Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away on 11 December in San Diego, California at the age of 92. He was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital on 6 December for breathing difficulties.
Pandit Ravi Shankar was born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury on 7 April 1920 in Varanasi. He learned to play different instruments when he went to Paris with his brother Uday Shankar at the age of 10. He was trained by the famous Sarod player Allauddin Khan in a traditional gurukul system in Maihar. He was in a long time collaboration with the violin player Yehudi Menuhin.
He joined Indian People’s Theatre Association and composed ballets for them right after completing his training in 1944. The big break for Ravi Shankar came through his music composition for Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy. In 1952, he began to tour Europe and the USA. He met George Harrison in 1966 in London and his association with The Beatles earned him a wider audience in the international arena. He won his first Grammy in the year 1967 and went on to win two more Grammys. He will be posthumously competing with his daughter Anoushka for another Grammy in the year 2013.
He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 and served till 1992. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1999. The global ambassador for Indian music was labelled ‘Godfather of world music’ by George Harrison.
He is survived by his wife Sukanya and his daughters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has condoled the passing away of the eminent musician. In his condolence message, the Prime Minister described him as “one of India’s most effective cultural ambassadors across the world”.
In a statement updated on Pandit Ravi Shankar’s website, Sukanya & Anoushka Shankar wrote: It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away on December 11th, 2012.
As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away.
We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time. Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music.