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Power of Pt. Jasraj’s music touched souls

As a young journalist working at United News of India, I had this wonderful opportunity of meeting Pt Jasraj for an interview, twenty years ago at his Mumbai residence.

Panditji was extremely friendly while answering the questions, there was no attitude shown that he has reached a magnificent level, a very few could even think of, forget achieving those milestones. While being a young budding journalist, I was a bit shy interacting with a senior and noted artist, he made me feel extremely comfortable, at ease with his simple mannerisms and light-hearted conversation.

There have been a very few luminaries in the field of Indian classical music who, like him are being referred to as the pillars of Hindustani classical music.

What struck me during the interview while answering questions, he would explain to me citing examples, something, I could easily relate to.

During the interview, we were served tea and cookies. While I was having tea, Panditji made me taste cookies, saying a guest had got for him from the US, and they were delicious.

Since I couldn’t refuse his request, I picked one. It is a rare gesture by a vocalist of his stature to suggest a journalist taste a particular snack, during an interview.

He explained how he had nurtured one of his students, at his home, as he hailed from a remote village and his parents could not afford his training due to their humble background. While narrating the incident on how he spotted the boy, Panditji highly praised the boy for his talent.

As he was explaining that the Indian Classical music is sublime and the rendition takes the vocalist beyond the known, that which is ‘truth and supernatural’. Panditji started singing and within minutes, I could feel completely in a trance state. The experience was so mesmerising that I felt tremendous gratitude towards him for making me realise at a very young age the power of music and the intrinsic value it offers to the listener.

“The Indian Classical music touches the soul of listeners,” he had said and ensured I get a glimpse of its profoundness.

While so much has been written about Panditji’s contribution as an artist, some of his qualities are rare to be found.

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