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Tansen, the Master Musician

***** Location: India
***** Season: Non-Seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


The musician’s musician – one of the navratnas [nine gems] in King Akbar’s court. . .
India still remembers the great Tansen . . .

There is a beautiful line which is often voiced when you ask someone if they like Indian Classical music . . .

“Tansen I can not be, but definitely I can be a kaansen” [kaan means the ear!]

Meaning that he is a lover of Indian music!

There is a story:

Maharaaj Akbar realizing the greatness and the beauty of Tansen’s music started to wonder how his teacher’s [guruji] music would be . . . so one night dressed in ordinary clothes he makes his way to a dilapidated temple in which Tansen’s Guru Swami Haridas used to sing. . .

Akbar on hearing Swami Haridas’s music stood mesmerized.

The next morning he asks Tansen the reason for the superior quality of his Guru’s music . . .

Tansen says, “Maharaaj. I sing for the emperor – my Guruji sings for the emperor of emperors and therein lays the difference”

In Fatehpur Sikri near Agra there is Akbar’s palace which has a center stage in open air covered on all sides by water and Tansen was supposed to have sung seated there . . . across was the begum’s [queen] palace and with no microphones then - Tansen’s voice was heard by all!

Kala Ramesh


Imagine a person capable of playing any sound and transforming it into mesmerizing melody; a man who revolutionized, redefined and refined Indian classical music at a time when India was under the suffocating and paralyzing influence of wars. Chief among the nine jewels - the Navratnas - in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar, a master of both vocal and instrumental music - the maestro Tansen.

Read the whole legend here:
TANSEN - the mesmerizing maestro : Maryam Juzer Kherulla

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


in his hotel bathtub
immersed in raga

tansen sings . . .
stars twinkle
to keep beat

tansen . . .
begins the morning raga
moon stays on

Kala Ramesh

Related words

***** Music of India


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