Indian Ocean’s percussionist and singer, Asheem Chakravarty passed away yesterday after a heart attack. This is truly sad news; Indian Ocean is one of my favorite bands and I have been to many of their concerts. Losing a member of a band as tight-knit and flawless as Indian Ocean is quite a big blow. My heart goes out to Asheem’s family and friends, Sushmit, Rahul, and Amit.
Asheem’s percussion was the backbone of the band, and if you listen carefully you’ll notice that it only stops for one thing — his vocal solos (This is why having 2 percussionists in a band is awesome). My most distinctive memory of Asheem is his solo singing of a sloka that opens a song from the Kandisa album, Khajuraho:
Brahmanandam parama sukhadam kevalam jnanamurtim dvandvaateetam gagana sadrusam tatvamasyadi lakshyam ekam nityam vimala machalam sarvadheesaakshibuutam bhaavaateetam triguna rahitam sadgurum tam namaami.
(Rough translation from here — “I salute to that true teacher who is the source of eternal bliss, supreme happiness, who has true wisdom who is beyond the dualities, who is infinite, whose attention is always on the divine, who is unique, eternal, pure, steady, and who sees with the eyes of wisdom who is beyond thoughts and beyond three faculties.”)
I am thankful for the wonderful rendition of slokas that are thousands of years old into your songs and making this accessible to our “pop-rock” generation. You may not be with us any more, but your voice and your tabla will echo in the universe forever. Rest in peace.