Political leaders and artistes across the spectrum today 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."
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."