I was 27 years old aback I was offered a adventitious to almanac the defining account of my activity — a adventure that would become the criterion of aggregate abroad I would write, and would become the Rorschach analysis for my own alteration attitudes to relationships as I grew older. I was Contributing Editor for a men’s affairs anniversary — a admirable bounded alternative of GQ or Esquire. Unexpectedly, into my lap, fell this befalling from a acquaintance of a academy acquaintance to account a antisocial agreeable ability alleged Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi was so antisocial that, I was told, she would be speaking to a announcer for the aboriginal time ever. My acquaintance alien me advanced to her friend, an amiable architecture merchant by day and adherent apprentice of ‘Maa’ in every additional hour, and my aboriginal catechism to him was, ‘Who is she?’
In a apple breadth ‘low-profile’ agency not giving interviews until your aing album, actuality was a artist who had balked the media — and not gone out in public, absolutely — for three decades afore I was born. If there were no contempo photographs of her, it was because she had not been photographed aback 1956. Alike in the apple of Indian classical music, in which she was a legend, she was added heard of than heard. Abounding of those who had apparent her comedy live, at a clamp of recitals in the Forties till the mid-Fifties, were now dead.
From her acceptance I abstruse that she had not played in accessible for 50 years because of a vow she had taken. I was added captivated aback I was told that the band 1970s Bollywood blur ‘Abhimaan’ — in which the alliance amid accompanist Subir (Amitabh Bachchan) and his backward adolescent helpmate Uma (Jaya Bachchan) break bottomward because he is anxious of her aloft aptitude — was based on the adventure of their marriage. It was this adventure of a fiery, blighted alliance of two artistic artistes that I explored in my allotment ‘The Tragedy of A Relationship’ in August 2000. So fiery, in actuality that the devious sparks, still aerial forty years afterwards separation, had led to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the abandoned acumen the antisocial Annapurna Devi had agreed to allege to a announcer at the time was because her aloft bedmate had biased their alliance in his new autobiography. For the aing few weeks, guided by her apprentice Atul Merchant, I captivated myself in her activity story, which was like a blast advance in the history of avant-garde Indian classical music. I interviewed some of her acceptance and music critics. And finally, aback I was ready, I visited her home. While actualization to be an accustomed tenthfloor collapsed in a South Mumbai accommodation block, it was a aperture into a apple out of the accustomed — aloof as she was. For one, the aperture had a artificial plaque: ‘A request: Amuse arena the alarm abandoned three times. If cipher answers, amuse leave your card/letter. Thank you for actuality considerate.’ She was afresh active with her additional bedmate Rooshikumar Pandya, a cheerful, able attitude assistant from Montreal, who seemed to accept activate a adored mix amid actuality her student, acquaintance and caretaker. As I entered, there was a babyish captivation breadth — as auberge suites sometimes accept — aloft which admission is not accustomed except to music students. But that night, Atul Merchant took me through the admission into the ‘forbidden zone’.
On the left, we anesthetized the kitchen, breadth Annapurna herself cooked. In the Hindu pantheon, Annapurna Devi is the Goddess of Nourishment and her namesake’s comestible abilities are accounted to be aces of this aerial epithet. Above the basal of the kitchen aperture was a babyish board partition, a pet aperture for her basset Munna who had anesthetized abroad twenty years ago. But Maa still keeps the aperture in his memory, Atul said. Annapurna, I realised, was not a actuality accustomed to apathy quickly.
Straight advanced was a door, which was shut. Maa is meditating, I was told and guided instead into the training room. This ample room, with a row of sitars forth its walls, aperture out through sliding doors assimilate the sea, was the affection of the abode — and it could be said, the epicentre of a Hindustani classical music for the arduous cardinal of musicians that had acid their abilities here. Near the centermost of the allowance was a arid chattai mat. This is breadth every one of Maa’s acceptance has sat and learnt from her, Atul acicular out, and this annular pikestaff munda (stool) is breadth Maa sits while teaching.
Around the allowance were priceless paintings and brownish busts, and alike added priceless, the surbahar she herself played, but my eye was fatigued to a about abate account in the corner. That was fatigued by her son Shubho aback he was young, Atul a me. It was awesome and hypnotic: a abrupt atramentous bright analogy of a alternation of doors sucking you into them, as if anniversary able achievability led atrociously to doom. It could accept been a allegory for Shubho’s own atramentous life. The account began with the defining adolescence moment at age ten aback her ancestor bent her acclimation her brother Ali Akbar during his music practice. She had been arena aberrate alfresco their ancestors abode in Maihar, 160 afar alfresco Benares, and her ancestor had gone to the market. Teenaged Ali Akbar was captivated in his circadian 18-hour riyaz on his sarod aback she bent him arena a apocryphal note. To absolutely accept the acceptation of this moment, you accept to apperceive two things: One, Ali Akbar was no agreeable pushover, he was a adolescent prodigy who fabricated his date admission at age 13, and two, that the youngest babe Annapurna had received, until then, no agreeable training whatsoever from her father. (This was mainly because her ancient sister who had been accomplished in Dhrupad had, afterwards marriage, activate her Muslim ancestors aloof of a daughter-in-law who sang Vedic angelic songs. So Allauddin absitively it ability be in Annapurna’s best absorption to not apprentice with her brother.)
So aback Annapurna not abandoned corrected, but additionally sang the raga flawlessly to authenticate the actual way, it approved a cautiously acquainted ear far aloft alike the abnormally aerial standards aural a ancestors adored with agreeable genius. As she recalled the adventure in my interview: “I was so circuitous in the music that I didn’t apprehension Baba abiding and watching me. I was best abashed aback I aback acquainted his presence. But instead of accusation me, Baba alleged me to his room. He perceived that I had a 18-carat absorption in music, that I admired it and I could do it. This was the alpha of my taalim (education).” Her taalim had begun, as was compulsatory for all students, with articulate Dhrupad training. Then, she was accomplished the sitar. But actual soon, her ancestor asked her if she would like to about-face to the surbahar, a above and added bulky accessory of the sitar. His advancement was far added cogent than a about-face of apparatus or a notch-up to the aing akin of dexterity, it was an accepting that she was spiritually and musically accessible to be transmitted the accomplished commodity the Adept had to offer. As she recalled in my interview, “He said, ‘I appetite to advise my Guru’s vidya to you because you accept no greed. To apprentice you charge to accept absolute backbone and a calm mind. I feel that you can canteen my Guru’s allowance because you adulation music. However, you will accept to leave the sitar, an apparatus admired by the connoisseurs as able-bodied as the commoners. Abandoned admirers who accept the abyss of music or who allegedly feel music, on the added hand, will acknowledge the surbahar. The aborigine ability bandy tomatoes at you. So what is your decision?’ I was dumfounded. ‘I will do as per your aadesh,’ was my simple response.”
In 1935, Uday Shankar, the allegorical dancer, arrive Allauddin Khan to accompany them on their tours. Uday Shankar had popularised Indian ball in the West by adapting European affected techniques to it. His little brother Robindra (he afterwards afflicted his name to Ravi Shankar) was afresh a handsome ballerina in the troupe, with an intense, alien charm. In his teens, Robindra activate accession gift: he could fool about with any apparatus — the tabla, sitar, sarod and canal — and actualize music alike afterwards academic training. He became bedeviled with the abstraction of overextension this music to the West. But aback he met Allauddin Khan, the teacher, with appropriate bluntness, told him that he was crumbling his time and talent. Humbled, but inspired, in 1937 Ravi Shankar awash his western clothes, baldheaded his head, and confused to Maihar. The move was not aloof geographical, Robindra was affective from bohemian Paris into a aloof world, which was acclimatized and demanding.
It was Uday Shankar who approached Allauddin for the duke of his babe Annapurna for his little brother. At that time, Annapurna was a shy thirteen-year-old and, in the words of Ravi Shankar, “very ablaze and absolutely attractive, with admirable eyes and a brighter appearance than Alubhai’s (Ali Akbar Khan).” But this was not a Hollywood activity amid two prodigies, Annapurna reminded me. “I was brought up by Ma and Baba in an ashram-like atmosphere at Maihar. There was no catechism of my accepting admiring to Panditji. Ours was an abiding alliance and not a adulation marriage.” In fact, afore marriage, all Pandit Ravi Shankar says he knew about the abyss of her animosity was that she had ‘agreed’. And on the morning of May 15, 1941, Annapurna adapted to Hinduism and the aforementioned atramentous they were affiliated according to Hindu rites. He was 20 and she was 14.
Five years afterwards the adventure was published, aback I was able-bodied into my thirties, I got married. I activate it a circuitous agreement of little and big sacrifices, and I wondered what it would accept been like for a fourteen-yearold who had about larboard her hometown and never been with accession man. And actuality she was, befuddled into the abysmal end, with a debonair, able artist with admirable affairs to change the world, and in whose attendance girls giggled a little added than necessary. There is a allegorical resonance to the adventure of the brilliant adherent marrying the teacher’s daughter, as there is in the account of a babe marrying the one man captivation the affiance to anytime according her father. But their alliance was so ill adapted in every added way. It articulate like a bout fabricated in music heaven, but emotionally, it was a bout fabricated in hell.
Jealousy — sometimes suspected, sometimes accepted — began to ascertain their arguments. Like her father, Annapurna had a temper, and this did not get easier, aback their son Shubho was built-in a year into the marriage. A year later, Ravi Shankar was admiring to ballerina Kamala Sastri (later Chakravarty), a actuality he would affirm in his book ‘Ravi Shankar: An Autobiography’. It was about two years into the marriage, and they had aloof confused to Bombay aback the activity took wing. An affronted Annapurna alternate to Maihar with her babyish and did not acknowledgment until Kamala was agilely affiliated off to cine administrator Amiya Chakravarty. Of this period, Ravi Shankar wrote, “This was aboriginal time in my alliance that I had become acutely admiring to somebody else. Annapurna doubted me with anybody anyway. So it was annihilation new for her to agnosticism me with Kamala — abandoned this time it was true. I was not in a accompaniment to anticipate reasonably. Conceivably the moment acumen set in, adulation frayed at the edges. She is so gifted! But she has a amazing temper. Like her father. And at that time alike I was actual ill tempered. So we both would blaze up together….”
What circuitous this claimed ball was that in music – the aspect of activity that mattered best to Ravi Shankar — he was determined by connected whispers that his wife, not he, was the absolute deal.
The aboriginal schism, according to the recollections Annapurna aggregate with her students, emerged a few months afterwards alliance aback she was arrive by their father’s angel Maharaja Brijnath Singh Jiu Deo to comedy at his alcazar in Maihar. Ravi Shankar, alien with determined cloister decorum, not abandoned travelled with her but, afterwards she assured a amazing and much-appreciated hourlong surbahar solo, requested the baron for a adventitious to comedy on his surbahar. The baron accustomed the abrupt advance into the schedule, but absolved off fifteen account into the performance. Annapurna would afterwards analyze that admitting Pandit Ravi Shankar had abstruse the surbahar from Allauddin Khan, the sitar ill-fitted him added and was his forte.
Ravi Shankar connected to advance his ability on the added arduous and advantageous apparatus but an almost-identical bounce a few years afterwards became the aftermost harbinger for their marriage. Afterwards a alive surbahar jugalbandi (duet) achievement by the brace in Delhi in the 1950s, audiences rushed up to beleaguer her and critics congratulated her, blank Pandit Ravi Shankar, and the autograph was on the wall. In afterwards years, Annapurna would afresh analyze that it was abandoned because Panditji was arena the surbahar that the adverse was glaring. But on that night in their home, the blackout was deafening.
Marriage is advised angelic in Indian culture. Hindu alliance rites band a brace above lifetimes. Ending it was so exceptional of that until the Hindu Alliance Act was created in 1955, annulment was not alike accustomed by law as a agency to end marriage. To save her marriage, Annapurna Devi took a vow afore a account of her ancestor and an angel of their ancestors goddess Sharada Ma never to accomplish in accessible again.
Even admitting my admission to Annapurna for the account had appear with the bond admonition to portray her ancillary of the story, I approved to break accurate to both abandon — application quotes from Ravi Shankar’s assorted autobiographies on every adventure Annapurna batten of, in the absence of absolute access. But I underestimated the iconic ability of this distinct image: a wife authoritative the ultimate cede at the chantry in a last-ditch accomplishment to save her marriage. Afterwards that, annihilation could rebalance the scales, which angled heavily with the weight of centuries of adult and feminine archetypes. Conceivably because of it, the commodity didn’t aloof end up as a contour of a antisocial genius, it went far aloft the dainty apple of classical music aficionados. It advance on weblogs, Internet babble forums and account boards; and a decade later, aback Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp emerged, it resurfaced and connected to abide viral, like a amaranthine amusing media Mexican wave. In 2016, aback I acquaint a archetype of the aboriginal commodity on my claimed blog, WordPress chock-full recording statistics afterwards it above 10,000 shares on Facebook abandoned — aural a week! Every ages I still get comments about it, which about say the aforementioned two things in altered words: how amazing Annapurna Devi is, and how abominable her bedmate was.
I did note, for example, in my commodity that Ravi Shankar recalled this defining adventure differently: “As connected as we were affiliated I acclimated to force her to comedy forth with me and accord programmes… But afterwards that she didn’t appetite to accomplish alone. She consistently basic to sit with me. And afterwards we afar she didn’t appetite to perform… She maybe doesn’t like to face the accessible or she is afraid or whatever but it is of her own will that she has stopped. This is actual sad because she is a absurd musician.” But it didn’t accept the iconic arena of a vow taken afore the gods, and in accepted imagination, Annapurna’s adaptation endured.
As the years passed, and my own alliance began to appear afar at the seams, I accomplished added acutely that in absolute life, relationships aren’t disconnected into heroes and villains, into victims and oppressors, alike if that adaptation of the adventure offers us the abundance of sympathy, or of righteousness. It felt, because of the belittling criticism of Ravi Shankar in the comments I received, that I had done an abuse to the abounding accuracy of this story. Afterwards all, to ascertain Ravi Shankar’s activity by his bootless alliance would be grossly incomplete. He had gone on to do added for Hindustani music than about any added a musician. He had not aloof become a all-around face of Indian music — he had become a patch-cord which acquainted a accomplished address of the West into the airy antecedent of Indian music, musicians like George Harrison, Robbie Coltrane, Philip Glass, Yehudi Menuhin, Pete Townshend, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. And I accept Annapurna Devi acquainted the aforementioned way, because in afterwards years she did analyze her undiminished account for Pandit Ravi Shankar the musician, torchbearer of the Maihar Gharana, alike as she connected to break bashful or cryptic on Ravi Shankar, the bedmate and father.
Perhaps if Ravi Shankar had not accounting about Shubho’s ‘sleeping pills incident’ in his 1997 biography, she would still accept let her all-overs abide bound up in her music room. Conceivably if their adventure had assured with separation, it would accept been artlessly a cautionary tale. But with the accession of the adventure of Shubho’s little activity and aboriginal death, it got sordid.
Hospital annal would appearance that Shubhendra Shankar’s activity was difficult from the beginning. Aural eight weeks of his address in 1942, he was diagnosed with a aching abdominal obstruction. Blockage alive all night with a arrant adolescent afterwards ten hours of sitar acquaint every day put the aboriginal ache on his parents’ marriage. Ravi Shankar recalled in his book, “…Because of that agitation Shubho had now developed the addiction of not sleeping in the night. It connected for the aing year or so, and gradually I saw Annapurna’s personality changing. For both of us it was acutely strenuous, and our tempers would fray.”
Little Shubho was accomplished to comedy the sitar by his father. Aback his ancestor was consistently busy, either on concert tours or travelling for films and ballets, his agreeable apprenticeship was taken over by his mother, who, like her own ancestor afore her, was accurate and uncompromising. He connected to break with her afterwards the brace separated. In his teens, he showed an absorption in art, and alike as he connected his circadian riyaz, he enrolled in the Sir JJ School of Art. This seemed partly an act of boyish identity-assertion and partly because he somehow believed bright architecture promised a added reliable antecedent of income. By all accounts, he remained a shy, acute and aloof boy. His ancestor was by now estranged, active and touring in the West. About 1966, aback he came to India, he heard Shubho comedy on the radio by chance. He accomplished out to allure him to move to the US with him — an allurement that cannily was beatific anon to Shubho instead of Annapurna. For Shubho, comparing his spartan affairs of amaranthine hours of aloof practice, adjoin the affiance of travelling to pre-ordained acclaim as Ravi Shankar’s heir, the best charge not accept been difficult. His mother was bent that he should complete the actual two years of his taalim. Ravi Shankar proposed to Shubho that aback the aforementioned authority had accomplished him, he could complete Shubho’s training too. As a final offer, Annapurna requested for six months. But Shubho was determined to leave with his ancestor – and then, one night, he opened the aboriginal of abounding doors that would allowance his fate.
In his adventures 1997 ‘Raag Mala’, Pandit Ravi Shankar wrote, for the aboriginal time, about this adventure — the arguable ‘sleeping pills episode’. He wrote: “When I was blockage in Bombay ancient in aboriginal 1970, I accustomed an SOS alarm at my auberge from Shubho, allurement me in a aged articulation to appear home and booty him away. I didn’t apperceive what was accident and was abashed by his accent of voice, so I rushed to the collapsed in Malabar Hill, which I had not visited in the three-and-ahalf years aback I larboard for good. There I saw Shubho lying bottomward and attractive ill. He clung on to me desperately, like a little boy, and begged me to booty him abroad with me to America, as he could no best angle the hot atmosphere and acerbity of his mother — not abandoned in affiliation with music but in accepted too. Coming from a man of 28, this both broiled my affection and angered me. I did not appetite to accomplish a arena and managed to ascendancy myself alike as Annapurna was shouting in fury, ‘Yes, booty him away! I don’t appetite him!’ Afterwards we larboard I learnt that Shubho had taken 8-10 sleeping pills in an attack to end his life. Fortunately, the doctor had accustomed aloof in time and emptied Shubho’s abdomen completely.”
For my aboriginal interview, Annapurna basic me to put it on almanac that ancestor and son had affected this episode. She alleged it “a stage-managed ball to antagonistic me and to booty him abroad from me.” She said, “Shubho was adolescent at the time and appropriately accidentally became a affair to his father’s plot. I anticipate he accomplished this afterwards and chock-full communicating with his ancestor a few months afore his abortive and possibly preventable death. Let me allotment with you what did happen… Aback I was told that Shubho had taken sleeping pills, I anon alleged a doctor who advised him and accepted that annihilation was amiss with him. We additionally searched for an abandoned canteen or any added admonition signs but annihilation was found. As a amount of fact, Shubho himself alleged his ancestor at that time and told him to booty him abroad as per their plan. My abandoned appeal to Panditji at that time was, ‘You accept broke my activity and now you are ruining your son’s life. Why?’ His abandoned acknowledgment was, ‘It is because of you’.”
When Shubho accustomed in America, it was the Summer of Love. Shubho confused in with his ancestor in Hollywood, and was able a Ford Mustang. But the alluring doors of La-La Land abandoned sucked him in added into a atramentous hole. Shubho fell in adulation with an American babe Linda, whom he met at one of the concerts and, adjoin his father’s wishes, absitively to get married. Afterwards marriage, he gradually absent absorption in arena the sitar. He activate alleviation in cartoon and adherent his talents to earning a amount in accomplished arts from Parsons School of Design. Cut afloat from his cloistral apple breadth he was admired as Ravi Shankar’s son, he was casting into blue-collar America. Anon the baby-faced begat of the Maihar gharana was alive part-time as a agent in a liquor abundance and cartoon illustrations for blast directories to abutment his wife and two children.
At the age of 40, Shubho took his father’s admonition to acknowledgment to music abounding time. He began arena the sitar afresh with Panditji and alternate to India for a few concerts. He met his mother again, afterwards twenty years. It was an affecting moment and as he affected his mother’s feet, he told her he basic to complete his music studies. His captivated mother was accessible to activate immediately, but it was anon apparent that this was not the bright-eyed boy who had aureate to affirmation his destiny, this was a defeated and aged Shubho whose aftermost advantageous job had been as a pizza commitment boy. Aback he played calm with his ancestor at the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune in 1990, a few music critics carped that he was out of tune. This was abundant to drove him. Already again, Annapurna approved to argue him to break aback in India and already again, he declined. He had assured by now that it was too backward for him. And he flew abroad already again.
The affiance of address the agreeable genes of Annapurna and Ravi Shankar, the affiance of actuality the best agilely advancing beneficiary of the Maihar lineage, the affiance of acquisition America with his celebrity father, the affiance of award his character afar as a painter, the affiance of a new alpha with his final cruise to India — every aperture of affiance had angry into a daydream for Shubho.
In his aftermost few months, he cut himself off from everyone. He apprenticed bronchial pneumonia and on September 21, 1992, the Los Angeles Times appear that the son of acclaimed sitar amateur Ravi Shankar, who had been ill for the aftermost several months at his home in Garden Grove, had died at Los Alamitos Medical Center. The obituary noted: ‘Shankar is survived by his wife, Linda; their son, Somnath, 17; their daughter, Kaveri, 13, and his 71-year-old father, who is recuperating in London from anaplasty to bright blocked arteries.’ For some reason, advised or otherwise, it fabricated no acknowledgment that he was additionally survived by a afflicted 65-year-old mother, who did not accept a authorization to go to the US — a mother who had conceivably believed that a adverse annulment would be the bigger shock she would anytime accept to face.
Her circadian activity was no altered from that of an Indian housewife. Her day began at six in the morning aback she woke up to booty in the milk. She spent the day cooking, charwoman the abode — and alike abrasion her own clothes, because her ancestor had told her to do this in childhood. Besides music, her abandoned attraction was pigeons: accession affection she had imbibed from her father. Every afternoon, she would augment hundreds of pigeons on her balcony. The blow of the time, she accomplished in the training room, never abrogation the house, except a brace of times for medical reasons.
While it was a hermetically-sealed life, it was not an atramentous one; it was a activity that had fabricated accord with the appearing blemish of its own story. Her added affliction was the crumbling standards in music. She was built-in in an era of aristocratic advocacy (she was bestowed the name ‘Annapurna’ by the Maharaja of Maihar). In her lifetime, the apple had confused from Maharajas to Maharaja Macs — her acceptance now bare to amuse the lowest-common denominator of the masses to survive. She relentlessly accomplished her acceptance in the aforementioned burdensome way her ancestor had accomplished her and her father’s authority had accomplished him, but aggregate alfresco the windows of her training allowance had changed. Alike as her newer acceptance captivated themselves in decades of aloof 12-hour sessions, they would see half-trained musicians zoom accomplished as pop musicians and Bollywood music directors. Some acceptance got banal day jobs for adaptation but, over the years, activate the pressures of work, alliance and accouchement adamantine to antithesis with this ambitious airy path. While none would aboveboard catechism Maa, they sometimes wondered if they were aggravating to be a Timex in a agenda age.
Much has afflicted for anybody in the adventure aback the commodity came out. Three decades of alliance to Prof Rooshikumar Pandya seemed to accept acclimatized Annapurna and healed long-held scars. A accomplished cerebral counselor, I doubtable he helped her as abundant as she helped him. Ravi Shankar additionally ashen over the years. Aback Annapurna remarried in 1982, he was one of the aboriginal bodies to congratulate Rooshikumar Pandya. Pandya recalled that admitting Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi never met or batten to anniversary added afterwards her additional marriage, whenever Ravi Shankar batten to him over the phone, he would enquire about Annapurna – and her pigeons.
A white-bearded Pandit Ravi Shankar anesthetized abroad in 2012, afterwards a concert in San Diego in which he accustomed on date in a wheelchair, on oxygen, and played Raga Bhimpalasi in anamnesis of Hurricane Sandy victims. A year later, with abundant beneath media coverage, Rooshikumar Pandya anesthetized abroad afterwards a cardiac arrest. Annapurna chock-full teaching and annulled the anniversary Authority Purnima celebrations, the one day of the year aback her doors were opened to all her students, and anyone abroad who came with offerings of gratitude. And on October 13th, able-bodied into her ‘90s, she agilely confused on to her aing journey.
Our minds — addictive story-telling machines — jump blithely above decades of break to affix incidents and accomplish meaning; access that conceivably don’t abide for those active them. Maybe there is no cause-and-effect chain amid the agitated 15-year-old wife and the disturbing 35-year-old distinct mother and the aristocratic 55-year-old music teacher. We appetite to amalgamate these affecting and disparate addendum of her activity into one raga, but maybe they accord to altered songs, with the antecedent advance erased. In some cases, like with Annapurna, the daily, alternate breeze of time above the abounding amid years accepting smoothened out asperous memories into peace. In added cases, as with Ravi Shankar, the army of new faces replacing the old neighborhoods aural the apperception with newer skylines.
In his final interview, with Tathagata Ray a few months afore he anesthetized away, Rooshikumar Pandya gave the sanest and best abridged accretion I accept apprehend about the Annapurna-Ravi Shankar saga: “Two bodies sometimes don’t match. It is actual simple and happens all the time. Bodies are abandoned captivated about their marriage. But what bodies don’t accept is that it was over connected ago. Both of them accept remarried, lived happily, and lived a abounding life. Both of them accept contributed awfully to the country’s music. While he chose to accomplish in concerts, she chose to advance her father’s music amid her students.”
And sometimes it is adamantine to how connected the gaps in time accept absolutely been. They were affiliated in the age of cutting vinyl. They afar in the year Phillips alien ‘compact cassette’ players. Shubho went to the US aloof afore the Sony Walkman became the rage. She remarried Prof Pandya at a simple Arya Samaj commemoration in 1982, the year music began affective to Compact Discs. And afresh the year afterwards Shubho died, mp3 dead cassette tapes forever. My aboriginal account happened absolutely a year afore Apple launched the iPod, which put ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’. And that was still 17 years ago.
Today, technology allows me the affluence of instantly award a attenuate achievement by her on YouTube. It’s the complete of Raga Manjh Khamaj with a chapped atramentous and white still angel of a adolescent Annapurna as its video. And there she is: astringent in her dedication, her downcast boring captivated about amid her apparatus and the anxiety of Sharada Ma. With her ample bindi and able eyebrows advantageous her diminutive face, her surbahar looks above than her baby frame; so ample in fact, that aback she had aloof amorphous acquirements and Ali Akbar saw her disturbing to ability the college frets, he would beam at her and ask if she bare a ladder to the instrument. But aback she begins playing, her music takes over everything. Manjh Khamaj is an atramentous raga generally acclimated for devotion. And in her hands, the raga finds its absolute devotee. She strikes up a acutely beefing complete — beating with desolation but bare of any sentimentality, abundant like her. She holds aural her addendum a abiding silence; the affectionate of blackout that is captivated aural the sounds of crickets at dusk. And gradually, with ever-leaping licks of fire, she builds up to a addled dervish-frenzy of ecstasy.
Blame it on afterlife or algorithm, the aing video YouTube throws up for me is a achievement of Pandit Ravi Shankar arena the aforementioned raga, at Woodstock in 1969. From the aboriginal notes, one can faculty a showman’s aptitude for aing with the admirers and accustomed them forth into a blissful place. Aback he plays Manjh Khamaj afore a alive audience, it can about allocate as ‘fun’ in the way of a bouncing Santana guitar abandoned or Satchmo ripping his trumpet. The achievement is soulful, intricate and not defective in dexterity, but it is additionally admirable and one can account agog American adolescence sprawled out in backing Woodstock that weekend apprehensive what in God’s name is this wizardry. The aberration is clearer actuality than anywhere else. While Annapurna’s joy seemed to be in arena for herself and for her goddess, Ravi Shankar’s role seemed to be to allotment the ambrosia of the gods with the world. Fluent in both Eastern and Western agreeable languages and a charismatic, able date performer, Ravi Shankar was assuredly a natural, and better, agent for a dying craft.
Somewhere, that is breadth I acquisition my accord with their story. One of them was advised to calibration mountains of glory, and one of them was advised to erect aloof base of the basin of devotion. In themselves, they were pinnacles of the two functions of music — as an close aperture to all-powerful joy, and as a average of administration all-powerful joy with others.
Legend has it that one day in court, afterwards yet accession soul-satisfying agreeable achievement from Tansen, Emperor Akbar declared there could be no articulation added all-powerful than Tansen’s. The accompanist humbly replied that if the Emperor could apprehend his teacher, a anchoress alleged Haridas, his own poor efforts would be forgotten. The Emperor basic to anon arouse Haridas to cloister but Tansen cautioned him that it was not accessible – his abecedary did not sing on demand, abandoned aback he acquainted inspired.
Intrigued, the Emperor, with Tansen, set off for the backwoods in Vrindavan breadth Haridas lived in a hut. Aback they arrived, it was aboriginal morning, and the abecedary was abysmal in meditation. Akbar hid in the bushes while Tansen crestfallen himself afore his authority and began singing a angelic aria his authority had accomplished him. The teacher, still abysmal in meditation, did not accessible in his eyes. Afresh Tansen, as planned, advisedly sang a agenda offkey. His authority anon opened his eyes and adapted him. Tansen begged him to admonish him of the actual notes. So the authority aerial his articulation and rendered the aforementioned aria so alluringly that Akbar fell into ecstasy. It was abandoned afresh that Tansen appear to him that the bedfellow ambuscade in the bushes was the Emperor of India. Aback they alternate to the capital, a addled Akbar told Tansen he had been right: his abecedary was aloft annihilation he had heard before, but one affair puzzled him — how could there be such a all-inclusive aberration aback both had articulate the aforementioned song, and hit the aforementioned notes, flawlessly. It is said that Tansen replied: ‘The account is simple — I sing to amuse the king, he sings abandoned to amuse God.’
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