Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words.
Pandit Jasraj (born 28 January 1930) is an Indian classical vocalist. He is the foremost exponent of the Mewati Gharana of Hindustani classical music.
Jasraj was born in Hissar, Haryana in an orthodox brahmin family to Pandit Motiramji, a classical exponent. His family is well known for singing in the Mewati Gharana style. Motiramji died when Jasrajji was only four, on the day he was to be appointed as the state musician in the court of theLast Nizam.
Jasraj was initiated into vocal music by his father. He also received training from his elder brother, Pandit Maniramji, and later fromMaharaja Jaywant Singhji Waghela. In 1960, when Jasraj went to visit Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in hospital, Khan asked him to become his disciple, but Jasraj declined saying that he could not accept Khan’s tutelage since he was already Maniramji’s disciple.
As a means of livelihood, Maniramji took Jasraj as an accompanying tabla player. However, at the time, just like sarangi players, tabla players were looked down upon as minor artists. At the age of 14, unhappy with his treatment as an accompanying artist, Jasraj left and vowed not to cut his hair until he learned to sing.
Jasraj’s vocal range extends across three-and-a-half octaves. His vocalizing is in perfect diction and clarity, a trademark of the Mewati Gharana’s style of Khayal. He has also done extensive research in Haveli Sangeet under Baba Shyam Manohar Goswami Maharaj to create numerous innovative bandish (composition).
His greatest contribution to Indian classical music is his conception of a unique and novel jugalbandi, styled on the ancient system of Moorchana, between a male and a female vocalist, each singing in their respective scales and different ragas at the same time. In his honor, this legendary jugalbandi is known as The Jasrangi.
Jasraj has many students, and is ensuring the longevity of his genre. Amongst his flag-bearing disciples, Rattan Mohan Sharma, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Ramesh Narayan, Suman Ghosh, Tripti Mukherjee, Radharaman Kirtane, Pritam Bhattacharjee, Gargi Siddhant and Kala Ramnath are well-known exponents of the Mewati Gharana. Sadhana Sargam, a well-known Bollywood singer, is one of his disciples.
In memory of his late father, he organises a musical festival every year called the Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh inHyderabad, India.It completed 36 years in 2008. He has graced the Savai Gandharva Music Festival’s stage innumerable times over the last forty years, and continues to do so even today; his legendary 1992 presentation of Raag Ahir Bhairav, in the unmistakable Mewati Style, is a favorite among listeners even today. He is also recognized as a master of the Bhairav family of Raags, along with the legendary Raags Darbari Kanada,Miya ki Malhar, and Jog.
In 1962 he married Madhura, the daughter of the legendary film director V. Shantaram, who he had first met in 1955 during the filming of Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje. After marriage the couple lived in Kolkata for some time. They have a son, Sarang Dev, and a daughter, Durga Jasraj, a television anchor and presenter. Madhura has directed documentaries and children’s plays, apart from directing and producing acclaimed ballets,Geet Govind, Kaan Kahaani and Surdas and the TV series, Faster Phene. She made a film, Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj in 2009and in 2010, directed her first Marathi film, Aai Tuzha Aashirwad, in which her husband and Lata Mangeshkar have sung in Marathi.
Music composers Jatin-Lalit are his nephews.