Indian classical music maestro Pandit Jasraj passes away at 90 in New Jersey

Pandit Jasraj, the doyen of Indian classical music, passed away at the age of 90 in New Jersey, the US, on Monday. “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. The renowned vocalist, who has a planet named after him — Panditjasraj — placed between Mars and Jupiter, was a recipient of the highest civilian honours like Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. His death was condoled by dignitaries such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind, among many other personalities from the world of music. Born in 1930 in Haryana, the celebrated classical singer presented the Mewati Gharana to the global music connoisseur. With a career spanning 80 years, Pandit Jasraj’s oeuvre ranged from the world stage to Indian film music. His rendition of “Raga Ahir Bhairav” was used in Ang Lee’s global hit of 2012, “Life Of Pi”, and he also sang “Vandana karo” in the 1966 film “Ladki Sahyadri Ki”. Pandit Jasraj’s other soundtrack contributions are his Jugalbandi with Bhimsen Joshi in the 1973 film, “Birbal My Brother”, and “Vaada tumse hai” in the 2008 horror film, “1920”. In an interview with IANS earlier this year, Pandit Jasraj had said that: “I don’t feel that my relationship with music is of only this lifetime. The student in me has always been a constant and active part of my musical journey and has kept me always hungry to learn. “I feel fortunate to belong to a generation and witness very exciting times in classical music. Right from the pre-Independence era, where Maharajas were the biggest patrons of classical music and being a court musician was a privilege, to the 1950s and 1960s when All India Radio played a pivotal role in shaping one’s career graph, to the importance of recording labels which carefully curated the talent, followed by travelling worldwide to perform for varied audiences who found our classical music soulful and attractive. And from the rise of mass media in India with the growth of television to the present day modern platforms of social media and digital world which have brought music lovers much closer to their favourite musicians.” Legendary singer Asha Bhosle, among millions of other followers and admirers, who have expressed deep sympathy at the demise of the iconic Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj, who passed away at the age of 90 in the US on Monday. “I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate demise of Pandit Jasraj ji. I have lost someone who was extremely fond of me, I have lost a big brother. Sangeet ka sooraj doob gaya (the sun of music has set). He was a vocalist par excellence and I knew him for so long, from even before his marriage to V Shantaram’s daughter. He used to praise me a lot and he always used to say, ‘main tujhe gaana sikhaunga (I will teach you how to sing)’,” recalled Bhosle. Bhosle also recalled an interesting anecdote from the US trip when she met Pandit Jasraj. “On that same trip, we went out for dinner, and Jasraj ji, who was a staunch vegetarian, kept requesting me to turn vegetarian for health reasons. I will always remember his childlike demeanor,” she said.

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