Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday released a commemorative postage stamp on Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan. The Department of Posts has brought out the stamp as a tribute to the celebrated musician on his death anniversary. It is in the denomination of five rupees. The stamp release function at the Prime Minister’s residence is being attended by the Minister of Communications & IT, Thiru A. Raja and Minister of State Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia.
Born on March 21, 1916 into a family of court musicians in Bihar, Bismillah Khan burst upon the scene at the All India Music Conference in Kolkata in 1937.The next seven decades saw the word “Shehnai” becoming so completely synonymous with the name of Ustad Bismillah Khan that one name was enough to conjure up the other.
His haunting rendition of the various ragas on the Shehnai saw him accorded the rare privilege performing on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, August 15th, 1947, as well as on the occasion of India’s first Republic Day on January 26th, 1950. Bismillah Khan’s Shehnai recital became an integral part of the Independence Day celebrations.
The search for the Self through music has perhaps been best embodied, in the modern era, in the persona and Shehnai of Ustad Bismillah Khan. His life was a reminder of the need to transcend the externalities of religion and caste. He was a living metaphor of the great pluralistic traditions of India-and for Ustad Saheb, this need to bond with every being was defined completely by the search for the perfect “Sur” (Note).
Ustad Bismillah Khan was conferred with the highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2001. He passed away on August 21, 2006 at the age of ninety. India Post has honoured great personalities of the country from all walks of life by releasing commemorative postage stamps from time to time.