Bismillah Khan’s memorial to be set up at Rishikesh

NEW DELHI, August 21: Miles away from the home town of Shehnai maestro late Ustad Bismillah Khan, a Bismillah Khan memorial will be constructed at Rishikesh, the gateway to Himalayas in the Tehri-Garhwal district where Lord Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu.

Several villagers of Tehri-Garhwal have expressed to donate lands to “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” to construct the memorial in the name of Ustad Bismillah Khan - the Icon of communal harmony and peace - and school for the orphans and children belonging to socially and economically weaker section of the society, says Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha.

“Our purpose is to maintain late Bismillah Khan’s Ganga-Jamuna tradition and promote his secular philosophy,” claimed Bismillah:The Beginning Foundation, a trust, set-up during the life time of the Ustad to protect musicians, academicians, artists and others who have brought pride and laurels to the Independent India. It would be a grate tribute to the Ustad.

The couple had launched “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” under the aegis of Bismillah:The Beginning Foundation during the lifetime of the Ustad. The foundation will be laid on some time next month.

Making an appeal to all economically and physically weaker section of musicians, artists and academicians to send their details on so that Bismillah Khan’s desire could be fulfilled.

The foundation is preparing a databank to support them emotionally and financially from the sale proceeds of the books as well as resources mobilized from other sources including performances of the artists.

“We don’t want to indulge ourselves in any controversy, family or otherwise. Its our movement and we are getting support from various sections of the society – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christians – for promoting the Ustad’s secular philosophy,” says the couple and adds, “we are firm to kill the demons of musical and cultural arena with the blessings of the Ustad and other musicians and artists who are in dire need of the Ustad’s blessings.”

Five years ago when the Ustad did not have money and resources to meet the cost of his needs, the then government arranged for his performance at Parliament Annexe, where Khan had to virtually give a charity show for his own benefit. It was then that Neena and Shivnath had launched a movement “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” after bringing out the first-ever autographed monograph on the life and art of the Ustad to extend financial support to him and others.

Their movement gained a victory of sorts after the Centre granted the duo permission to invite the Ustad to serenade the warriors and soldiers who laid their lives for the country on July 15 followed by August 9 and October 31 last year. But fate did not allow the Ustad.

The foundation which is imparting education of three girls, has also decided to adopt at least 50 children, preferably girls, educationally of those persons who are languishing in various jails of the Western Uttar Pradesh. Before his death, Bismillah Khan had told us to educate children (who are the future of the nation) of weaker, deprived and suppressed sections of the society, the couple say and quote Bismillah Khan: “Ek ladki ko padaney se ek pariwar shikshit hota hai, aap yeh kaam jaroor kareny.”

Institutionalizing the on going movement “Andolan Ek Pustak Se” the foundation has so far published three coffee-table books on Ustad Bismillah Khan, India Calling and Lalu Prasad:India’s Miracle.

The legendary Indian shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan who was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the Shehnai a famous classical instrument, died of cardiac arrest on August 21 last year. The couple was organizing a programme at India Gate to fulfill his life time desire. It was Khan Sahib who poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on August 15, 1947 to invite independent India.

“It would be a grate tribute to the late Shehnai maestro”, the Jha couple said expressing their concern over the ongoing controversy between the two Muslim sects – Shia’s and Sunns - on the construction of his memorial in Benaras where the Ustad spent his entire life after migrating from Dumraon (Bihar). Bismillah's father himself was a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh in Dumraon (part of Bihar).

Despite the Ustad was a Shia Muslim, he dedicated his live for the communal harmony and peace. Every year during Moharram, the month of mourning for the Muslims, the ustad used to walk barefoot to this graveyard from his house in Beniabagh, playing a sepulchral tune.


somnath said…
Hi Shivnath,saw you left a comment on our website. My email address is Lets chat there. I stay, work and study in London and doing well. I see that you have gone the activist route and now putting up your photos with politicians. How interesting.

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