The sound of bansuri

Rishab Prasanna

The  sound of bansuri

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna (1913-1999)

Benaras, the holy city of India, has been the cultural centre of music and art for thousands of years. The city is well- drenched and completely soaked in the great tradition of the Indian classical music both in vocal and instrumental.

Artist from every genre have interacted with this great city and found spiritual solace that amply reflected in their artistic pursuits.

The city also boasts of giving rise to numerous great maestros of music, including Pandit Raghunath Prasanna, the doyen of wind instruments both shehnai and flute. However, Pandit Raghunath's contribution in the realm of wind instruments has been unique. The title 'Prasanna' have been entitled to Pandit Raghunath by the king of Kuch Bihar. The king honored him as Pandit Raghu Nath Prasanna made audience happy, from then he has been named as "Prasanna" . That's why he is responsible to firmly establish what has now come to be known as "Prasanna Gharana" of flute playing.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a refined artiste who could play both shehnai and flute with equal ease; he was a great teacher and innovator. He got his musical training from his father Pandit Guari Shanker, a shehnai player of repute, and gayaki ang from Pandit Dauji Mishra of Varanasi. He was the first person in the family to introduce the art of flute playing in Banaras Gharana of India which known for its shehnai playing for more than two and half centuries. The shehnai in this family was earlier strengthen for many generations by Pandit Raghunath’s father Pandit Gauri Shanker, Pandit Tehal Prasad (Grand- father), Pandit Garib Das (Great Grand- Father).

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a flautist of great merit; he developed various techniques in the realm of flute playing so as to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the Indian classical music. In fact, he was responsible to provide a strong base to his Gharana by training his own family members including his son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna globally known for his melodious music.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was not only a legend flute and shehnai player. He initiated into the art of flute playing from the instrument named Tripura bansuri and took this Tripura bansuri to Indian classical music and then he started Krishna Bansuri. Pandit Raghu nath Prasanna also played sarod. He was an excellent instrument- maker, Ustad Bismillah khan used to call him "Vishkarma"- an Indian God, when saw his quality as an instruments maker.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is the first in Prasanna family to introduce flute, and after him his style has spread all over India. It should be noteworthy that the tools and techniques developed by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna have been widely adopted by many of the Indian flautists including his younger brother and disciple Pandit Bholanath Prasanna and his disciple Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Rajendra Prasanna, Pandit Ronu Mujamdar and many others flautists.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna was the recipient of various awards and honors including Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1996) for his contribution to the cause of Indian Classical Music.

The Legacy Continues The musical journey started by Pandit Raghunath Prasanna is being fast  forwarded by his able son Pandit Rajendra Prasanna who is well- known in the global musical circuit both in the sphere of the shehnai and flute playing. He imbibes the best elements of the Benaras tradition in playing the Raga music as also the folk melodies of India.

The art of flute playing is being further nurtured by Pandit Rajendra Prasanna’s talented sons- Rajesh Prasanna, Rishab Prasanna, Ritesh Prasanna; who have taken to the art of flute playing very seriously and are making waves in the musical circuits both within and outside the country.

Prasanna Brothers The Prasanna family gets further boost with the Prasanna brothers – Rajesh Prasanna & Rishab Prasanna, taking the central stage and making their mark both as soloist as also duet players of flute in the country. Their meritorious rise as the country’s ace flautists is evident from a plethora of media reviews that have appeared in a number of newspaper and magazines.

Pandit Rajendra Prasanna (born in 1957)

  Born on the 15th April ,1956. Pt. Rajendra Prasanna hails from the renowned “Benaras Gharana” and is a master of flute & shehnai. He was groomed by his grand-father Pandit. Gauri Shankar and father Pandit. Raghunath Prasanna, who was the first to introduce the flute in Prasanna family.

He was also guided by his uncles Pt. Bholanath Prasanna and late Pt. Vishnu Prasanna. One can see the use of “Gayaki ang” in his renditions. Pandit Rajendra Prasanna was also fortunate to have received the blessings of Thumri Samrat Pt. Mahadev Prasad Mishra of Varanasi, Padmashree Ustad Hafeez Ahmed Khan and Ustad Sarfaraz Hussain Khan (both of Rampur Seheswan Gharana.)

Pt. Rajendra Prasanna is known for the unique blend of fluency and melody in his recitals, His systematic ‘badhat’ with an aesthetic approach has been one of the main qualities of his presentations. Musical environment at home become an inspiration for him and he took to music at a very tender age. It was at the age of twelve that he was invited to the Calcutta Music Conference in 1968. After that, he never looked back. He performed at the “BANSURI FESTIVAL” organized by the Sangeet Natak Academi and Raag Rang in 1980, in which top artists from all Gharanas performed. He was special invitee at the 9th Asian Music Festival held at Hong Kong in 1984 and at the Bulgarian Festival in 1988.

He was the first flautist and shehnai player who visited Pakistan after the partition for a music concert in 1986. At a young age, he was honored with many prestigious awards including “Surmani” in Mumbai 1978, “Sangeet Pujari” in Delhi 1986, “Nadratna” in Ajmer 1994 and “Sangeet Saurabh” in Delhi 1998.

Pt. Rajendra Prasanna has given music in the famous tele-serial “Sanjha Chulha” for which he received the Rose Award in 1994.

He was the first shehnai and flute player honored with the Uttar Pradesh “Sangeet Natak Academy Award” in 1995.

He was also the recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award of the Sahara India in 2003.

He performed at many European and Asian nations including France, Belgium, Poland, Germany, U.K, Switzerland, Russia, Norway, Japan, Mauritius, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and all Middle East countries.

He also participated in Maharishi Music Festival for World Peace organized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in France, Holland, Lebanon and Cyprus in 1993.

In connection with the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Indian Independence, he was invited to participate at the ITC. (SRA). World Music Festival held in America, Canada and Switzerland in 1997. He also participated in the Golden Jubilee of Sangeet Natak Academy under Bharat Ratna Pt. Ravi Shankar in 2001. The “Festival of India” held in Japan in 2006 was inaugurated by his Shehnai Recital.

He has performed at the WOMAD festivals in Australia, Newzealand, Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh festival in UK, Melbourne recital centre, U.N.O. headquarters (Switzerland) and other big festivals and venues around the globe.

He has participated on the Grammy Award - winning music video organized by Pt. Ravi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 2002 in the memory of late George Harrison, for which he received a Grammy Award Certificate in 2004.

Pt. Rajendra Prasanna has been a “TOP” grade artist with the All India Radio. He took part in the Akashwani Sangeet Sammelan, National Program of Music on Television. He is presently working with the National School of Drama, New Delhi.