Leaders and artists across the spectrum mourned the demise of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar with President Pranab Mukherjee describing him as a genius who delighted India and the world with his ethereal music.

“He became a global icon of music, art and culture. Panditji’s passing away has left a void in the field of music which will be difficult to fill,” Mr. Mukherjee said in his message to the music icon’s wife Sukanya.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described him as a national treasure and a global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage.

“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,” Dr. Singh said.

As news of the sitar maestro breathing his last came in from California, messages started pouring in, with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and top musicians Shivkumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia condoling his death.

Ms. 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.”

In his message to the sitar icon’s wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka, 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.”

Flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia remembered the times he performed with Shankar at concerts. “I started crying when I heard the news. I am still learning music under Annapurna Devi, who was Shankar’s first wife. I was also associated with Allauddin Khan, who taught Shankar as well. I used to work with him in the film industry and outside. We did 55 concerts together. I remember each and every moment spent with him. I learnt so much from him also. His hard work and love for Indian culture have made him a legendary musician,” Mr. Chaurasia said.


Bond with Bengal

Kolkata Staff Reporter reports:

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed her condolences at the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar. “I am deeply pained to hear the news of demise of the legendary sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar today,” wrote Ms. Banerjee in a post on a social networking site.

“A Bharat Ratna awardee, his renderings in sitar has taken Indian classical music to a unique position in the world and enthralled audiences all over the globe. His passing away will create an irreparable void in music and performing arts. His deep-rooted bond with Bengal will be treasured forever in our hearts… I extend my heartfelt condolence to the family members of Panditji. May the almighty give them enough courage and resilience to bear this loss,” she wrote.

Rama Prasad Goenka, chairman of Saregama India (erstwhile HMV), has also expressed sorrow on the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar.

In a release, he said: “In [the death of] Pandit Ravi Shankar, India has lost her greatest musical genius. This is indeed the end of an era. I recall his association with HMV and Saregama and his priceless contribution to Indian recorded music.”

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