Annapurna Devi Biography In English Life Story 1927-2018

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  • Annapurna Devi was an Indian surbahar player of Hindustani classical music. She was given the name ‘Annapurna’ by Maharaja Brijnath Singh of the erstwhile Maihar Estate (MP), and it was with this name that she was popular.
  • She was a very private person and was never interested in becoming a professional musician like the rest of her family.
  • However, she remained active throughout her life as a teacher to many other prominent musicians such as Nikhil Banerjee, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Nityanand Haldipur. She was the only known female maestro of Surbahar in the 20th century.

Annapurna Devi Biography In English

Birth Details –

Place– Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Birth – 17 April 1927

Marital Status – Married

Nationality -Indian

Family –

Father- Alauddin Khan

Brother- Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

Husband – Ravi Shankar, Rushikumar Pandya

Son- Shubhendra Shankar

Teacher – Alauddin Khan

Early Life –

  • Annapurna Devi was born on 17 April 1927 in Maihar, a princely state of Madhya Pradesh, India. His father, Ustad Allauddin Khan, was a royal court musician in the court of Maharaja Brijnath.
  • Since on the day of his birth, he was away, the Maharaja named him ‘Annapurna’. Since she was born a Muslim, her Islamic name was Roshanara Khan.
  • However, she was always addressed as Annapurna at home, and this name was legally formalized when she converted to Hinduism on the day of her marriage to Ravi Shankar.
  • His father, Alauddin Khan Miyan was one of the disciples of Ustad Mohammad Wazir Khan, the last descendant of Tansen, and therefore a musician of the Rampur Senia Gharana.
  • When she was young, her father discovered that she was pitch-perfect and had a knack for remembering notation, despite being untrained.
  • This led him to involve her in Hindustani classical music in her vocal training. A case of tonsillitis and surgery prompted him to shift to a musical instrument, the sitar.
  • Initially, he was trained as a sitar player. However, her father felt that the more complex Bakari style of Wazir Khan’s music, which she had learned at Sursingar, could be handed down to her as a legacy as she was more interested in being his erudite student than a performer .
  • So, he changed her to Surbahar, which she played in the Wazirkhani Bekri style. This decision would lead to the handing over of the tantric or game-style in a disjointed form.
  • Annapurna Devi became a very accomplished musician in just a few years of training. After her father’s demise, she became the torchbearer of her gharana, guiding many of her father’s disciples including Nikhil Banerjee, Bahadur Khan, Ashish Khan etc. in the techniques and intricacies of classical music as well as instrumental performance.

Personal Life

  • On 15 May 1941, Annapurna Devi converted to Hinduism and was married to fellow disciple Ravi Shankar at the behest of Shankar’s eldest brother Uday Shankar.
  • Ravi Shankar would go on to become a world famous musician in his own right. They had a son, Shubhendra Shankar (1942–1992), who was also a graphic artist and a musician.
  • They were informally separated in the 60s, when Ravi Shankar left India for the United States with his then-girlfriend Kamala Chakraborty. Both got divorced in 1982.
  • Annapurna Devi married Rushikumar Pandya on 9 December 1982 in Bombay. Rushikumar Pandya, who was 42 at the time of their marriage, was a communications specialist and professor of psychology in Canada and the United States.
  • Annapurna Devi passed away at the age of 91 due to age related issues on 13 October 2018 in Mumbai. In his final years, he was looked after by his students, mainly Pandit Nityananda Haldipur.


  • One of his earliest concerts with Surbahar was when he performed in honor of the Raja of Maihar. For his performance he was rewarded with a large tract of land.
  • From 1946 to 1957, Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi performed duets in Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta.
  • Her disciple Vinay Bharat Ram once told that she was uncomfortable accepting payment for concerts, as she believed it was tantamount to selling goddess Saraswati.
  • While teaching at her brother’s college in Calcutta, she occasionally performed, although with strict instructions that she should not be recorded.
  • After permanently moving to Mumbai, he taught at The National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai for some time.
  • For the rest of her life, she was a sought-after guru to students and admirers of Hindustani classical music, though she acknowledged only a few of them.

Awards –

  • 1977- Padma Bhushan
  • 1991 – Sangeet Natak Akademi
  • 1999 – Honorary degree
  • 2004 – Sangeet Natak Akademi

Other Information –

Date of Death – 13 October 2018

Place – Mumbai

What is the birth place and date of birth of Annapurna Devi?

Annapurna Devi was born on 17 April 1927 in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, India.

What was the Islamic name of Annapurna Devi?

The Islamic name of Annapurna Devi was Roshanara Khan.

What was Annapurna Devi’s father’s name?

Annapurna Devi’s father’s name was Allauddin Khan.

What is the name of Annapurna Devi’s brother?

Annapurna Devi’s brother’s name was Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

What was the name of Annapurna Devi’s husband?

Annapurna Devi’s husband’s name was Ravi Shankar, Rushikumar Pandya.

What was the name of Annapurna Devi’s son?

Annapurna Devi’s son’s name was Shubhendra Shankar.

Which award was given to Annapurna Devi?

Annapurna Devi was honored with Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Honorary Degree, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

When did Annapurna Devi die and at what place?

Annapurna Devi died on 13 October 2018 in Mumbai.

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