Political Leaders, Artistes Remember Pt Ravi Shankar
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."

Mourning the death, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said India has lost a distinguished son.

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."

"I met him in my home town Jammu, where he had come to perform. Those days I used to play tabla and I had accompanied him on it. From then onwards, a long association started. He was very fond of my santoor too. There are very few musician who could be called be as legends of Indian classical music," Sharma said.

Flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia remembered the times he performed with Shankar at concerts.

"I started crying when I heard the news. I am still learning music under Annapurna Devi, who was Shankar's first wife. I was also associated with Allauddin Khan, who taught Shankar as well.

"He and I used to work in the film industry and outside. We did 55 concerts together. I remember each and every moment spent with him. I learnt so much from him also. His hard work and love for Indian culture have made him a legendary musician," Chaurasia said.

Indian ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said on Twitter Ravi Shankar was the world's best known exponent of Indian music. "His last concert was particularly poignant. Anoushka and he played together in perfect unison."

Kathak exponent Pt Birju Maharaj said, "He was the king of tunes and rhythms. I am in Los Angeles and wanted to meet him, he said few days back that he was not well. I'm really sad after hearing this. We have lost a big star. There are a lot of memories attached to him. I used to play tabla with him at his Feroze Shah house. His blessings were always with me."

Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh tweeted, "This morning had an unearthly kind of beauty to it, perhaps a morning raga to celebrate the passing of Ravi Shankar. RIP."

"Pt Ravi Shankar Synonym of music is no more, he has made Sitar (Indian Instrument) international with dignity and Pride, God bless his soul," said Sufi singer Kailash Kher.

"RIP Pandit Ravi Shankar. Grateful for the music maestro," said actress Lisa Ray.

"Pt Ravi Shankar's Sitar played for our souls. His music helped us sooth our nerves. His smile was like his music- DIVINE. RIP," Anupam Kher posted on the micro-blogging site.

The sitar icon's health had been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee offered her condolences to the family members of Panditji and said the sitar maestro's deep-rooted bond with the state would always be treasured.

"His passing away will create an irreparable void in music and performing arts. His deep-rooted bond with Bengal will be treasured forever in our hearts," she said, adding that the Bharat Ratna awardee had taken Indian classical music to a position of "rare aura" in the world.

Actress-politician Jaya Bachchan said, "He was the first artiste who was internationally known. He has made India famous. It is a shock to me. Amitji spoke to him recently".

Amitabh Bachchan had recently blogged about Ravi Shankar's wish to speak to him over the phone from California.

Music maestro AR Rahman tweeted, "Indian Classical Music has lost its chief ambassador and India its Bharat Ratna... May God bless his soul!"

"The end of an era in Music. We have lost too many legends this year.. My condolences to the family.. RIP Shri Pandit Ravi Shankar," Priyanka Chopra.

Director Madhur Bhandarkar tweeted, "Saddened by the loss of brilliance. RIP Pt Ravi Shankar ji. The sitar maestro will be missed. Strength to the family."

Actor Rahul Bose tweeted, "With Pt Ravi Shankar's passing, passes an era. First heard him as a kid in 1980. He leaves us all permanently enriched."

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur posted, "Pt Ravi Shankar's music will live with us forever. Amazing man, Amazing artist. Amazing life, amazingly lived. Amazing creative force. Pt Ravi Shankar. Showed us what India's soft power really is. Not business, but Art. Remember him playing at Chetan Anand's home. Bliss.

"When I first went to London as a student, Pt Ravi Shankar was a rockstar. That I knew him personally made me one in eyes of all the girls. Completely abandoned himself to creativity in his Art. Living in vibrations, his was a spirit then, and a spirit now."

Classical singer Rashid Khan said, "I knew Panditji since 1978, when I got the chance to perform in front of him at Kolkata. He is no more with us, the whole world will remember him. Indian classical music has travelled the world because of him."

"Saddened to hear of the maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar's, demise. Condolences to his family, his friends and billions of listeners," tweeted actor Farhan Akhtar.

"So saddened by the news of Pandit Ravi Shankarji's demise... RIP. Read, heard and revered the man and his music. Anoushka will take his legacy forward," said Dia Mirza.

Percussionist Taufiq Qureshi said, "It is a very sad news. I don't have words to say anything. It's a big gap. I feel sorry for his family."

Veteran vocalist Pandit Jasraj said that Ravi Shankar's exploration of the 'ragas' was of distinctive nature, which helped spread awareness and understanding of the depth of Indian classical music.

"The news has brought gloom to the world of music... It's like the heavens have fallen for the community of musicians. Our world has been plunged into darkness," he said.

"He was born to only give the very special gift which he was blessed with... His music. He is no longer with us, but his gift to the world - his music, will remain eternally with us," he added.

Singer Shubha Mudgal said, "There is a sense of great loss among all of us because when we travel across the world and I put in my tanpura for security checks, the security officer will look up and smile and say 'Ravi Shankar'. This is the respect he created internationally for Indian music."

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, "He was responsible for taking Indian music and culture to the West and helped it achieve international recognition. During his musical journey, he made significant contribution to the field of classical music and took it to great heights. My prayers are with his family on this sad day," he said.

Margaret Alva, Governor of Rajasthan, said, "I pray that his soul rests in peace and ask the almighty to give strength to his grief-stricken family."

Priyadarshni Academy, a prominent NGO, mourned the death of the Sitar maestro. "Ravi Shankar was a source of inspiration for the Academy, which promoted National Integration through music and dance among the youths since 1984," said Nanik Rupani, chairman of the organisation.

"India has lost a great son, who was conferred the highest civilian award of the Bharat Ratna."

Director Kunal Kohli tweeted, "Pandit Ravi Shankar. Another legend lost this year. Another era ends. We need to get inspired by these legends & create new eras."
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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