BananiVista, Tansen

The Story Behind The Raag Megh Malhar By Tansen

Enjoy This Monsoon With Soulful Raagas: Soulful Raagas By Tansen Lived On


Music is food for the soul. How music can change moods is astonishing. We have so many genres today: rock, pop, jazz, indie, hip hop and so on. In India, music is generally classified into Hindustani and Carnatic. Of course, there are Ghazals, Western music, etc.


We all know about the famous Emperor Akbar. You must be wondering why he entered the scene. Well, Akbar was a famous patron of fine arts, which included music too. He had the Nine Jewels, also known as the Navarathnas in his court. One of them was Miyan Tansen. He was a famous singer in those times and Akbar’s good friend too.


Today’s article will tell you why Tansen is famous and how he came to be added to the list of Akbar’s Navarathnas. Yes, it has its deep roots in the rain. Read on to know more.



BananiVista, Tansen

Image Courtesy: Procaffenation



Tansen was a court musician and his patronage was towards the King of Rewa, Raja Ramachandra Singh. His melodies were famous, far and wide. Akbar, who happened to hear a lot about his musical talent, invited him to his court.


Tansen rendered many beautiful songs in Akbar’s court. Akbar, who was very impressed with his performance bestowed many gifts upon him. The other courtiers became a tad too jealous of him and hatched a plan to defame him. In accordance with their plan, they began spreading rumours that Tansen could light lamps with his Deepak Raga. Akbar presumed it to be true because of Tansen’s Musical talents.


A date was fixed for Tansen’s performance. He was nervous and didn’t know what to do. He decided to die trying instead of backing out. Tansen’s daughter too had learnt music from him. She gave him a brilliant idea. She suggested that he sing the Deepak Raga to light up the lamps and then the Megh Raga to compensate for the heat. He decided that this was the best he could do under the given circumstances.


It was the day of Tansen’s miraculous performance. Akbar’s court was decorated with a thousand lamps, all unlit. As Tansen entered the court, there was a loud uproar and there was anticipation in the air. No sooner had Tansen begun to sing the Deepak Raga than the temperature started soaring. He sang on and the courtiers were awestruck to see that things began melting due to the heat!



BananiVista, Tansen

Image Courtesy: Procaffenation



At one point of Tan Sen’s crescendo, people could not bear the heat anymore. A thousand lamps lit up at once! The audience even forgot to clap because of the magic! Tan Sen was burning with fever and ran outside the courtyard. Meanwhile, his daughter had begun to sing the Megh Raga, the raga for rain, which had caused the rain clouds to move towards the Kingdom.


Tansen too joined in, and in a few instants, there was an outpour of rain, causing all the lamps to be extinguished. The miracle was a good response to the jealous courtiers who had caused the event.


Akbar, pleased by Tansen’s power of music, bestowed him numerous gifts and became his close friend. He became one of the Nine Jewels or Navarathnas of Akbar’s court. Tansen’s ragas have been famous ever since.


You can visit the Fatehpur Sikri fort to see the Grand Terrace where this feat was once performed. Tan Sen’s soulful ragas live on…



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