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Indian Classical Music Legend Pandit Rajeev Taranath Passes Away in Mysuru

The world of Indian classical music is enveloped in mourning as it bids farewell to one of its most celebrated sarod maestros, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, who passed away on the evening of June 11. The venerable musician, aged 92, was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mysuru at the time of his demise.

Sources close to the illustrious musician confirmed that Pandit Taranath breathed his last at around 6:30 p.m. in the hospital. As a mark of respect and to allow the public to pay their final tributes, his mortal remains will be kept for viewing at his residence near Jnana Ganga School in Kuvempunagar, Mysuru from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on June 12. The last rites are scheduled to be performed at the crematorium near Chamundi Foothills at 2 p.m. on the same day. The sarod maestro is survived by his son, who is currently en route to Mysuru from the United States to attend the final rites.

Pandit Rajeev Taranath had been admitted to the hospital since the last week of May 2024 due to treatment for a fracture. During his stay, H C Mahadevappa, the Minister for Social Welfare and the district-in-charge of Mysuru, visited the sarod exponent and assured that the State Government would bear the expenses of his medical treatment, a gesture indicative of the high regard in which the artist was held.

One of the foremost exponents of the Senia Maihar Gharana, Pandit Taranath was honored with several prestigious awards throughout his distinguished career. Nationally, he was bestowed the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2019 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000. In his home state of Karnataka, he received the Rajyothsava Award in 1996, the Chowdaiah Memorial Award in 1998, the Sangeet Vidwan Award in 2018, and the Nadoja Award in 2019. These accolades serve as a testament to his immense contribution to the realm of Indian classical music.

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Born on October 17, 1932, to Pandit Taranath and Sumathi Bai, Rajeev Taranath exhibited an early inclination towards academics. He completed his BA Honours from Bangalore Central College, securing the top rank. In 1962, he furthered his academic distinction by earning an MA in English from the University of Mysore, again topping the class with a gold medal. His pursuit of knowledge continued as he secured a PhD on the subject “Image in Poetry of T S Eliot” under the guidance of Prof. C D Narasimhaiah at the University of Mysore.

Pandit Taranath’s contributions were not confined to music alone; he also had a notable academic career. He commenced his teaching journey as a lecturer at Hamdard College in Raichur, a college established by his father. He later taught at various prestigious institutions, including Karnatak College in Dharwad, Regional College of Education in Mysuru, Regional College of Engineering, and Jamal Mohammed College in Tiruchi. Eventually, he headed the English Department at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages in Hyderabad and taught English in Yemen.

Pandit Rajeev Taranath’s multifaceted talent extended to film music as well. He was the music director for several Kannada films, including “Samskara,” “Pallavi,” “Anuroopa,” “Paper Boats,” and “Agunthaka,” as well as Malayalam films like “Kadavu” and “Kanchanaseetha.” His music resonated with both critics and audiences, contributing significantly to the cultural fabric of Indian cinema.

The news of Pandit Rajeev Taranath’s passing has prompted an outpouring of condolences from the music community and beyond. H C Mahadevappa, in his dual capacity as the Minister in charge of Mysuru district and the Minister for Social Welfare, and Shivaraj Tangadagi, the Minister for Kannada and Culture, have expressed their deep sorrow at the loss of this monumental figure in Indian classical music.

Pandit Rajeev Taranath’s demise marks the end of an era in Indian classical music. His legacy, however, will continue to inspire musicians and music lovers for generations to come. The world mourns the loss of a true maestro whose life was a symphony of dedication, talent, and an unwavering commitment to the art form he cherished so deeply.