Noted Hindustani and Carnatic exponent and instrumentalist Puttaraj Gavai passed away in Gadag on Friday at the age of 97 following illness.
Also a writer, dramatist and social worker, the Padma Bhushan recipient died at Veereshwara Punyashrama, an institute for differently abled and destitutes run by him for several years.
Gavai, who was suffering from kidney problems and pneumonia, was shifted to the ashram from KLE Hospital in Belgaum as per his last wishes early this week.
A disciple of the great Panchakshara Gavai who carried forward his legacy, Putturaj not only rendered soulful music in both Hindustani and Carnatic, but penned literary works in various languages and staged plays under the 'Sri Guru Kumareshwara Krupa Poshita Natya Company' banner.
Born in a small village in Dharwad, Puttaraj turned blind in infancy. His mother, heeding advise by a fake healer, placed an insect on his eyes to cure him of an infection, an act that caused irreparable damage and robbed him of his vision.
Young Putturaj, guided by the philosophy and inspiration of his guru, went ahead with single-minded determination to pursue music and gain mastery over Sanskrit, Hindi and Kannada.
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa expressed condolences over Gavai's death and said his last rites would be performed tomorrow with full state honours. The state had declared a holiday in Gadag on Saturday.
Putturaj, sometimes alluded to as 'Milton of Karnataka', went on to author over 75 books on spirituality, religion, history, as well as biographies of many 'sharanas' of the Bhakti movement of the 12th century.
A storehouse of talent, he went on to master many instruments like tabla, mridangam, violin, veena and rendered several devotional music and vachanas, which were popular.
His prolific writing and much-acknowledged musical ability saw him being crowned with various titles like 'Ubhaya Gayana Vadanacharya', 'Ganayogi', 'Kavishiromani' 'Thribhasha Kavi Rathna' by admirers around the country.
Putturaj's talent saw him bag a string of awards, including Karnataka Rajyotsav, Basvashri award and Kanaka Purandara Prashasti.
He was also honoured by the state government which conferred on him the first Rajya Sangeetha Vidwan' while Bangalore University conferred on him an honorary doctorate.
Putturaj was also a recipient of the Kalidas Samman.
His works include 'Sangeet Shastra Jnana' Tabla Shikshaka and GuruSudha Part volumes 1 and 2 (all books on music). He also penned the 'Shrimat Kumara Geetha', 'Kumareshwara Kavya', 'Shri Linga Sooktha', 'Tatparya Sahit Sri Rudra' and 'Panchakshara Suprabhata' (Sanskrit).
In Hindi, he bagged the President's award for 'Basava Purana'. In Kannada, he wrote several books, including Akkamahadevi Purana, Siddeswara Purana, Purathanara Purana Veerabhadreshwara Purana and Sharana Basaveshwara Purana.