Eminent Indian classical singer and music director, better known as a noted vocalist of Jayadeva's 'Gita Govind', Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Bhubaneswar on Sunday, family sources said. He was 80.
Pandit Panigrahi, who was diagnosed with throat cancer a couple of months back, suffered a heart attack at around 11:30 am on Sunday. However, he was rushed to the Capital Hospital, where the doctors declared him brought dead, the sources said.
The doyen of Odissi music maestro had celebrated his 79th birthday on August 10. Pandit Panigrahi is survived by two sons. His wife, noted Odissi dancer Sanjukta Panigrahi, had passed away in 1997.
Incidentally, Raghunath breathed his last, a day after his wife's death anniversary yesterday. Pandit Panigrahi's effort to popularise poet Jayadeva's 'Gita Govinda', which has been hailed as the fountainhead of Odissi music, not just in the state but worldwide, has been praised by his admirers.
Born at Gunupur in Odisha's Rayaga (earlier Koraput) district, Panigrahi learnt from his father the classical way of singing 'Gita Govinda', which describes the unique relationship between Lord Krishna and the 'Gopis', as preserved in the traditions of the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri.
Besides making his place in the world of classical music,Raghunath got the tag of being a 'Suramani' (a title given to him for his deeply mellifluous voice). He had also left an indelible mark on Odissi light classicals like 'Na Jaa Radhika' and an out-and-out modern love song like 'Nali Nali Ei, Krushnachuda' or 'Nupoor Bajaai Kie'.
Pandit Raghunath was the first Odia singer to be honoured by the French government for his 'Gita Govinda' composition way back in the 70s. However, the noted vocalist had to wait till 2010 for the Padmashri award, a belated honour for the great master.