"The sun has set on Indian classical music", "an irreparable loss" were how noted singers and artists reacted to Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's death Monday but said his music would live on to be celebrated by generations.
"Jab mein suna, laga ki subah subah surya ast ho gaya. Bharat ka sangeet ka suraj doob gaya hai (When I heard about his death, I felt that the sun has set in the morning...the sun has set on Indian classical music)," eminent Hindustani classical singer Pandit Jasraj said reacting to the demise of the 88-year-old legend.
"I would like to remember him as my brother, guru...as my everything," he added.
Joshi passed away in a Pune hospital at the age of 89 on Monday following old age related ailments.
For 81-year-old Carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna, the loss has been personal not just professional. Pandit Joshi had sung several 'jugalbandis' with Balamuralikrishna, who is considered a legend himself, weaving and melding their music.
"Absolutely irreparable loss...He was a person who sang Indian music, not just Hindustani music," Balamuralikrishna told a news channel.
Reminiscing about their 'jugalbandis', the Carnatic music maestro said it started off on the request of a governor of Maharashtra about 12 years ago. "My experience when I was singing 'jugalbandi' was unforgettable. We created Indian music. When he started singing in Hindi, then I sang in a south Indian language. Then after some time, he forgot his words and sang my words," he recalled.
With a lump in his throat, Balamuralikrishna said: "His music and his contribution and his love for me, will be always be alive."
"I cannot talk more.... He is already there, singing to the gods".
One of his disciples, Basant Garud, called him the biggest figure in Indian music after Tansen, the legendary musician in Mughal Emperor Akbar's court in the 16th century.
"He was the Tansen in Indian music. After Tansen, if there was any 'Sangeet Samrat', he was there. He was thought as god. If we had a glimpse of him, then it seemed that we are blessed," Garud said.
Shubha Mudgal, who is classically trained but dabbles in popular pop music too, expressed disbelief at Panditji's demise. "He had a strange ability to rejuvenate himself. Even after a long illness, he would come back strong...even during his current illness, I really believed that he would be able to pull it off," she said.
"I have no words to express the loss," she added.
Renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal described Pandit Joshi as the "finest Indian classical artist of his generation".
He said he was struck by the humility of the legend during his interactions. "I had an opportunity a couple of years to work with him...He was a wonderful human being. It was not modesty, but genuine humility for him," Benegal told a news channel.
Playwright and actor-director Girish Karnad said Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's passing away was expected and that his life should not be mourned, but celebrated.
"The loss is a personal loss...But it is not a loss otherwise. I do not know anybody else who exploited their potentiality to the full. He gave his everything to Indian music," said Karnad.