Sitar Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, whom George Harrison called the "Godfather of World Music" passed away on December 11, 2012 in southern California at the age 92. The death of Ravi Shankar marks the end of an era of music as he leaves behind wife Sukanya Shankar, the famous musician daughters, sitarist Anoushka Shankar and singer-songwriter Norah Jones, and countless sitar buffs in India and abroad.
The Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee condoled the passing away of Pandit Ravi Shankar saying, "Panditji was a genius who delighted India and the world with his ethereal music. He became a global icon of music, art and culture. His creative and versatile genius not only left an indelible mark on the world of Indian classical music but also popularised Indian classical music worldwide. Panditji's passing away has left a void in the field of music..."
Ravi Shankar was born on April 7, 1920 in a Bengali Hindu Brahmin family settled in Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus on the banks of the Ganges. His father was an eminent barrister, and his family was full of artistes - all his brothers being achievers in different spheres of performing arts. Robu, as he was called lovingly, was the youngest son, and at the age of ten he accompanied his elder brother - the world famous dancer Uday Shankar - to Paris with his troupe of gifted dancers and musicians. He attended school in Paris, and initiated himself in the world of dance and music.
Ravi Shankar took his sitar lessons for about seven years in the Hindu traditional guru-shishya style, in a highly disciplined and isolated environment, marked by almost godly veneration for the guru.
Ravi Shankar's greatest achievement was perhaps his success in popularizing Indian music in the West. In fact, he devoted a major part of his life in cultural exchanges and enlightenment between various countries and communities. However, the classical purity of Ravi Shankar's innate style has remained unaffected, in spite of his affinity for Western music. He has collaborated with George Harrison and produced three superb albums, Shankar Family & Friends, Festival of India and the Chants of India (1997).