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Durga Jasraj: Bapuji had so much love to give to all of us

Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj passed away on August 17 at the age of 90 in New Jersey. Daughter Durga Jasraj recalls her Bapuji beyond the legendary classical vocalist, as a man who loved many things from learning zoom call to singing online during lockdown to encouraging fitness among youngsters.

“On one hand, my brother (musician Shaarang Dev) and I feel blessed and fortunate, to have Bapuji as our father because we all know about his contribution to the world of Indian classical music, and how he was admired by people beyond borders. But I want to share how Bapuji lived his life and that inspired us to follow his footsteps,” said Durga. 

Born in a small village Pili Mandori of Haryana, before the Punjab and Haryana partition, Pandit Ji was way ahead of his times. “Even though he came from a society where gender discrimination was inevitable, in our house there were no such rules. So I was not treated specially because I am the daughter, or Shaarang was never given any extra privilege because he was his son,” said Durga. 

Pandit Ji treated all his students as his children. At any given point of time he would have 7-10 students living with the family as part of guru-shishya parampara who were never charged any fees because for him it was ‘vidya daan,’ a huge contribution to music. 

He had a magnetic, larger than life personality. Though he became a superstar and travelled extensively for his concerts he always had time for everyone home. “He would play with us, we would jump around him. Someone would be doing riyaaz and Bapuji would also be listening to that and correcting to perfection!”

A very open-minded person he encouraged all his students to experiment and if they made any mistake, he would just get upset for a moment and accept it as a human mistake. “I think he was too huge a personality and, of course, he had so much love to give to all of us,” she said. 

Jasraj Ji would be strict about following set discipline. He nudged all his students to focus on their physical fitness equally. “As a child, I used to hate doing exercises and one-day Bapuji said, ‘meri bacchi, body ka balance sahi rakho to hi mind ka balance sahi rahegaaur awaaz bhi.’ At that time I did not understand what he meant, why would he be specific with food, exercise and riyaaz so much. I understand the value of it now,” said Durga. 

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