Iconic sitarist, a musical bridge, a staunch traditionalist, a visionary, a storehouse of knowledge, an experimentalist…Pandit Ravi Shankar was all this and more. A complete musician, he broke all barriers and mental blocks to realise his creative potential. He won over his countrymen, contemporaries and citizens of the world by brilliantly deconstructing classical music without making it lose its essence. Well-known classical musicians pay tribute to India’s inimitable musical ambassador.
Hamane apna margadarshak kho diya (we have lost the man who showed us the path). Chirag bujh gaya (the light has faded). He understood not just nuances of the ragas but his audience and fellow artistes too. When he spoke about the art and its practitioners, it was always in a way that one spoke about one’s family. He was never afraid of either looking back or looking ahead. A positive thinker, I have seen literally speaking to the ragas. Music for him was about communicating with the self and the world at large.
Pandit Satish Vyas
I am really fortunate. Exactly two months ago, on October 12, I met him at his residence in San Diego. I was on a performance tour of the U.S. He was his cheerful self despite being unwell. He cracked jokes, reminisced about his early years in India and spoke fondly of artistes he had performed with. Panditji was always concerned about the changing musical scenario and the opportunities for young artistes. All we musicians will be indebted to him for making our art known the world over. Quite a few times I have been stopped at the customs in foreign countries when they saw me carrying the santoor. But when I would tell them it is an Indian instrument, believe it or not, their immediate response would be is it the same as the one Ravi Shankar plays. This explains it all.
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
How can we say he is no more? He will always be alive in our minds and in the music we hear. I have worked along with him in film and classical music. And let me tell you his name spelt magic in every corner of the globe. When people didn’t know to spell fusion, he daringly teamed with musicians from the West. But he preferred to call these exercises and experiments as musical chats or meetings rather than fusion. The best part about him was his foresight. He knew Indian music could win over the world.
Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Allah Rakha and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. I was eight years old when I saw the three titans together on stage at then newly-constructed Shanmukhananda Hall in Bombay. I remember the concert clearly even today which shows the deep impact of their music. Jugalbandi and fusion, the toast of today’s music scene are Pandit Ravi Shankar’s contribution. Thanks to him the stock of musicians, especially instrumentalists went up. And they were no longer apologetic about pursuing music. His taught us how only knowledge can help chart your own musical course.