RIP Pandit Jasraj, Heaven Will Now Sound Sweeter


RIP Pandit Jasraj, Heaven Will Now Sound Sweeter

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Indian classical music was robbed of one of its most towering figures yesterday, when Pandit Jasraj, a hugely influential vocalist, passed away due to a cardiac arrest, according to a statement issued by his family. He was 90 years old at the time of his passing.

“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,” the statement by Jasraj’s family said. Jasraj was at his home in New Jersey in the United States of America when he suffered the cardiac arrest.

Jasraj leaves behind a legacy that spans decades. Born in 1930 to a musical family, he learned his art from his elder brothers, with Pandit Maniram tutoring him in vocals, and Pratap Narayan teaching him how to play the tabla. Over the years, Jasraj would go on to become a teacher and mentor for many prominent classical musicians himself, with his list of students including Saptarshi Chakraborty, Sanjeev Abhyankar, and Kala Ramnath, among others. Even as age crept up on him, Jasraj continued to teach until his last days, even adapting to the global pandemic by giving out online performances and classes.

Jasraj’s death was mourned by prominent personalities from many fields, and not just practitioners of music. As a winner of some of India’s most prominent civilian awards – including the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan – his legacy is firmly imprinted upon the Indian cultural landscape. Perhaps the most unique honour conferred on Jasraj during his life was the naming of a celestial body, a minor planet between Mars and Jupiter, after him. Having already found a place in the firmament during his lifetime, there is no doubt Jasraj will be remembered for a long time by lovers of Indian classical music.