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'Godfather of world music' passes away

Sitar maestro and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar, described by PM Manmohan Singh as a ‘national treasure’, died in a US hospital just a few days after a heart valve replacement surgery. He was 92.

Pandit Ravi Shankar
The sitar gently weeps: Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar plays during the Premaanjali Festival, a musical concert held in Bangalore on February 7, 2012. The concert was his final one in the country. Shankar passed away yesterday in a US hospital. file Pic/AFP

He had been admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, San Diego, near his home after he complained of breathing difficulties.

“Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery (Dec 6). Though the surgery was successful, recovery proved too difficult for the 92-year-old musician,” the Ravi Shankar Foundation said in a statement.

He is survived by his wife Sukanya Rajan and daughters Anoushka and Norah Jones, and three grandchildren. He also had a son, Shubhendra Shankar, from his first wife Annapurna Devi. Shubhendra died in 1992. Sukanya and Anoushka were by his side when the end came.

“As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years. On Thursday, he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away,” they said in a statement.

PM Manmohan Singh described his death as the passing away of an era. He said that Shankar was a “national treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage”.

According to his foundation, news that his album The Living Room Sessions, Part 1 received a 2013 Grammy nomination reached him just the night prior to his surgery.

Dubbed the ‘godfather of world music’ by George Harrison of the Beatles, Shankar was born in Varanasi on April 7, 1920.

George Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, ‘Shankar Family & Friends’ and ‘Festival of India’, both composed by Ravi Shankar.

US website mixes up Sri Sri and sitar maestro
An American news website in its report on the demise of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar put up the picture of Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, triggering panic among his followers. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is the founder of Art of Living Foundation, has a huge following across the world. “Several offices of Art of Living Foundation received calls regarding the death of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We informed them it was false,” said Karthik Krishna, media coordinator at Art of Living.

Did you know?
>> Ravi Shankar was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1999
>> Ravi Shankar won two Grammys and will be competing posthumously against daughter Anoushka for another in 2013 

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