Internationally renowned Indian musician and composer Ravi Shakar died yesterday in San Diego at the age of 92, following a year in which he had grappled with heart and upper respiratory illnesses. Shankar was a virtuosic sitar player who began touring the United States in the mid-1950s and is widely credited with helping to popularize Indian music in the West. (Read Ravi Shankar's full obituary.)
Shankar had deep connections to CIIS and to the Institute's founding family, the Chaudhuris. Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri arrived in San Francisco in 1951 and quickly established themselves as intellectual and cultural beacons in the city. They gained a reputation within India as a good connection in the Bay Area, and received and hosted many visitors from India including spiritual teachers and artists. In the late 1960s and beyond, the Chaudhuris became key members of the growing local Indian community in the Bay Area. Shankar and many of his fellow touring Indian musicians become close with the Chaudhuris over the years.
Shankar visited the Institute many times, and in May 1987 he was invited to play a concert in conjunction with a fundraising gala organized by Board Member Zeppelin Wong. He returned in an official capacity in 1989, when the Institute awarded him an honorary doctorate of philosophy.
Over the next week, we hope to update this post with more information about Shankar's long connection to CIIS, its founders, and its community.