The celebrated and legendary Indian tabla player Pandit Kishan Maharaj was born on September 3, 1923, in the Kabir Chaura, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He was born on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashtami, a Hindu festival. His family belonged to the music profession. Kishan Maharaj died on May 4, 2008, at the age of 84 in Khajuri near Varanasi. He was from Banaras Gharana and devoted his life to Hindustani classical music.
He acquired the skill of classical music from his father, Hari Maharaj. His training stopped due to the demise of his father but was eventually resumed by his uncle Kanthe Maharaj. He was married to Savita Devi (daughter of the Siddheshwari Devi). He had a son and three daughters named Puran Maharaj, Anjali, Purnima and Indira from his marriage.
He was 11 years old when he started performing in music shows. He shared the stage with world-renowned personalities like Omkarnath Thakur, Faiyaz Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Ravi Shankar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Girija Devi, Sitara Devi and many others. He was competent enough to perform in any circumstances with any accompaniment. Moreover, he was at ease with various instruments like Sitar, Dhrupad, Sarod, and Dhamar. Thus, he became a remarkable example of Banaras Gharana in Indian classical music.
Solo Tabla performance
Kishan Maharaj presented as a Tabla soloist on several occasions in different parts of India. His most known performance is Sangat which he performed for dancers such as Sri Shambhu Maharaj, Sitara Devi and many more. His disciples include Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari, Balkrishna Iyer, Ramesh Mishra and more.
He was passionate to participate in noteworthy occasions all over the world. Some of his monumental events are the Edinburgh festival and the Commonwealth Arts festival of the UK in 1965. He had also performed in the film ‘Banaras Utsav’ in 2003. His last performance was for the Nagari Natak Mandali on March 3. Unfortunately, he felt uncomfortable at this gathering and had a heart attack and was admitted to ICU.
Recognition and Awards
- He was appreciated with the title of Sangeet Samrat by the Prayag Sangit Samiti in 1969.
- UP Sangeet Natak Akademi held him in high esteem with an award in 1972.
- In 1973, he was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award.
- He got Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1984 and Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 1986.
- The Indian President honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan award in 2002.
- He was also recognized with the Ustad Inayat Khan Memorial Award in 2002.