Bhajan Sopori
Sopori in 2013
Background information
Birth nameBhajan Lal Sopori
Born(1948-06-22)22 June 1948
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Died2 June 2022(2022-06-02) (aged 73)
Gurugram, Haryana, India
GenresHindustani classical music and Sufiyana Music

Pandit Bhajan Sopori (22 June 1948 – 2 June 2022)[1] was an Indian instrumentalist. He was a player of the santoor, an ancient stringed musical instrument.[2]

Early life and family

Sopori was born in Srinagar into a Kashmiri Pandit family to Shambhu Nath Sopori on 22 June 1948.[3][4] Sopori hailed from Sopore in the Baramulla district of the Kashmir Valley and traced his lineage to ancient Santoor experts. He belonged to the Sufiana gharana of Indian classical music.[5] His family has played santoor for over six generations.[6] His first public performance was at a conference organised by Prayag Sangeet Samiti & the University of Allahabad when he was 10 years old.[5]


Sopori gave his first public performance in 1953, at the age of five. He learned western classical music from Washington University & Hindustani from his grandfather S.C. Sopori and father Shambhoo Nath.[7] Sopori has taught music at Washington University, US. His performances have been broadcast in India and seen by both cultural associations there and by audiences in countries such as Belgium, Egypt, England, Germany, Norway, Syria and the USA.[5] Sopori stated that "he worked with All India Radio in 1990, when he was transferred to Delhi." & that "no music was produced from the valley. There was not even a tabla player to accompany him" when he returned.[citation needed]

Music Academy, SaMaPa

Pandit Sopori, considered as the cultural link between Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India, also ran a music academy called SaMaPa (Sopori Academy for Music and Performing Arts), which is actively involved in promoting Indian classical music.[8] SaMaPa is involved in promoting music with jail inmates, with the objective of using music for healing the prisoners and creating an emotional bond between the society & the prisoners.[9] The academy has trained several musicians and revived old instruments. It was presented the state government dogri award in 2011.[10] Bhajan Sopori, in 2015, announced the SaMaPa awards for contribution to the field of music.[11]


Sopori was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1992[12] and the Padma Shri in 2004.[13] In 2009 he was honoured with the Baba Allaudin Khan Award.[14] He was also awarded the M N Mathur award in 2011 for his contribution to Indian classical music[15] and Jammu and Kashmir State lifetime achievement award.[16]

Personal life and death

Sopori was married and had two sons.[3] His son Abhay Rustum Sopori is also a santoor player. Sopori died in Gurugram from colon cancer on 2 June 2022 at the age of 73.[4]


  1. ^ "Bhajan Sopori". Indian Arts. 24 June 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards – Hindustani Music – Instrumental". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b Kumar, Anuj (2 June 2022). "Pandit Bhajan Sopori, saint of santoor, passes away". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b Shuchismita. "'Saint of the Santoor' Pandit Bhajan Sopori passes away". Greater Kashmir. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Bhajan Lal Sopori". Planet Radio City. 24 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 February 2010.
  6. ^ "Santoor Player Abhay Rustom Sopori plays tomorrow". Mumbai Mirror. 26 February 2011. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013.
  7. ^ Thiyyadi, Sreevalsan (22 November 2017). "How all did the Soporis improvise on their 'Folk' instrument". Outlook India. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  8. ^ "J&K to be Cultural Capital of the country". Ground report. 5 February 2012. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  9. ^ "SaMaPa to start music classes in Jails in J&K". Deccan Herald. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Trinidad envoy jams with Kashmiri Sufi band". Thaindian. 15 September 2011. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Santoor Maestro Bhajan Sopori announces SaMaPa awards". Indian Express. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards – Hindustani Music – Instrumental". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (India). Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  14. ^ "Pandit Bhajan Sopori awarded again". Indian Express. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Bhajan Sopori gets M N Mathur Award". Early Times. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  16. ^ "State awards for Jammu and Kashmir announced". Only Kashmir. 26 January 2016. Archived from the original on 31 January 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016.