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Monday, April 12, 2021

Pandit Ravi Shankar: Why is the music maestro respectfully called a Pandit?

Hindustani classical music has always been the country’s pride, and it continues to be so. Someone who has been instrumental in making it what it is today is also Pandit Ravi Shankar. He was an Indian musician and a composer and has in fact, also been the inspiration to many.

Shankar, was born as Ravindra Shankar Chowdhury, has been awarded many awards for his work. In fact, he also has to his credits 5 Grammy Awards, each with a different kind of music association. Now, it is a matter of respect that he is addressed as a Pandit, however, is there really a criterion to achieve the title?

As is said, there are only two reasons when someone is addressed as a ‘Pandit,’ also an ‘Ustad’ often. And well, Pandit Ravi Shankar has managed to achieve both, just right. As is said, it is a result of the musician acquiring maturity as an artist, and hence, being given that kind of respect. On the other hand, it is also a mark of a teacher/guru, meaning that he/she has turned a teacher for many. In addition, these students must be those who have also given performances in public.

What it means is that the title comes with seniority in music and also as a gesture of revering someone. The title of a Pandit, as addressed to many, is primarily honorific in nature.

Here’s a tribute video from the Pandit Ravi Shankar’s students:

Pandit V. N. Bhatkhande, in his book Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati, has a separate definition for Pandit. It says: A person who has extensive knowledge of Sangeet Shastras (i.e. ancient texts and treatises on Indian Classical Music), but has only ordinary knowledge of the art of singing (i.e. is an ordinary performer) is called a Pandit.

Pandit Ravi Shankar has to his credit, music that we still remember, including the so many international collaborations. His association to music has been in more ways than just concerts and creating them. For instance, he has developed styles, headed departments, and many similar activities.

His association with the sitar has also been one that has been instrumental in how we perceive music and its evolution. He breathed his last on December 11, 2012, in California.


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