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The Tuning Hands: S.R. Chishti (Mohd. Sarim Ashrafi)

Music creates a logical and spiritual connection with the soul of human being. The narrative description of the past events linked up the music is very ancient. If we hash out about the Indian Classical Music, a link leads us to Hazrat Ameer Khusro (the poet and the great scholar of 13th century and he was the descendent of an Arabic family Quraysh). He came up with the Tabla and the Sitar after the great effort and excogitated the concept of Tabla and Sitar. He split the Pakhawaj and finally gave a definite shape of Tabla. He not only invented the Tabla but also explicated and elaborated 17 Talas (according to Karam Imam) of tabla such as Sool Fakhta Tal, Qawwali Tal, Zobaher Tal, Pashtoo Tal, Jat Tal, Aara Chautala, Sawari Tal, Jhoomra Tal, Khumsa Tal, Tin Tal and Dipchandi Tal etc. He also contrived the concept of Qawwali (Naqsh, Zanjeer, Jakarh, Qaul Qalbana, Nigar, Bait and Rang etc), Tarana and Khayal etc. There is a large number of the Tabla maestro in the history of our Indian Classical Music. Khalifa Ustad Ghulam Husain Khan, Ustad Habib Uddin Khan, Khalifa Ustad Abid Husain Khan, Usatd Aafaq Husain Khan, Ustad Ilmas Husain Khan, Ustad Ahmad Jaan ‘Thirakwa’, Ustad Allah Rakkha Khan, Ustad Zakir Husain Khan and Ustad Dildar Husain Khan are the prominent tabla maestro in the history of Indian Classical Music. Ustad Dr. S.R. Chishti is also a rare and unrivaled person in the art of Tabla.

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the rare, unparalleled, unique and the creative person and the maestro of the music said during his live concert among the large number of the multitude, “Sur (Sangeet) is an art that affects everything but even the animals”.

“Tabla is the grammar of music. It defines its essence. The instrument gives rhythm like heartbeat. If there is no rhythm, the heart is dead”, says Ustad Dr. S.R. Chishti Ustad. Dr. Chishti was born on June 5, 1995 in a well-known Muslim musicological family of Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh. His father Ustad W.R. Chishti was also a musician. He was a maestro of Violin. From his childhood Dr. Chishti was very fond of music and he inherited music from his father as family tradition. Initially, he set out his primary education of music from late Banshilal. But, later on, due to his affection towards Tabla he was discipled Tabla by a famous Tabla player Acharya Gireesh Chandra Shriwastawa in Allahabad. Thereafter, he accomplished his training from renowned artist Ustad Aafaq Husain Khan (Lucknow Ghrana of Tabla).

In professional qualification he earned Sangeet Praveen in Music (Tabla) from Prayag Sangeet Samiti Allahabad in 1986, Sangeet Bhaskar in Music (Tabla) from Prachin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh in 2002 and Sangeet Prabhakar in Music (Vocal) from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad in 1987. These accomplishments were not lasted yet and he received Master in Music (Tabla) from Indira Kala Sangeet University. He also qualified NET (UGC) in Music during his days at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1992. He met a great accomplishment after earning his Ph.D. in Music from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra.

There is an incomparable state of prosperity and fame that he has achieved. He has carried out and given his performance in the large multitude among the great artists. He performed music concert for “SPIC-MACAY” in 1999. In Begam Akhtar Sangeet Samaroh, Ayodhya for Tabla Solo and Violin Sangat he was honored by a renowned Pakhawaj player Swami Ramashankar Das. He also gave his musical presentation of Tabla in International Association for Scientific Spiritualism at Badri Narayan Sevagraam, Meerut in 1999. He carried into action in “TAJ MAHOTSAV” Agra, LUCKNOW MAHOTSAV” Lucknow, Governor House Lucknow on January 7, 1996 in the presence of Motilal Vohra (Governor of UP). He also yielded his tunes of Tabla as a tune composer in Bhojpuri Audio Cassette for “Bihar Ghume Ahiya” released by Neelam Recordings.

He has given estimation and prestigious judgment for various musical competitions, including the competitions held under the auspices of Association of Indian Universities (AIU) New Delhi, Sanskar Bharti, Bharat Vikas Parishad and Ahlcon International School, New Delhi etc. He was also constituted as the examiner of Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad and Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. He has 24 years teaching experience in Music (Tabla). Presently, he has been working as an Instructor of Music (Tabla) in Cultural Education Center, AMU Aligarh since 1992. Today, he is got about over the hearts and souls of the people.

He has accompanied on Tabla for a number of leading artist of India:

Ustad Shafi Ahmad Khan (Vocalist) I.T.C., Kolkata, Ustad Mushtaq Husain Khan (Vocalist) A.I.R., Agra, Prof L.K. Pandit (Vocalist) University of Delhi, Ustad Ghulam Hasnain Khan (Classical Vocalist) Mumbai, Ustad Gulshan Bharti (Classical & Ghazal Singer) Lucknow, Dr. Mausmi Roy (Classical & Ghazal Singer) Shanti Niketan, Prof S.G. Shrikhande (Vocalist) Kurukshetra Universiy.Ustad Mehboob Husain Khan (Sitar Player) Mumbai, Prof Satish Chandra Shriwastawa (Sitar Player) University of Kanpur, Prof V.K. Agrawal (Sitar Player) New Delhi, Mr. W.R. Chishti (Violinist) Faizabad.Pandit Ashok Goswami (Violinist) A.I.R., New Delhi, Ustad Anwar Husain Khan (Santoor Player) A.I.R., Agra.Zeeshan Mehndi disciple of Mehndi Hasan (Ghazal Singer) Germany, Iqbal Siddiqui (Ghazal Siger) LucknowProf Shahid Meer (Ghazal Siger) Bhopal.

Outstanding achievement as he dropped a line in many books on Tabla for the music devotees:

Generally the books on Tabla colligated with the grammar and literature of Tabla are brought out in Hindi and English languages. But there is great shortfall of the books on tabla in Urdu language. There existed one and only Risala-E-Tabla Nawazi Urdu book published in 1906 written by Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq Khan. So regarding the important historical aspects related to the instrument Dr. Chishti is up for the music lovers with his book Fan-E-Tabla published in 2011. The book intends at spreading awareness among the masses regarding tabla. After a whole century Fan-E-Tabla, the second book of table ever was brought out in Urdu language. Today it has been popularized in the world music culture. In Hindi language “Tabla Sanchayan” in 2012 and “Tabla Mein Das Anko Ka Mahetv” in 2013 two books have been published till now and there is another forthcoming book bringing out this year named “Taalon Ke Theke Ke Vibhinn Roop”. Currently he is working on his book immediately following in time “The Compositions of Tabla Gharana” in English language. By the end of succeeding year the book will be published Insha’Allah.

Deserving Disciples Taking Advance Training in Tabla Playing:

There is a large number of deserving disciples who took or are currently taking advance training and are being brought Tabla playing up. Some of them are as follow:

  • Mr. S.B. Thapa (Ghaziabad) Mr. Shafqat A. Rehmani (USA)
  • Mr. Robert Siegfried (Germany) Mrs. Rasheeda Cooper (Australia)
  • Mr. Mohd. Shadab, Mr. Shiraj & Siraj (Aligarh) Mr. Mohd. Azharuddin (AMU)
  • Mr. Muhammad Sarim Ashrafi (AMU)

Views and Vistas of Eminent Musicians about Dr. Chishti

¨ Mr. Chishti is my one of my talented disciple. I am satisfied with his progress and proficiency considering his qualification and ability. I hope Mr. Chishti would give fame to Lucknow Gharana [June 11, 1989] —Khalifa Ustad Afaq Husain Khan (Tabla Maestro, Lucknow Gharana)

¨ Mr. S.R. Chishti is a talented Tabla player and a radio artist who has performed in a number of programs particularly in SPIC-MACAY and he is always with me for my Tabla sangat. He is one of the best disciples of Khalifa Ustad Afaq Husain Khan of Lucknow Gharana. I wish him all success in his future life. [January 12, 1998] —Ustad Shafi Ahmad Khan (Vocalist), Sangeet Research Academy, ITC, Kolkata

¨ I feel happy to see Mr. S.R. Chishti as a good artist, popular teacher and over all a gentleman. About ten years back when he came to me for Tabla lessons, I could discover all the qualities in him, what a good music student should have. I am sure he will go further high up. My best wishes are with him for his bright future [August 25, 1997] —Prof. Girish Chandra Shriwastava, Tabla player and eminent musicologist, Former visiting professor, M.I. University, Fairfield, USA

¨ Mr. Chishti has given his performances in Tabla playing with my violin when I was producer at AIR Delhi. His accompaniment was praise worthy. He is a very good artist of Tabla Playing. —Pandit Ashok Goswami (Violin Player), Assistant Station Director, AIR, Faizabad

*Mohd. Sarim Ashrafi is a student of Islamic Studies Honours (Part-I). He is learning Tabla under the guidance of Dr. S.R. Chisti at University Music Club, AMU, Aligarh. He is Assistant Designer of this magazine.
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