Panditji never died, he will live on through his music…

Monday, December 17, 2012
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka Shankar
performing at a live concert in year 2005.
[PHOTO: Revanta Banerji/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0] 
New Delhi: Often referred by the title Pandit, sitar maestro Ravi Shankar was honest person and would be learn by heart as he was young at heart and for the reason India reflects on the legacy of miracle man, who died on Tuesday in the United States.

Many are recalling what he meant for the country and praising his contribution to the Indian classical music. Born in Varanasi and spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar, Ravi Shankar was majesty of his own music has been described as the best-known contemporary Indian musician and India’s greatest cultural ambassador.

Sounds from a plucked-string instrument or multi-stringed instrument called the sitar helped Shankar captivate audiences across the globe. At the same time, the celebrated composer and musician raised India’s profile in Western countries. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, says he projected the country on the global stage in the 1960's and 70's when there were not too many people willing to bet on India. 

In 1938, Panditji gave up dancing and decided to study sitar playing under the court musician Allauddin Khan.  After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956.  

Fame and glory
Received rigorous and traditional training in India, Ravi Shankar began playing in the West. But he broke the mold as he experimented with fusions of Indian themes with Western classical and jazz styles. And as he played with top rock bands in the West, he helped close the musical gap between distinct cultures. 

As he shot to fame in the West, he was showered with accolades at home. He was a member of the Upper House of Parliament from 1986 to 1992. He was given India’s top civilian award, the Bharat Ratna in 1999. Ravi Shankar composed the music for India’s favorite patriotic song and the signature tunes of India’s state owned broadcaster. He also composed some Bollywood film music.

But more than anything, his huge international success helped shake the dust off India’s 5,000-year-old heritage and classical art in the eyes of the world.    

Star status
An Indian playback singer, Babul Supriyo, says he gave rock star status to Indian classical music.   

“It is the charisma, the fame, the aura that he brought into classical music that is important for me," he says. "What Ravi Shankar did -- bring that glamour aspect which was kind of missing. That flamboyance, that élan that Ravi Shankar brought into classical music was one of the reasons why he got so well accepted.”

Lalit Mansingh, who knew Ravi Shankar for more than five decades, says he was born with an ability to communicate to people across the world. He says, the musician, also known as Panditji had an “amazing personality.”

“Very outgoing, very optimistic, he had this sense of enthusiasm, sense of curiosity…he would have views on everything, and it was always with a light touch," Mansingh says. "He would always enliven any meeting with his sense of humor and descriptions of his experiences and so on. The nice thing about Panditji is, he never started by saying what is in it for me, how much money are you giving me.”

With his demise, an era has come to an end. But artists like Ravi Shankar never die because they will live on through their music. Millions of people across the world have been deeply influenced by this charismatic genius who was always way ahead of his time, and they will continue to be. In India, Ravi Shankar, will be remembered not just as one of the world’s greatest and tallest musicians, but also as its most famous musical son.
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