Beatles’ George Harrison referred to as him the ‘Godfather’ of World Music, and also the late Yehudi Menuhin has even compared him to Mozart. And recently, the four-time Grammy genius’s contribution to the globe of music was saved for future generations at the launch of Grammy museum’s latest special exhibit: Ravi Shankar: A Life In Music. And my topic is about his personal life, Pt Ravi Shankar-The Eccentric Lover .
Pt Ravi Shankar-The Eccentric Lover
Ravi Shankar (7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012), usually preceded by the title Pandit (Master) and “Sitar maestro”, was a Bengali Indian musician and a musician of Hindustani classical music. He was the known exponent of the sitar within the half of the twentieth century and influenced several other musicians throughout the world. Ravi Shankar was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999. Ravi Shankar was born to a Bengali Brahmin family in India, and spent his youth moving India and Europe with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under musician Allauddin Khan. Once finishing his studies in 1944, Ravi Shankar worked as a musician, making the music for the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was conductor of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956.
In 1956, Ravi Shankar began to tour Europe and therefore, the Americas taking part in Indian classical music and accumulated its quality there in the Sixties through teaching, performance, and his association with musician Yehudi Menuhin and rock group instrumentalist George Harrison. His influence on the latter helped popularize the utilization of Indian instruments in popular music genre within the latter half the Sixties. Ravi Shankar engaged Western music by writing compositions for sitar and orchestra, and toured the globe within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. From 1986 to 1992, he served as a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. He continued to perform till the end of his life.
He was a non-conformist from the very starting. And maybe, that attracted ladies towards Pandit Shankar. A gypsy inside, the person found comfort in maybe music the foremost until a very late period of his life. Pandit Shankar was a person of multiple affairs too.
Pt. Ravi Shankar married Allauddin Khan’s daughter Annapurna Devi (Roshanara Khan) in 1941 and their son, Shubhendra Shankar, was born in 1942. Allauddin Khan, additionally referred to as baba Allauddin Khan was a Bengali Indian sarod player and multi-instrumentalist, musician, and one among the most notable music teachers of the twentieth century in Indian classical music. Annapurna Devi was an Indian surbahar player of Hindustani classical music. She was given the name ‘Annapurna’ by former maharajah Brijnath Singh of the previous Maihar Estate (M. P., and it absolutely was by this name that she was popularly known . Shubhendra Ravi Shankar, additionally known as Shubho Ravi Shankar, was an artist, musician and composer.
He was the son and also the eldest kid of musicians Shankar and Annapurna Devi. Annapurna Devi married celebrated sitarist, Ravi Shankar, on fifteen might 1941 in Almora and divorced him in Oct 1982. Between 1946 and 1955, Annapurna appeared on stage with Ravi Shankar in a very few sitar-surbahar duets in the city and Mumbai. Annapurna married Rooshikumar Pandya in Mumbai on 9 December 1982 (Bondyopadhyay, Swapan Kumar (2005). annapurna Devi: An unheard Melody. Roli Books non-public restricted. ISBN 9788174368553. ). Rooshikumar Pandya, who was forty-two years old at the time of their wedding, was a well-known communication expert and a successful sitarist within the United States.
He died in 2013 suddenly of a cardiopulmonary arrest at the age of seventy-three. Annapurna Devi died of age-related problems on 13 Oct 2018 in Mumbai. Annapurna Devi and Ravi Shankar’s son, Shubhendra Shankar, received exhausting coaching in sitar under her guidance, till his father selected to interrupt his musical coaching and taking him to the U. S. Shubhendra died at an early age, after a marriage, and the birth of three kids. Shubhendra did not have a solo career in classical music however attended his father Ravi Shankar.
As per one among her students, a conflict concerning the upbringing and musical teaching of Subho was the most reason for Devi and Shankar’s separation, though they continue to stay in contact on loveable terms until the top.
Kamala Shastri (Chakravarty)
He separated from Devi during 1962 and continuing a relationship with Kamala Shastri (Chakravarty), a dancer that had begun within the late Forties. From 1967 till the late Seventies, she attended Shankar, within the role of tambura player and singer. She additionally lived with Shankar as his wife from 1967 to 1981, throughout that he was still married to musician and teacher Annapurna Devi. 14 very important years packed with youth and energy they spent along.
While in her teens, Kamala trained and performed with Uday Shankar’s dance company. She is the younger sister of noted Hindustani classical player Lakshmi Shankar and therefore, the widow of Mumbai theatre director Amiya Chakravarty. Kamala Chakravarty was born in Madras, south India, in 1928. Her father was R.V. Shastri, editor of mahatma Gandhi’s reformist newspaper harijan. In conjunction with her elder sister, Lakshmi Shastri, she studied at dance pioneer Uday Shankar’s India Culture Centre, (Ref: sitar player, Ragamala, page 91, 95) an academy based at Almora, in the remote north Indian state of Uttarakhand. (Ref: Ravi Shankar Ragamala, page-95)
At Almora in 1941, Chakravarty attended the wedding of Lakshmi, and then aged fifteen, to Uday’s brother Rajendra, where she met the youngest of the Shankar brothers, the future sitar expert Ravi Shankar. The latter recalls in his second autobiography, Raga Mala (1997) that Chakravarty was known as Saraswati Shastri at this time and only later began using Kamala as her first name. Following Amiya Chakravarty’s death in 1957, Ravi Shankar and Kamala renewed their relationship. (Ref: Ravi Shankar Ragamala, Page-157).
She helped run his Kinnara School of Music from 1963 onwards, and after Shankar left Annapurna Devi in 1967, they lived together until 1981, for much of the time in the United States. (Ref: Priyanka Dasgupta, Purba Dutt & Nona Walia, “Meet India’s bohemian lovers”, The Times of India, 18 February 2012) Kamala accompanied Shankar, on tambura or as a singer, on several of his recordings and international performances (Ref: Ravi Shankar, Ragamala, page-203). These included his warmly received set with tabla player Alla Rakha at the Monterey International Pop Festival, in June 1967.
In December that year, she and Rakha accompanied Shankar and American violinist Yehudi Menuhin during their Human Rights Day duets in New York, which was the first recital of Indian classical music to be broadcast globally. (Ref: Ravi Shankar, My Music My Life, page-96). Also, over 1967–68, she participated in filming for the Raga documentary. Later in 1968, Kamala along with Lakshmi and Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki (an Indian vocalist, composer and scholar of Indian classical, semi-classical, and devotional music) were the singers in Ravi Shankar’s Festival from India as group.
In August 1971, Kamala accompanied Ravi Shankar, sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and Rakha at the Concert for Bangladesh, held at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The success of the resulting live album and concert film gained Indian music its largest audience at that time. Although she provided a minor role in the performance, as the tambura player, George Harrison’s introduction of Kamala to the New York audience ensured that her name became linked to the event. (Ref: John Pidgeon, “Bangla Desh”, NME, 15 July 1972, p. 24; available at Rock’s Backpages).
By the time that Annapurna Devi finally granted Shankar a divorce in 1982, he and Kamala had split up (Ref: David Wilson & Siddharth Philip, “Beatles Muse Ravi Shankar, Father of Norah Jones, Dies”, Bloomberg.com, 12 December 2012). Having nursed Uday Shankar in the weeks before his death in September 1977 and similarly cared for Shubho after the latter had attempted suicide in 1970, she remained a close friend of the musician’s extended family (Ref: Ravi Shankar, Ragamala, page-260). According to Shankar in Raga Mala, Kamala accepted and was welcoming towards his second wife, Sukanya, and their daughter, Anoushka.
An affair with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer, who gave birth to Norah (or Geetali, as she was originally known) in 1979. (Ref: “Hard to say no to free love: Ravi Shankar”. Press Trust of India. Rediff.com.). He separated from Kamala Shastri in 1981 and lived with Jones until 1986. For the first two years of her life, he divided his affections between Sue and Kamala until Kamala, after three decades, finally quit him. The next year his divorce from his wife Annapurna Devi came through. At first, he chose to be with Sue.
But in 1986 their relationship concluded, although he remained close to Norah. In 1989, after much avoidance, he decided to marry Sukanya, at which point Sue banned him from seeing Norah.( Ref: https://www.rediff.com/news/2003/may/13ravi.htm ) In accepting her Grammy awards Norah Jones was gushing about her mother, Sue Jones, a concert promoter, but ignored her father, who was knighted by the Queen.
The rejection reflects the fact that she was raised in Texas by her mother, who had a nine-year relationship with Ravi Shankar. Jones was shattered when her father left home when she was young to marry another woman. (Ref:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1423071/Norah-Jones-snubs-famous-father-in-Grammy-triumph.html ).
Shankar never married Sue Jones and the affair was passing. Jones has always been very guarded about her aimless childhood contact with her famous Indian father. “I knew who my pappa was,” she told CBS television anchor Katie Couric on 60 Minutes in 2007. “I saw him sporadically until I was Nine then I didn’t see him again or talk to him until i was 18.” Her mother, Jones said, didn’t want her talking about him thus it was “kind of a secret.”
However, when Jones turned 18 she reached out to her father, who was living in California with his other daughter musician Anoushka Shankar and second wife Sukanya. ( Ref: https://www.firstpost.com/living/norah-jones-says-her-dad-ravi-shankar-will-be-greatly-missed-555511.html ).
An affair with Sukanya Rajan, whom he had known since the 1970s, led to the birth of their daughter Anoushka Shankar in 1981. In 1989 he married Sukanya Rajan at Chilkur Temple in Hyderabad (Ref: “Balaji temple in Hyderabad was stage for Pandit Ravi Shankar’s secret wedding”. The Times of India. ). Ravi Shankar met Sukanya Rajan, Anoushka’s mother, in 1972. Sukanya was a talented singer trained in Southern India’s Carnatic tradition. Both were already married. ‘It was a difficult time,’ recalls Sukanya, a single parent who lived with her mother and worked for the National Westminster Bank.
At first Ravi was not ready to accept her. Anoushka was a secret. I couldn’t take her anywhere because they look so much like one another. I would take her to meet him in private in hotels, usually twice a year. They first met when she was three months old; Anoushka always knew Ravi was her father.’ Eventually, Sukanya divorced her husband, Shankar split up with Kamala and Annapurna agreed to a divorce. Ravi and Sukanya married in 1989, moving to Encinitas, South California, and three years later, when Anoushka was 11.
Even though she adored the piano, her sitar career seems predestined; she may well have listened to Ravi’s ragas in the womb. ‘When I was pregnant I used to put his music on and sit near the loudspeakers,’ says Sukanya, ‘because I believed she could hear everything. “Whatever happened, it was spontaneous. The spontaneousness was continuously there; it gave me and others tons of happiness for a few time, but it brought sorrow also,” Ravi Shankar said commenting on his love life in The Times daily. In an interview Sukanya mentioned, “My first marriage was one of convenience. But I did grow to urge keen on him.
When I met Panditjee, I was in awe of him and completely star struck. One day he played my favorite raga at a concert in Greenwich and just gave me one look. That was enough and I was his slave. That was the first time I really fell in love from deep within and there was never any dilemma or turning back after that.”
Regarding age gap with her husband Sukanya mentioned, “When you fall in love you don’t really think about the logistics of age etc. My heart and soul had found its mate: I was head over heels in love with him. He was the most beautiful, charming, true gentlemen I had ever met in my life. No younger man had attracted me like that before.” About sharing stage Sukanya told, “Yes, I played Tanpura for him in 1973 at the Royal Albert Hall. I had long nails and he said I should cut it before the program and I said I would. After a flash, he went and got his nail clippers and cut my nails for me. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Every moment is very vivid in my mind. His smile looks and words are etched in my heart forever.”
About Ravi Shankar’s multiple affairs she told, “He already had a life pattern when I came to his life. I wouldn’t have respected him if he just had affairs and ditched the women in his life. I accepted him whole and if it meant that enclosed his ladies who he dear, that was fine. He was friends will all the people he loved till the end and yes some came and stayed with us even after we got married and until even a year before he left me. He gave me double fold once anyone was there and did not provide me an opportunity to feel jealous. I respect the folks that cared for and dear him in his life.”
Home, stability, love and happiness are what the musician got from Sukanya Shankar. Not only did she accept him together with his flaws (she ‘blames’ love for it) however embraced the folks that came with him. Kamala Shastri and Suknaya shared an exquisite bond and therefore the former apparently had even told Panditji once that marrying Sukanya was the best decision of his life.