A man playing an instrument in front of a painting.

Abir Hussain

Abir Hussain is one of the leading Sarodias of the Senia-Shahjahanpur Gharana.  He was born into a musical family of Burdwan, West Bengal. His father Gulam Emam was his first mentor in music, and both his parents were students of the revered vocalist and musicologist Pandit Dhruba Tara Joshi. At the age of 12 he came under the tutelage of sarod maestro Padmabhushan Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta, whose residence soon became his second home. He later became a scholar at the famoust ITC Sangeet Research Academy and continued to receive talim from his Guru.

Considered to be well on his way to becoming a torch bearer of the Senia-Shajahanpur Gharana, Abir has been the recipient of many laurels: he stood second in the Talent Search Contest conducted by the Ravi Kichlu Foundation in 1995, won the National Scholarship of Government of India in 1997 and has also won the gold medal at the ‘Sangeet Prabhakar’ examination. He has performed at several venues at Kolkata, Bangalore, Patna (Sangeet Natak Akademi), Bilaspur, Vishakhapatnam, Chandigarh as well as ITC Mini Sangeet Sammelan, Raipur (2005), Ballygunge Maitreyee Music Circle (2001, 2003 & 2006), ITC Sangeet Sammelan, Delhi (2007) and ITC Sangeet Sammelan, Kolkata (2009).

Abir is now one of the Musician Tutors of ITC SRA and lives on the Academy’s campus in Kolkata where he continues to teach and perform.

A man playing an instrument in front of a wall.

Sugato Nag

Sugato Nag

Although primarily focused on the Sarod, the Shahjahanpur Gharana has had a significant influence of the Sitar as well. Primarily the influence of the Etawah Gharana is noticeable. Pandit Radhika Mohan Moitra (Radhubabu) was influenced by his mother who played the Sitar and was a disciple of the legendary Ustad Enayet Khan, father of Ustad Vilayet Khan. Radhubabu was himself a very good friend of Ustad Vilayet Khan. Legend has it that Radhubabu could play the Sitar just as well as the Sarod. He had a number of students playing the Sitar, some of who later grew up to be famous, including the likes of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Rajani Kanto Chaturvedi, Himadri Bhushan Bagchi, Rabi Sen, etc.

Upholding this tradition of the long line of Sitarists in a Sarod Gharana, Sugato Nag has emerged as one of the most talented and leading exponents in his generation. Born in a highly educated and musical family he took up learning the Sitar at an early stage. Sugato’s father Prabir Nag’s had himself a strong interest in music, art and culture, and as a high school student, took some Sarod lessons with his classmate , the young Buddhadev Dasgupta. Sugato began learning music from Shri Anil Roychoudhuri, one of the seniormost disciples of Radhubabu. He continued his taalim under Radhubabu after the death of Shri Roychoudhury. The family friendship with the Dasguptas brought him close to Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta and thus began the long journey of arduous training and relentless riyaz, that helped mature Sugato into the musician that he is today.

Sugato has retained the playing style of the Etawah Gharana, that Radhubabu so carefully followed and preserved, and has also infused his Sitar with intricate bol (rhythm) baaz inherited from the Sarod, that is typical of the Shahjahanpur Gharana.

Sugato has performed extensively across India and abroad. His performances at leading music concerts in Indian namely, Sangeet Research Academy, The Dover Lane Music Conference, Ramakrishna Mission Music Festival, ITC SRA Sangeet Sammelan,Sangeet Natak Academy, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Sangeet Mahabharti, Mumbai and various other institutions of music have been acclaimed greatly by critics and connoisseurs. He has toured the US, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Holland and Japan, playing in University circuits as well as in Music Conferences. He is a regular performer on various Indian radio and television channels.

Sugato lives in Kolkata, India from where he continues to teach students to carry the tradition of the Gharana, and also reach out to the world with his lovely music. More details can be found on his website:

A man holding a tray of apples in front of him.

Samarendra Nath Sikdar


Samarendra first learned to play the Sarod from his uncle, the late Surendra Nath Sikdar. Later, he went on to become a disciple of Radhika Mohan Maitra.

In a musical career spanning over 60 years, Samarendra meticulously learned and mastered the playing style of the Shahjahanpur Senia-Bangash Gharana as Pt. Maitra himself did. A puritan like his guru, he believes that the true beauty of Indian Classical Music is in keeping the Ragas and their compositions pure and unaltered from their original forms. He has been cited by many music critics and connoisseurs as being the ideal student of Radhika Mohan, namely one who has closely followed his style of playing. In addition to the late maestro, Samarendra also received inspiration and guidance from the late Pt. D.T. Joshi, a musician in his own right and a close friend of Pt. Maitra, as well as other senior disciples of Radhika Mohan, such as Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta and Nemai Dhar (father of Naren Dhar).

His budding talent was recognized by Radhika Mohan when he asked the young Samarendra to accompany him in a Jugalbandi (duet) for the National Program of Music in All India Radio, New Delhi, in the year 1966. Samarendra went along with his guru from Calcutta to New Delhi, thinking that he would merely get an opportunity to shadow his guru during the recording. But surprise followed, as Pt. Maitra turned to him and asked him to play solo for nearly 30 minutes. As it turned out, the program was on Guru-Shishya Parampara, the great tradition of Indian music, where the knowledge of music is passed on from generation to generation, and Radhika Mohan wanted to demonstrate that he had created his successor.

Guru – Shishya tradition: Pt. Radhika Mohan accompanies by his senior disciple Pt. Samarendra Sikdar and tabla maestro, Pt. Shyamal Bose at a concert in Calcutta, India.

More recognition followed over the years, in various concerts and radio programs all around India. He played in music concerts in Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Allahabad and Benares. He was invited wherever music lovers wanted to hear the true style of the Shahjahanpur Gharana, the style that Radhika Mohan and his guru, Ustad Md. Ameer Khan had established. In the year 1983, All India Radio also featured him in its prestigious Tuesday Night Concert event.

In addition to being a full-time musician, Samarendra also served as a staff artist of All India Radio for a long period of time. During this period, he came into contact with various musicians and enjoyed the company of the most talented in Calcutta; Pt. Jnan Prokash Ghosh, Pt. D.T. Joshi, Pt. Shyamal Bose, Ustad Keramatullah Khan, Pt. V.G. Jog, Ustad Md. Sageeruddin Khan, to name a few.

He has also carried forward the great tradition of his Gharana by being an excellent teacher of instrumental music. He has taught many students of the Sarod over the years and has created talented musicians like Soumya Chakraverty, Tanushree Chatterjee and others. He taught regularly for a while at the Md. Ameer Khan School of Instrumental Music, set up by his guru. After the death of Radhika Mohan in 1981, Samarendra also began teaching some of his guru’s disciples such as Somjit Dasgupta and Bhaskar Sen.


Samarendra currently lives just outside of Kolkata, India. Due to his age and failing health, he has stepped away from the performing stage, however continues to teach his music to the next generation. His wife, Mrs. Kalyani Sikdar is also a prominent vocalist in her own right, having trained for years under Dr. Amiya Ranjan Banerjee of the Bishnupur Gharana.

In this audio clip, you can hear Samarendra play Raga Bhairav Bahar, a rare morning melody that is conjured by mixing Raga Bhairav with the springtime Raga Bahar.

Finally, in this video clip you can watch and hear Samarendra play another rare evening Raga Chhaya Behag. He is accompanied on the Tabla by Dibyarka Chatterji.

A man playing an instrument while sitting at the table.

Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta


One of the finest Sarodias of modern times, Buddhadev was born in Bhagalpur, Bihar, on 1st February, 1933. Unlike many famous musicians who have been his contemporaries, Buddhadev did not hail from a family of musicians. In fact, his grandfather was a lawyer and totally averse to music. His father, Mr. Prafulla Mohan Dasgupta was interested in music, but dared not venture into learning because of his father. Being in a government job, Prafulla Mohan was transferred from place to place, however, he made friends with local musicians wherever he went, and hosted them for soirees at his home. When Buddhadev was about nine years old, his father was transferred to Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh), where they met a young charismatic Sarodia by the name of Radhika Mohan Maitra. Not sure if it was his music or his good looks that impressed young Buddhadev, but he started learning the Sarod from Pandit Maitra. Thus began a long relationship of the Guru and his disciple, which lasted till Pt. Maitra’s death in 1981.

Having been born into a middle class Indian family, it was difficult for Buddhadev to choose music as his sole profession. In fact, he had seen his Guru struggle with finances when Radhika Mohan was forced to move to Calcutta after Independence and the Partition of Bengal. It was therefore, imperative that Buddhadev receive formal education and ultimately seek a job. He attended different schools wherever the family went and graduated from a high school in Calcutta. As an academic student Buddhadev showed that he was not ordinary either – he stood second in rank in the state Matriculation (secondary school) examination in 1948. He went on to study at Presidency College, Calcutta, and finally enrolled as a student of mechanical engineering at Bengal Engineering College (Sibpur), which was under the University of Calcutta. He graduated in 1954 and proceeded to take on a job with the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) as a power station engineer. During his early career, there was a period of about eight years during which there were no weekends or holidays, and he had to work around the clock at the power station where he lived as well. He worked for the CESC for 32 years before retiring in 1988.

Despite the grind of his exacting profession, he managed by the dint of his firm resolve and dedication to pursue and preserve his passion for the Sarod. He stood first in the Sangeet Prabhakar (Bachelor of. Music) and Sangeet Praveen (Master of Music) examinations of the Prayag Sangeet Simiti. He successfully appeared in the audition for All India Radio (AIR) in 1949, and went on to become a top graded artist, which was no mean achievement. Along with this, he started to make his mark as a young talent in various music competitions and conferences all over India and received appreciation from the great maestros and critics. He also performed for the BBC in 1958. In 1961, he performed his first National Programme of All India Radio and since then he has been featured in AIR’s National Programme and Radio Music Conference on more than twenty occasions.

He retired from his job in 1988 to focus more on music; something that he had always wanted to do. He was a was the leading teacher of instrumental music at the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata and also the chairperson of the West Bengal Music Academy. He served on the expert committee at the Rabindra Bharati University and a member on the All India Radio Audition Board. He created a number of extremely talented disciples, who have gone onto become well-established musicians in later years, including his two sons Bhavani Shankar and Anirban, Debashish Bhattacharya, Sugato Nag, Prattyush Bannerjee, Abir Hussain, Supratik Sengupta, and Soumik Datta to name a few.


Buddhadev’s style was firmly anchored in the tradition of the Shahjahanpur Gharana and combined the Rabab style beautifully with the Gayaki (vocal) style. He was a pioneer in terms of extensively incorporating a variety of khayal based Ekhara taans and Bandishes (Gat compositions) on the Sarod. Like his illustrious Guru, he strived to discover new frontiers while staying within the boundaries of tradition. During the 1970’s he started to experiment with Rabindrasangeet, or songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore. Buddhadev examined the movements of the Ragas in some of the songs and started to develop Bandishes, adopting the core melody from these songs and forming subtle movements using Sarod vocabulary. One such composition in the Raga Pilu, can be heard in this audio clip.

In recognition of his immense musical talent, the maestro received a number of awards during his lifetime, including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1993, Prachhen Kala Kendra Award, and the ITC Award to name a few. In 2012, the Government of India conferred on him the title of Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in India.

A firm believer in the “Universality of Music”, Buddhadev is also keenly interested in other forms of music, particularly Western Classical and has to his credit a number of symphonic creations based on Indian Ragas.

This legendary Sarodia breathed his last at his house in Kolkata on 15th January 2018 following a cardiac arrest. He was a few days shy of his 84th birthday.

More information about Buddhadev, his life and music are available on his website:

A woman playing an instrument in front of a wall.

Tanusree Chatterjee

Tanusree is one of the few female Sarodias amongst the younger generation today. She was born into a family where nothing mattered more than music and musicians. Her father, Dr. Saktipada Chatterjee, a well-known medical practitioner in Calcutta, was friends with Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra, the sitar maestro Pt. Nikhil Bannerji and several other famous musicians. Tanusree The Chatterjee home in Calcutta served as a meeting point in the evening for all musicians, who found every excuse to visit the good doctor for some homeopathic medicine and some excellent food served up by his lovely wife, along with some social and intellectual chit-chat. Young Tanusree was thus drawn into the fascinating world of Indian classical music even before she had taken her first steps.


She started learning the Sarod at an early age under the late maestro Ustad Dhyanesh Khan, the son and disciple of the legendary Sarodia Ustad Ali Akbar Khan of the Maihar Gharana. After a few years, in the year 1979, she started to learn from Pt. Samarendra Nath Sikdar and moved over from the Maihar to the Shahjahanpur Gharana.

She started performing on radio and television as a child artist and at the age of thirteen, competed successfully in the National Talent Search Competition to win the national scholarship in music. Appearing for the Sangeet Prabhakar diploma in music, she won the silver medal, securing the highest marks in the performance category. In addition, the Sur Singar Sansad institution in Mumbai conferred the ‘Sur-Mani’ title to her in 1993. Additionally, Tanusree has performed both in India and abroad in several music conferences. A few of the those that deserve special mention are the Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan and the National Center for Performing Arts in Mumbai, the Inter-Cultural School of Music in Venice, Note d’Oriente Festival of Indian Music in Ravenna in Italy, the Music Festival of Allen in Germany; Mandapa in Paris (France), the Holywell Music Room in Oxford, Leeds University and Nehru Center in London in the U.K. In 1996, she released her first solo album titled ‘Navras’ in England and also performed on an educational CD-ROM titled ‘Music of India’ in Paris.

By virtue of her training in both Maihar and Shahjahanpur Gharanas, she has developed a style of playing that is distinguishably her own. Particularly notable is her perfection of the pitch of the notes and the overall tonal sweetness.

In addition to music, she also has a passion for literature and holds a Masters degree in comparative literature. She lives with her husband near Calcutta and teaches English to children. She promises to uphold the traditions of this Gharana like her predecessors and pass it on in due course, to the next generation.

A man playing an instrument in front of other people.

Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra

Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra

One of the most famous Sarodias in the Shahjahanpur Gharana, Radhika Mohan Maitra was born to a noble family in Rajshahi, which is now in Bangladesh. The year was 1917 and India was still under British rule. His family, referred to as Zamindars or landowners, served under the British empire and helped collect local taxes from farmers. The Maitra family were also great patrons of music and art. His grandfather, Lalita Mohan Maitra, had commissioned the legendary Sarodia Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan of the Shahjahanpur Gharana to come to Rajshahi and become his court musician. Lalita Mohan’s sons took up learning Sarod from Ustad Ameer Khan. Radhika Mohan’s mother played the Sitar and was a disciple of Ustad Enayet Khan, the father of the legendary Sitar maestro, Ustad Vilayet Khan of the Emdadkhani Gharana.

When Radhika Mohan was about five, Khansahib, as Ustad Ameer Khan was referred to, noticed the child’s keen interest in music and started to teach him. Thus began Radhika Mohan’s formal training in music, which continued for another twelve years until the death of the Ustad.

Radhu, as Radhika Mohan was affectionately called, flourished academically as well as in music.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Calcutta and a Master’s in Philosophy from the University of Dhaka. At the same time he continued his musical pursuits.

Ustad Mohammed Dabir Khan of the Rampur-Senia Gharana

After the death of Ustad Ameer Khan, he turned to Ustad Mohammed Dabir Khan of Rampur, an exponent of the Senia Gharana, to receive extensive training in the Dhrupad-Dhamaar style of Indian Classical music. He developed his own style, blending the Rabab style of the Shahjahanpur Gharana with the Dhrupad vocal style from the Senia Gharana. With this training, Radhika Mohan created a unique style of his own, which was called the Senia-Shahjahanpur Gharana, combining the Rababiya style of Shahjahanpur, and the Gayaki style of Senia.

Radhika Mohan Maitra performing with Ustad Allauddin Khan at the Allahabad National Conference of Music in 1937

In the year 1937, Radhika Mohan performed at the Allahabad National Conference of Music with the legendary Sarod maestro, Baba Allauddin Khan.  During this course of time Baba also taught a few rare Ragas and Gats played in the Maihar Gharana to Radhika Mohan.

Throughout the country, audiences were mesmerized by the wonderfully melodious tone of his Sarod, his perfect pitch and taans and toras executed at lightning speed but with amazing control. He was a purist at heart; one who strongly believed that the true beauty of expression lay in maintaining the purity of the Ragas and of the compositions by famous Ustads. Through his consummate skill in handling the instrument, the fluent and brilliant phrasing and articulation of bol-taans (rhythmic patterns), he took the Sarod baaj or playing style to new frontiers.

Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra performing on All India Radio accompanied by Pandit Shyamal Bose on the Tabla.

Along with the Independence of India from British Rule in the year 1947, also came the Partition of Bengal, one of the darkest chapters in modern Indian history, which saw mass riots between Hindus and Muslims and thousands of murders and rapes, as well as widespread plundering on both sides of the divided state.

At this time, Radhika Mohan was a professor of philosophy in Rajshahi College. His family decided to leave their ancestral home in Rajshahi and move to Calcutta. In Calcutta, Radhika Mohan was faced with an economic struggle for existence and having to think about earning a living to feed his family. He turned to teaching music, however, these were difficult times in which few people were interested in learning classical music. However, by this time his fame had already spread to other parts of the country and soon he was sharing the stage with other great musicians of his time such as Ustad Vilayet Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Amir Khan (vocalist) and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He also became a regular performer on All India Radio.

Radhika Mohan being felicitated by the Chinese Premiere Zhou-En-Lai during his visit to China in 1955.

His fame extended beyond the shores of India. He was part of a cultural delegation to the People’s Republic of China in 1955, Afghanistan in 1965, and Nepal in 1967. He also extensively toured Australia and New Zealand in 1962, performing in different cities.

In 1972 he was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award by the government of India.

The maestro being felicitated by a young Ustad Amjad Ali Khan upon receiving the Sangeet Natak Academy Award

In 1972 he was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award by the government of India.

As part of a visiting cultural delegation in 1962, Radhika Mohan is seen talking to the officials of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust in Sydney, Australia

As he entered the mid years of his life, he shifted focus from being a performer to a teacher. Ensuring that the legacy of the Shahjahanpur Gharana that had been created by legendary maestros continued, he was determined to pass on his knowledge to the generations to follow.

His labor of love bore fruit in several noted disciples, notable among them being Buddhadev Dasgupta, Anil Roy Chowdhury, Samarendra Sikdar, Rajani Kanta Chaturvedi, Pranab Naha, Dr. Kalyan Mukherjee, Narendranath Dhar, Joydeep Ghosh, Sugato Nag and others. He had several students from overseas such as John Barlow, Michael Robbins, James Sadler Hamilton, to name a few. Interestingly, he had picked up a significant amount of the Emdadkhani style of playing the Sitar, first from his mother and later, through his friendship with Ustad Vilayet Khan. He taught a number of Sitar students such as Rajani Kanta Chaturvedi, Himadri Bagchi and Rabi Sen. Sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Bannerji had also received training from him for a few years before going to learn from Baba Ustad Alauddin Khan.

Instruments invented by Radhika Mohan Maitra

He composed some new Ragas, the most notable being Chandra Malhar, Dipa Kalyan and Alakananda. He also invented three new musical instruments – the Mohan Veena, Dil Bahar and Naba Deepa.

View more instruments

Radhika Mohan was uncompromising in his loyalty to the classical form and nothing could persuade him to pollute the purity of Ragas such as Darbari Kannada, Kaunshi Kanada or Hamveer Bilawal. At a time when other contemporaries dabbled in fusion or modern music that had more commercial value, he remained true to tradition.

In his final recital for All India Radio, the maestro accompanied by Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh on the tabla, and flanked by his disciples, Samarendra Nath Sikdar and Dr. Sandhya Ghosh on the tanpuras

In the mid 1970’s, on his 60th birthday, he surprised friends and students by suddenly announcing the decision to retire from actively performing on the big stage and All India Radio (AIR) and Television. In his last National Program of Music broadcast, he performed with his close friend, the legendary Tabla maestro, Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. In spite of being a Tabla maestro, Pandit Ghosh was not a graded musician for AIR and therefore, had not performed on the National Program before. Radhika Mohan wrote to the authorities saying that it was ridiculous that a great Tabla maestro like Pt. Ghosh would have to give an audition to get a Grade and added that he would only play in this program if Pt. Ghosh was given a grade and was allowed to accompany him. In time Pt. Ghosh’s grade arrived from Delhi and he performed with him.

Towards the late 1970’s the famous filmmaker Sir David Lean came to Calcutta and wanted to make a documentary on Radhika Mohan. Coming from an acclaimed director such as Lean, this was rare recognition for any Indian musician. The maestro was in his fading years of his life and undertaking this venture would have meant traveling and living outside India for a certain length of time. He politely refused the movie director’s offer, saying that if he left Calcutta, that would severely affect his students who were receiving regular training from him at that time.

In 1976 Radhika Mohan founded the Mohammed Ameer Khan School of Instrumental Music, which was dedicated to the development of young talent in Sarod and Sitar to carry the banner of the Shahjahanpur Gharana forward. He started the ‘Rising Talents’ music conference in 1977, which focused on providing opportunities to young and talented artists, irrespective of their Gharana or Guru, to perform in front of the music loving audience of Calcutta. This program became very popular and continued even after his death, till the mid nineties. Some of the most well known names in today’s Indian Classical music scene got an opportunity to perform on the big stage for the first time at the Rising Talents conference.

The maestro passed away after a brief illness in Calcutta in 1981 but his legacy lives on through his countless recordings and disciples.

In this audio clip you can hear an excerpt of Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra playing Raga Bageshree on the Sarod, accompanied by Pandit Shankar Ghosh on the Tabla (courtesy Bihaan Music).

Below are some links of his recordings from YouTube.

A man sitting in front of an instrument.

Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan


One of the greatest contributors to the development of the style of playing of the Shahjahanpur Gharana, Mohammed Ameer Khan was born in 1877, in Shahjahanpur. When he was about nine or ten years old, his father Ustad Abdullah Khan moved from Shahjahanpur to accept the position of a court musician in Dwarbhanga, now in the state of Bihar in India. During this time, Abdullah Khan also made several trips to Bengal for performances. The Zamindars or feudal landlords that the British government had appointed as the local governors were great connoisseurs of music and art. The Zamindars organized music soirees at their courts and it was customary for them to invite famous musicians and dancers from all over the country to come and perform as a way to show off their wealth.

Ameer Khan started learning Sarod when he was just four or five years old from his father, Ustad Abdullah Khan. Extensive training and rigorous practice turned him into one of the finest musicians of his time in the country. Around 1916, Ameer Khan came to the court of the Zamindar of Talanda in Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh) to perform and teach music. He started teaching music to Brojendra Mohan Maitra, father of Radhika Mohan Maitra. When Radhika Mohan was four, he started teaching him as well.

As a composer, he was prolific like his father Abdullah Khan and uncle Murad Ali Khan. Between the three of them, they composed over 500 Gats. The compositions were mainly in the style of Ghulam Reza, known popularly as Rezakhani Gats, and those of Feroze Khan, called Ferozekhani Gats.

Ameer Khan produced a very rich line of musicians proficient in Sarod, Sur-Shringar, Indian Banjo, Sitar, and the ancestral Dhrupad Rabab. Amongst his disciples were some well-known musicians such as Timir Baran Bhattacharya, Nirendra Krishan Mitra, Ashutosh Kundu, Nani Gopal Motilal, Hafiz Ali Khan, and Radhika Mohan Maitra. Extremely shy and an introvert by nature, the Ustad was inclined to record only one disc (78 RPM, Raga Kafi and Pahadi) at the earnest request from the famous poet and composer Kazi Nazrul Islam, then Program Director of the record company HMV. He recorded using a Sarod belonging to his disciple Radhika Mohan, which happened to be lying in a corner in the office of Kazi Nazrul inside the studio.

Towards the end of the year 1934, when Radhika Mohan was just 17 years old, Ameer Khan passed away in Rajshahi.

The undated article below appeared in a souvenir bill for a music conference in Calcutta. Pt Radhika Mohan writes about his guru, Ustad Ameer Khan. The use of the word ‘Shahib’ after the name of the Ustads is customary out of respect.

“The Story of Ustad Mohammed Ameer Khan Shahib – The Great Sarod-Newaj of Shahjahanpur” – By Radhika Mohan Maitra

When the requests came to me from the organizers of this function to write an authentic account of my revered Ustad, I had several reservations in my mind. In the first place, according to the high ideals of Indian tradition, a disciple is not supposed to utter anything but praises for his Guru or Master, because of the very simple reason that a Guru is always a Guru, alive or dead, and as such is beyond all critical study. And secondly, if one has to tell the truth, his remarks may stir-up unnecessary commotion amongst the supporters of other eminent musicians and adherents to different schools of musical traditions. Our society, especially the musical society, is yet ready to face the truth or accept any observation with a rational outlook. In most cases, we are guided by emotions and not by reasons.

But in spite of all these considerations, sometimes one has to succumb to outside pressure, particularly if that pressure comes from near and dear ones. So I decided to write this story about my Ustad in a very simple and matter-of-fact way, because my Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib was really a very simple man with rare qualities of head and heart.

Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib had a very detached view about life and worldly needs. He had only two attachments for his earthly existence, (1) Music, which was almost his very life & breath and (2) Opium, which he used to take more as an aid to his ‘SHADHANA’ for aesthetic and artistic realizations than as an ordinary intoxicating element to satisfy his mundane requirements. He was also suffering from acute asthma towards the end of his life and it might also have been one of the reasons for his addiction to opium in the hope that it would lessen his physical sufferings. About food or clothes, he was utterly indifferent and for minting money he did not have any particular desire. He was immensely satisfied with what he had and did not care for anything more. He did not make any distinction between his rich and poor students, treating them all alike, even if some could not afford to pay him any fees at all. Money to him was no attraction. He wanted to give what he had and was not really interested in getting anything in return. This, in short, is the image of my Ustad as I knew him.

Now I will give an idea of his musical heritage and the distinguishing features of the Gharana or School to which he belonged. Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan, the celebrated Rabab player who is also supposed to be the first musician to have effected the modification of the Sarod from Rabab, was a court musician of the last independent King of Oudh, Wazid Ali Shah. Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan had three sons of whom Ustad Murad Ali Khan was the second. But Ustad Murad Ali Khan was childless, so he adopted a boy named Abdullah Khan, who belonged to the family of a hereditary vocal musician of Shahjahanpur. So by adoption Abdullah Khan was the legal son of Ustad Murad Ali Khan to all intents and purposes. And this Abdullah Khan was the father of my Ustad Ameer Khan and his brother Wazir Khan, who had settled in Lucknow and died sometime between 1940 and 47. I have given a genealogical table at the end of my article for the convenience of my readers (not reproduced, same as Shahajahanpur Gharana genealogy).

I was told by Ustad the late Ameer Khan Shahib, when I was a boy of say 10 years, that Ustad Murad Ali Khan Shahib had some domestic difference with the other members of his family and he finally left them with a vow that he would put someone in the way to efficiency by instructions and practice and carve out of him a Sarod player of such great calibre who would, in time, would be a tough challenger to all other Sarod players of Hindustan. He kept his vow and Ustad Abdullah Khan Shahib, the father of my Ustad, was the Sarod player, whom he trained with all the devotion and care, which he had at his command. I am very happy to say that I did receive personal corroboration of this fact from no less a person than the late Khalifa Badal Khan Shahib. The rumour goes that whenever anybody wanted to listen to a recital or Alaap of any Raga from Ustad Murad Ali Khan, he would invariably direct him to go to Ustad Abdullah Khan because he himself considered Abdullah Khan to be a much better Alap player than himself. Then he would say, “If you want to listen to some recitals of Gat-Toda, come to me, and myself and my son Abdullah will play this gat together.” Ustad Murad Ali Khan even used to say with great pride that Ustad Abdullah Khan, his son, had surpassed him as a Sarod player. Both these Ustads, Murad Ali & Abdullah Khan were court musicians of the Darbhanga Raj.

But my Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib had received his musical training more from his grandfather Murad Ali Khan Shahib than his father Abdullah Khan Shahib. The particularBaaj in which this great Gharana specialized is known as the Ferozekhani style. The Ferozekhani Gats are generally played in medium and medium-fast tempo rather than in fast tempo like Razakhani Gats. It is also marked by smart jumps from one octave to another with a surprise movement and is generally composed of at least three cycles of a Tala movement. Sometimes the Sthayee and the Antara portions do not have different identities, but are coalesced into one unified entity.

Let us now have a look at the musical scene of the then united Bengal about the time when my Ustad first came to Calcutta at the age of a mere twenty years, sometime in 1906 or 1907. He perhaps visited our ancestral home at Rajshahi, now in Bangladesh, in the same year, as my Father says, that he was in his teens when Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib came to our house. At that time this great metropolis was literally teeming with great Maestros in almost every field of music. Amongst those who used to live permanently here in Calcutta, names might be mentioned of Ustad Keramatulla Khan (Sarod), Ustad Ashadulla Khan (Kaukuv Khan in Sarod & Banjo), Khalifa Badal Khan (Vocal Music & Sarengi), Pandit Lachhmi Prasad Misra (Veena, Vocal Music & Tabla), Khalifa Abid Hussain Khan & Ustad Masidulla Khan (Tabla), Pandit Shiv Shevak & Pashupati Misra (Vocal Music & Sitar), Ustad Ramzan Khan (Tappa), Ustad Imdad Khan (Surbahar & Sitar) and a host of other eminent musicians. Ustad Enayet Khan Shahib in Sitar & Surbahar and Ustad Chotey Khan Shahib in Sarangi joined them at a later stage. Ustad Alauddin and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Shahib used to live permanently in Maihar & Gwalior respectively, though both of them used to pay occasional visits to Bengal.

It was not a very easy job to rise into prominence or attain immediate success or fame, particularly for an unknown artist of a comparatively immature age, when hoary-headed giants were already holding the forts in almost every aspect of Indian Classical Music. But Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib was made of completely different material and was not afraid to meet any giant in a duel. He had real music in him, which was not only different in style and form, but also had an unusually delicate and charming flavour, which was at once intellectually thought-provoking and aesthetically immensely satisfying, so much so that within a very short time he was universally acknowledged as a stalwart in his own field and by his own right.

As I have already told before that Ustad Alauddin Khan Shahib & Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Shahib did not make Calcutta their permanent home, but used to pay occasional visits from time to time. Therefore, the duty of imparting lessons in Sarod to musical aspirants in those days naturally fell on Ustad Keramatulla Khan Shahib (Sarod), Ustad Ashadulla Khan Shahib, and Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib. But unfortunately Ashadullah Khan Shahib, who is better known as Kaukuv Khan Shahib died a premature death in the year 1915. So the young learners of Sarod had to choose between Ustad Keramatulla Khan Shahib and Ustad Ameer Khan Shahib, and both of them shared their responsibilities with an open heart and almost with equal number of students. There is hardly any doubt about the fact that what Bengal has achieved today in the field of Sarod, is mainly due to those great Maestros, through their blessings, painstaking efforts and wonderful method of teaching.

Before I finish this article, I feel that is one of my solemn duties to point out to the readers the change of attitude noticeable amongst the musicians of today towards music. The old masters believed passionately the excellences is musical performance lay in strict conformity to the traditional concept and orthodox forms of Raga-Sangeet. A Raga, to them, was a symbol of eternal beauty, realised and realisable. Music being the vehicle of a Raga, there was hardly any room for self-expression in the name of creative inspiration. By creation they really meant a sort of ritualistic invocation to their favourite Music. According to them, therefore, the presentation of music must be as systematic and thorough as possible and appropriate techniques should be applied to that extent only, which was essential for the creation of purest forms of music. Their approach to music was more of a Devotee rather than a Creator, and they sacrificed their individuality to the sacred altar of Raga-Sangeet. It is this self-surrender and not in super-imposition of their personalities, that they found their highest fulfillment in Art.

The present-day attitude, however, is quite different. Modern artists believe more in technical innovations and new art forms than mere conformity to the age-old traditions of Raga-Sangeet. Deviation from tradition, according to them, is no sin if it adds luster to the existing forms. A Raga is not a living organism, but just an artistic symbol without any form. It is the artist who gives form and infuses life to a Raga and in so doing the artist must be allowed his unquestionable prerogative of individualism. Art in itself has no meaning, if it does not help the artist the realization of his own personality through creation. Hedonism and not Self-negation, is the basic principle of modern Musical Art.

Thus, while old masters concerned themselves with the realization of pure beauty in Art, the modern artists are primarily satisfied with creating beauty through Art. To the old masters, technique was just a means to an end, the end being the realization of eternal beauty in Art, which transcends all techniques. Technique, to the modern artist is not only a means but also an end in itself, the end being the creation of beauty, which is imminent with and not independent of technique.

Here ends he story of my Ustad. My respectful Pranams (respectful regards offered by a disciple to a Guru) to him with all the humility I have at my command.

A man playing an instrument in front of a white wall.

Soumya Chakraverty

Soumya was born into a family of music lovers. His mother received some early training in the Sitar and vocal music. However, both his parents were avid music listeners and had a large collection of LPs and other recordings of classical music at home. His siblings and cousins were all learning Indian Classical music of some form by the time Soumya was a little boy and with lessons on the tabla, so began Soumya’s initiation into Indian classical music. He turned to playing the Sarod when he was eleven under the tutelage of the highly respected Pt. Samarendranath Sikdar, a senior disciple of the late Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra of the Shahjahanpur Gharana. For nearly thirty years he has received extensive training under his guru in a multitude of north Indian Ragas, some of which are very rare and unique to his Gharana.

His solid technique and thorough grounding in the roots of his own music notwithstanding, his interests also lie in exploring the commonalities of North Indian Classical music with other music styles.

His playing style has been greatly influenced by the likes of his guru and other masters of his Gharana. It highlights a perfect blend between the Rababiya and Gayaki styles that is unique to the Shahjahanpur Gharana. He is both a purist, who likes to maintain the authentic forms of the Ragas as passed down the generations of Ustads (maestros), and at the same time, he likes to experiment with other forms of Indian as well as world music, to find common strands of melodic expression.

Soumya blossomed as a young artist on All India Radio Calcutta between 1990 and 1995. During a brief stint in Australia for a couple of years in the nineties while pursuing his MBA, he truly established himself as a mature instrumentalist, and also began to collaborate with other forms of world music. He performed live with a Flamenco dancer in a production that combined the gypsy roots of the dance with Latin American percussion, Middle Eastern vocals and Indian Classical instrumental music. He returned to Australia in 2000 and 2011, giving concerts, lecture demonstrations and workshops.

For nearly two decades, Soumya has been performing throughout the US, as well as touring Australia and Mexico. He has performed in major cities such as Cleveland, New York, Princeton, Seattle, and his home town of Washington DC, drawing packed audiences and earning rave reviews. In addition to pure Hindustani he continues to work with other music genres such Classical Carnatic (south Indian), flamenco, jazz and latin American percussion. His recent concert and interview at the Library of Congress has gone into the archives of this prestigious institution. Other performances of note, include Hindustani-Carnatic Jugalbandi at the Embassy of India in Washington DC, a collaboration with Ghazal in a program series titled From Ghalib to Gulzar, and a fusion project combining Rabindrasangeet (Tagore songs), Hindusthani classical music, classical Jazz, and West African percussion in a concert titled ‘Sea Thy Melody’.

Soumya balances his busy music schedule alongside a full-time career in banking and risk management. In addition to performances, he also teaches a number of students of Sarod and other stringed instruments, passing the tradition of the Shahjahanpur Gharana to the next generation. Although his primary interest is in Hindusthani classical, he continues to challenge himself exploring and working on blending with other genres of Indian and world music.

A man in pink shirt holding a guitar.

Prattyush Banerjee

His name in his native Bangla means ‘dawn’ and he certainly heralds as the new dawn in the Shahjahanpur Gharana of Sarod. Born in Calcutta, this young Sarodia was raised in a rich musical environment. His parents were great connoisseurs of music and he was exposed to the very best of Indian classical music and other forms of world music from his early childhood.

He was initiated into Sarod at the tender age of eight by Pandit Samarendra Nath Sikdar, an eminent disciple of Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra. After a few years of initial training he started learning from the celebrated Sarod maestro, Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta and continues his training till this day.

Prattyush brings to his music not only the rich tradition of his Gharana but also distinctive elements of vocal and other instrumental music of northern India. His playing represents good technique and his own unique style, which has evolved through experimentation by blending the old with the new. He was one of the first to successfully reproduce the Tappa style of north Indian classical singing on the Sarod. Like the legends in his Gharana he has also experimented with the Sarod and produced the first electronic version of this instrument which he has named as Jyoti Dhwani (meaning the sound of light).

In addition to his training under Pt. Dasgupta, Prattyush has also studied vocal music, tabla and piano. He is a good composer and music arranger. He has been performing regularly in public since he was eleven and has played in quite a few major music festivals throughout India, in addition to being regularly featured on radio and television. He recently concluded a couple of successful music tours to Europe and has released his first solo CD album.

In this audio clip, Prattyush plays a Tappa style composition in Raga Kafi.

Prattyush’s contact information is provided below:

Contact Details for Prattyush Banerjee


18 Sadananda Road
Kolkata 700026

Telephone :

+91-33-3455 5703 (Home)
+91-98311 21456 (Mobile)


[email protected]

A man with a beard and blue shirt playing an instrument.

Debasish Bhattacharya

Debasish is one of the senior-most disciples of Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta. Born in 1963 in a musical family, Debasish started training in music at an early age under his father Shyam Sundar Bhattacharya, who played the Sitar. A few years later, Debasish moved to learning the Sarod from Ravi Laha, a disciple of Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra. He became a disciple of Pt. Dasgupta in 1981 and has received extensive training from the maestro till date. Along with this training, he has worked hard to be recognized as one of the most promising Sarodias in India and an able torch-bearer of the Shahjahanpur Gharana.

Debasish has earned accolades from his performances at premier music conferences all over India, such as the Prayag Sangit Samity annual convocation at Allahabad, Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad conference in Bhopal, and the Vishnu Digambar Jayanti festival in New Delhi, to name a few. He is also a top-graded Sarodia on All India Radio and a lecturer at Rabindra Bharati University in Calcutta.

His daughter and disciple, Debasmita Bhattacharya, who also trained under Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta, is considered as a rising star amongst the generation of young Sarodias in the country today.