Answer these questions in 30 – 40 words.
1. Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?
2. How is a shehnai different from a pungi?
3. Where was the shehnai played traditionally? How did Bismillah Khan change this?
4. When and how did Bismillah Khan get his big break?
5. Where did Bismillah Khan play the shehnai on 15 August 1947? Why was the event historic?
6. Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A.?
7. Find at least two instances in the text which tell you that Bismillah Khan loves India and Benaras.
1. Emperor Aurangzeb banned the playing of the musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence because its sound was shrill and unpleasant.
2. Shehnai has a better tonal quality than pungi. It is a natural hollow stem pipe with holes on its body and is longer and broader than the pungi. Shehnai is, in a way, an improvement upon the pungi.
3. Traditionally, the shehnai was part of the naubat or traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Those days, it was played only in temples and weddings. Bismillah Khan changed this by bringing it onto the classical stage.
4. Bismillah Khan got his big break in 1938 with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow. He started playing the shehnai on radio and soon became quite popular.
5. On 15 August 1947, Bismillah Khan played the Raag Kaafi on his shehnai from the Red Fort. The event was historical because it was on the occasion of India's Independence from British Rule.
6. Bismillah Khan refused one of his student's request to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A. because he would not live away from Hindustan, specifically, from Benaras, the River Ganga and Dumraon.
7. In his initial years, Bismillah used to practice in the temples of Benaras and on the banks of River Ganga. Later, his love for India and Bernaras made him turn down the offer to head a shehnai school in the U.S.A.