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Tansen, a renowned musician, served in the royal court

Tansen A Great Musician Was In The Court Of

Tansen, a renowned musician of his time, held a significant position in the court of an influential ruler. His exceptional musical talent and captivating performances made him a highly esteemed figure among the elite. This article delves into the life and achievements of Tansen, shedding light on his remarkable contributions to music during his tenure in the royal court.

Early life

Tansen’s date and place of birth are unclear, but most sources place his birth about 1500 CE, or between 1493 and 1506. His biography is also unclear and many conflicting accounts exist, with some common elements. Historical facts about Tansen are difficult to extract from the extensive and contradictory legends that surround him.

As per the shared narratives, Tansen was known as Ramtanu during his childhood. His father, Mukund Ram (also called Mukund Pande or Mukund Misra), was a prosperous poet and skilled musician who served as a Hindu temple priest for some time.

Tansen learnt and perfected his art in the region around , in modern-day. He began his career and spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of the Hindu king of , Raja Ramchandra Singh, where Tansen’s musical abilities and studies gained him widespread fame and following. He was a close confidant of Raja Ramchandra Singh, and they used to make music together. Tansen’s reputation brought him to the attention of the Mughal Emperor , who sent messengers to Raja Ramchandra Singh, requesting Tansen to join the musicians at the Mughal court. Tansen initially refused to go and sought to retire instead into solitude, but Raja Ramchandra Singh sent him to Akbar’s court. In 1562, about the age of sixty, Tansen who was still a musician, arrived for the first time in Akbar’s court.

Tansen played a pivotal role in shaping the Hindustani classical music tradition that exists today. Several descendants and students consider him to be the founder of their musical lineage, and many gharanas (schools) of Hindustani classical music claim some affiliation with his legacy. In these gharanas, Tansen is revered as the pioneer of Hindustani classical music.


Observing Tansen being taught by someone in a painting from around 1750 AD.

The legendary oral versions about Tansen’s early life and schooling particularly differ depending on whether the story has origins in Hindu legends () or Muslim legends (). In Hindu versions, the Hindu and poet-musician was the major influence on Tansen. In Islamic biographies, the Sufi Muslim mystic named is said to have influenced Tansen. According to Bonnie Wade – a professor of Music specializing in South Asia Studies, Swami Haridas is widely accepted to have been Tansen’s teacher, and it is clear that Tansen connected with Muhammad Ghaus as well, but the evidence suggests that Tansen is less affiliated with either religion, more with music.

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Tansen showed musical talent at the age of 6. At some point, he was discipled for some time to , the legendary composer from and part of the stellar court of Raja (1486–1516 AD), specialising in the style of singing. His talent was recognised early and it was the ruler of Gwalior who conferred upon the maestro the honorific title ‘Tansen’. Haridas was considered to be a legendary teacher in that time. It is said that Tansen had no equal apart from his teacher. From Haridas, Tansen acquired not only his love for dhrupad but also his interest in compositions in the local language. This was the time when the tradition was fomenting a shift from to the local idiom ( and ), and Tansen’s compositions also highlighted this trend. During some point of his apprenticeship, Tansen’s father died, and he returned home, where it is said that he used to sing at a local temple.

According to the biographies, Tansen had an encounter with a Sufi mystic named Ghaus. This meeting had a profound impact on Tansen and he was heavily influenced by Sufism. As he grew older, Tansen continued to compose music that incorporated traditional elements such as…

The presence of musicians like Tansen in Akbar’s court was an attempt to accept and integrate the Hindu and Muslim traditions within the Mughal Empire. Tansen became one of the treasured (lit. nava =nine, ratna =jewel) of Akbar’s court. He received the honorific title Mian there, and the name Mian Tansen.


Tansen, a renowned musician in the court of Akbar, created a wide range of musical compositions that encompassed various themes. Many of these compositions drew inspiration from Hindu mythology and were composed to honor gods and goddesses like Narayana, Krishna, and Saraswati. Tansen also dedicated his talent to creating music that praised kings and Emperor Akbar himself.

Tansen, a renowned musician from the 16th century, had the privilege of being in the court of Emperor Akbar. He shared this prestigious position with other talented individuals during that time.


Tansen tied the knot with a Hussaini and together they had four sons named Surat Sen, Sarat Sen, Tarang Khan, Bilas Khan, and one daughter named Saraswati. Each of them excelled in music and became skilled musicians in their own regard. Interestingly, Saraswati also married Singhalgarh who was well-known for his musical talents. According to a popular belief, Tansen was also wedded to Mehrunissa, the daughter of Akbar.

In which court did the renowned musician Tansen reside?

– His tomb is located in Gwalior.

– For musicians, Gwalior is an important place to visit.

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The year of the death of Tansen, like much of his biography, is unclear. According to one version, written by Islamic historians, Tansen died in 1586 in , and that Akbar and much of his court attended the funeral procession which was completed according to Muslim customs. Other versions, written by Hindu historians, as well as in Akbarnama, written by Abul Fazl, give 26 April 1589 as the date of his death and that his funeral observed mostly Hindu customs. Tansen remains were buried in the mausoleum complex of his Sufi master Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus in Gwalior. Every year in December, an annual festival, the , is held in Gwalior to celebrate Tansen.

Who was the great musician in the court of Akbar?

Tansen was a very talented musician who lived during the time of Akbar, a great emperor in India. He was known for his exceptional skills in composing and performing music. Tansen created many beautiful melodies called Ragas and Ragnies, which were loved by people from all walks of life.

Baiju Bavra was an extraordinary musician who captivated audiences with his soulful singing and mastery over various musical instruments. His performances were so mesmerizing that people would often lose themselves in the enchanting melodies he created.

Surdas, on the other hand, was not only a skilled musician but also a poet. He composed devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna that touched the hearts of listeners with their profound lyrics and melodious tunes.

Popular culture

Several Hindi films have been made on Tansen’s life, with mostly anecdotal story lines. Some of them are (1943), a musical hit produced by Ranjit Movietone, starring and. Tansen (1958) and Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962). Tansen is also a central character, though remaining mostly in the backdrop, in the historical musical (1952), based on the life of his eponymous contemporary.

  • Modern Artist impression of Tansen
  • Mughal painting of Tansen c.1580
  • Tansen’s tomb in , near the tomb of his master Muhammad Ghaus
  • Inside Tansen’s tomb
  • audience chambers, with on the left.
  • 20th century depiction of Tansen

Tension in the Court of the Mughal Emperor: Unveiling the Culprit

In India, Tansen was recognized as:

1. A gifted musician with extraordinary talent.

4. Revered for his enchanting and captivating performances.

5. Regarded as a legendary figure in Indian classical music history.


A national music festival known as ‘Tansen Samaroh’ is held every year in December, near the tomb of Tansen at Behat as a mark of respect to his memory. The or Tansen award is given away to exponents in.


The fort at is strongly associated with Tansen’s tenure at Akbar’s court. Near the emperor’s chambers, a pond was built on a small island in the middle, where musical performances were given. Today, this tank, called Anup Talao , can be seen near the public audience hall Diwan-i-Aam – a central platform reachable via four footbridges. It is said that Tansen would perform different ragas at different times of day, and the emperor and his select audience would honour him with coins. Tansen’s supposed residence is also nearby.

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Miracles and legends

The bulk of Tansen’s biography as found in Akbar court historians’ accounts and gharana literature consists of inconsistent and miraculous legends. Among the legends about Tansen are stories of his bringing down the rains with and lighting lamps by performing Raga Deepak. Raga Megh Malhar is still in the mainstream repertoire, but raga Deepak is no longer known; three different variants exist in the , and. It is not clear which, if any, corresponds to the Deepak of Tansen’s time. Other legends tell of his ability to bring wild animals to listen with attention (or to talk their language). Once, a wild white elephant was captured, but it was fierce and could not be tamed. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him.


Not only was Tansen revered by Akbar for his musical prowess, but he was also acknowledged as a poet. He served as the court poet not only for Akbar but also for Raja Ramchandra Singh of Rewa. This dual role allowed Tansen to showcase his versatility and creativity both through music and poetry.

Overall, it is evident that Tansen held an esteemed position in society during this era due to his extraordinary talents as a musician and poet. His association with powerful rulers like Akbar showcased how deeply valued artists were within Indian culture at that time. The legacy left behind by this great musician continues to inspire generations even today

The musician at the Shahjahan court

Lal Khan’s dedication to his craft earned him great respect among fellow musicians and patrons alike. His contributions helped elevate Indian classical music to new heights during this golden era of artistry under Emperor Shahjahan’s patronage.

Which instrument did Tansen play?

1. The Raja of Ajmer accompanied Tansen on the veena.

4.Tansen enchanted audiences with beautiful melodies on various instruments but particularly excelled on the veena.

5.Talented musicians like Tansesn were highly valued during this time period in India

What was the name Akbar gave to Tansen?

Tansen, a renowned musician of his time, was bestowed with the title by Raja Vikramjit of Gwalior. Later on, Akbar also honored him with the title “Kanthabharan Vanivilas.” Tansen had the privilege of serving as the court poet for both Raja Ramchandra Singh of Rewa and Emperor Akbar. He was known for his expertise in singing in the Dhrupad style.

– Tansen was an acclaimed musician who held important positions at various royal courts.

– He earned titles from both Raja Vikramjit and Emperor Akbar.

– His expertise lied in singing using the Dhrupad style, a form of Indian classical music characterized by its rhythmic patterns and melodic structure.