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Hard to say no to free love: Ravi Shankar
May 13, 2003 18:52 IST
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has said that he found hard to say no to free love.
"Whatever happened, it was spontaneous. The spontaneity was always there; it gave me and others a lot of happiness for some time, but it brought sorrow also," Ravi Shankar said commenting on his love life in The Times daily on Tuesday.
Asked whether it caused him grief to look back on his love life, the 82-year-old said, "It is a mixed feeling, you know. I am grateful for everything that I got, but I had to pay for it with pain and torture."
Asked about his lady friends, he said, "Many are dead and gone. A couple of them I still meet and try and be friendly with. With some, of course, things are not good."
Shankar married Annapurna Devi, the daughter of his guru Ustad Allauddin Khan, when he was 21, but they were ill matched and broke up after a few years. Annapurna granted him divorce decades later. They had two children.
The ensuing years were wild. In his autobiography, Raga Mala, he said: "I felt I could be in love with different women in different places. It was like having a girl in every port - and sometimes there was more than one!"
From the late 1940s, however, his main companion was a dancer, Kamala Shastri, and from 1967 until 1981 they lived together 'as man and wife'.
In 1972, he met the 18-year-old Sukanya Rajan, who played the tanpura at his concerts.
In 1978, although she, too, was married, they became lovers. In 1981 Anoushka was born.
Meanwhile, in America, Ravi Shankar was having an affair with the New York concert producer Sue Jones, who gave birth to Norah (or Geetali, as she was originally known) in 1979.
For the first two years of her life, he divided his affections between them and Kamala until Kamala, after three decades, finally quit him.
The next year his divorce from his wife came through.
At first he chose to be with Sue. But in 1986 their relationship ended, although he remained close to Norah. In 1989, after much prevarication, he decided to marry Sukanya, at which point Sue banned him from seeing Norah.
On what really made someone who seems so calm and has brought so much serenity into other people's lives have such a turbulent private life, he said "I am amazed myself."