• PTI

Bapuji adapted to online teaching during Covid-19 seamlessly: Pt Jasraj's daughter

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Pandit Jasraj embraced new-age technology as he believed it to be an "assistant" to his music, says daughter singer Durga Jasraj, who wants to take forward the legacy of the late classical vocalist through the newly launched Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the foundation on the 92nd birth anniversary of Pt Jasraj last Friday.


As the co-founder of the organisation, Durga hopes to work on the "preservation and promotion of traditional music, artistes' welfare, education and sustainable livelihood".



"It is an effort to uplift and support the music community, instrument makers belonging to different genres of music, and the generation ahead. Through this, we are trying to give this sector its due recognition and preserve the cultural heritage of our country. We are hoping that all of us together can make that one big difference," she told PTI in an interview.


Pandit Jasraj, who died at the age of 90 in New Jersey, US, in August 2020, was revered worldwide by his students and disciples for his teachings of the Indian classical ragas -- for which he used mediums like Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp extensively, she recalled.


In fact, there was no problem for the technology-friendly vocalist to make the online transition during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.


"Bapuji (Pt Jasraj) was never averse to technology. He always thought of technology as 'sahayak' (assistant), and not 'gati rodhak' (speed-breaker) to his music. Due to his crazy travelling schedule, he was teaching music through Skype for almost 20 years. So he adapted to online teaching seamlessly during the Covid-19 pandemic as well," Durga recalled.



The Haryana-born classical vocalist, who infused life into the most complex ragas, was a recipient of various prestigious awards including Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.


Durga, a musician herself, recalled a conversation with her late father on how microphones saved so many Indian ragas from extinction.


"Agar microphone nahin hota toh 'Raag Darbari' ka yeh swaroop nahi hota, aap chilla chilla ke raag darbari nahin gaa sakte (Raag Darbari would have lost its structure had there been no microphones around, you can't scream and sing Raag Darbari)," was what he told his daughter in 2019.


According to Durga, this observation of her father regarding the equipment reflects how deeply he thought about and appreciated technology.


"... If you have mics you don't have to strain your vocal chords. The delicate part or the beautiful lower and middle octaves in these raagas can be performed with such ease, it reaches out to people. That's how these raagas have become popular in the first place.



"Without mics, these raagas would have become 'non-practising raagas' and people would just have forgotten about them. Even now there are so many ragas that have gone into oblivion," she explained.


The Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation has musicians such as Pt Shivkumar Sharma, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Dr L Subramaniam and Anup Jalota, among its official mentors.


Durga hopes the foundation helps support the music community in India.


"It is an effort to uplift and support the music community, instrument makers belonging to different genres of music, and the generation ahead. Through this, we are trying to give this sector its due recognition and preserve the cultural heritage of our country. We are hoping that all of us together can make that one big difference," she said.