Known for her simplicity, disciplined life and divine singing, Veena Sahasrabuddhe, who left the world last week at the age of 67, had an aura of joy and balance about her. Born into a musical family of the Gwalior gharana in Kanpur, Veena tai and her family converted her hometown into a city of music connoisseurs, which, otherwise was known as the second largest industrial town in the country.
Remembering her, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty says, “Veena and I were introduced to music at the same time. She was a very dedicated musician. Her brother Kashinath was a natural singer and used to sing mellifluously. It is tough to find artistes like them. She did justice to any raga and would strive hard to present a raga perfectly. The music community will miss her.”
Riwaayat founder trustee Jyotsana Angara’s association with Veena tai dates back to 35 years. Once, on visiting Veena’s place, she was surprised to hear sound of tanpura from all the rooms. Out of curiosity she asked her what it was and Veena replied, “I have elderly in-laws to whose needs I have to be attentive. So I can’t sit at one place and do my riyaaz and hence, I have recorded tanpura which plays 24x7 in all the rooms.”
“Veenaji and her husband Hari Sahasrabuddhe literally demonstrated how one could balance their professional obligations without compromising one’s duties to the elders in a family. Her friends and music lovers will miss this human touch of tai,” she says.
Veena tai’s way of teaching and the freedom she gave to students to express was very unique and will be sorely missed. At the IIT Kanpur campus, she revived the interest in Indian classical music. Her students vouch for her warmth, generosity and teaching methods. “She used to mention that we should appreciate all kinds of music and styles. Tai was never satisfied with what she knew and always kept on learning. The most striking quality of tai’s singing was her strong and powerful voice. She was extremely fond of singing and composing taranas,” says Ranjani Ramachandran, her senior disciple and a faculty at Shantiniketan.
She recalls a sweet memory of tai. “For my concert in Mumbai in 1997, which was in memory of Kashinath Shankar Bodas ji (Veena’s brother), tai was more excited and nervous than me. She made me eat halwa she had prepared and said ‘Eat this and sing; the concert will go well’,” Ranjani remembers.
Veena tai has left behind a vacuum of a good guru, a powerful voice, an authentic Gwalior gharana exponent and a divine soul.
The writer is the founder of Cisne for Arts.