While the world has gone into a quiet mourning owing to the passing away of Hindustani music legend Pandit Ravi Shankar, the musical fraternity is still trying to grapple with the loss. For many of the prominent classical musicians in the country, their own personal memories of the maestro still burn alive as they define his legacy.
T Radhakrishna, the only practising and performing disciple of Pandit Ravishankar in Bangalore, says tears were shed aplenty during the maestro’s final performance in the city. “Bangalore was the last concert in India. It brought tears to many of us. However, it was a miracle that at his age, he performed for two hours. The audience of 5,000 members was simply stunned. It was sadly the last time I heard him," ,” he says.
"He was a like a father figure to all his disciples and me. It is the end of a huge chapter. It was great innings in the world of music. They say all good things have to come to an end. Even so, he is always going to be alive in us," he adds.
Veteran musician Bombay Jayashree describes every concert that she attended of the maestro’s as magical. “As a student of music, I can only pray for his soul to rest in peace. Growing up in Mumbai and Chennai, I attended a lot of his concerts and they were always magic. And, of course, when he came to my concerts and blessed me, I felt like I was living a dream. I mean, how lucky should you be if Pandit Ravi Shankar actually attended your concert!” she adds.
For Ubhaya Gana Vidushi Dr Shyamala G Bhave, the maestro was simply ‘Mamaji’, whom she considers family. “He used to visit my home regularly when my parents were alive. For hours together he used to practise. I remember, when I was six-seven years old, he used to hold my right hand and take me for concerts with huge audiences. After the concert, he always used to ask me how it was—the raaga and the composition,” she said. “His music is a combination of Western and Eastern music. It has been used in a beautiful way in numerous ballads,” she adds.
Mandolin U Rajesh still recalls his meeting with Ravi Shankar with a healthy dose of awe. “I consider him the father of Indian classical music. Today is truly a very sad day indeed. I met him when I was very young—only about 13 or 14 years of age—and it still feels like it happened just now. I can’t recall what I said to him because I was so wonderstruck. It really was a dream come true,” he adds.
Dhananjay Hegde, a rising star in Hindustani music says that Ravi Shankar is the reason Indian music is recognised worldwide. “Whenever we musicians go abroad, people recognise us through Ravi Shankar. I was once fortunate enough to have received a scholarship from him. It was not a long meeting but it was truly a divine experience for me,” he says.
Mysore V Subramanya, music critique, recalled Ravi Shankar as one of the greatest musicians of Indian music. “He is great not only as a performer, but also as a teacher and a composer. Some of his students in Karnataka are spreading his music mission successfully. He is another name for the instrument Sitar,” he says.