Pandit Jasraj Passes Away At 90

By SM .17 Aug, 2020




NEW JERSEY, USA: Pandit Jasraj, one of the world"s most prominent Indian classical vocalists, has died in New Jersey, US, his family said. He was 90. Born in Haryana in 1930, his musical career spanned eight decades. In the year 2000, he was awarded with Padma Vibhushan, India"s second-highest civilian honour.

Pandit Jasraj, who belonged to the Mewati Gharana (musical lineage), was in the United States when the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in India; he decided to stay back.

"With profound grief we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA," a statement issued by his family read.

"May Lord Krishna welcome him lovingly through the doors of heaven, where Pandit ji will now sing Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya exclusively just for his beloved Lord. We pray that his soul rests in eternal musical peace. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, Pandit Jasraj ji"s family, and the students of Mewati Gharana," it added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the maestro"s death has left a deep void in the country"s cultural sphere.

"Not only were his renditions outstanding, he also made a mark as an exceptional mentor to several other vocalists. Condolences to his family and admirers worldwide. Om Shanti," he tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind said his death made him sad.

President of India@rashtrapatibhvn
Music legend and unparalleled classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj’s passing makes me sad. Spanning a distinguished career of over 8 decades, Pandit Jasraj, a Padma Vibhushan recipient, enthralled people with soulful renditions. Condolence to his family, friends & music connoisseurs.

Several noted personalities including Union Ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari also condoled his death.

"Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji was an incredible artist who enriched Indian classical music with his magical voice. His demise feels like a personal loss. He will remain in our hearts forever through his peerless creations. Condolences to his family and followers. Om Shanti," Shah tweeted.

"My condolences to famous classical singer, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj Ji. He has made immense contribution in the field of classical music. May God grant peace to his soul," Gadkari tweeted in Hindi.

Jasraj was born on 28 January 1930 in Pili Mandori, a village in the Hisar district of Haryana, in a middle-class Brahmin family to Pandit Motiram, a classical singer. Motiram died in 1934 when Jasraj was four, on the day he was to be appointed as the state musician in the court of Mir Osman Ali Khan. Jasraj"s elder brother, Pandit Pratap Narayan, was also an accomplished musician and was the father of music composer duo Jatin-Lalit, singer-actress Sulakshana Pandit and actress Vijeta Pandit. His eldest brother is vocalist Pandit Maniram.

Jasraj spent his youth in Hyderabad, and travelled often to Sanand in Gujarat to study music with musicians of the Mewati gharana. Jasraj performed for Maharaj Jaywant Singh Waghela, the Thakur Sahib of Sanand, who was deeply dedicated to classical music, and received training from him.

In 1946, Jasraj moved to Calcutta, where he began singing classical music for radio.

In 1962, Jasraj married Madhura Shantaram, the daughter of film director V. Shantaram, whom he had first met in 1960 in Bombay. They initially lived in Calcutta, moving to Bombay in 1963. They had two children, a son, Shaarang Dev Pandit, and a daughter, Durga Jasraj. Madhura made a film, Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj in 2009 and directed her first Marathi film, Aai Tuza Ashirwad, in 2010, in which her husband and Lata Mangeshkar sang in Marathi.

Jasraj was initiated into vocal music by his father, and later trained as a tabla accompanist under his elder brother, Pandit Pratap Narayan. He would frequently accompany Maniram in his solo vocal performances. He credits the vocalist, Begum Akhtar, as inspiring him to take up classical music.

Jasraj began training as a vocalist at the age of 14, after renouncing tabla in reaction to how accompanists were treated at the time. In 1952 when he was 22 he performed his first stage concert as a vocalist in the court of King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal in Kathmandu. Before becoming a stage performer, Jasraj worked as a performing artist on radio for several years.

He initially trained as a classical vocalist with Pandit Maniram, and later with Jaiwant Singh Waghela, a vocalist and beenkar, and Gulam Qadir Khan of Mewati gharana. In addition, he trained under Swami Vallabhdas Damulji of the Agra gharana.

In addition to performing classical music, Jasraj has worked to popularise semi-classical musical styles, such as Haveli Sangeet, which involves semi-classical performances in temples. He has also sung classical and semi-classical compositions for film soundtracks, such as the song, "Vandana Karo", composed in the raga Ahir Bhairav by the composer Vasant Desai, for the film Ladki Sahyadri Ki (1966), a duet with vocalist Bhimsen Joshi for the soundtrack of the film Birbal My Brother (1975), and a ballad, Vaada Tumse Hai Vaada for a horror film titled 1920 (2008) directed by Vikram Bhatt.

In memory of his father, Jasraj organises a musical festival every year called the Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh in Hyderabad. The festival has been held annually since 1972.

On 28 January 2017, the production house Navrasa Duende celebrated Jasraj"s 87th birthday and 80 years of his service to music with a classical music concert titled My Journey, an Intimate Evening with Pandit Jasraj at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. He received a standing ovation.

Jasraj has tutored several students who have gone on to perform as classical musicians including Saptarshi Chakraborty, Sanjeev Abhyankar, violinist Kala Ramnath, Tripti Mukherjee, Suman Ghosh, flautist Shashank Subramanyam, Anuradha Paudwal, Sadhana Sargam, and Ramesh Narayan.

He is also the founder of schools for Indian classical music in Atlanta, Tampa, Vancouver, Toronto, New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Mumbai, and Kerala. At age 90 he was teaching some of his international students through Skype.