Madhusree Chatterjee

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A south Indian scholar named Gopal once visited the court of Allaudin Khilji and 'posed a set of religious and mythological questions in the course of a theological debate to the badshah,' Ayaz narrated.

'The question was made of 28,000 sentences and was sung as a verse by the pundit. The king, who was busy taming murderers and criminals, assigned poet Amir Khusrau the task of framing a fitting reply. The poet wanted six months to reply,' Ayaz said.

After six months, he assembled a team 12 children led by one of his prime disciples, Shamaat Bin Ibrahim, Ayaz said.

'Khusrau penned the 'kalams' (verses) and instructed three child vocalists to reply to the south Indian scholar with 'taans' - classical music notations. The poet wrote a code of musical conduct for the 'kalams' to be sung and it became the first qawwali musical verse sung for the common man,' Ayaz said.

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