Suramani Pandit Raghunatha Panigrahi

Born :- 10-Aug-1932
Died :- 25-Aug-2013
Place of Birth :- Gunupur, Rayagada District

Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, Odissi music Guru, vocalist, composer and music director, was born on 10 August, 1932 in Gunupur of Rayagada district.

He is most known for his renditions of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda and his vocal support for his wife, the Odissi danseuse Sanjukta Panigrahi. Panigrahi started his musical training from his father Pt Neelamani Panigrahi, who had been collecting traditional Odissi melodies of the Gita Govinda from the Jagannatha Temple of Puri. Later, Raghunath continued learning Odissi music under Pt Narasingha Nandasharma and Pt Biswanatha Das. Later, he did a complete course in Karnataki music under maestro Madu Pappa Rao, and Hindustani vocal music under Pandit DV Paluskar in Madras.

Panigrahi started his career in music as a regular staff at the AIR, Cuttack in 1948. For the first time he worked as playback singer for ‘Shri Shri Patitapaban’ in 1963.   

He also sang for popular Odia, Kannada and Telugu movies. Pandit Raghunath left a promising career in film music in Chennai to provide vocal support to his wife, Sanjukta Panigrahi, a legendary Odissi performer and composer. He met Sanjukta Panigrahi at Kalakshetra dance school; subsequently they married in 1960 and had two sons.  

 He made a lifetime contribution of promoting, propagating and popularising the life and works of Jayadev and the cult of Lord Jagannatha. Sanjukta-Raghunath combine was active in the field of Odissi dance and music for over three decades – from the 1960s to the 1990s, presenting the Odissi dance and music culture at national and international levels.

After the death of his wife in 1997, Pandit Raghunath was associated with the Nrityagram and contributed music for many of their productions. He formed the ‘Sanjukta Panigrahi Memorial Trust’ in 1999 to promote the cause of Odissi dance. Since 2001, every year on her birth anniversary, the trust has been giving away scholarships to budding dancers, and awards of excellence in the field of Odissi dance. He died on 25 August, 2013 in Bhubaneswar at the age of 82.

He offered his services as playback singer for Ilavelpu and Jayabheri (Telugu – 1956/1959), Chinnada Gombe (Kannada – 1964), Shri Shri Patitapabana, Sindura Bindu, Mukti, Nabajanma and Kaa (Odia – 1963/1976/1977/- - ), acted as choreographer for Abhinetri, and music director for Ahalya in 1998.

He was presented the state award as best playback singer for ‘Mukti’ in 1977 and the state award as best music composer for Ahalya in 1998.   

Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi was a highly honoured as a music maestro with national and international awards. He received an award from the government of France in the 1980s. Sur Sinhar Samsad of Mumbai had awarded him the title Sur Mani in 1968. He also got the Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1976), the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1993), Padma Shri award (2010), Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, Jayadeva Samman (2008), Banichitra Lifetime Achievement award (2008), three hohorary doctorates (D.Litt) – from Berhampur University (2010), Utkal University (2011), and Ravenshaw University (2013).  


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