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Dec 12, 2012 at 04:01pm IST

Legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar dies at 92 in San Diego

New Delhi: Legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar died on Wednesday morning IST in San Diego in the United States at the age of 92 years. Pandit Ravi Shankar was in the US with his family for a surgery.

Pandit Ravi Shankar's wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka have issued a statement saying, "His health has been fragile for the past several years and 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 taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time."

A three-time Grammy award winner, Pandit Ravi Shankar was nominated for a Grammy award for 2013 too. Reacting to the news, Kathak dancer Sovana Narayan said, "He was an amazing artist, a very humble person. He brought sitar to a new level."

India's ambassador to US Nirupama Rao tweeted, "Pandit Ravi Shankar. Mourn passing of a musical genius and gentle soul. Attended his last concert Nov in Calif. He played with such passion."

Ravi Shankar was born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from 1986 to 1992. He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999.

He created music for Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray and was the music director of All India Radio from 1949 to 1956.

Pandit Ravi Shankar has two daughters who are talented musicians themselves. Anoushka Shankar is a famous Sitar player like her father and has won many awards. His other daughter is Norah Jones who is an acclaimed singer in the international arena. He toured Europe with his brother's dance troupe and at the age of 18 he began to learn how to play the sitar from his guru Baba Allauddin Khan. In the year 1939, Ravi Shankar gave his first public performance in India. His formal training concluded in the year 1944 and he moved out of Bombay.

It was during the 50s that he became famous in the world of music outside India. He performed in Soviet Union (1953) and the West (1956). He has performed at prestigious events like the Edinburgh Festival and also at important places like Royal Festival Hall, London.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has condoled the passing away of eminent Musician Pandit Ravi Shankar. In his condolence message, the Prime Minister described him as "one of its most effective cultural ambassadors across the world". Here is the full text of Prime Minister's letter to Pandit Ravi Shankar's wife:

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar. India has lost an eminent son, the world of sitar has lost one of its ablest exponents ever and a shining light in the firmament of music has been extinguished. Like many others around the world, I join you in grieving this loss and in extending to you and your loved ones my heartfelt condolences.

I consider it a personal privilege to have known Pandit Ravi Shankar and to have served together with him as a member of the Rajya Sabha. It was difficult, often, to judge what was more remarkable - the man or his music. The nation was fortunate not only to be able to enjoy his music, but also to have him as one of its most effective cultural ambassadors across the world. His humanism, combined with his musical genius, helped him in building cross-civilisational contacts that served the world of music and benefited humanity at large.

I am aware that it will be difficult to come to terms with this grievous loss and that words are scant consolation at such a time. I pray that Pandit Ravi Shankar's soul find eternal peace and that you and your family members be granted the strength and fortitude to bear this loss. Once again, please accept my sincerest condolences."

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