Remembering Ravi Shankar


Sayeed Shuvro

As an impressionable listener of music I would like to consider myself as one of the most unfortunate and deprived listeners in the world as I explored Ravi Shankar just 3 years before.  For the same reason, though I have been playing guitar for more than 12 years but I would like to consider myself as an unlucky and deprived guitarist. No matter what genre of music you like, I think you are also the one of the most deprived music lovers in the world if you have not explored the world of Shankar yet.  For me and as for the vast majority of my contemporaries, Shankar was, is and forever will be the ultimate sitar player.  He is the most accomplished sitar godfather who can easily plunge everyone’s heart and soul into his obvious blinding virtuosity of playing sitar. 

  He was blessed with plenty of cogently idiosyncratic techniques of playing sitar which would have remained unearthed without his execution.  As a musician I would like to consider him not only as a legendary musician but also as a scientist of the strings. 

Watching Ravi Shankar playing sitar is kind of observing a set of fingers that are finding a way to do what the heart wants to say. Once the maestro said “I cannot see ahead two meters, you know? I live for the moment, the second. To make the future is to live every day, every second”. Yes the moments he lived have made him immortal. The moments he gifted shall remain alive and emphatic forever. Listening to his guitar in the midst of solitude certainly creates such an energetic moment which will delve yourself deep into voice of his heart

It is easy to see why when you listen to him play. The amazingly complex music sounds 'entangled' with the multi-finger strumming, with notes swaying liberal half-steps up and down, but in Shankar’s  hands the melody walks with clarity and determination through the web of moodswings, sometimes two parallel melodies at a time.  Ravi Shankar is a gifted storyteller and never loses sight of the structure of the music, and his playing is full of intent and focus. There is a hypnotic sense of purpose to the music. If you are unprepared, or not in the right mood, the listening experience can easily be overwhelming, but once you get into it you will find the effect reversed. 

Once in a while someone like Ravi Shankar comes along in a musical discipline that changes everything, sees things that others have not seen up to that point, and Shankar was one of these people. After him, the doctrines of Indian Classical music went through a radical change and the proof is that so many young people have taken his lead and now Indo-classical is full of that virtuosity.

Pandit Ravi Shankar, was the virtuoso sitar maestro who introduced Indian classical music to the world and inspired the Sixties 'psychedelic' sound through his collaboration with the Beatles. In 1966, Harrison befriended Shankar and began to take lessons from him and the latter's protégé Shambhu Das.  About George Harrison’s impact in his career, Shankar said that the George Harrison made me famous, that is true in a way. Many people, especially young people, have started listening to sitar since George Harrison, one of the Beatles, became my disciple.