Legendary classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj passes away after cardiac arrest

He was one of the last of a generation of voices that included Kishori Amonkar, who died in 2017
Pandit Jasraj, the celebrated classical vocalist who originally trained as a tabla player to accompany singers, died following a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey on Monday.

The 90-year-old leaves behind a rich legacy of nearly eight decades as a singer and teacher. He was one of the last of a generation of voices that included Kishori Amonkar, who died in 2017.

“Bapuji is no more,” his daughter Durga Jasraj, also a musician, told PTI over phone from Mumbai. She was inconsolable and could not speak any more.

Pandit Jasraj, who belonged to the Mewati Gharana (school of music), was in the US when the coronavirus-led lockdown happened. He decided to stay back.

“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,” a statement issued by his family said.

Pandit Jasraj was born in Hisar, Haryana, to Pandit Motiram, a classical singer. Since 1972, he had been organising a music festival in Hyderabad in his father’s name. At 14, he began training as a vocalist and in 1952, he performed his first stage concert as a singer in Nepal in the court of King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah.

Initially in his career, he was criticised for embracing elements from other gharanas in his singing, a practice that subsequently became more acceptable. He went on to perform semi-classical and popular music and was decorated with the Padma Vibhushan in 2000.

Two years ago, in August, writer and poet Sunita Budhiraja released his biography, Rasraj: Pandit Jasraj, in his presence in the US. Last year, he also had the rare honour of having a minor planet named after him.


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