“When a pigeon flies, his wings beat in taal… You can count the matras if you don’t believe me. And such a sweet voice… God has invested such a treasure of music in each of his creations that man can take armfuls away but never exhaust it. Goddess Saraswati has given me a little too. But not as much as I would have liked. Just when I began to draw something from the ocean of music, my time was up. This is the trouble, when the fruit of a man’s lifelong labour ripens… Who can understand God’s ways? But one thing I have understood a little. There is a fruit, the custard apple. I like it very much. I eat it and throw the seeds outside the window. And one day I look and there’s another tree of the same fruit. With new fruits on its branches. I eat it and others enjoy it too. This music also is like that. It is not the property of one, it belongs to so many.”
In August 2000, Ravi Shankar’s first wife, the reclusive surbahar virtuoso Annapurna Devi, did her only interview in 60 years with me in which she spoke about her torturous marriage and the tragic life of their son Shubho. Originally published in Man’s World, it was rediscovered by a journalist in December 2012 after the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar. Since then, the story of Annapurna Devi has gone viral logging in over 10k Likes on Facebook and 900 shares. It’s an amazing, unforgettable story of a rare modern-day musician mystic.
In the Hindustani classical music fraternity, Annapurna Devi’s genius is part of a growing mythology. The daughter of the great Ustad Allauddin Khan, the sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and the divorced wife of Pandit Ravi Shankar, she is considered to be one of the greatest living exponents of both the surbahar and the sitar.
The tragedy is that…
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