Annapurna Devi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Annapurna Devi
Birth name Roshanara Khan
Born (1927-04-23) 23 April 1927 (age 91)
Maihar, Central India Agency, British India
Genres Hindustani classical music
Instruments Surbahar
Associated acts Alauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Ravi Shankar

Annapurna Devi (popular name, given by former Mahraja Brijnath Singh of former Mehar Estate (M.P.)) (born Roshanara Khan on 23 April 1927),[1] is an Indian surbahar (bass sitar) player of Hindustani Classical Music. She is the daughter and disciple of Allauddin Khan, the founder of Maihar gharana, and from 1941 to 1962 was married to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, also one of her father's disciples. She gave up public performances to save her marriage with Ravi Shankar, but he divorced her and went to USA in 1962. After her divorce, she never performed again in public. She moved to Mumbai, became a recluse[clarification needed] and started teaching. Over the years she has had notable disciples: Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur, Nikhil Banerjee, Amit Bhattacharya, Pradeep Barot and Saswatti Saha (Sitar).[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Annapurna Devi was born on the occasion of chaiti purnima, 16 April 1927[3] at Maihar, a small princely state of British India (now a part of Madhya Pradesh state of India), where her father Alauddin Khan was a royal court musician at the court of Maharaja Brijnath Singh, who named the newborn girl 'Annapurna'.[4]

Devi's father Khan, founder of the "Senia Maihar gharana" or "Senia Maihar School" of Hindustani classical music, was a noted musician and guru of Indian classical music. Her uncles, Fakir Aftabuddin Khan and Ayet Ali Khan, were noted musicians at their native place Shibpur, in the present-day Bangladesh. Her brother Ali Akbar Khan was a legendary Sarod maestro and was considered a "national living treasure" in India and the USA. Her former husband, virtuoso Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, was famous internationally as an Indian classical musician. Their son, Shubhendra Shankar, also performed as a musician.

At the age of 14 she married Ravi Shankar (former name Robindra Shankar Choudhary, which he changed in 1940) in a marriage probably arranged by Ravi's elder brother Uday Shankar; Ravi was 21 years old. [5][6] The marriage lasted more than two decades, until they divorced in 1962 and Ravi moved to the United States with Kamla Shastri, a musician and long-time lover.

In 1982 she married Rooshikumar Pandya, a well known communication expert and lover of music, who was a successful sitarist in USA and a former disciple of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. Rooshikumar married Annapurna on 9 December 1982, after proposing to her while she was 55 years old and he 42 years of age. Annapurna accepted his proposal after some reluctance, as she said she did not want to be hurt again in marriage. Rooshikumar was learning sitar from her since 1973, at the recommendation of her brother, Ali Akbar Khan, when he was invited to India by Indo-American Society to deliver lectures in Executive Seminars. He died in 2013 suddenly of a cardiac arrest at the age of 73.[7][8] [9]


Annapurna Devi became a very accomplished surbahar (bass sitar) player of the Maihar gharana (school) within a few years of starting to take music lessons from her father Alauddin Khan. She started guiding many of her father's disciples, including Nikhil Banerjee and Bahadur Khan, in classical music as well as in the techniques and intricacies of instrumental performances. In 1941, age 14, she married one of her father's talented students, Ravi Shankar. She converted to Hinduism upon marriage. [10]

In the 1950s, Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi performed duets in Delhi and Calcutta, principally at the college of her brother, Ali Akbar Khan. But later, Shankar started getting insecure, since she used to be applauded in concerts more than he was, and she thereafter decided not to perform publicly.[11]

Devi and Shankar's son, Shubhendra Shankar (1942–1992), (or "Subho", as he was popularly known) received rigorous training in sitar under her tutelage, until his father chose to interrupt his musical talim or training and took him to the United States. Shubhendra died at an early age, after a marriage and the birth of three children. Shubhendra did not have a solo career in classical music, but did for a period accompany his illustrious father Ravi Shankar in concerts in the USA and abroad.


[citation needed]

Notable mentions among her students would be her nephew sarod player Aashish Khan Debsharma; flautists Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Nityanand Haldipur;[12] sitarist Nikhil Banerjee, Chandrakant Sardeshmukh, and sarodists Pradeep Barot and Amit Bhattacharya.

She is also the key figure of Acharya Alauddin Music Circle (an association in the memory of the late Alauddin Khan for promoting Indian classical music), in Mumbai.


She has not recorded any music albums. Some of her performances are reported to have been secretly taped. In spite of Devi's avoidance of media-limelight, she continues to be thought of as a classical instrumentalist of the highest calibre in India.[14]


External links[edit]