View Full Version : Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan dead

21 Aug 06,, 07:30
Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan died of cardiac arrest in the wee hours of Monday morning.

The 91-year-old Bharat Ratna awardee, who had been admitted to Heritage hospital on August 17 with age-related health problems, passed away at 2.20 am.

"His condition suddenly deteriorated and he suffered a cardiac arrest at 1.45 am. Although Khan was put on the life support system, doctors could not revive him. He was declared dead at 2.20 am on Monday," hospital superintendent P S R Aiyer said.

Khan's condition had marginally improved on Sunday with his vital parameters like pulse, respiration rate and blood pressure at normal levels, doctors attending on him had said. He had even been given solid food after he expressed a desire to eat home-cooked halwa.

He had appeared to be in the best of spirits and even sang a couple of songs for attending doctors, Aiyer said.

Khan's body was brought to his residence in the Harha Sarai locality by his family members, where a large number of people, including his relatives and well wishers, had gathered to pay their last respects to the departed icon. He is survived by his five sons and three daughters.

The shehnai maestro's body will be kept at the Benia Bagh park adjoining his residence to enable well wishers and residents of the city to pay their homage to the Bharat Ratna awardee, family sources said.

District Magistrate Rajeev Agrawal, who visited the Heritage hospital after being intimated about Khan's demise, ordered all schools and colleges to be closed for a day as a mark of respect to the departed legend.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and several other prominent dignitaries were expected to arrive in the temple city to pay their tributes.

Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh and Benaras Hindu University vice-chancellor Panjab Singh had also visited Khan in hospital on Sunday.

The minister asked the Ustad about his wish to perform at India Gate, to which Khan had replied that it was his last wish, which would be fulfilled if God willed so.

President A P J Abdul Kalam, who is currently on a visit to Bangalore, has expressed shock over the Ustad's death.

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.


Rest in Peace.

21 Aug 06,, 07:37
We have lost a legend, a great human being and the epitome of what being an Indian meant.

Damn sad news.

21 Aug 06,, 07:47

21 Aug 06,, 11:58

21 Aug 06,, 17:31
Rest in Peace.

21 Aug 06,, 17:43
He lived a great life.A true secularist, a true Indian.RIP. :frown:

21 Aug 06,, 19:59
I love his shenai (Mods, that is a musical instrument and not any abuse!) :)

22 Aug 06,, 04:15
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh truly speaks for me on this sad occasion :

………………. A true symbol of our composite culture, Khan Sahib, through his mellifluous rendering of the shehnai, showed us all that while God may manifest himself in many forms, piety finds its true expression through music.

Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahib was a great son of India. ……………… May his music continue to bring peace and harmony to our lives.


22 Aug 06,, 07:12
Amazing man. After the attack on the sankat mochan temple at Benaras (Varanasi), Khan sahib, at his age started a community move within the Muslim community, that they would donate blood to the Hindus wounded in the blast, as a gesture of brotherhood and solidarity. His community rose upto his challenge and did so. Throughout his life, Bismillah Khan was the epitome of what a noble *human being* can be, and strove to demonstrate a unique Indian form of Islam, one which respected other Indians and their beliefs as well.


RIP Khan saheb, you have lead an amazing life.

22 Aug 06,, 12:54
Ustad Bismillah Khan-RIP.
It is Indias good fortune to have citizens like this.

22 Aug 06,, 17:24
Rest in Peace Ustadji..

You will always be remembered.

22 Aug 06,, 19:48
RIP Khan saheb, you have lead an amazing life.
I agree, he is a man of simplicity and noble virtues. I bet he'll have a wonderful after life, if there is one.

26 Aug 06,, 02:35
I think Shekhar Gupta is a bloody jackass in many ways
But this tribute strikes the right spot, though off he goes on a political tangent thereafter:'


There are moments when I love my job, or rather my business of journalism — even I, a hard-nosed, cynical hack of nearly three decades. It is because you love and cherish these moments that you are so grateful you are in this business. How else, would I, a hopeless, hopeless philistine, hope to find myself on a rain-drenched terrace in old Varanasi with Ustad Bismillah Khan. As it happens, it was almost exactly the same time last year.

I can fill the rest of this space just describing the beauty of his face, his spirit, his talent, his madness, even his commercialism. To date, he is the only guest who demanded, and was paid — though only a very reasonable tribute — for appearing on ‘Walk the Talk’. He said he had a large family to support, even at 91, and could do with whatever money came his way. And when I reminded him, while leaving, that he had to come and perform at my children’s weddings, he said yes immediately. And then quoted the price: five lakh, plus air tickets and stay for seven people. You could touch his innocence with bare hands in the heavy monsoon air.

Khan Saheb let me down on this one though. He will not come and perform at my children’s weddings, whatever the price. But he left me with memories — and lines — that will never go away. What was the difference between Hindu and Muslim, he asked. What, indeed, when he sang to Allah in Rag Bhairav (composed for Shiva) and brought to tears the Iraqi maulana who had just told him music was blasphemy, “evil, a trap of the devil”. Khan Saheb said, “I told him, Maulana, I will sing to Allah. All I ask you is to be fair. And when I finished I asked him if it is blasphemy. He was speechless.” And then Khan Saheb told me with that trademark mischievous glint: “But I did not tell him it was in Rag Bhairav.”

Why did Khan Saheb not migrate to Pakistan with Partition? “Arre, will I ever leave my Benares?” he asked. “I went to Pakistan for a few hours,” he said, “just to be able to say I’ve been there. I knew I would never last there.”

And what is so special about Benares, his glorified slum of a haveli in a grandly named Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Street that had more potholes than footholds, and more heaps of chicken entrails from nearby meat shops, than garbage heaps from homes? “My temples are here,” he said, “Balaji and Mangala Gauri.” Without them, he asked, how would he make any music? As a Muslim he could not go inside the temples. But, so what? “I would just go behind the temples and touch the wall from outside. You bring gangajal, you can go inside to offer it, but I can just as well touch the stone from outside. It’s the same. I just have to put my hand to them.” :frown:

26 Aug 06,, 04:27
A great man indeed...