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All the musicians of the Sahaswan khandan, that is family or dynasty, are said to have descended from two brothers, Karim Bux and Rahim Bux. These two exponents are said to have belonged to the dhrupad tradition. Ustad Mushtaq Hussain's father was the son of the first, while Ustad Inayat Hussain's father was the third son of the second. Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan's grandfather, Ustad Haider Khan was the son of Rahim Bux's first son, Ali Bux.

The story of the Rampur Sahaswan khayal gharana begins with Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan (1849-1919). He was the son of Ustad Mehboob Khan, a khayal singer and Veena player of the Rampur court. He taught younger sons Ali Hussain and Mohammed Hussain the veena and they were employed in the Rampur court in that capacity.

Mehboob Khan is said to have performed khayals in a simple style with an emphasis on tappa-style taans, which can be taken to be an indication of his affiliation to the Gwalior khayal gharana which introduced this kind of taan and also the tappa genre itself. He was also a beenkar or veena player. His first off-spring was a daughter who was married to the earlier-mentioned Ustad Haider Khan.

Inayat Hussain is said to have shown unusual singing talent in his childhood and so his father after some basic training took him to one of the chief court musicians of the Rampur court for further training . So as Inayat Hussain, the founder of the gharana, hailed from Sahaswan and was trained and lived in Rampur, gharana came to be called Rampur Sahaswan.

This was at the time of Nawab Yusuf Ali and the chief court musicians were sursringar maestro Ustad Bahadur Hussain (expired 1870) of the Rababi gharana believed to have originated from the youngest son of Mian Tansen and Ustad Amir Khan of the Beenkar gharana believed to have descended from Tansen's daughter. Though a dhrupad exponent and a sursringer player, Bahadur Hussain taught exquiste taranas to khayal singers and tarana-based compositions to sitar and sarod players.

Inayat Hussain was put under the charge of Bahadur Hussain from his childhood . According to his third son-in-law, the late Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan (1912-1993) who was Rashid Khan's maternal grand-uncle and guru, Inayat Hussain was initially taught only paltas (ascending and descending permutations and combinations of notes) in the ragas Gour Sarang and Bhairav. This was apparently done to build his vocal prowess and grasp of the tonal compass. For the scales of the two ragas together cover 10 notes of the 12-note chromatic scale. This went on for a very long time.

When asked by interested ustads what kind of progress young Inayat was making, Bahadur Hussain used to say that the boy was very young and was not being taught any compositions or ragas proper, he was only practicing paltas to build up his voice. Once he developed sufficient control over the notes he would be taught ragas and songs proper and the means of elborating these, he used to say. But the interested ustads wanted to hear the boy singing and could not be put off for long. Succumbing to the pressure one day, Bahadur Hussain invited some of these ustads to come and hear the boy after a week or so. The moment the prospective listeners left, the ustad called Inayat Hussain and taught him some compositions in Yaman and Bihag and showed him how he was to alter the paltas of Gour Sarang to suit these ragas and the notes and phrases that were to be emphasised in the new ragas. When the boy sang khayals in these ragas on the designated evening, the assembled ustads were simply astounded by his skill and artistry. They congratulated Bahadur Hussain for his amazing teaching methods and left awe-struck.

Ustad Inayat Hussain was taught traditional khayals and the exquisite taranas created by Bahadur Hussain in all major ragas and also many rare ones. He not only became one the greatest khayal singers of the Rampur court but one of the all-time greats of Indian classical music. He composed many classic khayals in major ragas which are sung by exponents of many gharanas today. Many of these like 'tadapata raina din' in Maru Bihag, 'jhanana jhanana' in Chhaya Nat and 'papi dadurba bulai' in Gour Malhar are regularly sung by exponents with little or no connection with Rampur Sahaswan whatsoever.

But the Inayat Hussain style was not only made up of the material and training he received from Ustad Bahadur Hussain. It acquired a further dimension when Inayat Hussain married the second daughter of Ustad Haddu Khan of the Gwalior khayal gharana. This gharana, out of which practically all khayal gharanas are believed to have evolved, has produced some of the greatest khayals singers of the nation, Haddu Khan being one of the best of these. The story goes that Haddu Khan's sons Rahamat Khan and Chhote Muhammed Khan were looking for a suitable groom for their sister. Inayat Hussain was then on a tour of Gwalior and had performed in several important mehfils. Impressed by the artistic prowess, fame and tall, strapping physique of Inayat Hussain and his noble, courtly manners, they invited him to meet their father.

At the meeting, Haddu Khan himself was equally impressed. After some time, the ustad asked Inayat Hussain to sing. After politely refusing a couple times, saying that he was not good enough a singer to perform before a personage of the stature of the great Ustad Haddu Khan, Inayat Hussain started his performance. The complex style, astounding vocal prowess and three-octave taankari bowled Haddu Khan over and he immediately proposed that Inayat Hussain should marry his daughter. A son and daughter resulted from this marriage but both of them died young. However, the marriage resulted in Inayat Hussain receiving training from Haddu Khan. This led to the the stretching of the horizons of the original Inayat Hussain style and the additon of the wealth traditional Gwalior gharana techniques, formats and compostions to his repertoire.

Inayat Hussain trained his son Sabir Hussain and a lot of stalwart pupils in his day. These included Khadim Hussain, Chharju Khan, Nazir Khan, Bashir Khan, Ramkrishna Bua, Shivsevak Mishra of Varanasi, Hafiz Khan of Gurdwani gharana of Mysore and,of course, his son-in-law Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan (1874-1964). It is through the styles of his sons-in-law that contemporary experts have formed their idea of the Rampur Sahaswan style and it is through their pupils and their sons-in-law that the gharana stays aloft today. Like the sons-in-law, Inayat Hussain's three daughters, naturally played a big role in keeping the gharana alive. The third daughter Sabri Begum was married to Waris Hussain Khan and gave birth to leading senior contemporary exponent Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and daughter Shakhri Begum.

Shakhri Begum, married to Hamid Raza Khan, gave birth to Ustad Rashid Khan, the younger but equally famous contemporary exponent. Ghulam Mustafa was trained by his father, who in turn had been trained by Inayat Hussain himself, Nissar Hussain's father Fida Hussain (1883-1948) and Nissar Hussain himself. Nissar Hussain, who received his training from his grandfather Ustar Haidar Hussain Khan also trained up his son and successor Sarafraz Hussain (who expired in 1999), son-in-law Ghulam Akbar and son-in-law Hafiz Ahmed Khan and nephew Ghulam Mustafa Khan. Rashid Khan also received all his training from Nissar Hussain partly at Sahaswan from the age of six and thereafter at Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta from the age of eleven.

 
© 2001 Ustad Rashid Khan
 
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