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Pandit Shiv Shankar Sharma – Jammu's gift to India

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Jammu, June 28 (Ajit Weekly News) Nature has equated its gift of lofty snow-clad mountains, gurgling rivers, lakes, tall swinging trees, and fruit and flowers with human talent which really mirrors the beauty of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was god-gifted Santoor virtuoso. Santoor was his childhood craze. Those, who love to listen to this, claim they hear heavenly sound in it. There are people who spend quiet nights on boats in a river or lake to hear Sufi music on Santoor.

The strings of Santoor at once transport the listener to the other world where he or she hears heavenly music. No wonder young Shiv Kumar became enamored of Santoor. At the age of 17, he established himself in the eyes of icons of classical music when he performed at the Haridas Sangit Sammelan in Mumbai. The icons of classical music at the Sammelan included Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amir Khan, Ustad Mushtaq Hussain, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur and Rasoolavi Bai.

Among the kudos were some critical opinions which found Santoor not the right instrument for classical music. Perhaps, it was too early for some in the audience to gauge young Shiv Kumar’s missionary zeal with Santoor. Explaining his mission, he told a Jammu newspaper. “I have tried not to make a caricature of this instrument.” He had vision for Santoor.

His single-minded mission was to make Santoor an instrument for playing classical music. He went ahead with this mission despite criticism from some quarters. He developed the technique of “tremor” which the critics accepted. In an interview, he said, “I have also tried to improve the tonal quality of this instrument in order to give it soothing, soft and ethereal type of a sound.”

Shiv Kumar was born in Jammu on January 13, 1938. As he says, his music was inspired by folk music of Jammu, Dogri folk songs. The nature in Jammu played the defining role in the making of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. “The Call of the Valley” a film largely inspired by nature was made by him in 1967 in association with flute maestro Hariparshad Chaurasia and Guitarist Brij Bhushan Kalra.

His musical assignments mostly kept him in Mumbai. But Mumbai was not Jammu for him. “I do miss my beautiful Jammu” he was always nostalgic for his birth place to which he owed his love for music.

Many old people, who have listened to Santoor, swear the instrument produces heavenly music. Shiv Kumar was of the opinion that Santoor was spiritual music which took the listener into a serene atmosphere and put the mind to rest.

The story of Shiv Kumar is the story of an achiever who keeps his eyes, ears and above all his/her heart open to his/her environs. The environs which Jammu and Kashmir presents can inspire even a soul-less person. A Persian poet had said he would give up the throne of Delhi for Kashmir, the Paradise on earth, “where a roasted Chicken gets back its feathers”.

While we praise Shiv Kumar for his music, we should turn our attention to the gifts of the nature to Jammu and Kashmir which urge human beings to a creative par excellence. This creativity is reflective in Kashmiri art and handicraft. All motifs on sarees, carpets and woodwork reflect the artists’ inspiration from his environs. That makes Kashmiri handicraft famous all over the world. Keen and sensitive person can hear the haunting melodies of Jammu and Kashmir in these handicrafts. Shiv Kumar’s classical music on Santoor reflects that.

–Ajit Weekly News

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