Shri Sadguru Manik Prabhu Maharaj (1817-1865) was a nineteenth-century saint, philosopher-poet and a mystic who propagated the message of equality of all religions and universal brotherhood. He was also a great musicologist who composed numerous padas in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, and Kannada. Such was his mastery and authority over the field of music that great maestros of Hindustani classical music of his time such as Tarra Hussain Khan and Bade Mohammad Khan considered it an honor and privilege to perform before him. Maniknagar thus became a ‘Musician’s Mecca’.
Since its establishment in the year 1845, Shri Manik Prabhu Samsthan (the institution founded by Shri Sadguru Manik Prabhu Maharaj) has been patronizing music and providing a platform to both upcoming and established musicians. It has also protected and encouraged regional folk music and art. The Samsthan has been selflessly working to train talented young musicians and is also providing them the required platform for the exhibition of their musical talent by way of organizing regular concerts and music sessions at Maniknagar. In keeping with the great musical heritage of Maniknagar, the Samsthan regularly hosts music festivals, seminars, lectures and workshops on various issues relating to Indian classical music, dance, theatre, and art.
Almost all legends of Hindustani classical music such as Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Basvraj Rajguru, Smt. Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Ustad Allarakkha Khan Saheb, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Smt. Prabha Atre, Smt. Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande and Smt. Veena Sahsrabuddhe have performed at Maniknagar on different occasion during the last 50 years.
According to a well-known musician of Karnataka Smt. Gangubai Hangal there is a well-established feeling among the musicians all over India that unless they perform before the holy Samadhi of Shri Sadguru Manik Prabhu Maharaj at Maniknagar, their Saadhana (musical preparation) will not bear fruits. This is the reason why she says, every big and small musician from across the country makes it a point to visit Maniknagar, at least once in his lifetime and performs SANGEET SEVA before the Samadhi of Shri Prabhu Maharaj.
The Annual Datta Jayanti Mahotsava (held every year in the month of December) is an occasion for all musicians to congregate at Maniknagar for offering their Seva. Thousands of music lovers sit in rapt attention to listen to a host of renowned and upcoming artists who perform during the DARBAR (a night-long musical session) which forms the concluding part of the Mahotsava. This Darbar has a history of more than 165 years and can very well be compared to the famous music festivals of the country such as the Tansen Samaroh of Gwalior, The Sawai Gandharva Mahotsava of Pune and the Harvallabh Music Festival of Punjab.