandit Baldeo Sahai


Pandit Lakshmi Sahai

Pandit Durga Sahai

Pandit Bhagvati Sahai


Pandit Ram Shankar Sahai

Pandit Sharda Sahai was born in Benares in 1935, a direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Benares style (“gharana”) of tabla playing. With the inherent gift in his blood of the finest traits of the Benares baj, he began at an early age to learn tabla from his father, the late Pandit Bhagvati Sahai. Following his father’s demise in 1946, he became a disciple of the inimitable Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, himself a disciple of Sharda Sahai’s grandfather, Pandit Baldeo Sahai.

Sharda Sahai started his professional career at the age of nine, performing both as a soloist and as an accompanist. He made his major public debut when he was sixteen, appearing at the Italee Music Conference in Calcutta with the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan. His professional activities in India have included appearances as soloist and accompanist at all of the important music conferences and festivals as well as performances with every major artist of North Indian classical music.

He was awarded “A Grade Artist” status by All India Radio in 1965. Also in 1965 he founded the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangit Vidyalaya, an institute for training in classical music and dance, located in Benares.

Sharda Sahai has performed over one thousand concerts worldwide. His solo performances have been broadcast on All India Radio’s prestigious National Program. His accompaniment experience includes every major artist of North Indian classical music- among others: sitarists Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, and Nikhil Banerjee; sarodists Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad Ali Khan; violist V.G. Jog; and dancers Gopi Krishna, Birju Maharaj, and Sitara Devi.

In February, 1970 Sharda Sahai made a highly successful tour of Europe, the United States, and Canada with sarodist Amjad Ali Khan. His tabla playing made a powerful impression everywhere he played, and in September, 1970 he returned to the United States to accept an appointment as Artist in Residence with the World Music Program at Wesleyan University. He remained with Wesleyan University for five years, during which time he was also a visiting professor at Brown University and Berklee School of Music. Sharda Sahai’s superb ability as a performer is matched by his ability as a teacher. Few Indian musicians of his caliber have held as many teaching positions at such prestigious western universities. In recent years he has been dividing his time between busy teaching schedules, ongoing summer tabla training programs in the U.S. and Canada, and the administration of the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangit Vidyalaya in the U.K. In the U.K., he was a Senior Lecturer at Dartington College of Arts for six years, and he currently teaches tabla at Leeds University and at Oxford University.

Sharda Sahai’s reputation as a tabla virtuoso in India and in the West is unmatched. His position as the direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Benares tabla baj (style), has endowed him as the bearer of a prodigious and closely guarded repertoire of composed material. As the fountainhead of the Benares Gharana, all of his performances are paradigms of the popular and respected Benares style. Many of the younger generation of tabla players and even some older players, from within the Benares Gharana and from outside the gharana, look to Sharda Sahai’s playing as the authoritative model of the Benares style- a style which many tabla players attempt to emulate and incorporate into their own repertoires.

Though Sharda Sahai is a guardian of tradition, he is extremely well versed in fusion of North Indian classical music with other styles. He has accompanied the well known South Indian violinist L. Shankar, and has performed jugal-bandi (duet) concerts with the leading exponents of the South Indian mridangam: Shivaraman, T. Shakaran, and R. Raghavan. In the West, he has performed with the avant garde composer John Cage, and the internationally acclaimed percussion group Nexus. At EXPO ‘86 in Canada, at EXPO ‘88 in Australia, and at the Commonwealth Drum Festival in England, he performed with the World Drum Ensemble, a conglomeration of over one hundred drummers from around the world performing on the same stage.

Few musicians in the world attain Sharda Sahai’s level of virtuosity. Whether he is demonstrating his mastery of the tradition or his versatility in adapting to different styles, his performances are spellbinding. Amidst the modernization of India and the real danger that the important traditions of Indian classical music may become diluted and faded, it is comforting to know that one can still experience a performance played as the founder of the Benares Gharana in the 1700’s would have played it. The tradition lives through Sharda Sahai.

Other contemporary disciples of Sharda Sahai:

Deepak Sahai, Dinnanath Mishra, Kishore Kumar Mishra, Shiam Kumar Mishra, Ramu Pandit, Shiv Sahai, Gobin Misra, Ram Borgaokar, Ray Dillard, Niel Golden, Frances Shepherd, Jeff Deen, Todd Hammes, Ravi Singh, Tim Richards, Bhupinder Singh, Caroline Howard-Jones, Bob Becker, Shawn Mativetsky, Payton MacDonald, Abhishek Mishra, Ashish (Dheeraj) Mishra, Sumeet Mishra, Gokul Mishra.

Sources: www.vickirichards.net, www.sahai.org

Sanju (Vishnu) Sahai is one of the most sought after tabla players of his generation. He is a direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai (1780 – 1826), the founder of the Benares style of table playing. He has accompanied some of India’s legendary musicians. Apart from playing in classical tradition he has gone to work with the genres as diverse as Egyptian, Spanish, African, jazz and Irish music as well as composing various pieces for ensembles. He has toured worldwide and has made various recordings. His solo tabla CD is entitled The Benares Touch.

Source – www.chakardar.com

Pandit Kishor Kumar Mishra

Source – Shawn Mativetsky

Pandit Samta Prasad (also known as Godai Maharaj) is a legend in the realm of Indian classical music. Born on July 20, 1921 in Benaras, into a family steeped in the tradition of Tabla and Pakhawaj, he joined ranks with a long line of famous Benaras Gharana percussionists. Pandit Pratap Maharaj, his great grandfather was a sought after Tabla player of his time. Pandit Jagannath Mishra, his grandfather was a renowned Tabla and Pakhawaj player and his father Bachha Lal Mishra, although not so well known as a performer, was a respected Tabla teacher. It was with him that Pandit Shamta Prasad started his education in Tabla. Unfortunately, Pandit ji lost his father at the tender age of seven. However, this proved to be a boon in disguise because the demise of his first guru led to his shagirdi under Pandit Vikku Maharaj of Benaras who was a disciple of the legendary Pandit Baldev Sahai. It was under his tutelage that Pandit ji’s talent burgeoned. Inspired by the great styles of Pandit Anokhelal Mishra and Ustad Habibuddin Khan Sahib and tutored by the discipline of his guru, Pandit ji embarked on a preordained journey. But inherited though it was, Pandit ji put in years of grueling hard work to make it the art the world witnessed. It is said that during his student years he used to put in 16/18 hours of riyaz (practice) every day. In fact, there is a story about his riyaz: When he was in practice in his house, people would see streams of water seep out from under the door and know that it was Pandit ji’s sweat.

In 1942, at the age of 21 Pandit ji participated in his first major music conference in Allahabad. His performance created a stir in the audience. The august musicians present in the conference were stunned and jubilated to hear Pandit ji. A star was born. From that glorious moment till the time of his death in 1995, Pandit Shamta Prasad carved out a niche for himself in the history of Indian classical music. He performed all over India as a soloist and as an accompanist. He also performed in some Hindi films like Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Basant Bahar. From time to time he accompanied various Indian Cultural delegations to the West.

Pandit ji’s contribution to music is immeasurable, but the qualities that make his baj (tabla playing) a true offering to the art, are the reason for his greatness. A distinct style of the application of kaida, peshkar, laggi and especially the chhand are the mark of his music. Taal to him was not just a mathematical configuration of syllables and beats, it was an ensemble of rhythms. And these rhythms were compounded with such a resonance, it gave evidence to the power and flexibility of his fingers. But it was controlled power that did not compromise clarity and melody. It is rightly said that Pandit Shamta Prasad played the Tabla with his heart and soul.

Pandit ji imparted his knowledge to many students. Among the most well known of his shagirds are Partha Sarathi Mukherjee, Naba Kumar Panda(AIR Cuttack) and Satya Narain Vashist. His two sons, Kumarlal and Kailash are also Tabla players, although not in the same league as some of his other students.

Source – text: www.chembur.com, image: Toronto Gharana

Pandit Kanthe Maharaj

Source – Pandit Sharda Sahai: Compositions of Benares (CD)

Pandit Kaviraj Ashutosh Bhattacharya (Ashu Babu)

Famous as both an extraordinary tabla player and teacher and reputed Ayurvedic doctor, Asu Babu was born in the holy city of Varanasi (then known by its British name of Benares), the son and grandson of famous Bengali Ayurvedic doctors. As a boy he expressed an interest in learning drums and started learning pakhawaj at the age of 8 from Pandit Ram Nath Mishra. A few years later he saw a performance of Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, one of the great tabla players of the Benares Gharana and decided he wanted to learn tabla from him.

As a young man he was already a rising star, playing his first conference, in Allahabad, at the age of 21 with the legendary Ustad Allauddin Khan. Shortly thereafter he was to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in studying Ayurvedic medicine in Delhi. At the same time as taking lectures, studying and gaining practical experience in his medicine guru’s clinic, he was maintaining his tabla practice, giving lessons on Sundays and performing concerts and radio recitals with the likes of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan.

After completing his degree and returning to Varanasi, he set up his medical practice and continued to give tabla performances, learn from his guru-ji and practise around 6 hours a day, receiving many awards for his musicianship. During this period he played with most of the “greats” of 20th century Indian classical music, including Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, Pandit D.V. Paluskar, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, etc etc. In 1952 he performed in “that concert” – Ustad Allauddin Khan, his son Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Nikhil Banerjee accompanied on tabla by Ustad Kanthe Maharaj and his senior disciple, Asu Babu, gave a 3 1/2 hour performance together in the early morning during an All-India Music Conference in Calcutta. Despite such incredible achievements, he always thought of medicine as his profession and music as his hobby, so he never took money for concerts except for expenses like travel, food and lodging.

Among his favourite expressions were “Ek sade, sab saden; sab sade, sab jayen” (“Know one, know all; try all, all will be nothing”) and “Everything depends on practice!”

Source: Shen Flindell

Pandit Biswanath Bose was born on 19th of May, 1928 at Calcutta. His grandfather, Akshay Kumar Bose, ‘Zaminder’ of Pankabil, Jessore, an amateur tabla player, taught him to play the first beats of Rhythm. He was fortunate enough to have the guidance of Pandit Ananta Narayan Chattopadhyay of Lukhnow. Later he became a disciple of Pandit Kanthe Maharaj of Benaras Gharana. He was fortunate enough to accompany almost all the mæstros of Indian Classical Music.

Not only was he devoted towards teaching, but also formed an organisation in 1950, named “Akshay Sangeet Tirtha” in remembrance of the name of his grandfather. He had been promoting the young talents throughout his lifetime through this organisation.

Lifelong inspiration from his wife, Mrs. Bharati Bose, a great sitarist helped him to nourish and groom their three sons Kumar Bose, Jayanta Bose and Debojyoti Bose, who are at present artists of international fame. And, the circuit is, perhaps complete with his eldest daughter-in-law and wife of Kumar Bose, Smt. Kaberi Bose, who has already established her credentials as a vocalist of light classical variety, Bengali Tappa and Nazrulgeeti. After a colourful career he passed away in the year 1980 only at a prime age of 52.

Source – Kumar Bose Homepage

Pandit Kishan Maharaj is considered to be one of the finest Tabla players of our time. Kishan Ji was born in the year 1923, on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashthami, to a family that boasted of many professional musicians. Kishan Ji was initially trained in classical music by Pandit Hari Maharaj, his father for many years. After his fathers untimely death, his training was taken over by his uncle, Pt. Kanthe Maharaj one of the great old masters and himself a disciple of Pt. Baldeo Sahai. Kishan Ji proved himself as a great tabla player while under Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, and by the time he was eleven, he started performing in several concerts. Within a few years, Kishan Ji was sharing the same stage with stalwarts like Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan besides many others.

Pandit Kishan Maharaj has the ability to play cross-rhythmsand produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai patterns, hence making him one of the most popular and respected Tabla players of our time. Known for being an excellent accompanist, Pandit Kishan Maharaj is extremely versatile and is capable of playing with any accompaniment, be it with the Sitar, Sarod, Dhrupad, Dhamar or even dance! Pandit Kishan has given a number of solo concerts during his career and besides accompanying legendary musicians, he has also given `Sangat` to some great dancers like Sri Shambhu Maharaj, Sitara Devi, Natraj Gopi Krishna and Pandit Birju Maharaj. Among all his compositions, his `Tala Vadya Kacheri` with the Mridangam Vidwan, `Palghat Raghu` is incomparable. Pandit Kishan Ji has extensively toured abroad and has participated in several prestigious events including the Edinburgh festival and Commonwealth Arts festival in U.K. in 1965.

Pandit Kishan Maharaj’s disciples include some of the top Tabla players of today, including Pt. Kumar Bose, Pt. Balkrishna Iyer, Sandeep Das, Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari and many more. Pandit Kishan Maharaj is, today, a world-famous personality and is constantly invited to play in music festivals held in different parts of the world. He has recieved a number of awards and honours including the `Padamshree` in 1973, `The Kendriya Sangeet Natak Award` in 1984 and `The Hafiz Ali Khan Award` in 1986 besides many others.

Source – www.chakardar.com

Pandit Kumar Bose – a personality of international repute precisely one of the few toppers in the world of Tabla was born in a God-gifted musical family of Calcutta (West Bengal). While his father Pandit Biswanath Bose was a distinguished tabla “Nawaz” of Benaras Gharana that he mastered under the stewardship of its legendary exponent Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, his mother Srimati Bharati Bose is the disciple of great Ustad Dabir Khan (Bincar) & Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

Pandit Kumar Bose was initiated in tabla by his father. After his father’s untimely demise, he came under the tutelage of Pandit Kishen Maharaj, the living legend of Benaras Gharana.

The superiority of Pandit Bose’s genius is his ability to evolve a distinctive style of his own without diluting the purity of tradition in which psyche the audience becomes captive. This is most evident in his negotiations with the “Bnaya” (Bass Drum). His performance, as it is told is as pleasing as a ‘raga’ or melodious song. He is as much facile in accompaniment with music (vocal & instrumental) & dances as in Solos. Which is why he is sought after, both at home and abroad, by the entire community of Top Grade celebrity artists.

This successful and keen Tabla Mæstro has the rare distinction of highly appreciated performance with Zubin Mehta’s Philharmonic orchestra besides several symphony orchestras conducted by Pt. Ravi Shankar, Yehudi Menhuin, Arnovich in England, Italy, China etc. Dynamically he performs in different kinds of Music of the world like Jazz, Pop, Rock etc. His duet with Prof. Semurani (Thumba player) of Iran was a big hit in the International Seminar, 1974 at Holland. It’s also remarkable that inspite of a part of an orchestra he got a lot of unbounded fountain-love from the distinguished audience like India Festival Moscow (1988) and many others.

The respected Drum-specialist can drum Sri-khole, Pakhwaj, Dholak, Nal, Banga-Kanga etc. He was the Asstt. Music Director of Mrinal Sen’s globally acclaimed film “GENESIS” with the music director Pt. Ravi Shankar.

His two brothers – Jayanta Bose a reputed lyrist, composer, harmonium soloist and singer, and Debojyoti Bose, a noted sarodia & music director, both are carrying the musical heritage neatly.

Source – Kumar Bose Homepage

Sukhvinder Singh (Pinky)

Born September 1965 in the District of Ludihana, Punjab. Sukhvinder devoted himself to the study of rhythm.

He started his training at the age of 5 under the Pakawaj Samrat Ustad Nihal Singh of the Punjab Gharana learning the pakawaj. Being a child prodigy he gave his first solo performance at Birla Mateshwari Hall, Mumbai in 1978.

After receiving a sound foundation in Pakawaj, Sukhvinder had a desire to learn tabla from none other than the world renowned Tabla Samrat Pandit Kishan Maharaj of Varanasi (Benaras Gharana), a living legend in tabla playing. This intense urge of learning made him leave his home, family and childhood behind in late 1978 and proceed to Varanasi and dedicate his next eighteen years in the pursuit of tabla.

Pt. Kishan Maharaj saw the potential and dedication in the young Sukhvinder and gave him meticulous attention and tutelage. Pt. Kishan Maharaj takes pride in mentioning “Sukhvinder” as one of his best disciples who is carrying out the tradition of his “Banaras Baaj” (Banaras style of Tabla playing).

Sukhvinder has become a phenomenal tabla performer and is well known for his keen capability to capture the audience with his spontaneity, power and virtuosity during his performances.

Sukhvinder Singh has had a meteoric rise in popularity as an accompanist after several successful concerts with leading artists, such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Late Ustad Vilayat Khan, Dr L Subramanuim (Violin), Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Pt. Hari Prasad Ji (Flute), Ustad Emrat Khan (Sitar), Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (Vocal), Pt. Ram Narayan (Sarangi), Pt. Jas Raj Ji (Vocal), and Ustad Sahid Parvez (Sitar). Sukhvinder has toured extensively across USA and India and has won a Grammy Award In 1994, with Ry Cooder for the Composition “A Meeting by the River”.

Sukhvinder has also been a featured soloist with BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in London, and has also performed at the BBC Proms, he has more than 40 CD’s in the markets worldwide, he also has a number of students, they have been learning from him for a number of years, they are also performing today.

Source – photo: www.chakardar.com, text: Taal Vadya Vidya

Vineet Vyas is one of Canada’s young and dynamic musical talents. He is a disciple of the legendary Tabla maestro, Pandit Kishan Maharaj.

He was born into a family of traditional musicians of India and was initiated to Hindustani Classical Music, Tabla, at the tender age of five. Vineet’s grandfather, Pt. BrahmaNand Vyas, was a renowned Hindustani Classical vocalist of his times; he was one of Pt. Vishhu Digambar Paluskars’s senior most disciples. Vineet’s father, Pt. Vijaya Vyas, and mother, Smt. Brij Bala Vyas, both accomplished musicians, have played an integral role in his musical development. Vineet draws much inspiration from this rich family musical heritage. Vineet also received early training from Shri Anand Gopal Bandopadhayay and late Shri MuraliDhar Paithankar.

Vineet was born, brought up and educated in Canada. After performing at the World Exposition in 1986, Vineet chose to take time off his studies and travel to India to pursue music full time. This was the turning point in his career. The legendary Tabla Virtuoso of the Benares Gharana, Pt. Kishan Maharaj, accepted him as a disciple. Vineet has been under his tutelage in the traditional “Guru Shishya” Parampara of learning Tabla. After completing a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Dalhousie University in 1993, Vineet has travelled to India and spent between 6-8 months annually pursuing his musical career. In 1995, Vineet earned blessings from his Guru, when he was given the rare opportunity to perform with him on stage in the United States. His Guru again bestowed his blessings when he took him on stage in performances in India in 1996, the first of which was on the auspices of the MahaShivratri Sangeet Mahotsav in Varanasi.

Vineet has performed with many eminent and upcoming musicians worldwide and has been awarded scholarships from the Canadian Government in recognition of his musical talent. He has been featured on CBC television and radio and most recently featured at the 2002 East Coast Music Awards show on CBC.

Being a contemporary musician Vineet has imbibed the finer nuances of providing accompaniment “Sangat” to the various facets of Hindustani Classical Music. Vineet establishes a very good rapport with his fellow musicians, an important part of accompaniment. He has carved a niche for himself by blending sensitivity with the vigorous aspects of the famous “BENARES BAAJ”. Vineet is now one of the most sought after players of the country.

Source – Vineet Vyas

Pandit Anokhelal Mishra was born in Kashi in 1914. He belonged to the Benaras Gharana of the Tabla. Both his parents died when he was very young and he was brought up by his grandmother. She detected his talent and enrolled him as a student of the Tabla in the Benaras Gharana of Ram Sahaiji. As a child, Anokhelal had to suffer poverty and deprivation. He was put under the tutelage of Pandit Bhairavprasadji, who gave him a rigorous education for 15 continuous years. This really worked wonders. Anokhelal put in unremitting practice, which went on for hours together, every day.

Anokhelalji’s relentless practice lent a unique clarity to his Tabla syllables. He was applauded for his superb ‘Nikas’ (sound production). He was called the wizard of ‘Na Dhin Dhin Na’. He could play these syllables with exceptional clarity, even at a supersonic speed. This assured him a place in history. Anokhelal was a soloist as well as an excellent accompanist.

At a time, when appearance in the National Programme of Music on All India Radio was a matter of immense prestige, Anokhelal figured in the same, a number of times. In the late fifties, his programmes were broadcast by the Voice of America as well. He was afflicted by Gangrene in 1956 and succumbed to it in 1958 at the very young age of 44. Humble and friendly by nature, he was popular all over the country. To him goes the credit of making the audience familiar with the Benaras style of Tabla. Anokhelal trained a number of pupils. His son Ramji Mishra, the late Mahapurush Mishra, Ishwarlal Mishra, Chhotelal Mishra and Kashinath Mishra are some of the prominent pupils of Pt. Anokhelal Mishra.

Source – photo: Patrick Moutal, text: www.dhadkan.com

Pandit Mahapurush Mishra

Source – Toronto Gharana

Chotte Lal Mishra

Source – Patrick Moutal

Ramji Mishra

Source – Patrick Moutal

Krishna Kumar Ganguly, popularly known as Natu Babu, the fourth son of Sri Surath Nath, was born in November 1905 and lived in their ancestral Tallah home in Kolkata.

Music was already in the family as Surath Nath’s elder brother Pandit Manmatha Nath had considerable expertise in tabla. Drawn to tabla naturally, young Natu expressed his keenness to learn the idiom to his father. Though initially rather reluctant, Surath Nath took Natu to Chunilal Banerjee, a friend and a reputed tabla player. For three years Natu Babu trained with Chunilal Babu. Later he trained under Pandit Durga Sahai for ten years. Natu Babu blossomed into an accomplished tabla player, but to satisfy his hunger for knowledge he studied with Pandit Purushottam Mishra for five years. He trained in the Lucknow style under Chhotan Khan for eight years. From Basid Khan and Labban Khan, he mastered a number of Delhi Gharana compositions.

Pandit Kanthe Maharaj of Benaras came to live in Calcutta in 1937 and at Chhotan Khan’s behest Pandit Kanthe Maharaj trained Natu Babu till 1969. Thus Natu Babu imbibed training from the Lucknow & Benaras Gharanas simultaneously.

Such a highly talented person remained an introvert and a bachelor. All praise that came his way, he politely ascribed to his gurus. He avoided all honours which the music world wished to confer on him. He taught his students without charging any fees as he believed that if he taught his students selflessly then after rebirth he would get a better Guru among them. He was an advocate by profession and spent all his earnings for the betterment of his disciples. Even he performed at concerts without any remuneration.

Natu Babu passed away on 3rd July 1993, leaving behind Sri Gour Pal, Sri Samar Saha, Sri Tarak Saha, Sri Lakshmi Narayan, Sri Nirmal Ganguly and many other pupils.

Source – Sangeet Piyasi

Born on June 22, 1947 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Bob Becker holds the degrees Bachelor of Music with Distinction, and Master of Music (Performance and Literature) from the Eastman School of Music where he studied percussion with William G. Street and John H. Beck, and composition with Warren Benson and Aldo Provenzano. As an undergraduate he was also awarded the school’s prestigious Performer’s Certificate for his concerto performance with the Rochester Philharmonic. He later spent four years doing post-graduate study in the World Music program at Wesleyan University where he became intensely involved with the music cultures of North and South India, Africa and Indonesia. As a founding member of the percussion ensemble NEXUS, he has been involved with the collection and construction of a unique multi-cultural body of instruments as well as the development of an extensive and eclectic repertoire of chamber and concerto works for percussion.

A disciple of Pandit Sharda Sahai, the foremost exponent of the Benares tabla style, Becker began his study of Hindustani music in 1970. He has since appeared with many of India’s leading artists including sarangi virtuoso Ram Narayan, sarodist Amjad Ali Khan, composer and flutist Vijay Raghav Rao, and vocalists Laksmi Shankar, Pandit Jasraj, and Jitendra Abisheki. In addition, he has worked closely with some of the most significant American exponents of Indian classical music – sitarist Peter Row, bansuri flutist Steve Gorn, and sarodist Steve Oda. For several years Row, Gorn, and Becker performed together as the Vistar Trio. Becker made his tabla solo debut in 1982 at the Nagri Natak Academy Concert Hall in Benares, India.

Becker co-founded the percussion group NEXUS, which gave its first performances in 1971 and continues to perform around the world. The ensemble has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, performing in chamber music venues as well as with symphony orchestras, and has recorded over twenty-five CDs. With NEXUS Becker has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among many others, and has received the Toronto Arts Award and the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award. In 1999 he and the other members of NEXUS were inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.

Source – Nexus