Leaders, artistes remember sitar legend Ravi Shankar

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 07:05 hrs

Political leaders and artistes across the spectrum on Wednesday mourned the demise of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a national treasure and a global ambassador of India's cultural heritage.

As news of 92-year-old Ravi Shankar breathing his last came in from California, US, messages started pouring in with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and top musicians Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt condoling the death of the sitar legend.

"An era has passed away with Pandit Ravi Shankar. The nation joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and his humility," the Prime Minister said.

Singh said that Ravi Shankar was "a national treasure and global ambassador of India's cultural heritage."

Mourning the death, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said India has lost a distinguished son.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, "With the death of Panditji, an era in classical music has come to an end. He was truly a multi-faceted personality. Through his passion for music, he linked generations together and taught the world the role and relevance of music in our lives.

"Through the strings of his sitar he presented to the world, the richness of Indian classical tradition in music. His innovations gave us a perfect blend of jugalbandi of different musical traditions, he said.

Mangeshkar said, "He was a worshipper of Lord Krishna and was like the lord for us. We used to talk about everything. The classical sun of India has set and a darkness has come over. There is no artist who spread Indian music this rapidly across the world. He was unique and was a blessed soul."

Classical musician Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who was a disciple of Ravi Shankar, told PTI, "This is the saddest day of my life. I was one of his closest... he was a fatherly figure to me and took care of me. He was one musician with whom every artiste wanted to collaborate. He was so energetic and enthusiastic about life."

In his message to the sitar icon's wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka, who is also an accomplished sitarist, Santoor player Shivkumar Sharma said, "It's a loss for the whole world. He was a global musician. Musicians like him are rarely born. I am very fortunate that I know him from half a century."

Musical fraternity mourns Shankar's demise

Musical fraternity on Wednesday condoled the passing away of Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar, and lauded the sitar maestro for making the Indian music go global.

The king of Kathak Dance, Pandit Birju Maharaj, recalled his earlier days when Pandit Ravi Shankar encouraged him for his hard work and commitment.

"I used to call him 'bhaiya. He has given me so many blessings from my childhood. He used to be very happy with my work and always told me to work harder. He was the one who introduced 'sitar' to the whole country. He was always delighted while playing the sitar. There were expressions on his face of every tone that he played," said Pandit Birju Maharaj.

Pandit Birju Maharaj, who is currently the leading exponent of the Lucknow Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Kathak dance in India, further said 'sitar and Panditji were one', and added that he was extremely sad to hear of the demise.

Noted vocalist duo of Rajan and Sajan Mishra also echoed similar sentiments, saying 'it is a very sad day for the music industry'.

"It is very shocking for us that king of sitar Pandit Ravi Shankar is no more. We are walking on the path shown by him. Artists such as him are born in centuries. It is a very sad day and we pray to god to give peace to his soul and that his followers carry forward his traditions. I pray to god that his daughter carries forward his name," said Sajan Mishra.

"A very big celebrity Pandit Ravi Shankarji is no more. He was not only India's artist, but also the artist of the entire world. He was known across the globe. Sitar and Pandit Ravi Shankarji were synonymous," added Rajan Mishra.

Meanwhile, Tanusree Shankar, who is one of the leading dancers and choreographers of contemporary dance in India, said Pandit Ravi Shankar's demise is not only a personal or a family loss, but it is also a huge loss for all the artists' family.

"It is a huge loss for the classical musicians. It is a huge loss for the young generation, who I am afraid are going to be further deprived of listening to a stalwart. He was like a god of music," she said.

Tanushree, who also happens to be Pandit Uday Shankar's (Pandit Ravi Shankar's brother) daughter-in-law, further said the sitar maestro is alive within our family and work.

"And I was very very fortunate that early this year in January, he and Sukanyaji had come to see our performance in Delhi, blessed us and I think that was a great blessings not for me but for our group, our work," she added.

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