|Revered Anna (Pandit Bhimsenji),
This CD called Devotion is dedicated to you in honor of your 80th Birthday,
Your are a legendary person whom I believe to be the most like Ustad Bismillah Khan. I have always thought I would like to be like you and Ustad Bismillah Khan-without any showmanship, simple, humble and devoted.
When I was a kid, I met you first before the Diamond Jubilee of Shrimati Hirabai Badodekar, the famous singer from Maharashtra. You heard me for the first time at that concert. You then arranged my performance in ths Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav in 1963. I very well remember the pleased faces after my performance-you, revered Gangumbai Hangal and Shrimati Hirabai Badodekar as well as my father Shri Sardeshmukh Maharaj. You took me on your shoulders in honor of my prformance (such a small kid I was !) and took me around the decoratively covered open-air venue with people clapping on all sides. That concert and that scene are so vivid and alive in my mind, even today after so many years.
Another strong memory about you is from the 1970's one of the best duets of you and Pandit Vasantrao Deshpande which I heard in my childhood at the Mali Maharaj Samadhi Festival in Pune
Although I was studying with Pandit Ravi Shankar and Smt. Annapurnadevi from 1963 to 1976, I kept in touch with you all the time and was blessed and loved by you and your family alike.
After I became a professional performer, in 1980, it was again on a message from Shrimati Hirabai Badodekar, on her 75th birthday, that I started meeting you again often. She had been my well wisher and had always guided me, and told me that you would take her place after her.
It was your wish to have a music academy on the campus of the University of Pune and you trusted me to take on this impossible task. As a beginning, in 1983, I started the Music and Drama Arts Circle (MUDRA) at the university. You supported this whole-heartedly by giving the first performance there in 1983. Although I couldn't attend, being on duty with my guru Pandit Ravi Shankar in Mumbai, I heard a lot about that memorial Marwa raga from all the people in the audience and the incomplete concert due to the sudden death of teh maestro and your good friend Dr.Vasantrao Deshpande.
MUDRA was highly successful, and all the intelligent professors were attracted to this activity. This helped me in furthering your wish little by little. I worked hard to condinue with my efforts of breaking the scientific and academic barriers in the university to be able to introduce more music and cultural activities. I guided students from different departments and directed their departmental and inter-university cultural activities with profound success. Music was on the campus in 1987. It was a hearty moment when you were staged in the opening of the centre by performing a first musical note sa.
I shall always remember your efforts in getting the first grant for this centre from University Grants Commission in 1989 when you took me personally to Prof. Yashpal Sharma, then chairman of UGC in New Delhi. I am sure you must be proud now that the centre is fully active and the first batch of students is well astablished. Some of them are teaching there now. It is the first ever centre for teaching music in India with the combination of guru-shishya (teacher-student tradition) system combined with the usual academic status. This is your wish and your contribution to Pune, which you fulfilled through me. I am honored for the same. I am sure many people in the world of classical Indian music may not be aware of this facet of yours. This centre has established a wonderful link between the two strong points of Pune City-academics and music-and the credit goes to you.
On this 80th birthday of yours, my dear Anna, I wish you to live a very long and healthy life and guide us all throught. Please bless my CD Devotion with your full heart to carry the torch of traditional Indian music to future generations and to give peace and happiness to the world.
With warm regards,
4 February 2003 (Ratha Spatami: Indian calendar)