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©Ravi Shankar / AP
© Ravi Shankar / AP
Hundreds honor Ravi Shankar in California
By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press

ENCINITAS, Calif. (AP) -- Hundreds of friends and family on Thursday remembered sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar as an unfailingly generous teacher with a gentle spirit and sense of humor whose music fostered understanding between East and West.

Olivia Harrison said Shankar helped her late husband George Harrison achieve a more meaningful life when he was a young Beatle.

"They were like father and son as well as brothers," Harrison said on an outdoor stage decorated with garlands of white flowers at the Self Realization Fellowship center in Encinitas, the oceanfront suburb north of San Diego where Shankar lived for the last two decades.

Bing: More on Ravi Shankar

Conductor Zubin Mehta said he felt like a "little crumb" listening to Shankar play and credited his close friend with introducing India to the world.

Shankar died last week in San Diego at age 92.

His wife, Sukanya Rajan, and daughters — singer Norah Jones and Grammy-nominated sitarist Anoushka Shankar — sat in the front row as speakers paid tribute. The audience listened to clips of Shankar's music and recorded voice.

"Music is the only language I really know," Shankar said in one clip.

Under blue skies on a warm Southern California morning, a family friend read messages from political and cultural luminaries including musicians Phillip Glass and Peter Gabriel, who thanked him for teaching them. The audience heard excerpts from newspaper stories that trumpeted Shankar's enormous influence.

Labeled "the godfather of world music" by Harrison, Shankar helped millions of Westerners — classical, jazz and rock lovers — discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music. From Harrison to John Coltrane, from Yehudi Menuhin to Andre Previn, he bridged the musical gap between East and West.

Pirashanna Thevarajah, one of his students, said Shankar was the reason he pursued a music career and that his teacher sometimes believed more in him than he believed in himself. He called Shankar "a very simple soul with a wonderful sense of humor."

Thevarajah said Shankar followed his puns with the line, "That's why the call me a pundit."

Film director Joe Wright, Shankar's son-in-law, recalled a risky medical operation that Shankar's family was unsure he would survive. Though he made it through, Wright thought he might never again see Shankar alive as he was rolled into the operating room.

Wright saw Shankar's fingers moving as he was wheeled away.

"I never at any moment saw his fingers not playing, not beating a rhythm," Wright said.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
6Comments
Dec 20, 2012 10:42PM
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Shankar was the finest musician ever, bar none. Period. Seeing him play was enthralling. I sat with my mouth open the whole time, as did everyone there. The audience was totally silent, which should tell you something. There will never be another like him.
Dec 20, 2012 10:35PM
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They were talking about the love we all could share .... and the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion..............
Dec 20, 2012 10:05PM
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>>> "ICEALITY Means the World to ME! <<<

I have an idea that the International Center for Environmental Arts  and ROLLING STONE  MAGAZINE partner with the 'ROCK and ROLL Hall of Fame' and maybe other Legends in Music  to hold a International Contest to compose one global song of Peace and Goodwill for all the Worlds Children that could be song every time another Peace Stone is added to the "Worlds Children Peace Monument" or "Great American Peace Trail" or at every Christmas or Rock Hall Induction Ceremony or anytime anybody ever wants!!
What do you guys think?
Let me/them know,
Ambassador Renate
Dec 20, 2012 8:44PM
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December 20, 2012

 

One of the greatest musicians I ever had the priviledge of seeing perform and meeting.

 

He was a lovely, lovely gracious human being!

 

It is said about many and several musicians how great they are, Ravi Shankar unquestionably  was a great musician in the truest sense of the two words.

 

A Master Musician with a lovely soul.

 

 

Dec 20, 2012 7:40PM
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Ravi was an incredible musician. For me, his music is like a good book or movie; when I return to his recordings I either hear something new or savor my favorite passages. His music lives on through his recordings and his musical dna is well carried by his daughters.
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