Ashwin Batish

Ashwin Batish

Ashwin Batish in Concert - year 2009
Background information
Born (1951-01-01) January 1, 1951
Bombay, India
Genres Indian classical music, Folk music, indie music, indie rock, indie folk, Worldbeat
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments sitar, tabla, santoor, dilruba, singing
Years active 1970 present
Labels Batish Records
Associated acts Keshav Batish, S D Batish, Meena Batish
Website Personal web pages for Ashwin Batish

Ashwin Kumar Batish Hindi: अश्विन कुमार बातिश (born 1 January 1951 in Bombay, India)[1] is a sitar and tabla player best known for rekindling interest in the sitar.[2] "Many of his fans are young, college-aged students who enjoy world beat music [ethnic music from global cultures]"[3]

Childhood and Training

A child prodigy, Ashwin would often sing with his sister Meena Batish at performances organized by his father, the composer, author, Bollywood playback singer and music director, Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish (Hindi: पन्डित शिव दयाल बातिश). His mother, Shrimati Shanta Devi Batish (Hindi: श्रीमति शान्ता देवी बातिश), was an All India Radio artist and is credited for starting young Ashwin on the dholak drum around the age of seven and on the sitar around the age of 12.[4]

When Ashwin's father took him to see his friend Ashok, the son of the great music director and harmonium wizard Pandit Bhagatram (Hindi: पन्डित भगतराम)of Bollywood music team Husnlal Bhagatram, Ashwin fell in love with the sitar. Ashok was only two years older than Ashwin and seeing his friend perform made Ashwin aspire towards playing the sitar.[5]

In 1964, Ashwin's father left India to visit one of his daughters in England. Ashwin turned to his mother and shared with her his secret wish to play the sitar. She bought him a student model sitar and started teaching him herself. She had too studied the sitar when young. His mother also presented him with some sitar albums by Pundit Ravi Shankar[6] (Hindi: पन्डित रवि शन्कर). Ashwin would listen and tried to take out all the songs from the records to the best of his abilities.

It was when Ashwin joined his father in England at around age 14 that he started receiving training from him on the intricacies of North Indian classical music. Ashwin also started learning compositions in various ragas. His father would often sing and have Ashwin copy the musical phrases. He also taught Ashwin many songs based in various ragas that he had studied with his Guruji Shri Chandan Ram Charan (Hindi: श्रि चन्दन राम चरन).

Invited to perform at various friends parties and concerts, Ashwin soon discovered that soloing in front of a live audience, without his father by his side, was quite challenging and embarrassing. It made Ashwin realize how much he needed to learn. He became an earnest disciple of his father and was put on a rigorous practice schedule. The cold English weather meant that there was only one warm room in the house where all his family would gather. To Ashwin's advantage and delight, his father would always give his playing the preference, much to the dismay of his brothers and sisters. While his siblings strained to enjoy the British movies and serials on the TV, Ashwin started to show improvement in his playing. On one such day, Ashwin was practicing. When he stopped playing, there was silence in the room. All his family members were looking at him and he saw his siblings nodding and showing appreciation at what he had just played. Ashwin learnt from this experience and started to tune into this new sense of expressive musical attraction. He fine-tuned this ability in his live performances.

Career History

By the time he was 8, Ashwin, and his sister Meena, would often sing on stage at family concerts organized in India by the Batish family. His father had bought him an inexpensive guitar and Ashwin found himself learning to play chords, especially ones to popular Western songs that he liked to sing. He was a great fan of the Beatles, Cliff Richards, Pat Boone and other pop singers of the 1950s era. Singing with guitar accompaniment soon became one of his passion.

His interest in tabla started at around age 10 and again at the hands of his mother. After moving to England and learning further with his father, Ashwin started to accompany him on various musical performances by age 16. As he got better on the sitar, Ashwin was starting to get invitations to play for college nights where he would perform with accompanied on tabla by Keshav Sathe and BBC tabla player Ismail. One such memorable event was when he performed at a benefit concert for an Oxfam, England. It was organized by the late Lord Fenner Brockway and his daughter.

At 20, still in London, England, Ashwin found himself working full-time for a group of Chartered Accountants as an apprentice popularly known as an "articled clerk". When he turned up at the job in long hair and jeans, he was promptly pulled aside by his employers and given a lecture on attire. While Ashwin ignored these admonishments from his bosses and fellow clerks, and despite threats of being given menial tasks if he did not comply, Ashwin was finding that being part of the workforce was in complete contrast to his lifestyle as a performer.[7]

Ashwin moved to U.S.A in 1973. For the next 15 years he spent a majority of his time with his father performing nightly with him at their family restaurant and music club 'Batish India House.' It is here that he studied and developed intensity in his performance skills.[8]

Although his training has been in North Indian classical music, Ashwin Batish has been equally at home with Western music often performing with jazz and rock musicians. His 1980s fling with fusion music he self-titled Sitar Power was instrumental in garnering him serious airplay including a recording contract with Shanachie Records of New Jersey. After a few years under the Shanachie umbrella, Ashwin formed his own record label, Batish Records [9] to publish all his family's works.

Musical Collaborations

Ashwin has worked with numerous artists including Zakir Hussain (musician),[10] Camper Van Beethoven,[11] Violent Femmes,[12] Brian Ritchie, Tony Trischka, Jimmy Carl Black, Myron Dove, Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish, Meena Batish, Matthew Montfort Arthur Hull (percussionist), Keshav Batish, Taylor Eigsti Teddy Andreadis, Butch Taylor, Diana Rowan,[13] Johnny Griparic, Ant Glynne (Asia Band), Vanessa Vo, Brian Viglione, Gordon Gano, Eugene Chadbourne.[14][15] Richie "Gajate" Garcia, Ronnie Montrose[16]

Ashwin the Educator

Ashwin is presently teaching Indian music at his music school in Santa Cruz, California called the Batish Institute of Music and Fine Arts. He was one of the early pioneers of creating web access on the internet first via Gopher and then on the World Wide Web. He credited with some of the very first Indian music-related websites. The Gopher platform access came via Dr. Ralph Abraham, University of California, Santa Cruz. Today, Ashwin publishes an online educational magazine called RagaNet. It provides regular lessons on sitar, tabla, Dilruba, History of India music and other articles on musical instruments of India.[17] His father's death in 2006 dealt a severe blow to Ashwin's energies and after a long period of inactivity Ashwin has restarted teaching and performing. Since then, "Ashwin has devoted himself to publishing his father’s compositions–approximately 3000 on the Hindustani music system and 2500 on the Carnatic system–with the goal of making them fully available online. Shiv Dayal Batish composed many "Raga Lakshan Geet" introductory songs on North Indian ragas with both English and Sanskrit lyrics. Ashwin intends to publish these in an easily accessible text and audio format."[18]

Sitar Power Band

The Sitar Power band is a direct out growth of Ashwin's early encounters with jazz musicians from the California Bay Area.

"Ashwin is a very talented sitar player. He can create magic with the sitar. He earned huge respect in the music community and also some critical reviews for his revolutionary effort called "Sitar Power" in world beat music."[19] He "has broken out of the classical Indian music mold into an electronic and electrifying style that is modern in every sense, but does not lose the melodic and often mysterious sound of India." [20]

"Unlike strictly classical Indian music, which tends to start out slowly and softly then build to an intense climax, Batish's music percolates at a more consistent level that makes it conducive to dancing." Amy Duncan, Christian Science Monitor [21]

"Certainly likable, undeniably skilled and no doubt entertaining, Ashwin wowed the crowd as he apparently fused the traditional Indian instrument with Western themes ... but there’s no denying the shredding skills of Ashwin and his 17 year old son on drums." Alan Snodgrass, Digital Diversion[22]

Current band members (2015): Ashwin Batish - Sitar, Keshav Batish Drums and Tabla, Meena Batish - vocals, Myron Dove - Bass, Murray Low - Keyboards

Past Band Members: Kristen Strom (Sax), Scott Sorkin (Guitar), Jason Lewis (Drums), Jim Greiner (Percussion), Eliot Nemzer (Guitar), Randy Masters (Trumpet), Jeff Pittson (Keyboards), Dan Sabanovich (Drums), Tracy Rose (Drums), Steve Robertson (Percussion and tabla), Bill Walker (Guitar), Russ Tincher (Drums), David Harnish (Guitar), Barbara Christmann (Flute).

Live Performances

Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz[23] - The Fillmore, San Francisco[24] - Throckmorton Theatre (7/18/2014) [25] - Matthews’ Opera House and Arts Center [26][27] - Sitar Power Trio at Músiques Disperses, Lleida Spain[28] - Headliner at Għanafest 2015, Malta [29] - Headliner at Cabrillo Music Festival, Church Street Fair outdoor stage 2015.[30]


Sitar Power 1 - Fusion of Rock and Indian Music. Ashwin Batish on sitar, tabla, synths, drum programming, vocals. David Harnish on guitar and bass. Ravi Batish on vocals in Indian Beat. Original Batish Records (1986)[31]

Sitar Power 2 - Fusion of Rock and Indian Music. Ashwin Batish on sitar, tabla, guitar, bass, synths, sequencing, vocals. David Harnish on guitar and bass. Original Batish Records (1994)[32]

Lies by Violent Femmes: Plays Sitar, Track 17. "Add It Up (1981–1993)" is a compilation album released by the Violent Femmes in 1993[33]

Lost in Space - Ashwin Batish on Sitar and Steve Masters on vocals, Single released by Tripindicalar Records (1990)[34]

Morning Mediation on Sitar by Ashwin Batish. S. D. Batish on tabla, released by Batish Records (1980)[35] Tracks: 1. Raga Pahadi - Alaap (13:05) 2. Raga Pahadi - Gat composition in Deepchandi Tal (11:25) 3. Raga Vibhas - Alaap and Gat composition in Ektal (16:02) 4. Raga Todi - Alaap and Gat composition in Tintal (16:32)

Jazz Is Where Is Ashwin Batish Digital Single. New Release under Batish Records Label. Year 2016. Ashwin Batish on sitar, Keshav Batish on drum set and Myron Dove on Bass


  1. "Jazz Musicians Born On January 1". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  2. Batish Brings Back the Sitar by Steve Morse:, Boston Globe, October 25, 1988
  3. Ashwin Batish Is Sitar's King of 'Raga and Roll':
  4. Sitar Power - Ashwin Batish's Musical adventures by Paula Kirman:
  5. Sitar Power - Ashwin Batish's Musical adventures by Paula Kirman:
  6. How Ashwin Batish Made the Sitar Cool Again - Ravi Shankar was one of my biggest influences!:
  7. A Sitar Star - An Interview with Ashwin Batish by Adrienne Gruben, City on a Hill Press
  8. Ashwin Batish is a Sitar-Powered Star by Brad Kava:
  9. Batish Records is based in Santa Cruz, California and is instrumental in releasing all the Books, CDs, and DVDs of music and educational works produced by Ashwin, his father Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish, his sister Meena Batish and his son Keshav Batish along with friends of the Batish Institute:
  10. In Concert:
  11. Review:
  12. Violent Femmes with Ashwin Batish: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2015-01-08.
  13. Ford Theatre:
  14. Moers Jazz Festival, Germany:
  15. Photo:
  17. RagaNet Magazine:
  18. Ashwin Batish - Music, family, Santa Cruz and "Sitar Power":
  19. Ashwin Batish - brief biography:
  20. Ashwin Batish, the master of Raga Rock:
  21. From India, a Fresh Pop Sound. Ashwin Batish uses a sitar and traditional ragas to make cosmopolitan dance tunes. MUSIC: INTERVIEW:
  22. Violent Femmes | October 10, 2014:
  23. Sitar Power:
  24. Ashwin Batish at Fillmore Show Review:
  25. ASHWIN BATISH'S SITAR POWER - Indian Raga World Music Fusion:[]
  26. Ashwin Batish Ensemble to take stage at Matthew’s Opera House April 11:
  27. Ashwin Batish promises mix of beats:
  28. Ashwin Batish, World Beat Raga Rock Sitar Power! Mud'14 Músiques Disperses. Lleida, 15/03/2014,Spain
  29. The Indian sitar meets western electronica, Times of Malta, Sunday, June 7, 2015.
  30. Cabrillo Music Festival, Church Street Fair outdoor stage, August 9, 2015
  31. Ashwin Batish – Ashwin Batish Presents Sitar Power:
  32. Ashwin Batish – Sitar Power #2:
  33. Credits for "Lies by Violent Femmes" on All Music Guide:
  34. Steve Masters & Ashwin Batish – Lost In Space:
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