Indian Classical Music today, is one of the greatest gifts of India to the world. And a blessed few, much beyond their fame and fortune, have devoted their lives to bolster this claim far and wide. While renowned instrumentalists have done it through their chosen instruments, like the Sitar and the Sarod, Pandit Jasraj has done it through that one God-gifted instrument: His Voice.
Pandit Jasraj’s achievements are beyond compare more so because vocal music is the most intimate and direct medium according to India’s musical treatise and tradition. And almost beyond belief is also the fact that he has carved out his monumental global following without depriving his many million domestic admirers. He has been passionately loyal to his soil, while his music has scaled ethereal heights all over the planet. He has single-handedly paved the way for Indian vocal classical music to resonate across the world.
Born in a family of outstanding musicians over four generations, Pandit Jasraj was initiated into music by his revered father, Pandit Motiram, until the age of three, when his father passed away. Thereafter he underwent intensive tutelage under his elder brother and Guru, Pandit Maniram. Later, along his turbulent path of hard-earned maturity, he was guided by his spiritual Guru Maharaja Jaiwant Singh.
Unique Musical Attributes
Blessed with a soulful and sonorous voice, which traverses masterfully over all four and a half octaves, Jasraj’s vocalizing is characterized by a harmonious blend of the classic and opulent elements projecting traditional music as an intense spiritual expression, at once chaste and yet densely coloured. This gives his music a unique and sublime emotional quality, reaching out to the very soul of the listener.
Perfect diction, clarity in sur (musical notes), and gayaki (creative musical progression), command in all aspects of laya and rhythm, depth of composition and an unmistakable interplay between notes and words to evoke the desired mood and emotion, are the hallmark of Panditji’s music. This sensitivity, added to the pure classical approach, has given his singing a lyrical quality, the quintessential of the Mewati tradition of singing.
Pandit Jasraj the Guru….Mentor
As a mentor and guru, Pandit Jasraj has already presented to the world an impressive number of illustrious disciples whom he has nurtured and trained in accordance with India’s rich tradition of the Guru-Shisya Parampara, the ideal teacher-student relationship. Today, his frontrunner disciples too are zealously carrying the flag of Indian music to every corner of the world.
Innovations and Contributions
- Although every performance of Pandit Jasraj is soaked in originality, he is the acclaimed originator of a unique concept that will go down in history as one of his greatest contributions to Indian music! Aptly named Jasrangi, it is a novel Jugalbandi(duet) that is a sensuous fusion of the Yin and the Yang, the male and the female principles. It is a harmonious blend, wherein a male and a female singer, each with individual accompaniments, sing different ragas in their own respective scales, interweaving them into a wondrous whole.
- Never content with the tried and the tested, Pandit Jasraj has not only created over a three hundred bandishes (compositions) himself, but has also traversed the uncharted path of singing ancient Sanskrit verses of great saint-poets in pure Indian classical style. This has helped create a major spiritual revolution in classical music. Today, he sings these Sanskrit compositions to rapt audiences with divine inspiration.
- His deep research in Haveli Sangeet (Pushti Marg Sangeet) has given us some rare and inspired compositions in this devotional genre.
Divine Power of Music
- Although Pandit Jasraj will never claim himself to be greater than his music, witnesses often discuss legendary incidents that have taken the power of his music to utterly incredible levels. His ardent rendition of Raag Dhulia Malhar has brought unseasonal showers upon drought-hit soil…
- His Raag Todi has entranced a deer who came bounding amid a stunned human audience at Sankat Mochan Hanuman Mandir -Varanasi in 1987.
- His devotional singing in turbulent times has instantly transformed a hostile Sikh into an admirer. In January 1990 Pandit Jasraj was invited to perform at the Khalsa College Amritsar , when he arrived it was announced that “ Koi Bharat se ayaa hai Pandit Jasraj”.After his performance of 45minutes the Sikh said “ Yeh Sade Bharat ke Pandit Jasraj hain”.His musical fusion of Aum and Allah has brought audiences to their feet in Islamic Pakistan
- He personally visited a hospital, just to sing to a cancer-stricken young boy on his deathbed. This boy was 19 years with a third stage of cancer, he was a student of space science.He lived in Chennai. Pandit Jasraj received a call at his residence from Delhi and went to see this boy with his musical instrument as the boy had a last wish to see him and hear him. When Panditji arrived at the hospital this boy did Pranam from the bed itself without getting up and said “Sorry Panditji I cannot getup to greet you”. Pandit Jasraj sang Raag Darbari before which he sang a Durga Sholka “Jai Jai Shri Durge”. He sang for 40 minutes. After which the boy could get up and sit. Pandit Jasraj sang for 20 minutes Raag Bharavi after which he saw a happy expression on the face of this child. When the doctor came in he was surprised that it is a miracle that this boy can stand up and he gave them permission to take the boy home. These kinds of miracles occur many times during his signing. He has always spread love, peace and harmony through his music…….
The living legend, in his own humble words, credits his whole existence, and what he is today, to the blessings of the Almighty. As an inspiring fountainhead, he stands apart with the distinction of creating seven schools in North America serving the cause of music. International awards and titles have not only been created and bestowed upon him, but have also been instituted after his name.
Music and Beyond
His renditions of Jai Hind, Tiranga take him beyond just music and into the realm of nationalistic pride and his rendition for the cause of AIDS for the BBC and Panchatatva (musical awareness towards global warming) are milestones in themselves… The list goes on……..
He is also the Founder Patron of the Indian Music Academy, an organization formed primarily to achieve the objective of:-
- Popularizing all genres of Indian Music around the globe
- Promoting extraordinary young talents of all forms of music
- Providing medical aid to needy musicians, lyricists and their dependants.
These are unprecedented initiatives in the history of Indian music that have immortalized his name during his lifetime.
Pandit Jasraj Ambassdor of Music
While the typical admirer of Jasraj readily visualizes his radiant image performing on stage, entrancing audiences with his divine music, Pandit Jasraj’s total persona spreads much beyond, as a constantly expanding creative genius, a revered guru, and above all one of India’s most active cultural ambassador to the world.
As he sings, geographical borders get erased; religious barriers melt away, racial colors’ mix freely on the palette of humanity… and he shines on the musical horizon as Sangeet Martand, the blazing sun of music.
Few Indian musicians have been so felicitated as Pandit Jasraj. And fewer still have been celebrated the way he has been both in his own country as well as abroad. Following is the list of accolades/awards he has received. He is one of India’s best-known cultural ambassadors to the world.
- Winner of all 3 Padma Awards Padma Vibhusan-2000, PadmaBhushan-1990 PadmaShree-1975
- Sangeet Natak Academy Award -Govt. of India.
- Sangeet Martand (Haryana) -1977
- Maharshtra Gaurav Puraskar- Govt of Maharastra.
- Dr Mallikarjun Mansur Award, Dhardwad, at the hands of Smt .Gangubai Hangal.
- “Asthana Vidwan” of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
- Sangeet Sagar Ratna by Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
- Surer Guru Government Music College, West Bengal
- “Sarva Shrestha Kala Gaurav” Award for both Pandit Jasraj & Madhura Jasraj by Sanskruti Kala Darpan
- Chinmaya Rasraj (Chinmaya Mission, Delhi at the hands of Pujya Swami, Tejomoyanad.
- Honoured as ‘Son of Hyderabad’ by the people of Hyderabad given at the hands ofBharat Ratan M.S. Subhalakshmiji.
- Rasraj Award (Haryana)
- Former Prime Minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee honoured Panditji as ‘Rasraj’.This award was given on 2nd February 2002 when he sang at Panchavati,the residence of the Prime Minister
- Sangeet Sapt Sindhu by Puri Mandir, Bhubaneswar.
- Sangeet Chakravarty by Sangeet Music College. Mumbai. Maharastra.
- Hanumant Award by Pujya Shri Morari Bapu.
- Suryadatta Award, Pune. Maharastra
- Pandit Jasraj was honoured with the 12th “Yudhvir Memorial award “for his outstanding contribution to classical music. By Andhra Pradesh Governor Surjit Singh Barnala.
- Narayanswamy award- Ram Seva mandali, Bangalore- 2008
- Desh Ratna
- Acharya Jialal Vasant Vaggeyakar Award
- Sangeet Kala Ratna (M.P.)
- Swami Shri Haridas Sangeet Ratna (Brindavan, U.P.)
- Doctorate in Music-Vishwa Unnayan Sansad, W. Bengal
- Dinanath Mangeshkar Award (Maharashtra) given at the hands of Bharat Ratan Lata Mangeshkar.
- Kala Samrat Award at the hands of Pandit Kishen Maharaj (Varanasi)
- Bharat Shiromani Award, Delhi
- Bhai Vir Singh International award-1991 given at the hands of Dr. S.D. Sharma the then Vice President of India
- Allauddin Sangeet Ratna Award (M.P.)
- Giants International Award- Nana Chudasama.
- Naad-Brahma Shiromani, Ujjain
- Hafiz Ali Khan Award (Gwalior)
- Kalidas Sanman (M.P.) for his creative contribution to music
- Naada Nidhi, Mysore awarded at the hands of Pujya Sachidanand Ganpati.
- Dagar Gharana Samman from Maharana Mewar Foundation of Udaipur.
- ITC Sangeet ResearchAcademy Award- Delhi -2007-08. Given at the hands of Smt Gurusharan Kaur wife of Dr. Man Mohan Singh Prime Minister of India.
- “Swardhiraj” by the music lovers of Mumbai
- President Kalam’s letter to Panditji appreciating his music.
- Panditji was given an honorary doctorate degree by Ravindrabharati University, Kolkatta.
- A park has been constructed in his name at his birth place Pilimondori, Dist – Fatiabad by the people of Pilimondori. Haryana, India.
- The ministry of HRD under the aegis of the Department of Culture has recently awarded Panditji with a fellowship in recognition of his great contribution to the field of music in India.
- Nizam college, Osmania University has named heritage building in his name “Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj International Centre of Culture and Aesthetic Studies” in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh, India).
- A park has been constructed in his name at his birth place Pilimondori, Dist – Fatiabad by the people of Pilimondori. Haryana, India.
- Sangeet Natak Ratna Purashkar fellowship –given by Sangeet Natak Academi.-2009.
- The Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikar Puarshakar -2009.
- Conferment of Fellowship to Pandit Jasraj by the Governor H.E. Shri E.S. L. Narasimhan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh by on behalf of Sangeet Natak Akademi on 30th November 2010.
- BHARATMUNI SAMMAN 2010. Felicitation Ceremony was held on 17th December, 2010
Awards Instituted in his name
Among the numerous awards instituted in the Great Maestro’s name, to recognize the Artistic Talents of deserving musicians, perhaps the most significant by far is the Cross Cultural Understanding Award by Rotary club of Hyderabad. This is awarded to an individual or group of individuals who coming from one cultural milieu have made to effort to understand & master an art form from a different cultural ethos. Its significance lies in the fact that this award is an effort to promote peace and goodwill between human beings and belief that Art is a communication which has only one form and hence can connect the world.
So far 4 such awards have been given to following artists:
1) The first Award was presented in the year 07-08 to Mrs Rehana Khan for her proficiency in Bharat Natyam. 2) In 08-09 the Award was presented to PadmaSri Dr.Ileana Citaristi for her proficiency in Odissi. 3) The third Award was presented in 09-10 on March 6, 2010 to Mr. Justin McCarthy, an American by birth, for his proficiency in Bharat Natyam. At this function Mr. Cornelis M. Keur, the Consul General, American Consulate General, Hyderabad was the Special Guest of Honor.4) The Fourth Award was presented on 23rd February, 2011 to Ms Saskia Rao – de – Haas , Dutuch born Cellist and now a exponent of Hindustani Classic music on modified Cello.
Other awards given under the Great Maestro’s name:
- The University of Toronto has instituted a scholarship in his name for young canadians wishing to train in music. Also the first DISTINGUISHED VISIOR AWARD was created specially in honor of Panditji by the same university in 1999 for the first time since its inception 200 years ago.
- A ROLLING TROPHY instituted by the Rotary club of Bombay (Shivaji Park).
- WARD by the public of Pune, Today all leading artist/musicians have been honoured by Pandit Jasraj Gaurav Purashkar from Pune. The Award for young artists instituted by the people of the great cultural city, Pune was a precursor to many such honours that followed.
Haryana Insititue of Fine Arts- Karnal has initiated award in his name called “Jasraj Saman” in association with Government of Haryana, India.
ALL IN HIS NAME STANDS TESTIMONY TO HIS GREATNESS.
- He did ‘Sangeet Yagna’twice. For the peace of Gujarat people after the earthquake on 22nd / 23rd/24th March 2001 in Ahmedabad. On the 14th of October 2001 in New York in ‘Pandit Jasraj Auditorium’ for the peace of the New York people after the 11th September tragedy. All the proceeds /collection of this function were given a way for the noble cause.
- The Harvard University Art Museum together with Kalawati (a wing of the University) of the US,honoured Panditji as “Excellent Musician”
- “Artist of America Award” from American Academy of Artists.
- The University of Toronto has Honoured Pandit Jasraj with its highest award, ‘The Distinguished Visitor Award’ making Panditji the first ever to receive it in the 200-year history of the University. This also makes him a visiting Professor of its faculty for life. The award consisted of a citation and a medal crafted by the renowned Canadian sculptor, Sandra Nobel Goss.
- He has been accorded civic receptions at Oklahoma City in the USA as also in Mumbai (Mahanagar Palika), Valsad, Nagpur, Hissar, Varanasi and Ujjain in India.
- The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan of London, U.K. has also Honoured Panditji.
- “Sangeet Samrat “by Vedic Heritage, New York.
- “Ved Shiromani” – the highest Awards of Vedic Heritage of New York.
- “Param Acharya” by Pandit Jasraj Institute, New York, New Jersey,Pittsburg.
- Mayor of New York Mr. Julian Honoured Pandit Jasraj at a function at South Port New York.
- “Rana Award” in New York by the people of Rajasthan in U.S.
- A Scholarship instituted by the University of Toronto in the name of Pandit Jasraj for young deserving students of Indian music.
- A concert hall of the Vedic Heritage in New York named as the ‘Pandit Jasraj Auditorium’, a first of its kind honour for any living musician.
- Smithsonian Institution had a concert Aum Shanti a peace concert of timeless soulful, immortal music on 30th May2010 at Washington DC by Pandit Jasraj ji which was webcasted live for the first time in history all over the world.
For more details please visit Guru ji’s website at : http://www.panditjasraj.com