Ustad Sarahang : a Maestro from a turbulent land

Ustad Sarahang (1924-1983) is perhaps the best known exponent of hindustani classical music from Kabul (Afghanistan).

Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang was born in 1924 the second oldest son of the renowned musician, Ustad Gholam Hussain. Mohammad Hussain was born and raised in Kharabat (old Kabul), a city famous and conceivably notorious for its musicians.

Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang began taking music lessons in his early ages from his father while attending school. Within a short of time, Mohammad Hussain mastered the theory of classical music and showed a keen interest for more knowledge.

His proud father sent his teenage son to Patiala School of Music in India to be student of Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan ‘The Light of Punjab’. Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang, after 16 years of service and learning, returned to his beloved Kabul.

At the age of 25, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang participated in a festival of music held at Kabuls famed Pamir Cinema. Amongst the participants were Ustad Qasim and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

At this festival, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang amazed the crowd with his talent and passion and was awarded the Gold Medal over the more famous Masters of music. His performance at this festival earned him the title of Ustad and a few years later, the government of Afghanistan awarded him the title of In Afghanistan, Ustad Sarahang worked hard to educate the public about classical music, which originated in Afghanistan centuries ago by Nasir Khesrow.

Ustad Sarahang wrote many articles in Pashtun Ghag newspaper, he wrote a book titled Qanon e Tarab explaining the rules of eastern music. He and Maddadi hosted 2 nightly informative radio programs entitled De Ahangoono Mahfil comprised of poetry reading and ghazal songs and Mosiqi Kilasik introducing classical raags to the public.

Ustad preferred the poetry of Abdul Qader Baydel, the complicated yet elegant poet of the Moghol dynasty. Ustad Sarahang was a member of the elite group of Baydel Shenasan who discussed and interpreted the verses of Baydels poetry in gatherings at local tea-houses. Amongst these circles of thinkers was Qandi Agha who had the most influence and was a great friend of Ustad Sarahang.

In India, Ustad Sarahang was an idol to be worshipped. During his last trip to Allahabad School of Music, in order to show respect for the great Ustad Sarahang, Indian female ‘Ustads’ and students of the school lined up and bowed their heads furnishing the path to the stage with their hair so that Ustad Sarahang could walk over them.

His medal count reached 20, a status earned by fewer than a handful of musicians in the world, and by far the youngest musician to earn so many titles and medals. Ustad Sarahang once said that if he were to die in India, he was to be buried next to the tomb of Baydel, but if he were to die in Afghanistan, he requested to be buried in Kharabat.

Upon his last trip to India in 1982, Ustad Sarahang fell gravely ill and was hospitalized and ordered not to sing and to keep his talking to a minimum. But Ustad Sarahang disregarded the orders of his doctors and continued his performance which earned him yet another medal and with it the pride to the people of Afghanistan.

Ustad Sarahang seemed weak and ill upon his return to Afghanistan, but he continued to write and teach music. In 1983, Ustad Sarahang suffered yet another heart attack that hospitalized him. Growing ever weaker, Ustad Sarahang passed away on a clear Saturday morning in April of that year.

Listen to one of his rendition Najariya in his inimitable Pashto-Hindustani style :

Find more music of Ustad Sarahang in my Hindustani Classical Music II folder at eSnips.

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11 Comments

  1. Ab. Mujib said,

    June 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Ustad Sarahang was really best signer and he is proud of classical music.
    And I like him too much and one should know that he was peoter too.

  2. Ziaee said,

    June 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Since last 18 years I liked classical music and Ghazalz, in the beginning I was just looking here and there and lessening to different Ghazal singers like Ahmad Wali, whom I still love to hear, Farhad Darya, Wahid Qasimi and sometimes Ahmad Zahir, recently added Ustad Zaland and Ustad Nainawaz in my singers list. But After I found few audio cassettes of Ustad Buzorgwar Mohammad Hussain Khan Sarahang I really fall in love with Ghazal and came to know what Ghazal is and how much important is the selection of Poem in the Ghazal singing.
    Ustad is the hero of Afghanistan music and will have to be praised as he deserves it. I hope Behist Bareen for him, don’t hesitate to contact me if you need some of his greats.

    Regards,

  3. neeraj agarwal-allahabad said,

    July 4, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Absolutely stunning collection of music, brilliant web site spread, v v informatavie and interesting. Thanks for this great service to classical music. U have set the bar quiet high. Ustads singing is just tooooo sweet and deep.

  4. December 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Hot regards to every one who like Ustad Sarahang,(may allah forgive him) and so do i,
    i love with his classical ragas and songs but i can’t find easly.
    if you lead how can i download from your lovely site so it will be a big pleasure for me, and it is my first visit with your site. thanks alot.
    Mushfiq
    Note: i am looking forward to your anwser.

  5. sayed alimi said,

    December 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    ustad sarahang was one of the best singers of afghanistan.he was a classical singer.M. Shah Mushfiq if you want to download or listen to ustad’s songs these are the websites.
    http://www.mastana.net/music
    http://www.afghan123.com
    you can search from google its very easy to find his songs.

  6. M. shah Mushfiq said,

    January 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Best Regards to every one!

    firstly i will say thanks to Mr Sayed Alimi, for showing the above mentioned sites , though i already known these two sites, and i appreciate his help,
    now i am familiar in this loveable site and i upon watch it.
    Note: i want to find asha bhosle classical records but i can’t , if here is i spot in this site so please show me .
    thanks

  7. January 29, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Ustad sarahand the legend of music was awesome and the greatest singer ever, when i read his biography and all things is written here about him makes me feel cry, he made us proud and let us feel proud to have such great singer, the outstanding performances he have given in india as mentioned.

  8. January 29, 2011 at 12:49 am

    May the Almighty Allah forgive Ustad Sarahang

  9. omar said,

    February 20, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I always loved Ustad Sarhang. My older Brother who also loved Ustad’s music would take me to his nightly performances during Ramadan. He sang at Pashtoon Restaurent in those days. I was only 10 years old. It is now 50 years later and I still love and would listen to Ustad only.

    He was the only Ustad in my mind, one of kind, and there will be no other like him ever. May Allah bless him.

  10. Elvis said,

    May 4, 2011 at 1:07 am

    That would be so great and great if someone form our elder has posted a little bio about Qandi Agha

  11. vskrishnan said,

    November 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Why are some people expressing wish that “may Allah forgive him”?


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