Kishan Maharaj was born in Kabir Chaura, Benaras into a family of professional musicians. He was initially trained in classical music by his father, Hari Maharaj. After his father's death, his training was taken over by his uncle, Kanthe Maharaj, a disciple of Baldeo Sahai of the Benares gharana.
Maharaj had the ability to play cross-rhythms and produce complex calculations, particularly in tihai patterns. Known as an excellent accompanist, Maharaj was extremely versatile and capable of playing with any accompaniment, be it with the Sitar, Sarod, Dhrupad, Dhamar or even dance.
Among all his compositions, his "Tala Vadya Kacheri" with the Mridangam Vidwan, "Palghat Raghu" stood out. Maharaj extensively toured and participated in several prestigious events across the world, including the Edinburgh festival and the Commonwealth Arts festival in the United Kingdom in 1965.
Maharaj won the Padma Shri in 1973 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2002. For many years, he was married to Beena devi niece of Tabla maestro of Benaras Pt. Anokhe lal mishra