A tabla master of the highest order, Pandit Samta Prasad Ji’s music continues to inspire tabla players, hindustani musicians, and music lovers alike to this day. I often look towards old recordings for inspiration before and after my riyaaz and today I was happy to find this video of Samta Ji’s solo:
I love the power, balance, and clarity in his hand–it feels truly Benarasi to me. It is said that he was known as the ‘king of Banaras’ during his life, and this video certainly illustrates why!
Born in 1921, he comes from a family and lineage of tabla and pakawaj players. His father, Pandit Hari Sunder (also known as Bacha Mishra), initiated the young Samta Ji into tabla, but sadly passed away when Samta Ji was seven. He then became a disciple of Bikku Maharaj, who was himself a disciple of Baldev Sahai (all in the Benaras lineage/gharana of Ram Sahai).
In addition to his prolific classical career Samta Ji was also featured in many films of his day: Meri Surat Teri Ankhen, Sholay, Basant Bahar, and many more. I found a great excerpt from Meri Surat Teri Ankhen that again shows his strength and grace as a brilliant tabla artist.
Below are some additional links for more information on his life. We are truly blessed to hear such incredible masters of the past!