So, an era comes to an end. A cliché but no one can complain, I think, in this case.
So much has been said about him that I wonder if I can say anything at all, let alone something new. I will say two things; one I read and one that I saw.
Someone asked the maestro why he played small tunes and did not even mind if All India Radio used his pieces as “bridge music” – the music played in the few minutes between programmes. The gentle soul said something like “why should I mind? Who am I to complain if my music reaches a few more people this way? If it gives a few moments of peace and happiness to some man why should I deny it?” Sounds unreal. But those who have known him, even through the legends about him, will know that this is true.
About 15 years ago he played in Mysore under the aegis of SPIC-MACAY in an engineering college – SJCE. He stopped in the middle of a glorious rendering of a raga (Maru Behag? I do not remember) and asked the young spellbound audience – what religion is this?
The lec-dem was held in an auditorium that was decorated with wood-inlayed panels of the symbols of many religions of the world. And he told the confused audience "Music has no religion. We make an issue of religion. But music must unite us all. We have to live peacefully – people of all the religions", he said and continued to play the divine music as very few can and on the Shehnai as only he could.