Pandit Bhajan Sopori (1948–2022) was a renowned Indian santoor player who was honored with several national and international awards. He breathed his last on 2 June 2022 at Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, Haryana. He was suffering from colon cancer.
Bhajan Lal Sopori was born on Tuesday, 22 June 1948.age 73 years; at the time of death) in Sopore, Jammu and Kashmir, India. His zodiac sign is Cancer. He did Master in Indian Classical Music (specializing in Sitar), Master in Indian Classical Music (specializing in Santoor) and Master in English Literature. He then earned a degree in Western Classical Music at the University of Washington, Washington, US.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Color: black
Eye Colour: hazel brown
Pandit Bhajan Sopori was born in a Kashmiri family.
parents and siblings
His father Pandit Shambhu Nath was a sopory santoor player.
wife and children
He was married to Indian professor Aparna Sopori. The couple has two sons named Sorabh Sopory and Abhay Sopori, who is also a santoor player.
His grandfather Pandit Sansar Chand was a sopory santoor player.
Santoor player’s journey
Pandit Sopori was the eighth generation santoor player in his family. As a child, he started training in playing the santoor under his father and grandfather, who were famous Indian santoor players. His first performance in a public concert was at the age of 5, when he was 10 years old, he got the opportunity to perform with his father at the Prayag Sangeet Samiti at Allahabad University. His performance set a benchmark in concert which helped establish Santoor as a solo instrument on various national and international platforms. Earlier people did not know much about Santoor. When he grew up, he started working as a composer and santoor player in All India Radio. From 1990 to 1993, he was transferred to All India Radio, Delhi, but then he decided to return to Jammu and Kashmir, as the music had almost disappeared from the state. Talking about this in an interview, he said,
When I was transferred to Delhi in 1990, I was in All India Radio. For three years no music was produced from the valley. When I decided to go back, I didn’t even have a tabla player with me. They were very scared (of the terrorists).”
After returning to Jammu and Kashmir, he started paying attention to local folk music. He started composing folk music and he helped spread awareness about the importance of folk music. He composed a collection of prayers and tarana-e-watan (patriotic songs) with 8000 school and college students as a choir. This song was sung as a common prayer in Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir. Later, Pandit Sopori composed ragas like Laleshwari, Patwanti and Nirmalkaun. He worked as a composer in more than 6000 songs in different languages like Hindi, Kashmiri, Dogri, Sindhi, Urdu and Bhojpuri. He composed Hindi patriotic songs like ‘Bharat Bharat Hum Itske Santan’, ‘Hum Honge Kamyaab’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Naman Tujhko Mere Bharat’. Some of his recreated Hindi songs are ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna,’ ‘Vijay Vishwa Tiranga Pyara,’ ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Jaa’ and ‘Bharat Ki Beti’. Apart from songs, he composed music for ghazals of poets like Ghalib, Daag, Momin, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Kabir Das and Meera Bai. To promote Indian classical music in India, he established a Sangeet Academy SaMaPa (Sopori Academy for Music and Performing Arts), New Delhi in 2011.
He also organized music classes for prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir. Under his academy, he started a music award SaMaPa Vitasta Puraskar with a cash prize of Rs 50,000 to the winner. Pandit Bhajan composed the music for the tableaux for the Indian Republic Day parade. In 2010, he won the first prize for the tableau of the Sangeet Natak Akademi at the Republic Day Parade.
Awards and honors
- Maharaja Travancore Swathi Tirunal Award 2019, Kerala
- Sangeet Ratna Srijan Shikhar Samman 2019, Delhi
- Honorary Doctorate (Honorary Degree) 2018 by Utkal Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee National Award 2018, Delhi
- Sathkalarathna Puraskar 2018, Sathkalapeetam, Payyanur, Kerala
- Ustad Bale Khan Memorial Award 2018, Bangalore
- Distinguished Service Award 2018 by Delhi Government, MTNL, NDMC and Health Care
- Foundation of India), Talkatora Stadium, Delhi
- Pandit Ramji Upadhyay Lifetime Achievement Award 2018, Delhi • PhD Kala and Sanskriti Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2018, Delhi
- Sangam National Awards 2018, Delhi
- Shanti Devi Gangani Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2018, Delhi
- Shuddh Dhvani Samman 2018, Delhi
- Honorary Doctorate (Honorable Cause) 2017 by Hindustani Art and Music Society, Kolkata
- Swathi Tirunal Award 2017, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Upendra Bhanja Samman 2017, Delhi
- Munnu Guru Sangeet Puraskar (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2017, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
- Kashmir Music Club Shasrang Award 2017, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir
- Himalayan Cultural Center Award 2017, Delhi
- Ustad Hafeez Khan and Ustad Bashir Khan Awards 2017, Delhi
- Dhrupad Shree (Title Honour) 2016, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- J&K Government Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 by Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
- Baramulla District Administration Award 2016 Award, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir, Baramulla, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir
- Baramulla District Administration Award 2016 Award, Govt. Jammu and Kashmir, Sopore, Kashmir, of Jammu and Kashmir
- Rotary Sur Samrat Sangeet Ratna Samman 2016, Delhi
- Maraz Abdi Sangam Award 2016, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir
- Sangeet Martand Samman (Title Award) 2015, Delhi
- Pride of India Lifetime Achievement Award 2015, Delhi
- 31st S. Radhakrishnan Memorial National Teacher and Media Award 2015, Delhi
- Atal Bihari Media Excellence Award 2015, Delhi
- Atal Vaibhav Shikhar Samman 2015, Delhi
- DAV Distinguished Alumnus Award 2015, Delhi
- Sangeet Vibhuti Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2015, Jaipur, Rajasthan
- Global Literature Festival Award 2015, Delhi
- Sargam Mandir Golden Jubilee Award 2014, Delhi
- Sangeet Shiromani Award 2014, Delhi
- P Jhunjhunwala XXIV National Excellence Award 2014, Delhi
- Kala Karat Award 2014, Delhi
- Indian Fine Arts Society Award 2013, Kingdom of Bahrain
- Center for Ancient Arts – Kosar Award 2013, Chandigarh
- Delhi Ratna Award 2013, Delhi
- National Award by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh (Ustad Latif Khan Samman) 2012, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
- 19th Blockbuster Sur Aradhana Sangeet Ratan Puraskar (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2012, Delhi
- ECSS Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2012, Delhi
- India’s Best Citizen Award 2011, Delhi
- Rajiv Gandhi Pratishtha Samman 2011, Delhi
- s. Agarwal Award 2010, Kolkata
- Ustad Aashiq Ali Khan Sangeet Bhushan Award 2010, Delhi
- Ragaranjani Sangeet Bhushan Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2010, Delhi
- Ninad Sangeet Kala Ratna Samman 2010, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
- N. Mathur Smriti Kumbh Award 2010, Udaipur, Rajasthan
- Naad Chetna Samman 2010, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
- RAWA (Renaissance Artists and Writers Association) Awards 2010, Delhi
- Baba Alauddin Khan Award 2009, Delhi
- Ustad Chand Khan Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2009, Delhi
- Srijan Cultural and Social Development Award 2009, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
- Maa Sharde Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2009, Ajmer, Rajasthan
- Maa Sharika Samman 2009, Faridabad, Haryana
- National Dogri Award 2008, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
- Sumadhur Hansdhwani Samman 2008, Delhi
- Jammu and Kashmir Government Citizen Award (Highest Civilian Award of Jammu and Kashmir) 2007, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
- Raag Sagar (Title Honour) 2007, Delhi
- Pandit Gama Maharaj Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2007, Delhi
- Sangeet Vibhuti Puraskar (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2006, Delhi
- Shri Bhatt Kirti Puraskar (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2004, Delhi
- AIR Special Honor 2004, All India Radio, Delhi
- Padma Shri 2004 (India’s fourth highest civilian award), Delhi 14th Shama Award 2004, Delhi
- Munnu Guru Sangeet Smriti Samman 2004, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
- Kashmir Committee and KOA Award 2004, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
- Binkar Samman (title honour) 2003, Kolkata
- Kashmir Overseas Association International Award 2003, Boston, USA
- Celebrate India Award, Denver 2000, USA
- Millennium Delhi Ratna Award 2000, Delhi
- YMCA Merit Fest Awards 2000, Delhi
- Radio Kashmir Srinagar (All India Radio) Golden Jubilee Award 1998, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir
- National Shiromani Award 1996, Delhi
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 1993 (India’s highest performing arts award), Delhi
- Delhi Telugu Academy Awards 1993, Delhi
- Sharda Samman 1993, Delhi
- Distinguished Leadership Award 1993, USA
- Kala Sneh Samman 1993, Delhi
- Punjab Sakha Award 1992, Delhi
- Kala Yogi Award (title honour) 1991, Mumbai
- Abhinav Kala Samman 1988, Bhopal
- National Flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt Honors 1986, Egypt
- Ismailia International Folklore Festival Award 1986, Arab Republic of Egypt
- AIR Annual Award 1985 for Creative Work by All India Radio, Delhi
- AIR Annual Award 1984 for Creative Work by All India Radio, Delhi
- AIR Annual Award 1983 for Creative Work by All India Radio, Delhi
- AIR Annual Award 1979 for creative work by All India Radio, Delhi
- First Prize in State Music Competition 1963 (Santoor) by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Comment: He has many other honors to his name.
He died on 2 June 2022 from a prolonged illness caused by colon cancer. He was undergoing treatment at Fortis Hospital in Gurugram, Haryana, where he breathed his last. On his death his son said,
He was diagnosed with colon cancer in June last year. We admitted him to Fortis, Gurugram for immunotherapy treatment three weeks back. This did not work for him and his health deteriorated.
His last rites were performed at Delhi’s Lodhi Road crematorium. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to share his grief, he said,
Deeply saddened to hear about the sad demise of Padma Shri Pandit Bhajan Sopori Sahab. A great son of clay, he was a great figure in the world of classical Indian music who made the santoor his own. may his soul rest in peace. My condolences to Abhaysopori and the rest of his family.”
Facts / Trivia
- Pandit Bhajan belonged to the Sopori Sufiana gharana.
- He was known as the “Saint of the Saints” and the “King of the Strings”.
- Apart from the santoor, he also used to play instruments like guitar, mouth organ and sarod.
- He was also a teacher, poet and writer.
- His name has been listed in various biographical note editions such as Famous India’s Who’s Who, The Asia Pacific Who’s Who, Asian Admirable Achievers, Personality of the Year and Kohinoor Personality of Asia.
- His creations were used as sound therapy for patients.
- In 2011, a postage stamp of Rs 5 was dedicated to Pandit Bhajan Sopori by the Indian Postal Department.
- As of 2022, he is the youngest musician to work in the National Orchestra of India (Vadya Vrinda).