Pandit Jasraj, doyen of the Mewati gharana of Hindustani classical music, no more

Published : August 17, 2020 21:33 IST

Pandit Jasraj performing at the Mysore Palace during the Dasara celebrations in Mysore in October 2013. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

For close to eight decades, Pandit Jasraj ruled the world of music. For connoisseurs, no musical evening was complete without Pandit Jasraj’s inimitable khayal laced with elements of thumri, something which was unthinkable before Pandit Jasraj made it not just possible but acceptable, even popular. For the devout, no morning started without “Rani Tero Chir Jeeyo Gopal” or “Om Namo Bhagwate Vasuvedaya”. Fittingly for the man who had admirers all over the world, a minor planet between Mars and Jupiter was named after him! Pandit Jasraj's music ruled over the cosmos.

Unfortunately, the doyen of the Mewati gharana fell silent one last time following a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey in the United States. He was 90.

“With profound grief we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj breathed his last this morning due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey,” a statement issued by his family stated, adding, “May Lord Krishna welcome him lovingly through the doors of heaven, where Pandit ji will now sing Om Nami Bhagwate Vasudevaya exclusively just for his beloved Lord.”

A deserving recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and practically every Indian civilian award except the Bharat Ratna, Pandit Jasraj was the son-in-law of the legendary filmmaker V. Shantaram, having married his daughter Madhura.

Born in 1930 in Hisar, he was groomed to be a vocalist early in his life, having been introduced to it by his father, Pandit Motiram. His early training included long tabla lessons under his elder brother Pandit Pratap Narayan, father of popular music directors Jatin-Lalit. Though he lost his father when he was four, his family ensured rigorous training under artists of the Mewati gharana. Pandit Jasraj, though, often credited renowned vocalist Begum Akhtar for inspiring him. The innovation he came up with in his recitals got him a lot of criticism from the purists in the early days. As he ignored the barbs, his innovations became his signature, and greatly enriched the world of music, giving it a hitherto unknown flexibility. It helped widen his aura and brought in hordes of new followers.

Besides his immediate family, and an unsurpassable treasure trove of music, he is survived by scores of artists he groomed. They include Kala Ramnath, Saptarshi Chakraborty, Sanjeev Abhyankar and the popular singers Sadhna Sargam and Anuradha Paudwal.

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