Pandit Samsar Chand Sopori – ‘The Great Master Musician’
An extremely humble and sensitive person, Pandit Samsar Chand Sopori ji (1884 – 1954) was a very creative musician and came to be hailed as ‘Samsar Chand Taalbaaz’ for his extraordinarily brilliant sense of rhythm and laya. Panditji inherited the ‘Sufi Baaj’ (style) from his grandfather Pandit Suraj Pandit ji and father Pandit Shankar Pandit ji whom he accompanied for a pretty long time in Mehfils and Baithaks (musical gatherings) on Santoor, Wasul (traditional Kashmiri rhythmic instrument) and Sehtar (Kashmiri Sitar). Over time he became a Master Musician of Santoor, Wasul, Kashmiri Sitar and Vocal. His recitals were highly predominant with Laykari (complex rhythmic patterns). He composed new Sufiana and Hindustani Classical compositions adding to the repertoire of Sufi Baaj and Sufiana Gharana of Sopori family.
The political movement in late 1920s noticeably affected the artistic world in and around the Kashmir Valley as a result of which it had become very difficult for the professional musicians to survive. A Shakti Upasak (worshipper of Goddess Shakti), Panditji continued his pursuit of music and spirituality through these tumultuous times, spending most of his life in the company of saints and Sufis at Tapovan and Tikar at Sopore and in the city in the company of Swami Aftab Joo of Karihama, Swami Lal Ji, Swami Sarvanand Ji, Vidya Dhar Ji and other Sufi saints.
Panditji’s musical and spiritual pursuit was said to have given him healing powers through music just like his father. Notable Hakeems and Vaids (traditional physicians) of the era such as Hakeem Sanaullah Sahib of Sopore and Hakeem Habibullah Lara of Baramulla amongst others would advise their patients to listen to the music of Pandit Samsar Chand Sopori as a part of their treatment.
After Kabali raid in 1947, Panditji migrated from Sopore to the Srinagar city. In the later years of his life, after the birth of his youngest grandson Pandit Bhajan Sopori in 1948, he focused his attention in teaching him.