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12-Tansen: a great musician
(1598 AD - 1670 AD)

p> Miyaan Tansen was a classical singer of an unparalleled fame. He was born in a Hindu family in 1520, near Gwalior, in Mukund Mishra's house. Mukund Mishra himself was a great poet. Tansen learnt music first from Swaamee Haridaas and later from Hazarat Mohammad Gaus. He was a court musician with the Prince of Mewaad and later was recruited by Akbar as his court musician. The Prince of Mewaad was said to have been heartbroken to part with him. Tansen became a legendary name in India and was the composer of many classical Raag. His Raag Deepak and Raag Megh Malhaar are very famous.

Once Akbar asked Tansen to sing Deepak Raag. Tansen tried his best not to sing it because it could create havoc in the court, but Akbar wanted to see that havoc himself. Tansen sang the Deepak Raag. First the courtiers started feeing warmth, then gradually they saw that all the lamps had lighted, then they started burning and then they saw that the curtains of the court had started burning. The fire had set. Everybody got worried. What to do now.

Tansen's daughter also sang very well. Somebody suggested to call her and to cool down the court. She was called and she immediately started singing Megh Malhaar Raag. Surprisingly, after a while it started raining, gradually the warmth decreased, and fire was put out.

He is also credited for creating Raag Darbaaree Kaanadaa and originating Dhrupad style of singing. Even today the classical Gharaanaa (families) try to align themselves with Miyaan Tansen. He was buried in Gwalior, where his tomb still exists. There is a tamarind tree next to the tomb, which is reputed to be as old as the tomb itself. It is believed that one who chews a leaf from this tree in earnest faith will be bestowed with musical talents.

It is unclear if Tansen converted to Islam. Akbar who was very fond of him gave him the title of "Miyaan". Tansenís son Bilaas Khan composed Raag Bilaaskhaanee Todee and his daughter Saraswatee Devi was a well-known Dhrupad singer.

[A musician who could light the lamps and make the rains by his singing.]

 

 

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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Contact:  sushmajee@yahoo.com
Modified on 05/05/13