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‘The santoor is a synonym for Pt Shivkumar Sharmaji’

The date is April 4, 1992. The Gandharva-like man lifted the santoor on his lap, closed his eyes, bowed to the people close to the dias, took the mallets to his heart, and touched the instrument. The man was the god of santoor, Padma Vibhushan Pt Shivkumar Sharmaji, playing the santoor at the festival Lord Viswambara Temple Festival in Kottakkal, Kerala.

I met Guruji when he was being interviewed for a local news magazine. On requesting Guruji for his guidance, he looked at me for a while and asked me to meet him the next morning. The next day, I started santoor lessons with Panditji. What a destiny for an ordinary music student like me; that day changed the meaning of my life.

“Surrender to music”—these were his words when we parted that morning. After that, I would often travel to his residence in Mumbai for advanced classes. He sat through practice lessons patiently, correcting my mistakes both carefully and lovingly.  Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma 13.01.1938 - 10.05.2022 The maestro single-handedly lifted the Sufi Instrument of the Kashmir Valley and placed it on par with other mainstream instruments. The santoor became a synonym for Pt Shivkumar Sharmaji.

I fondly remember occasions when Guruji allowed me to share the stage with him. I witnessed first-hand the magic of ragas and learnt infinitely from him. The method through which he helped his disciples bring up their own music aesthetically was magical.

He stressed on meditation through music. ‘Music beyond entertainment’ was Guruji’s mantra. Music was for enlightenment. He also advised we keep our personal lives pure to receive the nectar of godly music. I got my first chance to play a concert for him while celebrating his 72nd birthday in Palakkad, Kerala, on January 13, 2010.

The words of appreciation he gave me still reverberate in my mind. Such words from gurus keep students focused.  Until the pandemic, Guru Purnima celebrations in Pune were opportunities to play the santoor for Guruji. His words of approval in public and in-person corrections helped his disciples find direction in life.

Along with music, Guruji taught us the way of life as well. The news of his demise leaves us, his disciples, orphans in the field of santoor. As music lovers mourn his death, words don’t come easy. But, what I remember is his advice—“If you want to enjoy the bliss of music, surrender to the music”. Guruji has left us the nectar of his music to hear and learn from.

Through his music, we seek the beauty of melodious silence.   Santoor artiste Alankode Haridas is a disciple of Pt Shivkumar Sharma Alankode Haridas  Maestro no more Santoor maestro Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma passed away in Mumbai after a heart attack at the age of 83.

Sharma, one of India’s most well known classical musicians who also composed some unforgettable numbers for a few Hindi films, was also suffering from renal ailments. He was still active and was to perform in Bhopal next week. He is survived by his wife Manorama and sons Rahul, also a santoor player, and Rohit. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)