English CBSE Class 9 NCERT Beehive Chapter 2 The Sound of Music Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



Part I

Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It


• “God may have taken her hearing but he has given her back something extraordinary. What we hear, she feels — far more deeply than any of us. That is why she expresses music so beautifully.”

God has not given her the ability to listen. But God has given her something special. Whatever we listen, she can feel. She can feel more deeply and correctly that any of us can. This is the reason she can express through music so nicely.

• Read the following account of a person who fought against a physical disability and made her life a success story.

Please read the following description of a person who had fought against a physical disability. She achieved success in her life.


1. RUSH hour crowds jostle for position on the underground train platform. A slight girl, looking younger than her seventeen years, was nervous yet excited as she felt the vibrations of the approaching train.

Word Meaning
Rush hour Time of heavy rush
Jostled Pushed each other especially in a crowd
Position Space, Seat
Slight Small

This was the time when  rush used to be more at the underground railway station. People were pushing each other in the crowd. A little girl appeared less than seventeen. She was nervous yet excited to feel vibrations of the coming train.


It was her first day at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London and daunting enough for any teenager fresh from a Scottish farm. But this aspiring musician faced a bigger challenge than most: she was profoundly deaf.

Word Meaning
Prestigious Reputed
Daunting Afraid, Worried, Difficult
Scottish Belonging to Scotland
Aspiring Hopeful, Hoping to become something
Profoundly Extremely, Completely
Deaf One who cannot hear

It would be her first day at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This institute is highly reputed. Any teenager would have been quite worried on the first day at this institute. She belonged to a family of farmers from Scotland. But this person who was hopeful of becoming a musician faced a bigger challenge. She was almost completely deaf.


2. Evelyn Glennie’s loss of hearing had been gradual. Her mother remembers noticing something was wrong when the eight-year-old Evelyn was waiting to play the piano. “They called her name and she didn’t move. I suddenly realised she hadn’t heard,” says Isabel Glennie.

Word Meaning
Gradual A slow process

Name of her mother was Isabel Glennie. Evelyn had lost the ability of listening gradually. While Evelyn was playing a piano, her mother had noticed something wrong. Mother called out name of Evelyn but she did not move at all. Her mother suddenly understood that her daughter did not hear her name being called out.


For quite a while Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers. But by the time she was eleven her marks had deteriorated and her headmistress urged her parents to take her to a specialist.

Word Meaning
Quite a while For a small duration of time, Sometime
Conceal Hide
Growing Increasing
Deteriorated Decreased
Urged Requested, Advised

For some time, Evelyn was successful in hiding her deafness from her friends and teachers. By the time she became 11, she started getting less marks in her exam. The principal of her school advised her parents to consult a specialist doctor.


It was then discovered that her hearing was severely impaired as a result of gradual nerve damage. They were advised that she should be fitted with hearing aids and sent to a school for the deaf. “Everything suddenly looked black,” says Evelyn.

Word Meaning
Severely Greatly
Impaired Damaged
Hearing aid A devise to help in hearing

The doctor found that hearing of Evelyn was damaged to a great extent due to gradual damage of a nerve of the ear. Doctor advised them that a hearing aid should be fitted in the ears of Evelyn. She should be sent to a school where only deaf children studied. Evelyn recalls that suddenly everything started looking sad.


3. But Evelyn was not going to give up. She was determined to lead a normal life and pursue her interest in music. One day she noticed a girl playing a xylophone and decided that she wanted to play it too.

Word Meaning
Give up Accept defeat, Stop making efforts
Pursue Follow, Engage
Xylophone A musical instrument

Evelyn was not ready to accept defeat so easily. She had the determination to lead life of a normal person. She wanted to follow her interest in music. One day she saw that a girl was playing xylophone. She decided that she would also learn to play xylophone.


Most of the teachers discouraged her but percussionist Ron Forbes spotted her potential. He began by tuning two large drums to different notes. “Don’t listen through your ears,” he would say, “try to sense it some other way.”

Word Meaning
Discouraged Demoralize, Opposite of encouraged
Potential Ability, Prospects, Possibility
Percussion instrument An instrument played by hitting with hand or a stick
Percussionist Person playing percussion musical instruments
Tuning Setting of a musical instrument
Notes A single sound at a particular level
Sense it Feel it

Most of the teachers did not encourage her. But percussionist Rob Forbes understood that she had an ability. He tuned two large drums to different notes. He advised Evelyn not to listen to these through ears. He advised her to feel their sound through some other means.


Says Evelyn, “Suddenly I realised I could feel the higher drum from the waist up and the lower one from the waist down.” Forbes repeated the exercise, and soon Evelyn discovered that she could sense certain notes in different parts of her body.

Word Meaning
Discovered Found

Evelyn told that she suddenly realised that she could feel beats of the higher drum in her body above her waist. She could feel beats or sound of the lower drum in her body below her waist. Forbes repeated these exercises many number of times. Very soon Evelyn found that she was able to feel certain notes of music in different part of her body.


“I had learnt to open my mind and body to sounds and vibrations.” The rest was sheer determination and hard work.

Word Meaning
Discovered Found
Sheer Purely, Completely

I understood and learnt to feel sounds and vibrations of music through my mind and my body. The remaining work was purely a matter of determination and hard work.


4. She never looked back from that point onwards. She toured the United Kingdom with a youth orchestra and by the time she was sixteen, she had decided to make music her life.

Word Meaning
Never looked back Became successful, Progressed further

After that she became successful. She travelled throughout United Kingdom with a orchestra of young people. By the time she became 16, she had decided to pursue music in her life.


She auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and scored one of the highest marks in the history of the academy. She gradually moved from orchestral work to solo performances. At the end of her three-year course, she had captured most of the top awards.

Word Meaning
Auditioned Gave a trial
Solo Single

She gave a trial for admission into Royal Academy of Music. She scored one of the highest marks ever scored by anyone in the past. Gradually she stopped giving performance in orchestra. She started giving performance as a single artist. By the end of her three year study at the Academy, she had won most of the top awards.


5. And for all this, Evelyn won’t accept any hint of heroic achievement. “If you work hard and know where you are going, you’ll get there.” And she got right to the top, the world’s most sought-after multipercussionist with a mastery of some thousand instruments, and hectic international schedule.

Word Meaning
Hint Sign, Appreciation
Heroic Being a hero, Being a great achiever
Most sought-after Most admired, Most popular

In spite of being such a good musician, Evelyn never considered herself a big achiever. She was modest even during her success. She used to tell that if one worked hard and knew about one’s goals, one could reach there. And she reached at the top of her profession. She was the most popular musician in the world who could play many instruments. She had a very busy travel schedule across the globe.


6. It is intriguing to watch Evelyn function so effortlessly without hearing. In our two-hour discussion she never missed a word. “Men with bushy beards give me trouble,” she laughed.

Word Meaning
Intriguing Curious, Fascinating
Function Move, Perform
Bushy beard Thick beard, Big beard

It is so fascinating to note that Evelyn performed and did his routine works so easily. It did not appear that she was making lot of efforts. We talked to her for about two hours. She understood every word that we spoke. She said that understanding speech of people having thick beard was quite troublesome for her.


“It is not just watching the lips, it’s the whole face, especially the eyes.” She speaks flawlessly with a Scottish lilt. “My speech is clear because I could hear till I was eleven,” she says. But that doesn’t explain how she managed to learn French and master basic Japanese.

Word Meaning
Flawlessly Without any mistake
Scottish lilt Accent of Scotland

She had trouble understanding voice of people with big beard because she could not watch their lip movement. She found reading their eyes also difficult. She used to speak with accent of Scotland. She explained that her voice was clear because she could hear till the age of eleven. But this reason does not explain how she could learn French and German. Author is trying to appreciate her efforts even after she became deaf.


7. As for music, she explains, “It pours in through every part of my body. It tingles in the skin, my cheekbones and even in my hair.” When she plays the xylophone, she can sense the sound passing up the stick into her fingertips.

Word Meaning
As for music Regarding music
Pours in Enters in
Tingles Vibrates, Shivers
Fingertips Ends of fingers

I can listen to the music through every part of my body. It vibrates my body, my cheekbones and also my hair. When she plays the xylophone, she can feel the sound of music through tips of her fingers.


By leaning against the drums, she can feel the resonances flowing into her body. On a wooden platform she removes her shoes so that the vibrations pass through her bare feet and up her legs.

Word Meaning
Leaning against Resting, Taking support of
Resonance Vibration

By taking support of drums, she can feel vibrations through her body. While playing drums, she sits on a wooden platform without wearing shoes. So vibrations of drums and music enter into her body through her bare feet.


8. Not surprisingly, Evelyn delights her audiences. In 1991 she was presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s prestigious Soloist of the Year Award.

Word Meaning
Not surprisingly Expectedly, Happens as expected
Delighted Became very happy
Presented Awarded
Prestigious Reputed
Soloist One who performs alone

As expected audiences were very happy to listen to her performances. In 1991, she was awarded the reputed award of the Soloist of the Year. This was awarded by Royal Philharmonic Society.


Says master percussionist James Blades, “God may have taken her hearing but he has given her back something extraordinary. What we hear, she feels — far more deeply than any of us. That is why she expresses music so beautifully.”

Word Meaning
Master Great, Highly skilled, Leading
Extraordinary Exceptional, Special
Far more More my great amount or degree

The great percussionist James Blades says that God has taken away the ability of hearing from her. But God has given her some special powers. What we hear, she can feel much more clearly and powerfully. This is the reason her musical compositions are so beautiful.


9. Evelyn confesses that she is something of a workaholic. “I’ve just got to work . . . often harder than classical musicians. But the rewards are enormous.”

Word Meaning
Confess Accept, Admit
Workaholic One who works a lot
Rewards Benefits
Enormous Huge, Very large

Evelyn accepted that she is a person who like to work a lot. I need to work harder than any other classical musicians. But the benefits of working hard are huge.


Apart from the regular concerts, Evelyn also gives free concerts in prisons and hospitals. She also gives high priority to classes for young musicians. Ann Richlin of the Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children says, “She is a shining inspiration for deaf children. They see that there is nowhere that they cannot go.”

Word Meaning
Apart from In addition to
Regular Normal
Concert Musical show
Shining inspiration Great motivator

In addition to her normal musical shows, she does many shows in prisons and hospitals without charging any fees. She gives lot of preference to teaching young musicians. Ann Richlin is a member of Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children. He has said that Evelyn is a great motivator to deaf children. They have started believing that they can achieve anything.


10. Evelyn Glennie has already accomplished more than most people twice her age. She has brought percussion to the front of the orchestra, and demonstrated that it can be very moving.

Word Meaning
Accomplished Achieved
Demonstrated Established
Very moving Very impressive

Evelyn Glennie has already achieved more than people of double her age achieve. Because of her efforts, percussion instruments have become important part of an orchestra. She has established that these instruments can be played very impressively.


She has given inspiration to those who are handicapped, people who look to her and say, ‘If she can do it, I can.’ And, not the least, she has given enormous pleasure to millions.

Word Meaning
Inspiration Motivation
Handicapped Physically disabled, Physically challanged
Not the least Especially, Particularly, Moreover

She is a great motivator to those who are physically challenged. They look at her say that if she can do it, they can also do it. Moreover, her music has given lot of happiness to millions of people.



Part II

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan



1. EMPEROR Aurangzeb banned the playing of a musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence for it had a shrill unpleasant sound. Pungi became the generic name for reeded noisemakers.

Word Meaning
Banned Stopped, Prohibited, Barred
Shrill Sharp
Unpleasant Not liked, Uncomfortable, Hateful, Ugly
Generic name Name given to a group
Reeded Musical instrument played by blowing air

Emperor Aurangzeb was a ruler in India. He had ordered that a musical instrument Pungi was not to be played in his royal palace. This was done because he did not like its sharp sound. Later the group of all musical instruments played by blowing air into it was called Pungi.


Few had thought that it would one day be revived. A barber of a family of professional musicians, who had access to the royal palace, decided to improve the tonal quality of the pungi.

Word Meaning
Revived Renewed, Stimulated
Access Entry, Approach
Tonal quality Quality of sound

Nobody had imagined that one day Pungi would be renewed into another form. A barber of a family of  musicians had the permission to go into the royal palace. He decided to improve the quality of sound of Pungi.


He chose a pipe with a natural hollow stem that was longer and broader than the pungi, and made seven holes on the body of the pipe. When he played on it, closing and opening some of these holes, soft and melodious sounds were produced.

Word Meaning
Stem Thin branch of a tree
Soft Of low volume, Not shrill
Melodious Musical, Pleasant

He selected a long stem of a tree that was hollow. It was longer and broader than the pipe of Pungi. He made seven holes in the pipe. Then he played it by blowing air into it. He closed and opened holes of the pipe with his fingers while blowing air. The sound produced was low, musical and pleasant.


He played the instrument before royalty and everyone was impressed. The instrument so different from the pungi had to be given a new name. As the story goes, since it was first played in the Shah’s chambers and was played by a nai (barber), the instrument was named the ‘shehnai.

Word Meaning
Royalty Members of royal family
Shah King

He played the instrument for the members of the royal family. Everyone liked it. The instrument was quite different from Pungi. So people wanted to give a new name to it. This was first played in front of the Shah meaning the king. It was first played by a nai meaning barber. So it was named ‘shehnai’.


2. The sound of the shehnai began to be considered auspicious. And for this reason it is still played in temples and is an indispensable component of any North Indian wedding.

Word Meaning
Auspicious Lucky, Good omen,
Indispensable Essential
Component Part

The sound of shehnai is regarded as a good omen. Therefore it is played in temples. It is essentially played during wedding in North India.


In the past, the shehnai was part of the naubat or traditional ensemble of nine instruments found at royal courts. Till recently it was used only in temples and weddings. The credit for bringing this instrument onto the classical stage goes to Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Word Meaning
Traditional According to customs
Ensemble Group
Till recently Till short time ago
Stage Level

During old times, shehnai was included in the customary group of nine musical instruments played in courts of kings. Till short time ago, it was played only in temples and during weddings. Ustad Bismillah Khan brought this instrument upto the level of classical music.


3. As a five-year old, Bismillah Khan played gilli-danda near a pond in the ancient estate of Dumraon in Bihar. He would regularly go to the nearby Bihariji temple to sing the Bhojpuri ‘Chaita’, at the end of which he would earn a big laddu weighing 1.25 kg, a prize given by the local Maharaja.

Word Meaning
Gilli danda A folk sport
Estate Kingdom

When Bismillah Khan was five year old, he used live in the kingdom of Domraon in Bihar. He used to play ‘gilli-danda’ near a pond in his village. He used to go to the nearby temple to sing ‘Chaita’ in Bhojpuri language. After end of ‘Chaita’ the king used to give him a laddu of 1.25 kg weight. He considered it as reward for singing in the temple.


This happened 80 years ago, and the little boy has travelled far to earn the highest civilian award in India — the Bharat Ratna.

Word Meaning
Has travelled far Has grown a lot

This used to happen about 80 years ago. The small boy of that time later grew as a person and as a musician. He was awarded the highest award a civilian can earn in India – Bharat Ratna.


4. Born on 21 March 1916, Bismillah belongs to a well-known family of musicians from Bihar. His grandfather, Rasool Bux Khan, was the shehnainawaz of the Bhojpur king’s court. His father, Paigambar Bux, and other paternal ancestors were also great shehnai players.

Word Meaning
Well known Famous
shehnainawaz A person who plays shehnai
Paternal Relative of father
Ancestors People of earlier generation, Forefather

He was born on 21 March, 1916. He belongs to a famous family of musicians of Bihar. His grand father Rasool Bux Khan used to play shehnai in the court of king of Bhojpur. His father Paigambar Bux, and other relatives of his father were also good shehnai players.


5. The young boy took to music early in life. At the age of three when his mother took him to his maternal uncle’s house in Benaras (now Varanasi), Bismillah was fascinated watching his uncles practise the shehnai.

Word Meaning
Took to music Started learning music
Maternal uncle Brother of mother
Fascinated Highly impressed, Strongly interested

Bismillaha Khan started learning music when he was a child. When he was of three years age, his mother had taken him to his uncle’s house. His uncle used to live in Benaras ( It is now called Varanasi). Bismillah Khan very interestingly watched his uncle playing shehnai.


Soon Bismillah started accompanying his uncle, Ali Bux, to the Vishnu temple of Benaras where Bux was employed to play the shehnai. Ali Bux would play the shehnai and Bismillah would sit captivated for hours on end.

Word Meaning
Employed In the job
Captivated Fascinated, Engrossed, Absorbed

Very soon Bismillah started going to Vishnu temple with his uncle Ali Bux. His uncle had the job of playing shehnai at the temple. Ali Bux used to play shehnai for many hours at the temple. Bismillaha used to listen to it with full attention for many hours till the end.


Slowly, he started getting lessons in playing the instrument and would sit practicing throughout the day. For years to come the temple of Balaji and Mangala Maiya and the banks of the Ganga became the young apprentice’s favourite haunts where he could practise in solitude.

Word Meaning
Getting lessons Getting taught
For years to come For many years of future
Apprentice Trainee
Haunts Visiting place, Place frequently visited
Solitude Being alone

Gradually Bismillah started receiving education for playing shehnai. He used to practice during the full day. For many years the young boy used to frequently go to the temples of Balaji and Mangala Maiya on the banks of Ganga. These were his favourite visiting places. He used to practice there alone.


The flowing waters of the Ganga inspired him to improvise and invent raagas that were earlier considered to be beyond the range of the shehnai.

Word Meaning
Inspired Motivated
Invent Discover, Find something new

The water flowing in the river Ganga was a motivation for him to improve himself. He started playing many new raagas on shehnai. Earlier it was thought that these could not be played on shehnai.


6. At the age of 14, Bismillah accompanied his uncle to the Allahabad Music Conference. At the end of his recital, Ustad Faiyaz Khan patted the young boy’s back and said, “Work hard and you shall make it.”

Word Meaning
Recital Performance
Patted the back Appreciated, Lightly struck the back with hand
You shall make it You shall be successful

When Bismillaha was 14, he went with his uncle to participate at the Allahabad Music Conference. After his performance, Ustad Faiyaz Khan came to Bismillah, he appreciated the performance of Bismillah. Ustad Faiyaz advised Bismillah to work hard and blessed him that he would be successful.


With the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in 1938 came Bismillah’s big break. He soon became an often-heard shehnai player on radio.

Word Meaning
Big break Big opportunity

All India Radio opened its branch in Lucknow in 1938. It was a big opportunity for Bismillah. Very soon he started performing very often on radio.


7. When India gained independence on 15 August 1947, Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to greet the nation with his shehnai. He poured his heart out into Raag Kafi from the Red Fort to an audience which included Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who later gave his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech.

Word Meaning
Greet Welcome
Poured his heart Exhibited lot of efforts and enthusiasm

India gained freedom on 15th Aug 1947. Bismillah was the first person to play shenai to welcome this event. He exhibited lot of efforts and enthusiasm while playing Raag Kafi from Red Fort. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was also one of the audiences. Later Nehru gave his famous speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’ from Red Fort.


8. Bismillah Khan has given many memorable performances both in India and abroad. His first trip abroad was to Afghanistan where King Zahir Shah was so taken in by the maestro that he gifted him priceless Persian carpets and other souvenirs.

Word Meaning
Taken in Impressed
Souvenirs Mementos, Memorabilia
Maestro Highly skillful, Genius, Expert

Bismillah Khan has given many performances in India and abroad which are always remembered. For his first visit outside India, he had gone to Afghanistan. The King Zahir Shah was so impressed by the genius of Bismillah that he gave him many valuable Persian carpets and other mementos.


The King of Afghanistan was not the only one to be fascinated with Bismillah’s music. Film director Vijay Bhatt was so impressed after hearing Bismillah play at a festival that he named a film after the instrument called Gunj Uthi Shehnai.

Word Meaning
Fascinated Highly impressed

The King of Afghanistan was not only one who was impressed by shehnai played by Bismillah. Film director Vijay Bhatt listened to Bismillah at a festival. He was very impressed. He made a movie by the name of ‘Gunj Uthi Shehnai’.


The film was a hit, and one of Bismillah Khan’s compositions, “Dil ka khilona hai toot gaya…,” turned out to be a nationwide chartbuster!

Word Meaning
Composition Creation,
Turned out Became
Nationwide Throughout the nation
Chartbuster Very popular

The film was successful. Bismillah Khan gave music to one of the songs of the film – ‘Dil ka khilona …’. This song became very popular throughout the country.


Despite this huge success in the celluloid world, Bismillah Khan’s ventures in film music were limited to two: Vijay Bhatt’s Gunj Uthi Shehnai and Vikram Srinivas’s Kannada venture, Sanadhi Apanna. “I just can’t come to terms with the artificiality and glamour of the film world,” he says with emphasis.

Word Meaning
Despite In spite of
Celluloid world Film industry
Venture Journey, Progress
Come to terms Accept condition or situation
Glamour Glitter, Charm,
Emphasis Insistence, Intensity

In spite of this grand success, journey of Bismillah Khan in the film music was for only two films. One film was Vijay Bhatt’s Gunj Uthi Shehnai and the other was Vikram Srinivas’s Kannada film, Sanadhi Apanna. Bismillah Khan could not accept the glitter and unnatural world of film industry.


9. Awards and recognition came thick and fast. Bismillah Khan became the first Indian to be invited to perform at the prestigious Lincoln Centre Hall in the United States of America.

Word Meaning
Thick and fast Quickly and in large numbers

Very soon Bismillah Khan started getting large number of awards. He was the first Indian to perform at the reputed Lincoln Centre Hall in USA.


He also took part in the World Exposition in Montreal, in the Cannes Art Festival and in the Osaka Trade Fair. So well known did he become internationally that an auditorium in Teheran was named after him — Tahar Mosiquee Ustaad Bismillah Khan.

Word Meaning
Took part Participated
Exposition A large exhibition

He participated in several exhibitions, fairs and concerts like Montreal, Cannes and Osaka. He was very famous at international level. An auditorium in Tehran (a city in Iran) was named after him.


10. National awards like the Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan were conferred on him.

He was awarded prestigious national awards like Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan.


11. In 2001, Ustad Bismillah Khan was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. With the coveted award resting on his chest and his eyes glinting with rare happiness he said, “All I would like to say is: Teach your children music, this is Hindustan’s richest tradition; even the West is now coming to learn our music.’’

Word Meaning
Coveted Of very high order, Greatly desired by many
Glinting Shining, Sparkling

In 2001, he was given the highest award for civilian – Bharat Ratna. With shine in his eyes and the award on his chest, with rare happiness he said that now all would advise their children to learn music. Music is the tradition of India. Even people of West are coming to India to learn music.


12. In spite of having travelled all over the world — Khansaab as he is fondly called — is exceedingly fond of Benaras and Dumraon and they remain for him the most wonderful towns of the world.

Word Meaning
Fondly Lovingly, With affection
Exceedingly Highly
Fond of Likes

With affection, Bismillah Khan is called Kahnsaab. Although he has visited many places in the world, he likes Benaras and Dumraon most. For him these are the most beautiful towns of the world.


A student of his once wanted him to head a shehnai school in the U.S.A., and the student promised to recreate the atmosphere of Benaras by replicating the temples there. But Khansaab asked him if he would be able to transport River Ganga as well.

Word Meaning
Recreate Make again
Replicating Copying

Once, a student his requested him to come to USA and become head of a shehnai teaching school. The student promised that he will make the atmosphere of Benaras there. He will copy the temples of Benars in that institute. Khansaab asked him if would be able to bring River Ganga also.


Later he is remembered to have said, “That is why whenever I am in a foreign country, I keep yearning to see Hindustan. While in Mumbai, I think of only Benaras and the holy Ganga. And while in Benaras, I miss the unique mattha of Dumraon.”

Word Meaning
Yearning Strong desire, Craving, Urge
Mattha A place of worship

Later he said that because of this reason, whenever I am in foreign country, I get the strong desire to go back to Hindustan. This is remembered by many. He further said that when he is in Mumbai, he thinks of holy Ganga. And when he is in Benaras he thinks of ‘mattha’ of Dumraon.


SHEKHAR GUPTA: When Partition happened, didn’t you and your family think of moving to Pakistan?

Shekhar Gupta had asked him a question. After partition did you and your family think of shifting to Pakistan.


BISMILLAH KHAN: God forbid! Me, leave Benaras? Never! I went to Pakistan once—I crossed the border just to say I have been to Pakistan. I was there for about an hour. I said namaskar to the Pakistanis and salaam alaikum to the Indians! I had a good laugh.

Word Meaning
God forbid God please forgive me

Bismillaha Khan had replied that he would never leave Benaras. I went to Pakistan only once. I crossed the border only to say to the world that I have been to Pakistan. I remained in Pakistan area for about one hour. From there, I said ‘namaskar’ to people of Pakistan and ‘salaam alaikum’ to people of India. I came back to India. He laughed a lot.

(Readers’ Digest, October 2005)


13. Ustad Bismillah Khan’s life is a perfect example of the rich, cultural heritage of India, one that effortlessly accepts that a devout Muslim like him can very naturally play the shehnai every morning at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Word Meaning
Rich Having lot of variety, Strong
Heritage Tradition, History, Custom
Devout Pious, Sincere,

His life is a perfect example of strong cultural traditions of India. With any additional efforts or objections, the Indian culture  accepts and allows a pious Muslim to play shehnia at Kashi Vishwanath temple.


[Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away on 21 August 2006 at the age of ninety after a prolonged illness. He was given a state funeral and the Government of India declared one day of national mourning.]

Word Meaning
Passed away Died
Prolonged Of long duration
Mourning Sorrow

Ustad Bismillah Khan died on 21st Aug 2006. At that time he was ninety. He was ill for a long time. He was given state honour during his funeral. The Indian Government had declared one day national mourning.





Wind, come softly.

Don’t break the shutters of the windows.

Don’t scatter the papers.

Don’t throw down the books on the shelf.

There, look what you did — you threw them all down.

Word Meaning
Softly Gently
Scatter Throw here and there, Spread
Poetic Devices
Wind, come softly. Personification
Don’t break the shutters of the windows. Repetition
Don’t throw down the books on the shelf. Alliteration
Don’t throw down the books on the shelf. Repetition
look what you did — you threw them Repetition

The poet is requesting wind to blow gently. He asks wind not to break shutters of windows and not to spread papers. He requests not to throw books that are kept on the shelf. But all are thrown by the force of wind. So poet complains to wind that why it has thrown everything on the ground.

The poet has equated wind with difficulties or adversities of life. We always pray that difficulties should not disturb our life. Our assets should remain intact. Our physical ability should remain intact. But sometimes adversities may cause some damage.


You tore the pages of the books.

You brought rain again.

You’re very clever at poking fun at weaklings.

Word Meaning
Poking fun Making fun of
Weaklings Weak people or things
Poetic Devices
You tore the pages of the books. Repetition
You’re very clever Personification

The poet complains that wind has torn pages of the books. Wind has again brought rains. Wind is very clever in making fun of weak things.

When adversities cause damage, we get into the mode of complaining. We start blaming others. We could  even go to the extent of begging not to trouble weak people.


Frail crumbling houses, crumbling doors, crumbling rafters,

crumbling wood, crumbling bodies, crumbling lives,

crumbling hearts —

the wind god winnows and crushes them all.

Word Meaning
Frail Weak
Crumbling Breaking
Rafter Main support of a sloping roof
Winnows Blows, To separate grain from chaff through wind
Poetic Devices
crumbling is used many times Repetition
Wind god winnows Personification

Weak houses are breaking, week doors are breaking, weak rafters are breaking, weak wood, weak bodies, weak lives and weak hearts are breaking. The wind is so strong that it can separate chaff from the grain.

In these lines poets has  repeatedly used the word ‘crumbling’ for the purpose of emphasis.

But the adversities seldom listen to our requests. They would come into our life. They would disturb or damage anything that is weak. Be it our house, our belongings, our health or our wealth. Therefore we need to be strong in every aspect of life.


He won’t do what you tell him.

So, come, let’s build strong homes,

Let’s joint the doors firmly.

Practise to firm the body.

Make the heart steadfast.

Do this, and the wind will be friends with us.

Word Meaning
Steadfast Firm, Strong, Determined
Poetic Devices
He won’t do what you tell him. Alliteration
He won’t do what you tell him. Personification

The wind will not obey your orders. So let us build strong homes. Let us close our doors firmly so the wind cannot open it. Let us make our body strong. Let us be strong mentally. If we do these things, wind will be our friend. Meaning wind will not be able to cause any damage to us.

The adversities will not listen to our pleadings or requests. So let we ourselves become stronger. Let our house be stronger. We should be stronger physically and mentally. When we become strong, adversities cannot cause any damage to us. Then they start behaving in a friendly manner to us. Meaning that these will not be able to affect us anymore.


The wind blows out weak fires.

He makes strong fires roar and flourish.

His friendship is good.

We praise him every day.

Word Meaning
Blows out Extinguishes, Put to an end
Roar and flourish Increase
Poetic Devices
He makes strong fires roar and flourish. Personification
His friendship is good. Personification
We praise him every day. Personification

If the fire is weak, wind will extinguishes it. If the fire is strong, it becomes stronger by wind. If one is strong, wind would be his friend. Then we would praise the wind every day.

A weak person gets negatively affected by adversities in life. It makes him weak. However a strong person derives advantage from prevailing conditions to make himself stronger. Therefore it is said that friendship with a strong person is advantageous. We would then praise such people when we ourselves are strong.


[translated from the Tamil by

A.K. Ramanujan]



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