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Pandit Jasraj

Pandit Jasraj

 

  • In 1965, with tensions between India and Pakistan at their peak, a 35-year-old was at work trying to merge the abstractions between Allah and Lord Shiva.
  • The result was Mero Allah meherbaan (My Allah is kind), a piece in Bhairav, the morning raga known to have been created by Shiva. The result held both sides of the border spell-bound. A few years later, Pandit Jasraj would sing Mero Allah meherbaan at a concert in Pakistan, going into a trance with the word Om while delineating the word Allah.

DEATH

 

  • The last from this pantheon, he passed away at his home in New Jersey on Monday following a cardiac arrest.
  • He had celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this year in January. He is survived by wife Madhura, daughter Durga and son Shaarang Dev.

EARLY LIFE

 

  • Pt Jasraj was born in Hisar, Haryana, in a family of classical musicians. He was only four when his father Pt Motiram passed away.
  •  The family — his mother and two brothers — moved to Hyderabad, where his brother Pt Pratap Narayan (composer duo Jatin-Lalit’s father) began teaching him the basics of the tabla. By the age of 11, Jasraj was accompanying his elder brother, famous vocalist Maniram, to concerts, helping make ends meet.
CAREER

 

  • He learned singing from Maniram, followed by training under Swami Vallabhdas of the Agra gharana, putting in 14-hour riyaaz sessions, where he kept pushing himself.
  • Two years later, he was accepted as a radio artiste, moved to Calcutta and slowly acquired a small circle of admirers.
  •  At a time when the gharana system was quite rigid, Pt Jasraj, while greatly influenced by Ustad Amir Khan of the Agra gharana.

HONOURS

 

  • For almost two decades, he faced criticism from all quarters on this account, until people began noticing the revolutionary sound.
  • Pandit Jasraj was given a Padma Shri in 1975, Padma Bhushan in 1990 and Padma Vibhushan in 2000 (Source: Express Archive) Pushing boundaries in the complex and exacting world of classical music resulted in 300 bandish apart from compositions of ancient Sanskrit verses.

LEGEND

 

  • He was popularly called Sangeet Martand.He also started Jasrangi, a form of duet classical music, in which a male and a female vocalist intertwine two different ragas; and brought haveli sangeet, an ancient devotional form of music, to the stage.
  •  One of Jasraj’s more significant contributions was that he rejected the elitism associated with classical music. “It’s for everyone,” Pt Jasraj would say.
  • Some of Pt Jasraj’s most popular bhajans included Om namo bhagvate vasudevaya and Hanuman lallaThat also explained his popularity; his friendliness towards the audience.
  •  After a performance at the Delhi Classical Music Festival last year, a man yelled from the audience, “Pandit ji, aaj tussi Punjabi shabad nahin sunaya (You didn’t sing the Punjabi shabad today)”. Pt Jasraj smiled and said, “O mere yaara, kal hi Punjab mein suna ke aaya hoon. Agli baar sun lena (I just sang it yesterday in Punjab. Next time).” Everyone laughed.

HONOURS

 

  • Pandit Jasraj during a performance. (Express photo: Renuka Puri) In September last year, the International Astronomical Union named a celestial object after the vocalist.
  •  Somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, circling the Earth along with a Mozart, Beethoven and Pavarotti, there is a minor planet called Panditjasraj.