Imp Personalties Prelims cum Mains

Legendary musician Annapurna Devi passes away

The News

  • Annapurna Devi, the famously reclusive surbahar player and a teacher to the likes of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur and Nikhil Banerjee passed away at the age of 91.


About Surbahar

  • Surbahar appeared on the Indian musical scene in the early years of the nineteenth century around 1830.
  • Although its basic structure resembled that of the sitar, it was much bigger in size and also possessed a number of features different from those of the sitar.
  • It is said that the musicians of Seniya lineage were not supposed to teach the been or rabab to any outsider. Thus, the students, who were talented but did not belong to this bloodline, could not learn this style.
  • According to some scholars, beenkar Umrao Khan of Lucknow, who belonged to Tansen’s tradition through his daughter’s lineage, had a large sitar made and named it surbahar, to teach the alap and jodalap of dhrupad anga to his favourite students. Ghulam Muhammed was one of them.
  • The playing technique of the surbahar is quite different from that of the sitar, which is more influenced and inspired by been music, as it is more suitable for the alapchari of been anga than the fast rhythmic pieces played on the sitar.


About Annapurna Devi (Guruma)

  • Born in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh to Ustad Baba Allauddin Khan and Madina Begum in 1927, Annapurna Devi was the youngest of four children.
  • World renowned sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was an older brother.
  • She received her initial instruction in classical music from her father, whose substantial contribution to Indian music resulted in the Senia-Maihar gharānā.
  • Annapurna Devi’s training started at an early age, she was about five years old and she graduated from the sitar to her chosen instrument, the
  • Annapurna Devi was married to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar at the age of 15 in 1942 and after a period of estrangement eventually divorced him in 1962.
  • Annapurna Devi and Pandit Ravi Shankar had a son, Shubhendra ‘Shubho’ Shankar, who passed away in 1992.
  • In 1982, she married her student Rooshikumar Pandya, a management consultant. Mr. Pandya passed away in 2013.
  • Annapurna Devi remained a recluse for most of her life, with the majority of her time spent teaching a small, though select group of students — who helped guard her privacy with the same ferocity as that of their mentor.
  • Her students include Aashish Khan (sarod), Amit Bhattacharya (sarod), Bahadur Khan (sarod), Basant Kabra (sarod), Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute), Jotin Bhattacharya (sarod), Nikhil Banerjee (sitar) and Nityanand Haldipur (flute).
  • In her passing too, Annapurna Devi’s tight circle of students and admirers ensured that their teacher’s fiercely private life remained so.



  • She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1977 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1991.
  • The Sangeet Natak Akademi appointed her as the prestigious ‘Ratna’ fellow in 2004.

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