Mallikarjun Bheemarayappa Mansur also know as Mallikarjun Mansur was an Indian classical singer of the khyal style in the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana of Hindustani classical music.
He received all three national Padma Awards, the Padma Shri in 1970, Padma Bhushan in 1976, and Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour given Government of India in 1992. In 1982, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.
Mansur was born on 31 December 1910, at Mansur, a village five km. west of Dharwad, Karnataka.His father, Bheemaraayappa was the village headman, a farmer by occupation and an ardent lover and patron of music. He had four brothers and three sisters. His elder brother Baswaraj owned a theatre troupe, and thus at age nine Mansur did a small role in a play.
Spotting the talent in his son, Mallikarjun's father engaged him to a travelling Yakshagana (Kannada theatre) troupe. The owner of this troupe took a liking to the tender and melodious voice of Mallikarjun and encouraged him to sing different types of compositions during the drama-performances. Hearing one such performance, he was picked up by Pandit Appaya Swamy under whom he had his initial training in Carnatic music. Sometime later, he was introduced to classical Hindustani music under Nilkanth Bua Alurmath of Miraj who belonged to the Gwalior Gharana. The latter brought him to Ustad Alladiya Khan (1855?- 1946), the stalwart and the then patriarch of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, in the late 1920s, who referred him to his elder son, Ustad Manji Khan. Following Manji Khan's untimely death, he came under the tutelage of Ustad Bhurji Khan, the younger son of Ustad Alladiya Khan. This grooming under Bhurji Khan, despite having 20 to 25 popular ragas only, had the most important influence on his style of singing.
Mallikarjun Mansur, who breathed his last on September 12, 1992, was a musical phenomenon. Though he was 82 he sang till his last breath. He almost died in harness. He was down with lung cancer. Just 25 days before death he got up from his sick bed, went to Murughamath, Dharwad, and sang raaga Hemant for15 minutes and a vachana. Even when death was stalking him, he didn’t want to miss his musical devotion. It had been his custom for ever so many years to sing at the mathon the third Monday of the month of Shraavana.
The year before, he was admitted to Kidwai Hospital, Bangalore for serious kidney trouble. It was thought his singing days were over. But he bounced back as if nothing had happened to him. Not only that. He gave forceful concerts all over India. Dr. Talwalkar, treating him at Kidwai Hospital said one day "Panditji, you are cured. Now, you can go home". "Wait a minute, doctor; I have a method of testing whether I am cured". Mallikarjun Mansur asked for a tanpura and started singing on the bed itself. After testing himself for 15 minutes he said, "Yes, doctor, I am well now".
Even in the semi-coma condition he was in, he would ask his son Rajasekhar to sing and guide him as to what he should improve. After he came to, he wouldn’t remember a thing. Dr. Talwalkar was all admiration. "It is literally true that music is in his blood. Were it not for his will to live on for music, no doctor on earth could have saved him". As a mark of gratitude, Mallikarjun Mansur gave a free concert to raise funds for the hospital which had given him a new lease of life.
Mansur has taken all this with equanimity. ‘‘Does the cuckoo sing expecting somebody to appreciate?’’ he used to quip with a glint
Department of Post issued commemorated postage stamp on this legend
Issued Date: 03.09.2014
Denomination: 500 Paise