Sarod Maestro Pandit Rajeev Taranath remembered for his dedication to Hindustani Classical Music

Following the passing of renowned sarod maestro  Pandit Rajeev Taranath, the Hindustani classical Music fraternity reminisce about the man they knew and what the loss means to the country
Sarod Maestro Pandit Rajeev Taranath remembered for his dedication to Hindustani Classical Music

BENGALURU: Sarod maestro Pandit Rajeev Taranath dedicated his life to music from a young age, becoming an eminent figure in the realm of Hindustani classical music. Following his passing in Mysuru on June 11, he will be remembered not only for his music but also for his unending pursuit of knowledge until the end. Still digesting the news, maestros from the Hindustani classical fraternity in the city recall Taranath’s dedication and contribution to classical music.

Pandit Vinayak Malharrao Torvi, who knew Taranath for over 40 years, remembers the sarod maestro attending his concerts many times in Bengaluru and Mysuru. “He organised my programmes in Mysuru at his house. He loved the raga Alhaiya Bilaval which is a morning raga, especially the way I sang it. Whenever we met, he playfully demanded that I sing it. He was not only kind-hearted but also very knowledgeable, and he was proficient in several languages, including English, Kannada, and Bengali,” says Torvi, adding that Taranath came from a great school of Gurus.

“He was a Guru to many in numerous ways. The country has lost a great man,” adds Torvi. Taranath was a senior disciple of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and continued to learn from Khan until his death in 2009. Besides Khan, Taranath was also mentored by Pandit Ravi Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, and Ustad Aashish Khan. Furthermore, he was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2019 and the 1999-2000 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

The loss feels personal to tabla artistes like Kiran Yavagal, who visited Taranath in the hospital last week when he heard the news of his deteriorating health. Yavagal says that Taranath loved his musical instrument so much that he had one in the hospital. “I visited him before his surgery. He was always so optimistic that he told me that soon after the surgery, we would play for a concert,” he shares, adding, “I stayed in Mysuru for four years, and he always took care of me. He was like a grandfather to me. Until the day he was hospitalised, he would get up in the morning and sit for practice.”

Taranath’s expertise extended beyond music; he was also well-versed in English literature. He headed the English literature department at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli. In the 1980s, he taught English at Aden University, Florida, and was the head of the Indian music programme at the California Institute of Arts’ World Music Department from 1995 to 2005. Renowned historian and a self-confessed connoisseur of music Ramachandra Guha, expressed his gratitude to the late musician on social media, saying, “Professor Rajeev Taranath was truly a rara avis(rare bird), a musician among the scholars and a scholar among the musicians.”

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