New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi voiced grief over the passing of sitar legend Pandit Ravi Shankar, saying the country has lost one of its greatest jewels and a silence has descended on the world of music.
In a letter to his wife Sukanya Rajan yesterday, Gandhi recalled the Nehru-Gandhi family's association with the music genius, which goes back to the time of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
"For me, Pandit Ravi Shankar's passing away is a loss I feel deeply and personally. His relationship with our family goes back to the time of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and he as well as Indiraji and Rajivji held him in the highest regard," she said.
Gandhi wrote that Ravi Shankar's music brought "joy and light, solace and comfort" to millions of people. "With the passing away of your husband, Pandit Ravi Shankar, a silencehas descended on the world of music and music lovers that can never be filled.
"In his death, India has lost one of its greatest jewels. We deeply mourn his loss, even as we give heartfelt thanks for his priceless contribution in enriching and enhancing our cultural heritage, and leaving us a musical legacy that will live on forever," Gandhi said.
On the maestro's contribution to the music world, she said, "He did more than anyone else to introduce its manifold glories to the world at large.
"Indeed, his music had the power to touch every heart, surmount every cultural barrier and cross every international boundary. So universal was the meaning and message of the sublime melody and harmony he created, Gandhi said.
In her letter, the Congress chief said, "Pandit Ravi Shankar lived a long and full life, giving most generously of himself to his students and his audiences all over the world, making music untill just weeks before he left us."
"You (Sukanya) must draw solace from that and from the fact that you looked after him with utmost devotion throughout your life together, never leaving his side in his last illness," Gandhi said.
The love and support of his family and Anoushka (Ravi Shankar's daughter) flowering as a musician must have been a source of great pride and joy to him, the Congress President said.
"At this time of grief, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Anoushka. May you find the strength to bear your loss," Gandhi said.
The 92-year-old icon, whose health had been fragile for the past several years, underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last on Wednesday.