Ustad Imrat Khan

The Gharana

Begum Bashiran - The Devoted Mother

Begum Bashiran exemplifies the devotion, determination, and sacrifice of a woman in a traditional musical gharana. Born into a greatly respected Gayaki gharana (singing family), her father, Ustad Bandeh Hassan Khan, was a great singer and disciple of Ustad Abban Khan, a legendary singer from the mighty Dagar gharana. Growing up in a conservative and traditional family, it was not accepted for women to learn and perform music. However, despite the restrictions, Begum Bashiran had a keen ear and just by listening to her father's practice she absorbed the skills in many areas of vocal music, Dhrupad, Dhamar, Shadha, Kheyal, Tappa, Tarana and Thumri. By the time Begum Bashiran was married to Ustad Inayat Khan at the age of fourteen, she was already a talented musician. This was only the beginning; over the next eighteen years she bore her husband three daughters and two and keenly studied the art of instrumental music from her legendary husband and father-in-law.

The true test of her character came at the age of 32 following the death of her husband. Facing social criticism she cast aside purdah in order to preserve the music of their gharana. Begum Bashiran not only managed to maintain the household, but saw to it that her sons were taught in the traditional methods of their gharana. She was directly responsible for training and moulding her sons, in particular, the three year old Imrat. His formidable mother directed both his musical and emotional life, teaching him the beauty of music and the importance of his gharanas on both paternal and maternal sides. Bringing these two oceans of music together was the inspiration behind the development of her sons' trademark Gayaki ang.

This devoted mother sacrificed her life to raising her sons, two legends of Indian classical music. Begum Bashiran safeguarded the values of the gharana for her sons and the sons of Ustad Imrat Khan who have been blessed to receive training from her. She broke her silence for the love of family, tradition and music to keep the name of the Etawa gharana alive.