Tributes paid to ‘Saint of Santoor’ Pt. Bhajan Sopori

Tributes paid to ‘Saint of Santoor’ Pt. Bhajan Sopori

‘He lived for the unity of the country through music’


NEW DELHI, : The great music legend of India, Santoor maestro and music composer Pandit Bhajan Sopori, hailed as the ‘saint of santoor’ and ‘king of strings’ for his mastery over the instrument, passed away on 2nd June 2022 at a Gurugram hospital at the age of 73. On Sunday evening of 19th June 2022 a memorial prayer meet was organised at India International Centre, New Delhi to pay tributes to the departed soul, which saw people from different walks of life paying their homage to the musical great.

Politicians Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Sh. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sh. D.S. Rana, Musicians Vidushi Shanno Khurana, Pt. Vijay Shanker Mishra, Smt. Shameem Azad, Smt. Malini Awasthi, Pt. Chetan Joshi, Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, Ustad Akram Khan, Pt. Madhup Mudgal, Ustad Rafiuddin Sabri, Ms. Ragini Rainu, Ust. Saeed Zafar Khan, Sh. Asghar Hussain, Poet Dr. Agnishekhar, Smt. Nancy Dhar, Ms. Ranjana Narayan, Dr. Dayanand Vats, along with disciples, and hundreds of fans & family friends of Pt. Bhajan Sopori including Smt. Aparna Sopori, Sohrab and Abhay Rustum Sopori (sons) and Soumil and Soham Sopori (grandchildren) attended the prayer meet to pay their tributes, and also shared their memories of the Saint of Santoor.

Dr. Farood Abdulla recited a bhajan ‘Ram More Ram Kis Gali Gayo More Ram..’ while paying his tribute to the late music legend. He said, I’m sad and deeply pained by Pt. Bhajan Sopori’s death, apart from a great musician he was a human par excellence who had love for all, be it any religion, culture or individuals. He was a Saint; a Sufi, a Rishi. I was shocked when I got to know of his demise, and just wished if god could give him some more time to spread love for humanity, to the entire world, all of us. I pray to god to give strength to his family and Abhay to carry forward his rich legacy, said Dr. Abdullah.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori used his Santoor and his compositions to highlight the concept of oneness and foster unity enshrining the idea of national integration, humanism and peace amongst the common man and the youth in particular.

He was like a family. I have known him from very early days, my wife has been a disciple of the Master musician and father of music in J&K late Pt. Shambhu Nath Sopori ji and Pt. Bhajan Sopori & my wife Shamima share a beautiful bond of Brother & Sister. He was beyond just a musician or human and I must say he was a living saint in true sense with so much energy, love and care for one and all. He was someone who never believed in any one religion but in one identity of God, whoever it was. He believed in Humanism. Pt. Bhajan Sopori always used to say that the only prime truth is that we are human beings and everything comes after that. Losing such a divine soul is a huge loss to the entire world, said Sh. Ghulam Nabi Azad while paying tribute.

A Legend figure and a Musical Genius Pandit Bhajan Sopori was more than an individual – a performer and composer par excellence, musicologist, teacher, writer, poet, and an extraordinary human being – he was a complete institution in himself. Regarded as the cultural bridge of Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of the country, Pandit Bhajan Sopori was hailed as the ‘Saint of the Santoor’ and the ‘King of Strings’. Musicians Dr. Shanno Khurana, Smt. Malini Awasthi and Pt. Chetan Joshi, National Cultural organisation Sanskar Bharati, writer Dr. Agnishekhar, and many others shared their thoughts on the occasion.

One of the most amazing & soothing experiences at the prayer meet was seeing the Dharam gurus of all four religions praying for the peace of his soul, that’s what Pt. Bhajan Sopori used to believe in one world, one humanity. During the prayer meet, his disciples Divyansh & Sufi diva Ragini Rainu presented his compositions and paid tribute to their Guru. While Divyansh presented a composition in Raga Nirmalkauns and a bandish ‘Jai Jai Nirmal Janani’ written by Pt. Sopori. Ragini presented 2 qalams ‘Mai Ne Main Kino Aakhan Dard Vichore Da Haal Ni’, and ‘Mahi Yar Di Gharoli’, composed by Pt. Bhajan Sopori.

Pt. Bhajan Sopori has left a huge legacy behind him along with hundreds of disciples, who all see his son, Santoor Maestro & Music Composer Abhay Rustum Sopori to carry forward the work, his vision, music and legacy said guests at the prayer meet.

Abhay Rustum Sopori said, I’m short of words. He has left behind the rich legacy of 300 years of the exclusive Santoor gharana of the country, the Sopori Sufiana Gharana of Kashmir, which has produced generation after generation of great master musicians contributing to the cause of humanity and music. Papa’s sad demise is not just a personal loss but it’s a huge loss to the entire world, said Abhay. It’s such a big responsibility to carry forward his legacy, his vision, all his work, actually my responsibilities have increased to many folds. At the same time, being his son & disciple, I believe his teachings and blessings will help me sail through and work on the path shown by him, Abhay added.

Apart from Santoor and music in general, the responsibilities he has left upon me to work for the betterment of the world through music like Kashmir, providing opportunities to both young & senior musicians who don’t get stage, and his vision for Jan Jan Tak Music is a big task and I’m sure I’ll be able to do justice with his blessings, Abhay said.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori was born in Srinagar (Kashmir) into a family of musicians of the fabled ‘Sopori Sufiana Gharana’ of Kashmir, the exclusive traditional Santoor family of the country. The mystic master was the bearer of a rich musical legacy and was initiated into Santoor playing by his grandfather Pandit Samsar Chand Sopori and later by his father Pandit Shamboo Nath Sopori, hailed as the father of music in Jammu and Kashmir. He was a pioneer in establishing the Santoor on national and international platforms as a complete solo instrument. The quiet and unassuming maestro came a long way since he created history by being the first person to play the Indian Classical music on the Santoor in concerts way back in the early 1950’s at the age of five. In his nearly 7 decades of dedicated work he explored various dimensions of the Santoor, carrying out many path-breaking innovations and thereby expanded the scope of the Santoor as a classical instrument and formally established the ‘Sopori Baaj’ in the realm of Indian Classical Music. It is also entirely to his credit that Hindustani Classical and Light Music acquire legitimate space in J&K. Through his profound analysis, survey of history and various musical cultures, he established the Kashmiri Santoor as the predecessor to the resembling Santoor like instruments found in various other parts of the world. His propagation of music brought a revolution in the world of music and he has established a system for solo performance, voice culture, composition, arrangement, orchestration, conducting, designing of choral music, etc.

A composer of over 8,000 songs, Pandit Bhajan Sopori also widened the scope of devotional and religious music. His highly popular patriotic songs, which have been received as masterpieces and major musical hits of the country, include ‘Bharat Bharat Hum Iski Santaan’, ‘Hum Honge Kaamyaab’, ‘Vande Maataram’, ‘Naman Tujhko Mere Bharat’, etc. He also recomposed and revived the INA songs like ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’, ‘Vijayee Vishwa Tiranga Pyaara’, ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Jaa’, ‘Bharat Ki Beti’, etc. national integration and also composed anti-terrorism songs like ‘Savdhan’, ‘Mere Jannath Mere Kashmir’, etc. for the National Network. His classical version of ‘Saare Jahan Se Achha’, instrumental version of ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Vaishnav Janto’ folk version, etc. are recognized as pioneering efforts. He was honoured with hundreds of national and international awards, lifetime honours, titles and decorations for his enormous and unparalleled contributions to the field of music and culture, including the prestigious Padma Shri 2004, National Kalidas Samman 2020, Sangeet Natak Academy Award 1993, J&K Government Lifetime Achievement Award 2016, J&K Government Civil Award 2007, Honorary Doctorate by Utkal University of Culture, Odisha 2018 and many others.

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