Dr. Ram Chakravarty (Sitar)

Dr. Ram Chakravarty (Sitar) and Ishwar Lal Misra (Tabla) ca. 1985 at Chait Singh Palace, Varanasi

My teacher and guru Dr. Ram Das Chakravarty (Sitar)

Pandit Ram Das Chakravarty (1933 - 2007) was a great sitar maestro of the Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan gharana. Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan, in the direct lineage of the Senia gharana or Tansen gharana, came to Varanasi (at Telianala) in the first phase of the 20th Century, and this gharana of pure sitar flowered here through his three great disciples, Pandit Amiya Gopal Bhattacharya, Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan (son of the ustad) and Pandit Ram Das Chakarborty.

Pandit Chakravarty was the last emperor of this gharana in Varanasi. His great musical experience and his impeccable talent distinguished him from the other sitar exponents in his own gharana. We find Ustad Wazir Khan in the tradition of the Senia gharana. Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan and Ustad Alauddin Khan were disciples of Wazir Khan Saheb.

Hafiz Ali Khan moved to Gwalior and established the Gwalior gharana of the sarod, while Alauddin Khan moved to Maihar to establish the Maihar gharana of the sarod. That lineage came to Varanasi through Ashiq Ali Khan (normally performed in the royal court of Maharaja Banaras). It was established as a sitar gharana by Amiya Gopal and his disciple Ram Chakraborty, a talented personality of great humour. Jolly by nature Ram da, as he was affectionately addressed, became popular in the 1960s and '70s. He performed at different prestigious venues, accompanied by stalwarts like Pandit Anokhe Lal Mishra, Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, Pandit Samta Prasad Mishra, Ustad Afaq Hussain, Mehendi Hussain, Pandit Kishan Maharaj and others accompanied him on the tabla.

Born (in 1933) and brought up in Varanasi, Ram da could make people laugh in life and make his audience cry in his concerts. His special talent for creating intricate swara patterns during alap and also during the jod portions drew the attention of great stalwarts including Pandit Ravi Shankar. The latter taught Chakraborty's wife Krishna Chakravarty , also a well known sitar artiste. Krishna first took her initiation from Ram da and then approached Pandit Ravi Shankar at Ram da's instance. Pandit Ram Chakravarty was a lecturer of sitar in the Music Faculty of Banaras Hindu University for almost 35 years.

As a visiting artist he taught North Indian Instrumental Music at Wesleyan University (USA) from 1970 - 1972. His was guiding students from all over the world. Some of his foreign students are Michel Guay (France), Bernd Pichelbauer (Germany) and Hans Wettstein (Switzerland) among many others.



My Teacher and Guru

Ram Das Chakravarty playing the Surbahar 1982

Old photo of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan (Sitar) with young Ram Das Chakravarty

Ram Das Chakravarty with Pandit Ravi Shankar 1981 who taught his wife Krishna Chakravarty.

Dr. Krishna Chakravarty studied sitar from a very young age under Ram Chakravarty and later under Pt. Ravi Shankar. Today she is considered to be one of the best sitarists in India.

Pandit Ravi Shankar at the house of Ram Das Chakravarty and Krishna Chakravarty 1981.

His last photo taken by Jürgen Berg in Varanasi on 22 April 2007.