Shiva Shankar

Shiva Shankar

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Shiva Shankar

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Img_size = 199
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Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Shiva Shankar Manandhar
Alias =
Born = 22 February, 1932 Newroad, Kathmandu, Nepal
Died = 14 November, 2004 Kalimati, Kathmandu, Nepal
Genre = Singer, Music Composer
Occupation = Singer, Music Composer
Years_active = 1951–2000

Shiva Shankar Manandhar is highly reputed singer, music composer of Nepali songs (Nepalese songs) and the first ever "hero" of Nepalese movie, Aama [1] [2] . For nearly a half century beginning from 1950 to late 1990, his name has probably been mentioned more often in books, journals, lectures and conversations about Nepalese music than any other musician. [3] [4]

Singing and composing music for songs of love, tragedy, devotional (bhajan) and patriotism, he pioneered many of the genres of the modern Nepali songs. He has composed music for around 1,200 Nepalese songs. He himself sang about three hundreds of heart rending songs. For these contributions Shiva Shankar was bestowed with dozens of prestigious national awards.

Shiva Shankar was recruited to the service of the state-owned Radio Nepal in 1951 by Bal Krishna Sama, the pre-eminent playwrite of Nepal. Soon he was assigned with duty to explore and mentor new musical talents, supervise, and quality control the songs being recorded in the studio for radio broadcast. Together with his colleague Nati Kaji, he made the Radio Nepal as an institution for breeding modern Nepalese music and songs. All Nepalese singers and musicians of the latter half of the twentieth century came into prominence through this institution. The Radio Nepal fostered not only the in-country musical talents, but also motivated several prodigious musicians of Darjeeling (India), to blossom in Nepal. They included Ambar Gurung, Gopal Yonzan, Aruna Lama and several others.

While working in the Radio Nepal, Shiva Shankar composed music for almost all prominent Nepalese singers. These included Tara Devi (singer), Mira Rana, Nirmala Shrestha, Gyanu Rana, Aruna Lama, Kunti Muktan, Ganga Malla, Puspa Nepali, Narayan Gopal, Prem Dhwoj, Yogesh Vaidhya, Udit Narayan, Dhruba KC, Manik Ratna, Deep Shrestha, Bhakta Raj, Bacchu Kailash, Rubi Joshi, Deepak Bajracharya, etc. He composed music for prominent lyricists such as Ram Man Trishit, Kiran Kharel, Bhabuk, Yadab Kharel, Laxman Lohani, MBB Shah (Mahendra of Nepal), etc. Performing prodigiously at the peak of his creativity for fifty years, he helped Nepalese music attain the summit of popularity, rightfully termed as the “Golden Age”.

Besides creating the popular moving melodies, he also experimented with innovations in Nepalese music. He demonstrated how the folk songs rendered with few simple musical instruments could be enriched with an ensemble of modern contemporary orchestra symphony. A trend of modernization with introduction of pop-style songs he started catalyzed the emergence of the present day full fledged Nepalese pop songs. Although he pioneered changes and innovation, he always advocated for preserving the unique essence of Nepalese style, so that Nepalese songs would not be overshadowed by foreign songs and music.

Shiva Shankar played the leading role of a "Lahure Dai" in the film Aama (Mother)—the first Nepali feature movie (Cinema of Nepal) produced in 1964 (2021 BS) by the Government of Nepal. However, he did not pursue acting career except for a few cameo appearances in documentaries. Nevertheless, he composed music for several movies in the early days of Nepalese film industry.

"Brief Personal Life-history"

He was born to mother Ram Maya and father Man Bahadur on 22 February 1932 in a Manandhar household of the Newar community, in Pako, Newroad of Kathmandu city. Man Bahadur Manandhar was a volunteer music teacher in the local community, taught classical Newari songs to the youngsters. Shiva Shankar’s musical aspiration was probably inspired by his father’s community activity. Unfortunately his father died at very early age. He completed secondary school education, but did not pursue any formal musical education before being established as a singer and music composer. In 1974, he pursued a graduate course on the Indian Classical music from the Kalanidhi Sangeet College in Kathmandu.

He took job in the Radio Nepal in May 1951 (2007 BS) and served there for the next 42 years. This was the period of his active creative life. For forty years in a row, he composed and sang hit songs. From 1987 to 1991 (2043-2047 BS), he was deputed as the Executive Director of the Ratna Recording Corporation. He retired from Radio Nepal in 1996 (2051 BS).

The post retirement period coincided with the onset of commercialization Nepalese music. He could not adapt into the glamour of commercialization, eschewed from making commercial music. As his contemporary colleagues in music, he remained virtually silent after retirement. In 2004, he fell gravely ill with terminal stage liver cancer. He died on November 14, 2004.

He was married to Badri Kumari Manandhar at the age of twenty four and has three sons: Gaurishankar, Rabi Shankar and Shashi Shankar. None of them followed career in music. Badri Kumari supported the family economically by running a family business. She died in September 1998.

Awards (list of prizes), (all dates are in Bikram Samwat)

Various National Awards

• First Place in the All Nepal Music Competition – 2019
• Best Music Composition Awards – 2020, 2021, 2025 and 2027
• Mahendra-Ratna Abhushan – 2022
• Gorkha Dakshin Bahu 4th - 2035
• Chinnalata Award – 2043
• Gunaraj Music Award - 2043
• Trishaktipatta 3rd - 2053
• Nepal Motion Picture Award – 2056
• Supradipta Birendra Pajatantra Bhashkar 3rd – 2060
• Image Life-time Achievement Award
• Natikaji Memorial Award – 2061

Recognitions and Honors

• Nepal Motion Picture Artists Union – 2050
• Sadhana Samman by the Shadhana Art Foundation – 2054
• Radio Nepal – 2055
• Golden Jubilee Samman of Radio Nepal – 2056
• Nepal Samman by the Sagarmatha Academy – 2057
• Kathmandu Municipality Ward 13 – 2057
• Ahwan Organization 2057
• Mahadev Samman by the Keshav-Sushma Bhajan Guthi – 2058
• Nepal Motion Picture Artists Union – 2058
• Mahendra Memorial Committee 2058
• Kamal English Boarding School 2059
• Radio Nepal - 2059
• Harati Samman – 2060
• Central Committee of Manandhar Union – 2061
• World Peace Bhagbat Bhajanashram – 2061
• Sangeet Sadhak Samman by the Nepal Sanskritik Sangh

Memorable songs composed by him

"Sung by himself"

• Yo kholako dhamilo pani – His first recorded song
• Nadi kinar macha marda
• Ma mare pani mero desh
• Bhakhai mildaina
• Mero lagi khushi kahileyi
• Keho timro nau
• Bityo bityo bityo
• Mera aghika kalpana
• Barsau bitaye ma pharki aye
• Andhi bicham parna gayechu
• Kure kure ayenau
• Mero jiban sathi
• Om namo shibaya (Devotional)
• Mukuta bihari (Devotional)
• He raghu nandana (Devotional)

"Sung by various singers"

• Dilma hajur ayera (Tara Devi (singer))
• Himalako kakhama (Tara Devi)
• Lanai lagyo pachewura yo (Tara Devi)
• Badala jastai komal chu ma (Tara Devi)
• Nausaya khola (Tara Devi)
• Yek phool jharera (Tara Devi)
• Bhana yaha hajarauma (Nirmala Shrestha)
• Dui yekan dui (Mira Rana)
• Piratiko bishalu kanda (Pushpa Nepali)
• Kasto ajeeb milana yo (Rubi Joshi)
• Balla balla bheta (Udit Narayan)
• Timi sundar chau (Udit Narayan)
• Mancheko maya (Narayan Gopal/Gyanu Rana)
• Ama timilai (Narayan Gopal)
• Malai metana dewu (Bhakta Raj)
• Janina deha paile (Bhakta Raj)
• Timro maya kagajko (Dhruba KC)
• Jiwudai marne (Dhruba KC)
• Sagar ho swasni manche (Manik Ratna)
• Wunle ta pahileyi ishara (Manik Ratna)
• Timi ayewu kagajko (Prem Dhwoj)

Broadway Songs (Geeti Natak) and Albums of Situational Songs

• Ashirbad (Farewell to Bride). Lyrics: Laxman Lohani
• Nalapanima (Battle at the Nalapani Fort). Lyrics: Bal Krishna Sama
• Parikshya (Ordeal). Lyrics: Tulsi Dibas (?)
• Swongu Nagu (Three Stars). Lyrics: Durga Lal Shrestha
• Sulochana (Based on an Epic Poem). Lyrics: Shyam Das Vaishnav (Not Staged)


• Manko Bandh (with Nati Kaji)
• Kumari (with Chandra Raj)
• Pachis Basanta (with Nati Kaji)
• Shanti Deep (with Nati Kaji)

Excerpts from essays written by the renown people of Nepal

"Reference" [5]

He was an inspiration in the field of art – Bhuban Chand (the leading actress of the Fist Nepalese Movie)

The great music composer of Nepal, Shiva Shankar is an epoch in the history of Nepalese music – Basudev Tripathi (Vice-Chancellor of Nepalese Academy)

Shiva Shankar was real gentleman. His polite, calm and descent personality precisely matched with his musical rhythms and notes. His had a real masculine voice, clear confident and moving- rarely found in other singers. More you listen to his music more you will discover the beauty. I wish such beautiful creations of god lived with us forever - Madhav Prasad Ghimire (Poet and Lyricist)

There is a unique harmony of the eastern classical and western modern styles in Shiva Shankar’s composition. His melodies translate the emotions of heart and express the beauty of creation. His musical notes speak in the divine language, his songs reflect the life of an ordinary Nepali. – Basudev Tripathi (Vice Chancellor, Nepalese Academy)

Without Shiva Shankar Nepalese modern songs and music would not have developed to this stage. His music reflects the inner soul of humanity. It may not taste instantly like sugar, you have to immerse yourself deep into its philosophy. - Thakur Belbase (Poet)

Shiva Shankar is a synonym of modern Nepalese music. The philosophy of his music is above the petty political ideology. He created songs of Nepalese heart, so he was a beloved musician of all Nepali – Bhim Kharel (Writer)

He is the summit of Nepalese Music – Kiran Kharel (Lyricist)

Shiva Shankar is the Pillar of Nepalese Music – Nir Shah (Movie Director and Producer), Yadab Kharel (Lyricist)

Shiva Shankar’s contributuion was crucial in bringing modern music to the Golden Age - Haribansha Acharya (Comedian, Actor)

As an elder brother, Shiva Shankar used to teach us at his home. He introduced the Western style music for the first time. He is advanced among the artists. If it was not his contribution, Nepalese music would not have developed to this stage – Prem Dhwoj (Singer)

I was a fan of his voice and singing style. I used to miss school to listen his songs over the radio. Shiva dai had more knowledge and better expertise on the technical aspects of music than any other contemporary music composers. He used to help in the recording of other artists too. Nepalese music has been very fortunate in that the two grand maestros Shiva Shankar and Nati Kaji worked together throughout their life in a single room and had an intimate friendship. Their office room was the temple of Nepalese music, we all including Prem Dwoj, Rubi Joshi, Kiran Kharel, Ram Man Trishit, Ratna Shamser, Tara Devi, Pushpa Nepali, Meera Rana, and others frequently gathered together there – Yogesh Vaidhya (Singer)

Shiva Shankar was connoisseur of classical, modern, folk and pop music. He inspired us to work for developing Nepalese music to the level of international standard – Shambhujeet Baskota (Music Composer)

It was Shiva Shankar who inspired many emerging artists like me to achieve the height of success – Prakash Shrestha (Singer)

I had opportunity to work and learn from him. He was a role model for us – Bulu Mukarung (Musician)

Shiva Shankar was the grammar of nepali music. We are following his footsteps – Raju Singh (Musician)

Shiva Shankar dai was the “master” of music – Ganesh Pariyar (Music Arranger)

Shiva Shankar and Nati Kaji are two immortal names in Nepalese music – Chetan Karki (Lyricist)

Shiva Shankar played the most important role in modernizing Nepalese music. A chapter of Nepalese modern music has come to end after Shiva Shankar’s demise – Dinesh Adhikari (Lyricist)

I sincerely appreciate his contribution in upbringing and encouraging new singers and musicians - Prof. Tulsi Dibas (Expert on Nepalese Culture)

We cannot pay back for his contribution – Daibagyaraj Neupane (Writer)

Shiva dai always admired my songs. Although of old generation, he used new styles in most of his music. His music has unique and original identity – Deep Shrestha (Singer)

Shiva Shankar is one of many musical artists who have contributed in bringing Nepalese music to the present grandiose form. I had a cordial relationship with him. I should not evaluate a public figure differently whom everybody has appraised as a musician – Amber Gurung (Music Composer)

His music has diversity as well as uniqueness. Nepalese music has been decorated with the essence of classical melodies by Shiva Shankar – Nupur Bhattacharya (Singer)

Shiva Shankar is too great to be described in worlds. His music throbbed my heart, stirred emotions, and inspired national pride – Fanindra Nepal (Social Worker)

As multitalented artist, he was equally polite, simple and helpful. I was very fortunate to learn from him – Bhupendra Rayamajhi (Music Composer)

His role in the historical movie Aama was pristine and life-like and unfathomable, unseen in the present day commercial movies – Madan Das Shrestha (Movie Artist)

Amidst the giant Lyricists like Kiran Kharel and Ram Man Trishit, I was a minuscule. However Shiva Shankar appreciated my songs and their novel styles – Rajendra Thapa (Lyricist)

The style of Shiva Shankar’s music is popular among the young generation – Rajeshpayal Rai (Singer)

Music Composer plays very important role in making the songs popular. Most of my popular songs have been decorated by Shiva Shankar’s music. He was the soul of my songs. Shiva Shankar was not only a composer but also very expert in arranging orchestra and playing instruments. He used to inspire me to write in new styles – Ram Man Trishit (Lyricist)

Shiva Shankar was my reverent mentor (guru). He and Ram Man Shrestha "Trishit" gave me many beautiful songs – Rubi Joshi (Singer)

Speaking as an ordinary audience, I am always thrilled to listen to Shiva Shankar’s music and songs and I felt fortunate for it – Bijaya Chalise (Writer)

I used to sing Shiva Shankar’s songs on guitar. I was a fan of his personality and acting – Bishwo Basnet (Actor)

I consider Shiva Shankar as the summit of (Nepalese) music. His contribution in modern light music is immense – Shyamdas Baishnav (Writer)

At the time when the horizon was overwhelmed with foreign songs, Shiva Shankar created a main stream of Nepalese music inundated with uquique nepalese essence – Sudrashan Shrestha (Journalist)

Shiva dai was a vibrant composer, gave us so many thrilling songs – Hiranya Bhojpure (Singer)

"Related Links"


# []
#Cinema of Nepal
# []
#Indra Adhikari, [] Accessed Nov 23, 2004
#Shiva Shankar- The Architect of Nepalese Music (Biography, Editor- Bulu Mukarung)


Amulya Tuladhar has contributed by performing syntax and stylistic corrections on the text.


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