Family Background

Abhay Shankar Mishra comes from a respected family of musicians in Banaras, where the tradition of Indian classical music has been kept alive and handed down through generations for over two hundred years.

In 1820, Pandit Ram Balak Mishra sent his son to the renowned tabla player Ram Sahai Mishra in Banaras to learn Tabla and said that from now onwards he is your son – his life and future are in your hands. Although Pandit Ram Sahai was a bachelor, he brought up the young boy as his own. He named him Pandit Ramsharan Mishra and introduced him to the world of music. Pandit Ramsharan Mishra became an acclaimed tabla player. He was also known as Mastram. His son, Sangeet Nayak Pt. Dargahi Mishra (born 1840, died 1926) was also famous for playing Tabla. He learnt Tabla from his father and learnt singing from Pandit Sahai (Shiva Pashupati). He was also known in the world of theatre. His three sons, Pandit Vikramaditya Mishra (also known as Khalifa Bikku Maharaj), Pandit Govardhan Mishra (alias Gohri Maharaj) and Pandit Saryu Prasad Mishra were well known musicians – they played both Tabla and Sarangi.

Son of Pt. Bikku Maharaj, Tabla Shiromani Pt. Gama Maharaj (originally known as Pt. Ramayan Prasad Mishra) was a great artist of Tabla. Pandit ji was born in 1911; sadly, he was struck by paralysis when he was very young. There was a time when no concert was complete without him and the biggest stars in the world of classical music were eager to work with him. He died on 16th January 1974.

All sons of Pandit Gama Maharaj ji are well known artists in the world of music today. Maharaj ji’s eldest son Prof. Rangnath Mishra taught Tabla for 24 years at Bhatkhande Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. The second son, Surendra Mohan Mishra was a renowned Sitar player. Pandit Vijay Shankar, the third son, established the musical institution ‘SAM’ (Society for Action through Music) and is also well known as a musicologist and music journalist. Ajay Shankar is a well known Sitar player and teacher and a music composer, currently working in Matrikala Mandir, Delhi as a Sitar teacher. Uday Shankar Mishra is working in a Government College named Vidyavati Mukundlal Government College, Gaziaband. Abhay Shankar Mishra is Pandit Gama Maharaj ji’s youngest son. He lives in London and is a well known teacher and performer of Kathak. Abhay is currently the resident Kathak teacher at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London UK.
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