Lanes of Kabir Chaura fall silent as Pt Kishan Maharaj dies

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Varanasi, May 5 (UNI) The lanes of Kabir Chaura 'mohalla' of Varanasi fell silent as Tabla maestro Pandit Kishan Maharaj died here last night.

He was 85 and is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

According to family sources, Pt. Kishan Maharaj breathed his last at around 0100 hrs. He was admitted to a hospital following a paralytic attack.

His body was kept for public viewing at his Kabir Chaura residence.

The last rites of Kishan Maharaj were performed here this evening.

Pt Maharaj's son Pooran Maharaj, a Sarod player, lit the pyre at Manikarnika ghat.

Pt Maharaj's fans and well-wishers congregated outside his house to pay him last tributes.

Kishan Maharaj was born in 1923 in a a family of professional musicians and initially trained for many years in classical music by Pandit Hari Maharaj, his father.

After his father's 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.

By the time he was eleven, he began performing in concerts.

Within a few years, Kishan Maharaj was sharing the stage with stalwarts like Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Vasant Rai, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and many others.

Pt. Kishan Maharaj had the ability to play cross-rhythms and produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai patterns.

Known as an excellent accompanist, Pandit Kishan Maharaj was extremely versatile and capable of playing with any accompaniment, be it with the Sitar, Sarod, Dhrupad, Dhamar or even dance! He had given a number of solo concerts during his career and also given Sangat to some great dancers like Sri Shambhu Maharaj, Sitara Devi, Natraj Gopi Krishna and Pandit Birju Maharaj.

He was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in 2002 and Padma Shri in 1973, among a legion of awards.

His disciples included some of the top Tabla players of today, including Pt. Kumar Bose, Pt. Balkrishna Iyer, Sandeep Das, Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari and others.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expresed deep grief over the death of the tabla maestro.

''Pandit Kishan Maharaj left his indelible mark as a masterful tabla exponent by playing complex rhythms with ease. In his passing away, the nation has lost a respected artiste who was an inspiration to our young generation of classical Indian musicians,'' the President said in a message to his son, Pandit Puran Maharaj.

Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeswar and Chief Minister Mayawati expressed profound grief at the demise.

In his condolence message, the Governor said Panditji was the legend of his times and with his death the golden era has come to an end.

His death is the biggest loss to the world of music, he added.

In a message, Ms Mayawati said '' by playing tabla, Pt Kishan gave music a different recognition, therefore he was also known as 'tabla samrat.'' Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former state Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav also expressed grief on his demise and extended heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved family.

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