Millennium Post

Pursuing peace through beats

As Indo-Pak relations have got back to their usual course of plunge and well-wishers of peace have chosen to keep shut, a dove with sound of beats has crossed over to his usual pursuit of happiness and trust building affair. Yes, Ustad Tari Khan, the world renowned tabla maestro is in town!
He  has been coming to India for the last couple of years to play in ‘The Concert of Peace’ organised in Delhi in memory of Nawab Khan, a lesser known tabla player of India, who was killed in Kabul in Februray 2010 in a brutal bomb attack.

Tari Khan accompanied ghazal maestro Ustad Mehdi Hassan on tabla for about three decades and has been part of the magic that Hassan built in many of his albums.

He was one of the earliest supports to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the famous sufi singer and ghazal singers like Ghulam Ali, Parvez Mehdi and classical singers such as Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of Sham Chaurasi Gharana.It was his versatility that he was
among the preferred percussionist to all these stalwarts of different genres of music.

Born in Lahore to a family of vocalists, Tari Khan developed his love for tabla in early childhood by listening to Ustad Miyan Shaukat Hussain while he performed, who later became his mentor. As a matter of fact, Tari Khan picked up his mentor’s style without actually meeting him. By the time he met him, Tari Khan had already established his name with artists’ like Mehdi Hassan and Salamat Ali Khan.

When he agreed to come to India on my request to play on the death anniversary of Nawab Khan, he requested me to arrange his visit to Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara of Patna, the birth place of last Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh. I was not aware of his interest in Sikh tradition.
With little research and acquaintance, he revealed the story with all humility that his family traces its lineage to Bhai Mardana, the friend of the first sikh guru, Guru Nanak. His forefathers have been known as rababis (messengers of Muslim-Sikh ties) of the Golden temple of Amritsar. When I accompanied him to the Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara, I was astonished to see the respect and reverence for him among the
and granthis (the keeper and the reader of the Sikh scripture) of the Gurudwara. It was like a great seer had arrived in any community.
He was welcomed with huge regards and further surprises poured in when he took the seat to recite shabads (a piece of holy text) in the main Durbar Sahib. He started with Apne Sewak ki Aapai Raakhai and everyone present provided chorus to such rich spiritual rendition. And when he presented his ardaas (prayer), he was also requested to play solo tabla and that too in Durbar Sahib. People was mesmerised with his performance and I was overwhelmed to witness the real tradition of our much talked  about composite culture.
His performance had become the real talk of the town. He was presented Saropa (garment or cloth) by the trustees of Gurudwara and his visit ended with him eating the langar (community eating).

It hardly came as surprise to me when in one of the private mehfils at my home he sang some unsual Ram bhajans. He gives all credits to his parents who imbibed all good values in him. In singing, he has the privilege to be the gandabandh shagird of Mehdi Hassan.

Last year when Hassan was critically ill, I planned a concert in his native village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. I requested artists’ from all over the country to come for the occasion and pray for his well-being.
Tari Khan also came to know about the concert while he was in London doing concerts. He couldn’t resist the opportunity and called me up. He flew all the way from London and we drove from Delhi to Luna village on the day of Saraswati puja.
This concert was organised for the first time in that village after Mehdi Hassan’s migration during partition. The childhood friends of Hassan, Narayan Singh Shekhawat along with his hundreds of fellow villagers were overwhelmed to see Tari Khan.
Now, as he tries to show through his world famous peace ‘International Kaharwa’ that world over we dance for the same beats at different tempo, let’s hope that his pursuit of peace prevails over all.

Akhilesh Jha is a government servant. The views are his own
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