Pandit Gudai Maharaj (Pandit Samta Prasad)

Biography of the Pandit Gudai Maharaj

Pandit Gudai Maharaj, an Indian tabla samrat, was born at 20th July in the year 1921 in the Kabir Chaura, Varanasi, UP and died in the May, 1994 at his Kabir Chaura residence. Pandit Gudai Maharaj (also famous by the name Pandit Samta Prasad) was a renowned Indian classical musician and tabla player and related to the Benares Gharana of the Varanasi.

His father, Pandit Hari Sunder (also known as the Bacha Mishra), grandfather Pt. Jagannath Mishra and one of his ancestors Pandit Pratap Maharaj were also related to the Indian classical music. He learned the traditional tabla playing and pakhawaj of the Benaras gharana from his father and grandfather. He lost his father at his 7. After that, he became the disciple of the Pt. Bikku Maharaj (disciple of the Pt. Baldev Sahai) and started practicing daily for long hours.

Career of the Pandit Gudai Maharaj

He had performed the first time at the Allahabad Sangeet Sammelan in the year 1942. Other musicians available there were very impressed with his great performance. After his first performance, he established himself soon as an accompanist and soloist. He got the better chance to perform his classical music in the different cities of the India like Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Lucknow as well as outside the country like France, Edinburgh, Russia, etc.

He got the golden chance to play his tabla art in most of the Hindi films such as Meri Surat Teri Ankhen in the year 1963, Sholay in the year 1975, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, Basant Bahar, Asamapta and many more. A music composer of the film named Rahul Dev Burman was one of his best disciples. It is considered that the recording of the song ‘Nache moraa manwa magan tikta dhighi dhighi’ (sung by the Mohd. Rafi in the Meri Surat Teri Aakhen film) was postponed by the music director S.D. Burman until he (Pandit Samta Prasad) reached there from the Varanasi.

It is considered that, he was on the Pune visit in order to conduct a coaching seminar planned by the Naad Roop, just before his death. He made an everlasting mark in the heart of the people available in that seminar. Some of his tabla player disciples are Shashanka Bakshi, Pandit Bhola Prasad Singh, Naba Kumar Panda, Gurmit Singh Virdee, Patna, Satyanarayan Bashisht, Partha Sarathi Mukherjee, Rahul Dev Burman (also called as R.D.Burman), Nitin Chatterjee and Pandit Kumar Lal Mishra.

He was always dedicated to his tabla playing art and has founded many special beats with the tali and the khali. He was a man of simple living and lived most of the time of his life outside the Varanasi as he was always on his performance tours. He was used to of the Banarasi boli and always liked only the home made food. Generally, people say him a Banarasi King as he was the Banarasi instrument, tabla maestro.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi has awarded Pandit Gudai Maharaj with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the year 1979.
  • Also awarded with the third highest civilian honour award (Padma Bhushan) by the Indian Govt. in the year 1991.
  • He got the Padma Shri award in the year 1972 and honored with the President Scholarship in the year 1987.

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