Insights into the world of a genius – Annapurna Devi

Dad had a book in his hands for more than a month and wouldn’t let it go even for a minute. Every meeting we had in that month was about that book and once he finished, he was a mixture of dismay+astonishment. He literally forced me to read it and I am so glad he did that.

I am more of a fiction lover and find it hard to focus on long biographies but this book was different. Music is a vast subject and 100 years on this planet will not suffice to know and understand even 1% of it. There have been historic masterminds in the music world and I realised that there is so less we know about so many of them. Because of dad’s persuasion, I read my way into the life of such a genius – Annapurna Devi. It is unfortunate that most of us know very little about her and majority of us just know that she was Pt. Ravi Shankar’s wife. She was an entire world in herself and being Pandit ji’s wife was maybe just 10% of her entire being. Such powerful is the audio-visual cinema medium that I got the entire glimpse of reason of the desolation around her obscure nature when I read that the famous movie Abhimaan was based on her life.

Atul Merchant ji has written this book like a story. It took me back decades where he described how Annapurna Devi was introduced to music when she was a kid and painted a beautiful picture of Maihar (her birthplace) and the old era. Reading the book was a journey of 90 years travelling from the early 90’s to early 2000’s

I will spare to express about the atrocities faced by her and focus more on what I felt about knowing her as a remarkable woman and a musician. Classical music is an ocean and even if we are exposed to a tiny drop, we get a different perspective towards life. It is said that Annapurna Devi was one of the finest musician that the century ever witnessed. The world was deprived of her music as she had taken a vow that she would never give public performances and she stuck to that no matter what. She passed on her music to many of her disciples and lives on through them.

Another aspect that I personally enjoyed while reading this book was the quotes placed in the book beautifully that adorned each chapter. Sharing a few of my personal favourites here.

My current level of understanding allows me to look at a musician as an artist on one hand and he/she as an individual person another hand, in two different perspectives but the combination of these two make up a human. If you are a music lover and a reading enthusiast, do not miss reading this impressive book to get an understanding of the musical world from a distinct perspective.

I found myself binge-reading this book for the past two weeks, day and night, whenever I found a few minutes. I am thrilled to get back a reading since the past year after a long gap.

What are you currently reading?

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