Most difficult is being simple
Rita Ganguly disciple of Begum Akhtar recounts this incident: at the Maharja’s Palace in Benaras after singing for the most part of the evening as Begum Akhtar was leaving she overheard a remark "Now we can listen to some real music, Badi Maina please sing for us". Begum Akhtar was fuming, was the music in which she had worked so hard, not good enough and, who was this Badi Maina ?
It was well after midnight, when a woman in a black sari without a single ornament, sitting by herself all evening in a corner, arose. Snide remarks were being passed around as to who this woman was dressed to attend some funeral was and for sure she must be a maid !
Badi Maina did not react or even wince but asked permission to sit, and though feverish, started her alaap in raag Darbari to the accompaniment of Pt Hanuman Mishraji on sarangi and Pt.Kanthe Maharaj on the tabla.
The brilliant alaap and the bandish washed away the entire month long music festival; so stunning was her rendition that Begum Akhtar felt that she had wasted her life thus far and that Saccha Sur or pure pitch had only just been revealed to her. What and why was it so beautiful? She just had to find it and learn it .
She then recalled the song sung by a bikharaan (beggar) early morning each day and this was surely at par with what she had heard from Badi Maina. She realized that it is simplicity which brings excellence; a woman does not need ornaments just as true music needs no embellishments- just the soul. She resolved to start her search from that point on.