Annapurna Devi – The Untold Story of a Reclusive Genius
By Atul Merchant ‘Jataayu’ | email@example.com
Swar Aalap presents excerpts from the book Annapurna Devi – The Untold Story of a Reclusive Genius written by her disciple Atul Merchant ‘Jataayu’. Those who had heard her perform claimed that she had conquered the summit of Indian Classical Music. Ut. Amir Khansaheb had commented, ‘Annapurna Devi is 80 percent of Ut. Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar is 70 percent and Ravi Shankar is about 40 percent.’
‘Baba Allauddin Khan often used to say,’ quotes Batuk Diwanji, ‘मेरी लड़की को सुनो, रवि शंकर और अली अकबर उसके सामने मिट्टी के बराबर है [Listen to my daughter, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar are nothing compared to her.]’
What seemed like a perfect match, marital discordance surfaced when Annapurna Devi and Ravi Shankar started giving public performance? During their jugalbandis, Pt Ravi Shankar felt that Annapurna Devi was stealing the applause and limelight from him.
The green-eyed monster of jealousy ruined Annapurna Devi’s life, snatched away from her only child Shubho, and ruined his life. The same green-eyed monster broke the greatest ever jugalbandi pair of Ut. Ali Akbar Khan and Pt Ravi Shankar.
To save her marriage she vowed to renounce public life. Yet, that failed to save her marriage. For the rest of her life, she kept pursuing her Sādhanā in seclusion and training a handful of disciples that too free of charge. Annapurna Devi spent five decades in the confinement of her house. Despite being there for decades, her neighbors, security guards, and liftmen had never seen her.