'Music doesn't belong to any religion'

Sarod Strains

'Music doesn't belong to any religion'

Maestro:  Amjad Ali Khan  Dh photo by Manjunath M S

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the sarod maestro, was in the City recently to perform at the Bengaluru Ganesh Utsava. On the occasion, he presented the Ganesh Kalyan Raga, composed by himself, for the first time in the City.

“Music is music. It doesn’t belong to any religion. Music has united people irrespective of their country and religion. In our family, we feel connected with every religion, with every soul in the world, with every song in the world,” says the music legend. The maestro has succeeded in building a global audience for sarod.

Born into a family of classical musicians and tutored by his father, Khan says he is the humble representative of a rich legacy.

“I inherited the rich treasure of music from my forefathers and it was handed over to me to be carried forward.

Classical music is like entering a dark tunnel with the hope of receiving sunrays. I didn’t plan my career, it happened,” he laughs.

His recent concert Ode to peace with his sons Amaan and Ayaan at the United Nations office in New York, on the occasion of 9/11 anniversary, is very close to his heart.

“Ambassadors of different nations, top UN officials and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon witnessed the whole performance. After the concert, Ban Ki Moon asked me
Namaskar, kya halchal hai? It was a memorable concert.”

Ustad feels music is the most precious gift of God to him. "There is an old saying that sound connects you to God, swar hi eshwar hai. Music is my life and I communicate through music. I live for music and live on music,” says the humble artiste.

Amjad Ali Khan’s family has the credit of inventing the sarod instrument. “Yes, it was invented out of rabab, an Afghani musical instrument. Our ancestral home at Gwalior is now turned into a museum and it’s called as Sarod Ghar,” he informs.

 He says it is sad that classical music is not getting its due. “Unfortunately, Bollywood has become the identity of India. For the inauguration of Commonwealth Games, only Bollywood stars are invited to perform. What kind of message will India give to the world? Bollywood is fine, but they have to balance both classical art and Bollywood. The real essence of India is in classical arts,” he says firmly.

“When the Olympic Games were held in Delhi in 1984, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invited the classical musicians, including me, to perform at the inaugural function, understanding that classical music is the heart of Indian culture," he remembers.

Khan is proud of his sons, Amaan and Ayaan who are following the footsteps of their father. “They started performing at very young age and are receiving blessings from all over the world. They are good human beings and have respect for elders. They are committed, dedicated and multi-faceted. They are free to do whatever they want, but they should be happy,” says the proud father. 

The music maestro is all praises for Bangalore and says the culture of North and South is well balanced here. “It is always a pleasure and honour to perform here and I always look forward to performing here. I feel South Indians are more disciplined compared to the rest of the country. I performed in many concerts along with Emani Shankar Sastry, Doreswamy Ayengar, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M S Gopalakrishnan, T N Krishnan and M Balamuralikrishna. I will be performing at the Dasara festival in Mysore along with my sons,” he signs off. 

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