Pandit Jasraj passes away in New Jersey
Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj died on Monday following a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, his daughter Durga Jasraj said. He was 90.
The classical vocalist, who infused life into the most complex ragas and held audiences spellbound with his craft, leaves behind a storied legacy spanning more than eight decades. He is survived by his wife Madura, son Shaarang Dev Pandit and daughter Durga, both musicians.
“Bapuji is no more,” his daughter Durga told over phone from Mumbai.
Pandit Jasraj, who belonged to the Mewati gharana, was in the US when the coronavirus-led lockdown happened and decided to stay back in that country.
Demonstrating his ability to adapt with the times, his last performance was in April when he sang on Hanuman Jayanti for the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple in Varanasi through Facebook Live.
“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 said here.
“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.”
“Music legend and unparalleled classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj’s passing makes me sad…. Condolence to his family, friends & music connoisseurs,” President Ram Nath Kovind said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his unfortunate demise “leaves a deep void in the Indian cultural sphere”.
Music composer A.R. Rahman tweeted: “RIP Pandit Jasraj Indian classical music has lost one of its shining stars.”
Composer Shankar Mahadevan said he was devastated after hearing the news that Pandit Jasraj has moved on to the “next dimension”.Sanjiv Goenka, whose group runs the music company Saregama, said: “Pandit Jasraj was a legend and for our family like an elder. We and all of Saregama will miss him immensely.”
Grandniece Shweta Pandit remembered her “precious dadu”. “So many insanely beautiful memories you have given me… but I have no words now.”
In an interview with PTI on his birthday this January, Pandit Jasraj had spoken about being in sync with times and technology.
“I teach through Skype. I suggest everyone do it. I am walking with time and that’s what one should do. I don’t like when people say ‘Woh zamaana achha tha (Those were the good times)’. I believe the current phase is good. One should not compare it with the past — good or bad. One has to walk with time and only then you will like the current time,” he had said.
The stalwart had also spoken about his eclectic taste in music and fondness for melody queen Lata Mangeshkar.
He also sang in the films. His first song was in 1966 with the bhajan Vandana Karo in raga Ahir Bhairav for his father-in-law V Shantaram’s Ladki Sahyadri Ki. The bhajan was composed by Vasant Desai.
Pandit Jasraj’s second film song came almost after a decade in the 1975 movie Birbal My Brother, for which he collaborated with another legend, classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, on a jugalbandi in raga Malkauns.
Pandit Jasraj's last Bollywood song was in 2008 for Vikram Bhatt’s horror movie 1920. The song, titled Vaada tumse hai vaada, was composed by Adnan Sami. His rendition of raga Ahir Bhairav was also used by filmmaker Ang Lee in his Hollywood movie Life of Pi.